News

Print
RSS

Camp Notes 7/22: Run game working, Tuel earns reps

Posted Jul 22, 2014

It was the first day in pads for the Bills at training camp and not surprisingly the run game took on a completely different look Tuesday.


Holes were being opened consistently by the Bills offensive linemen giving easy decisions to Buffalo’s tailbacks during the team portions of practice.

“The offensive line can block and get some contact once they put the pads and they were definitely opening up some holes for us,” said Fred Jackson. “We notice it and it’s always the best part for us running backs when we can put the pads on and feel some contact out there.”

“You put the pads on and arm tackles don’t happen as often,” said Scott Chandler. “It’s usually a little better run game once the pads come on for us. Those running backs are doing a great job back there.”

Just about all of Buffalo’s top four backs turned in runs that would’ve gone for first down yardage and more. Bryce Brown is quickly showing a skill set that’s similar to that of C.J. Spiller. He’s not quite as quick or shifty, but he’s not far off.

Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon also found some holes to dart through to get into the secondary.

“Definitely as an O-line we pride ourselves on running the ball,” said Kraig Urbik. “I think especially in the run game we kind of did well, but in the pass game we’ve got to pick it up a little bit.”

It’s still very early, but some of the offensive players are expressing a desire to improve the execution in the passing game. Quarterbacks and receivers are still working on their timing and their communication, but EJ Manuel maintains that they are taking positive steps.

“I thought we had a good day. It was the first third down day. We just got to continue to get better,” said Manuel. “It was the first full pad practice. Thought we ran the ball well, thought we threw the ball well. So it was a good day.”

Tuel earning reps

Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel got the bulk of the second team reps in practice Tuesday. Coming off a strong spring where he looked decisive in the pocket, Tuel has tried to maintain his level of play early in camp and the coaches are noticing.

“We have a battle for the second team quarterback. We want to find out who it is,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Jeff did a nice job in OTAs and he’s earned himself some more reps.”

Tuel, who doesn’t have any more experience than Manuel or Thad Lewis, believes all three of the signal callers have grown together in the offense. And in the span of less than a year he feels he’s acquired a ton of valuable knowledge about the quarterback position.

“To be a great quarterback in my opinion you have to know the offense and you have to know it better than the offensive coordinator. That’s what coach Hackett always tells us,” said Tuel. “We really as a group have taken the time to learn the plays and the playbook and when you know exactly where you want to go with the football it’s a lot easier to play the position confidently. That’s where we’ve grown so much as a group.”

Tuel made one start for the Bills as a rookie last season in the home game loss to Kansas City.

“You learn from it and it just seems like from where I am now to where I was then already I feel like I’m just a different player,” he said. “It’s crazy and it may sound funny to some because I’m not even a year from it, but I feel like I know so much more now than I did then.”

Buffalo Nickel

With the offense installing a lot of their third down package in camp Tuesday it was a busy day for the defense’s nickel package. Getting work at slot corner were Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks and rookie Ross Cockrell mainly in that order. Linebackers who participated in nickel included Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes.

For the second straight day Buffalo’s pass rush was consistent in helping the coverage players on the back end.

“With those guys we have up front we have three guys who went to the Pro Bowl and three guys with 10-plus sacks so with guys that can put that kind of pressure on the quarterback it makes it a lot easier on the back end,” Da’Norris Searcy told Buffalobills.com. “We know the ball is going to come out quick and there are a lot of opportunities for us to get our hands on the ball.

“For us on the back end when we cover good and the line is applying that rush it’ll tie in all together. The quarterback is either going to throw it quick or he’s going to hold onto it and the defensive line is going to get the sacks.”

Among the players who logged sacks in practice Tuesday were Searcy, Manny Lawson, DT Ike Igbinosun, DE Jacquies Smith, Nigel Bradham (2), Nickell Robey, DT Colby Way and S Deon Broomfield.

Rotations

Some veteran starters were rotated out of the lineup at times during the team’s nearly three hour practice Tuesday. Kyle Williams had his reps cut back with Stefan Charles stepping in for him. He played alongside Corbin Bryant inside who was in for Marcell Dareus.

Corey Graham rotated in for Leodis McKelvin at left cornerback with the first unit for certain series as they don’t want McKelvin overworking his surgically repaired hip.

Manny Lawson rotated in for Mario Williams at left defensive end. Lawson had been seeing most of his work with the second unit.

Preston Brown rotated in for Brandon Spikes at middle linebacker, a day after Spikes had been dealing with severe muscle cramps.

Schedule

The Bills have another 8 a.m. practice scheduled for Wednesday.