Put it in the books! Day one of Buffalo Bills training camp 2019 has wrapped up, so let’s talk about what went down. The key themes for today were establishing the various position battles on the team, and of course, Josh Allen’s status.
The starting five, from left to right, were Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Cody Ford. Spain and Feliciano swapped roles a few times, and Ty Nsekhe relieved Ford on occasion.
The second string featured LaAdrian Waddle, Wyatt Teller, Russell Bodine, Spencer Long, and Nsekhe. Interestingly, Long went from the starting left guard to the backup right guard between OTAs and training camp.
Tyler Kroft is sidelined for the future, beginning the preseason on the Physically Unable to Play list. Speaking on the radio, Brandon Beane mentioned that Kroft’s rehab schedule was on track, but that it’s a long process to return from his foot injury.
That leaves a two-way battle between Jason Croom and rookie Dawson Knox for the starting role. Croom took the first reps on the day, but Knox was also mixed in with the starters at times. Knox saw his share of open targets, but had an inconsistent day catching the football.
Running with the starters in 11-on-11 were John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Zay Jones. The free-agent signings Brown and Beasley both stood out positively. Brown caught a touchdown in the back of the end zone, and impressed reporters with his ability to separate in the red zone. He’s not just a deep threat! Beasley was used all over the field, even lining up in the backfield. He was a frequent target for Josh Allen, and it seems he’ll fit Brian Daboll’s “Wes Welker” role with aplomb.
First-round pick Ed Oliver worked with the second string, as the Bills placed Jordan Phillips with the starters for the initial practice. Joining Oliver with the backups was Shaq Lawson, who’s entering the final year of his contract.
The first starter across from Tre’Davious White was Levi Wallace, maintaining his positioning from the end of last season. It’s still early to see if Kevin Johnson, E.J. Gaines, or another player might push Wallace.
Allen starts hot, cools off
One of the remarks made during Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott’s opening press conference was that every player on the roster understands this is now Josh Allen’s team. How did he handle his first day of training camp as the unquestioned leader? To begin with, he played great. Allen was very hot during the team’s no-huddle and red-zone work, finding receivers for multiple touchdowns and succeeding on touch passes that threw him for a loop in the past. The team had Allen focusing on check downs, screens, and shorter throws, and he avoided mistakes.
Later in practice, Allen and Mitch Morse fumbled a snap exchange, and the coach had them both run a lap as punishment. After that, Allen mistargeted a few passes, including the same pattern to Cole Beasley on two consecutive throws. He looked visibly frustrated after that second throw. Near the end of practice, Allen tried forcing a pass into a tight window, where it was tipped by the cornerback and intercepted by Micah Hyde.
All-in-all, a solid start for the quarterback, and a good foundation to build upon.
Frank Gore was activated from the Non-Football Injury list. Tyler Kroft, as mentioned, remains on the PUP list. No players left practice with injuries, but a few who had offseason surgeries had their workloads managed.
- The team had gifts for their VIPs and season ticket holders: team-branded lunch pails.
- St. John Fisher accidentally turned on the sprinklers at the start of practice.
- Defensive Tackle Kyle Peko was not at practice, but that’s because he was excused for personal reasons. He was travelling to Rochester today.
- Brian Daboll’s offense keeps looking creative. He has a variety of formations and motions that give the team opportunities to stay one step ahead of the defense. Hopefully it’s a playbook the players can actually execute this year.
- Rookie QB Tyree Jackson was the first player on the practice field today. He closed out practice with two great passes in the end zone; both would’ve been touchdowns but one was dropped by David Sills.