We’ve made it to the final week of training camp already. The battles for roster position are heating up, along with the temperatures, and sparks are flying as fights have broken out in nearly every one of the padded practices so far.
The last time we saw the Buffalo Bills was at Highmark Stadium at the team’s “Return of the Blue & Red” scrimmage. It was a fun-filled night with plenty of fans in attendance, but we’re back at St. John Fisher for a few practices this week before the rest of the season prep returns to the 716.
The press is very limited in what they are allowed to share, but fans are in the seats (if they were able to procure tickets ahead of time) and some of them have been sharing lots of info on Twitter.
Practice starts later today than the normal 9:45 AM. It kicks off at 11:45 AM on Sunday while the gates at Fisher open at 10:45 AM. Tickets are required and sold out.
Here are the biggest storylines so far in camp:
- We used the off day on Wednesday to round up all the players who have missed time with injuries during Bills camp. The list is extensive and contains 15 players. Read the whole thing here. The only new long-term injury during camp is Marquez Stevenson, whose foot injury will keep him out through the season opener. They did get two members of the team back in pads Thursday.
- S Jordan Poyer left practice on Tuesday with a hyperextended elbow and will miss a few weeks of camp. He should be ready for the season. His running mate, Micah Hyde, went down and was carted off with an injury more than a week ago. After remaining limited for a few days, he is nearly all the way back following some hip soreness.
- Fourth-year DT Ed Oliver is absolutely dominating in training camp and looks to continue that upward trend into the season. DE A.J. Epenesa started in place of a resting Von Miller on Friday, taking his solid camp and turning it into the DE3 job as the top reserve.
- WR Khalil Shakir is staking his claim not just to a roster spot, but a role in the offense. In front of him, WR Isaiah McKenzie, is the MVP halfway through camp and has locked down the slot receiver role to this point.
- At the end of the first day of padded practice on Saturday, Josh Allen started a fight with Jordan Phillips. Allen says the competitive juices were flowing out there and it’s not a big deal. Boogie Basham came out swinging on Day 2 with another fight. You’ll never believe it, but there was another fight on Thursday.
- Sixth-round cornerback Christian Benford is drawing the eyes of several beat reporters at camp and is pushing for one of the final roster spots. The Bills may still be in need of some veteran help at the CB spot, though.
- With Spencer Brown limited and Saffold out, the Bills have been rotating a pair of offensive linemen at both right tackle and left guard. David Quessenberry and Tommy Doyle have been getting that run. Ryan Bates and Dion Dawkins have both missed time, as well, so we’re seeing a pretty clear pecking order on the offensive line. Even Bobby Hart and Cody Ford got some first-team reps this past week.
- Matt Araiza is clearly winning the punting competition and has been 100% with his hold so far in camp.
- CB Tre’Davious White and OG Ike Boettger begin the year on the PUP list, as expected. They are both recovering from serious injuries suffered during the 2021 season. Joining them on PUP is DT Eli Ankou.
- Penciled-in starter Rodger Saffold was in a car accident recently and suffered what general manager Brandon Beane referred to as “cracked ribs”. He begins the year on the Non-Football Injury list and a timetable for his return hasn’t been set. You’d think at this point it’d be all about pain tolerance, but with Saffold, he’s a veteran who has worked with new o-line coach Aaron Kromer before.
- Two pending free agents have been talking potential contract extensions. Jordan Poyer’s agent was in attendance as camp opened and Dawson Knox was optimistic about staying in Buffalo. Poyer’s injury complicates matters.
I’ve included the Bills Reporters Twitter list to follow along with the updates from the local beat reporters.