The Buffalo Bills and their fans returned to St. John Fisher College and open training camp practices today with a figurative cloud hanging over the otherwise picturesque sky. Injuries was the name of the game on Wednesday and with a sprinkle of physicality thrown in.
Injuries take center stage
To this point, Buffalo had been relatively lucky with injuries. Only Tyler Kroft was considered a long-term problem that could lead into the season and his fellow tight ends Jason Croom and Dawson Knox were dealing with short-term hamstring problems.
Then during his press conference before practice, Sean McDermott announced high priority free agent Mitch Morse was diagnosed with a concussion. When we got out to practice, lineman Spencer Long was riding a stationary bike and kicker Stephen Hauschka had a wrap on his ankle. Depth DT Robert Thomas was also out with an injury.
To compound matters, several players had to step out for a play or two to see a trainer. Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde did not return to practice after speaking with a trainer. That’s four (or more) starters who didn’t finish practice today purely due to injury.
Buffalo was also missing Jerry Hughes (rest) and LeSean McCoy (personal reasons) from practice.
Ed Oliver battling Jordan Phillips
I’m choosing to highlight this battle because both players played so well on Wednesday. Phillips had a tipped pass he turned into a pick-six against the first-teamers and Oliver was consistently in the backfield. At one point, second-year quarterback Josh Allen was bumped to the turf by Oliver bull-rushing presumptive left guard starter Quinton Spain and told Oliver to get off the field by McDermott because he was blowing things up.
Phillips has been running ahead of Oliver to this point, and the competition seems to be making both of them better. If Oliver can make it to a 50-50 split by the third preseason game, it will make the defensive tackles better on the whole.
Oliver did get into a spat with guard Jon Feliciano, throwing a few punches on the ground before it was quickly broken up by teammates.
For the second straight day, retired DT Kyle Williams was in attendance to help coach up the defensive linemen.
Offensive line rotation
The o-line was blown up with injuries to Morse and Long. While Long may have been the guy at center to replace Morse, instead it was Russell Bodine who stepped in. Jon Feliciano was at right guard and Quinton Spain kept his spot at left guard.
At tackle, everything was up in the air. For the first time, Ty Nsehke replaced Cody Ford right off the bat at the beginning of practice with the starters. Then, Nsehke was flipped to the left side with the starters. Perhaps that means it really is a three-way race for the two spots.
- It was the longest practice of camp so far, clocking in at more than two hours.
- Nick Easley was en fuego today, and drew the most responses from media members after breaking ankles (figuratively) in the passing game. He’s likely making a push as a practice squad candidate, or he’d have to jump Ray-Ray McCloud and Isaiah McKenzie as the backup slot guy.
- McDermott had to call together the team at one point to lay into them for sloppy play.
- Tyree Jackson ended practice with a bomb, his first good play of camp.
- Kevin Johnson was first-team reps today ahead of Levi Wallace.
- Some presumably nice young lady asked Josh Allen to the prom