Good turnout for a Friday practice. I was at Monday's practice and there was definitely more people here today.
The first person I saw on the field today was QB/DB/Whatever role they give him if they don't cut him Josh Nesbitt. Michael Jasper and Michael Switzer (Center) were also apart of first group of guys on the field. The offensive line got together and did a bunch of stretches together.
I sat near the field that featured mostly offense so if this report lacks information on Defensive guys you want to hear about, I apologize in advance. It was difficult to see the other side although I did get some good glimpses of action occasionally.
At this point I realized Dareus was on the field in gear and pads participating. Thank heaven for that. But then I looked over to see Shawne Merriman NOT in pads and observing. Bummer. Oh well -- this was one of his planned days off. The Bills don't want to risk anything with him right now so they are playing it extra carefully. David Martin and Shawn Nelson (what a surprise) were also on the sidelines observing.
Levi Brown, Josh Nesbitt and Brad Smith threw together while Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyler Thigpen were off to the side throwing to each other. At this point I realized what a beautiful spiral Thigpen throws.
On the other field, Dave Wannstedt spent a bunch of time with newly acquired Nick Barnett. He was definitely coaching Nick up for a good 15 minutes.
Fred Jackson was having some fun throwing a few balls the way of the net with the 3 holes in it (for the QBs). He actually hit his first target. His second one however, completely missed and Levi Brown was cracking up. Donald Jones, a known ball buster, must have said something because Fred whipped a ball his way.
Marcus Easley took part in some light drills. He participated in any drill where he could stay within a certain distance and catch. He did walk with a slight limp at times. This guy is an impressive physical specimen.
There was no sign of David Nelson, who I later found out was sent back to see the Bills doctors in Buffalo.
I noticed Darryl Talley with Shawne Merriman on the sidelines talking for more than 10 minutes observing the Linebacker drills -- likely having a good laugh over Aaron Maybin trying to push people around. To Maybin's credit, he wasn't totally awful here. He fit in well enough.
The QBs started throwing some balls to receivers and tight ends at this point. I'd like to mention again how well Thigpen throws the ball. This was with no defenders though (more on that later). Chandler and Pianalto were catching everything. Nesbitt threw a bad ball or 2.
The special teams did their thing on the longer field. McKelvin, Donald Jones, #25 (assuming this is one of the new running backs brought in today, Bruce Hall?!), and CJ Spiller took the returns, in that order. Not much to note here other than Spiller looking more confident with the ball.
The kickers were up next. Chris Hazley, who wears #3, was taking turns kicking with Rian Lindell. Lindell hit most of his kicks, including the long ones. Hazley wasn't that bad until they started kicking from longer distances. His last kick, which was the furthest distance, barely reached the post.
Up until this point, I had barely seen Dareus or Jasper. They started the 11 on 11 handoff drills and Dareus was on the line with Kyle Williams playing the end. The defense lined up in the 4-3 with Torbor and Barnett out there on the starting unit already.
After the handoff drills, they did some more positional drills. I got a good view of the defensive tackles and ends. During a simple drill, Alex Carrington was getting the most flack from the coach. Dareus looked about as good as you could during this but I don't want to over-hype it because it was a simple drill.
On the other field, the QBs were taking turns with a receiver against a corner. First up was Stevie Johnson against Terrence McGee. Stevie won with a well thrown ball by Fitz.
Naaman Roosevelt caught the first long ball of the day when he beat his man for a touchdown which received a nice response from the crowd. That was the first of a string of long touchdowns.
Roscoe Parrish did a stop and go route which completely fooled Drayton Florence, who ended up falling down, which made for an easy throw and catch for a touchdown. Crowd loved this.
Kamar Aiken was the next guy to catch a long touchdown. Brad Smith (yes, Brad Smith) threw it and Aiken made a nice grab to beat his man. At this point, Aiken started to standout in a good way. He's not fast but he creates separation from his man. At 219 pounds, he looks like a stockier receiver.
The defensive lineman proceeded to do the goofiest shadow boxing drill I've ever seen. They'd basically just punch a few times while running and that's the drill. Some of the guys doing it looked freakin' hilarious like Michael Jasper, who got some laughs from the crowd. I recorded some of this and hope to get it up on Youtube in the next few days. Lionell Dotson (#97) also looked ridiculous.
7 on 7 work was next. Fitz threw to Roscoe for a short gain. Fitz threw to Chandler for a long touchdown which got a great response from the crowd. This was a beautiful throw and catch by both guys. Chandler looks really good so far. Let's hope Chan finds a way to fit him in the offense. Dude is 6'7!! Fitz hit Spiller for a completion in the flat. Fitz went deep again, this time to Tight End Mike Caussin (#82 - every time he made a reception I thought Josh Reed was back). Fitz threw ANOTHER deep ball, this time to the left sideline to Lee Evans who caught it but may have bobbled it as he approached the sideline.
I peaked over on the other side to Wang v. Maybin. These guys have been paired up a lot which tells you something. The first battle was pretty even with Maybin getting his hands up high on Wang's helmet. Next up was Danny Batten v. Wang. Batten schooled the living hell out of Wang here. I'm starting to doubt whether Wang belongs on this team at all.
Back to the 7 on 7 - Thigpen, who was against defenders for the first time, didn't look quite as sharp as earlier. 2 of his first 3 throws were incompletions. One of them he threw way too low.
On the other side was MOUNT JASPER v. Hangartner. Hangman won, unfortunately. To Jasper's defense, I heard from a few guys around me that he pushed Hangman back a few times so I just caught the one that Hangman did well on.
Back to the other side - Brad Smith (who is getting serious QB reps) threw to Naaman Roosevelt over the middle. At this point I asked myself, does Naaman drop anything?! Sadly, I'm not sure there's a spot for him with all of the depth we have at WR (unless someone is hurt). Brad Smith should have been picked off on the next throw by #46 (apparently his name is DOYLE MILLER!) but he dropped it. I guess that's why he's DOYLE MILLER.
Kamar Aiken was once again getting good separation and catching most of the balls that came his way. Like I said earlier, a bigger dude who isn't fast by any means but he somehow gets open. If Easley can't stay healthy, can this guy make the squad? Definitely a practice squad candidate.
Fitz came back in and threw a completion to the WIDE OPEN Caussin. He missed on his next throw to Stevie Johnson. Fitz tried forcing it. Thigpen comes in and throws a BEAUTIFUL ball to Donald Jones (who had a really good day). 20 yard touchdown and the crowd loved it.
On the next play, Thigpen found a COMPLETELY WIDE OPEN Caussin. This time it had to be a mistake (blown coverage) because nobody was around the guy. Once again Thigpen impresses me (Thigbeardy?!) with a good 15 yard Touchdown throw to Chandler. Horn blows, next drill.
This was the point where my phone died and I couldn't tweet anymore. Sorry about that, folks.
They did some positional drills again - light stuff. I noticed Wannstedt with Nick Barnett for ANOTHER solid 10 minutes or so. Straight up coaching. Barnett was asking all sorts of questions about lining up and what position he should be in at the point of attack. GOOD stuff.
OK -- it's time for what we all came to see, the 11 on 11 stuff. I made note of ALL 41 plays (yep, I felt like a goofball doing this but I love this stuff)
- Fitz threw to Stevie for a nice completion to the right, against Florence.
- Run play - Fred Jackson, stopped by Torbor/Wilson.
- Spencer Johnson with the would-be sack on Fitz.
- Florence DROPPED an EASY pick. Lee Evans somehow caught the tipped pass but it should have been an interception. Florence did pushups as punishment.
- Dareus finally in. Wood owned him on this play. Short run by Spiller.
- Thigpen in. Run to my boy Johnny White who didn't gain much.
- Another short run with J White.
- No Jasper yet. False start by Chris Hairston (first time I saw him all day)
- Thigpen audibled. DEEP bomb to Donald Jones who caught it for a would-be Touchdown. No penetration at all on this play.
- Rollout by Thigpen, deep ball caught by Hubbard.
- Maybin finally in. Run play to J White. Good, long run. Maybin had a chance but let up - not sure if that was intentional or what. Guessing yes.
- MOUNT JASPER in. Brad Smith also in. Good run by #36.
- Would have been a safety by #40 (Rajric Coleman) but they kept playing. Interception by #44 (Loyce Means). Jasper had a good push here. Brad Smith must have screwed up the playcall because they huddled twice and it appeared he was getting help from a coach.
- Another run by J White. Dotson in on the stop.
- Levi Brown in. Short run by #39. #51 (Brandon Hicks) was in on the stop.
- Big run by #36. Horn goes off, starters back in.
- Fitz was a little off on a pass to Stevie. Incompletion.
- Run play that was stuffed by Dareus, Spencer Johnson and Kelsay.
- Fitz threw deep to the right sideline and missed. Intended for Stevie.
- Screen play to Spiller. Good execution.
- Fitz incomplete to Lee Evans. Possible pass interference by McKelvin, I thought. Lee never had a chance.
- Incomplete to #85, deep down the right sideline.
- Thigpen back in. Run by J White. Moats in on the stop.
- Nice run play by #36.
- Thigpen completes one to Donald Jones. Really tight throw - even better catch.
- Run by J White (lots of those today). Short gain. Troup in on the stop.
- Deep throw to Lee Evans down the right sideline completed. Fitz threw it.
- Nice run by Fred Jackson. Big gainer
- Fitz was picked off by Terrence McGee which resulted in a touchdown. It was intended for Parrish but McGee tipped it high in the air and caught his own tip. Crowd reacted nicely. I proceeded to cry.
- Nice run play by Spiller. Another big gainer.
- Short pass to Roscoe. Nice catch.
- Thigpen back in. Short run by J White. Moats in on the stop.
- Another run by J White who this time found a big hole and hit it. Excellent run.
- Thigpen overthrew Felton Huggins (who somehow ends up at every training camp. The Joe Burns disease, I call it)
- Play action touchdown to Hubbard. He beat AJ Williams. AJ slapped the ball out of Hubbard's hands after the touchdown. I thought that was a bit childish but I'm sure it happens often and it's no big deal.
- Huggins was rocked over the middle by Moats and Torbor but he still hung on to the ball.
- Fitz back in. Good screen play to Spiller. BIG run.
- Nice toss to Stevie who was crossing over the middle.
- Scramble by Fitz. Would have been a 10 yard gain, if not more.
- Nice 10 yard out route to Parrish to close out the 11 on 11 drill and practice.
STANDOUTS: Naaman Roosevelt, Kamar Aiken, Scott Chandler, Donald Jones, Arthur Moats, Danny Batten, Torell Troup, and Thigpen.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS: Troup looks comfortable in every drill. He is really getting good at his craft and you can tell he loves his job. I bet this guy would stay out on the field all day if he could.... Easley participated in more than just a few drills, mostly catching drills though...I barely noticed Aaron Williams which isn't the worst thing for a cornerback....Caussin had a good day...I didn't see much of Kyle Williams today...Moats looks to be settling in his ILB spot, he was in the right spot many times today...Kelsay was doing well during the 1 on 1 drills... Japser got very few reps today...Fitzy wasn't TOO sharp today but did throw a few really good balls... Sheppard was observing from the sidelines again... Andra Davis also caught my attention a few times today, nothing spectacular but he was flying from side to side.
After a few practices, I can't wait until preseason football. Don't overreact to anything I've written here. Some guys looked good, other didn't. But the true test will be when they play against other guys. They continue to play after would-be sacks so some of the completions I write about are a bit misleading. They wouldn't happen in real games. I'm really amped up for next Saturday. I want to see how the team looks after working so much on screens and short dump offs. Spiller will get his chance to shine.
Time for some beers. I'll be back with another blog tomorrow.
Time for some beers. I'll be back with another blog tomorrow.