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4 things to take from Sunday’s practice

Posted Aug 10, 2014

For several players, the momentum of their play Friday continues to carry them into the coming week.

Instead of being hung over from the win against the Carolina Panthers, the Bills are working hard and generating some great tape in process.

1. Boobie is hot!

RB Boobie Dixon, continues to practice as if it’s still third and one with one yard for the score. Sunday in practice, Dixon wasn’t soaring through the air but ran the ball with a ferocity to make one think it was the playoffs, not the preseason.

“Oh man, I’m feeling great,” said Dixon. “Trying to get better every day. Trying to show the other guys a championship attitude and the way to prepare to win games. I’m trying to be a team leader. I’m having fun. Getting to work with those guys and building that team chemistry so we can do big things this year.”

Much like Friday’s game, Dixon excelled while running with the first team red zone unit. On several carries, he plowed through multiple defenders, either setting up scores or scoring himself.

“That’s all competition,” said Dixon. “I just want them to be on the top of their game. I feel like the more we compete, the more we go at each other here, the better we’re going to compete.”

Head Coach Doug Marrone said Dixon’s reps with the first team red zone unit isn’t to be read into too much but Dixon being on the team and able to make plays is something Bills fans should be happy to have.

2. Watkins and Williams pleasing both coaches and fans

Rookie WR Sammy Watkins and veteran WR Mike Williams seem to be living up to expectations with both their coaches and their new fans by way of high caliber play and putting extra effort in to making sure each fan leaves practice happy.

“I’m home, man,” said Williams, a Buffalo native. “I feel like these are my fans that grew up watching me and to see me playing at the highest level and making the same catches I made when I was little, I feel like I got to give back to them and that’s what I do.”

Today, Williams stole the hearts of the fans after making an outstanding one handed catch on the far right edge of the end zone on a pass from QB EJ Manuel despite oppressive coverage from CB Corey Graham. Williams ran to the edge of the grass to give the fans a wave and took a bow before returning to the field. Williams continued to share the love when he tossed his cleats and calf band to the crowd waiting around the exit tunnel.

As for Watkins, he too had the crowd roaring several times. His top play of the day came during a full team practice drive when he streaked down the sideline under tight coverage.

“That one was kind of surprising because it was behind him and high,” said Manuel. “He made a great one handed catch with his left hand. Sammy is an excellent receiver.”

Although Watkins wasn’t throwing equipment to the fans, like most days during this camp, he gave considerable time after practice to sign autographs and chat with fans as he walked off the field.

In regard to their coach, Marrone gushes over how well both have adjusted to being a Bill.

“He’s been outstanding and has done everything we’ve asked, so it’s very difficult to me to say where he needs to go,” said Marrone of Watkins. “Obviously, there are things we all need to work on, but he really has been outstanding. From a maturity standpoint and from a production standpoint in practice … [Mike Williams]’s been outstanding. He really has … I don’t think you could have asked for anyone to have had as good of an attitude, worked as hard as he has, have made plays like he has.”

3. Manuel’s backup is still up for grabs

Although it appeared QB Jeff Tuel had the early lead to be EJ Manuel’s backup following the team’s Hall of Fame game, the decision on the job is still a ways off. In practice, Tuel and QB Thad Lewis have been sharing reps under center fairly equally with both players putting up solid performances. On Sunday, both QBs directed an offense that moved the ball consistently and put up several touchdowns.

“It’s been up and down,” said Marrone. “I don’t think you can say that someone has really gone ahead of everyone. It’s kind of been back and forth, so we’re just going to keep looking at the situation. In fairness, what you want to do is have enough information as a coach to be able to present to the player where we’re going, the reason why and be able to show them that. If you can’t do that, then it’s not time to make that decision.”

4. First O-line still not set in stone

Marrone and his staff are still trying to find that perfect combination to protect Manuel. For a while, G Chris Williams seemed to be a lock at left guard, but due to a back issue he has not practiced for the last two days so G Cyril Richardson was seen taking those reps with the first team again Sunday.

At the same time, T Cordy Glenn continued his participation, but on a very limited basis. Once he can practice unrestricted, rookie T Seantrel Henderson is expected to slide back to second team.

“That’s how every training camp is, you know?” said Pears. “You’re trying to find your five best guys and put guys in different spots to see how they handle it to see what the best combination is going forward.”

As for Sunday, the first unit to take the field left to right was Henderson, Richardson, Eric Wood, Kraig Ubrik and Pears.