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2019 Buffalo Bills training camp recap: Return of the Blue and Red Scrimmage at New Era Field

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How did the Bills look at New Era Field?

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The Buffalo Bills returned to New Era Field on Friday night for their annual Return of the Blue and Red scrimmage. It was the first live hitting of 2019 and players were allowed to take the ball carrier to the ground in goal line work.

Let’s get right to the recap!

Goal-line drill

WELCOME TO THE HITS! The Bills ended practice with goal-line situations and Ed Oliver got the next in a series of “welcome to the NFL” moments.

“Lord have mercy. I think I got every rep of goal line,” he said. “Kind of my baptism into NFL football. I just had to take it.”

Without center Mitch Morse (more on that later), the Bills’ offense was only able to find the end zone via passes and the defensive line was very disruptive the entire time.

Tommy Sweeney taking advantage

The Bills have a tight end issue (more on that later) but one person who hasn’t been much of an issue is Tommy Sweeney. The Bills’ seventh-round pick has flashed during first-team work in place of Tyler Kroft, Jason Croom, and Dawson Knox. He may be playing his way ahead of Croom for a roster spot.

On Friday night, he got behind Matt Milano for a sweet connection with Josh Allen as the second-year quarterback scrambled and on a different play out-muscled Milano and Dean Marlowe for a touchdown in goal-line work.

Zay Jones out of John Brown’s shadow for one night

The Bills rested John Brown in Friday night’s scrimmage and Allen lost his favorite target of camp. Instead, he turned his attention back to Zay Jones and the Bills (dare I say it) actually have some depth at wide receiver. Jones showed off great route-running against top cornerback Tre’Davious White and Allen found him numerous times on the night.

Injuries remain a major storyline

I’ve been teasing it for the entire recap, but injuries have really altered the Bills’ plans at several positions. The most noticeable downgrade due to injury has been at center, where Mitch Morse’s concussion has left Russell Bodine as the team’s starting center. Specifically during the situation where the offense was backed up on their own goal-line, Bodine looked like a player on roller skates. Spencer Long, a man who presumably could replace Morse, was also out with a sore ankle. Jon Feliciano, another starting guard who has been taking some center reps, left practice midway through, as well.

At tight end, Tyler Kroft was in attendance on the sideline and not in a walking boot, which is a good first step (no pun intended). Croom can’t make the team from the training room but Knox certainly can.

Micah Hyde (neck) was replaced by Kurt Coleman, the veteran safety recently signed to replace Rafael Bush. It was not second-year Siran Neal, which is notable. While Coleman is a downgrade, he’s a solid replacement player for the time being though the rest of the secondary seems to disagree with me.

LeSean McCoy, Lorenzo Alexander, and Ty Nsehke joined Brown on a veteran rest day.

Odds and ends

  • Josh Allen was on the field for at least an hour after practice ended signing autographs.
  • Speaking of Allen, Joe Buscaglia and Matthew Fairburn were down on his situational performance at the scrimmage and detail his troubles here.
  • Tyree Jackson received three goal-line snaps and threw zero passes.
  • Dion Dawkins played all the left tackle reps with Nsehke out and played well.
  • David Sills V is showing why he went undrafted. He can’t get separation and his body isn’t large enough to out-muscle defenders. A year in an NFL nutrition program could make a world of difference but it will be on the practice squad. (He might not even get that with the way Cam Phillips has been outshining him.)
  • Fairburn and Buscaglia went out of their way to praise Darryl Johnson. The seventh-round pick was thought to be on the outside looking in and he still needs to add weight coming from a small school, but he’s flashed ability.
  • Skarekrow was at practice and grabbed this quick vid for us: