It didn’t start to materialize until the latter stages of practice, but the chirping back and forth between the offensive and defensive units during an 11-on-11 red zone period certainly upped the intensity of practice. It also prompted
“I think intensity is good and I think that’s what we need, especially on offense,” said
“It’s very competitive and I like it,” said
Players work through the small details
Several players have mentioned it through the course of the OTA practices and after hearing coach Marrone assess the nine voluntary sessions that are now complete it’s clear the men on the roster were echoing their head coach.
“We put in a lot of offense. We’ve made a lot of improvement on the little things,” said Marrone. “Our goal was the trust in the communication. I’ve seen more of that from this team than in the past which I’m proud of, but the main thing is what I told them at the end. We can have all that stuff and make these strides at this period of time, but if you don’t retain it and you don’t keep working on it you basically flush it down the toilet when you show up again.”
On offense the players felt their timing in the passing game was as good as it’s been all spring as they connected on a lot more passes through the course of Thursday’s practice.
“It takes time and we go through routes versus air every day,” said Watkins. “(EJ Manuel) knows where to put the ball in tight coverages. Today he did a great job throwing the ball and he did a great job running our offense. I think this was one of our best days from an offensive point of view. For us wide receivers we didn’t have that many mental errors.”
“The thing about it is you go through three weeks and you try to get the timing down and it’s a team effort,” said Thad Lewis. “That’s not just me, that’s the receivers being confident in the routes they’re running, being confident in the scheme and the quarterbacks being confident throwing the ball. We just stayed on it and for the last day of OTAs that was pretty good so I guess that’s a great building block going into minicamp.”
Marrone didn’t deny that the offense has had some difficulty from time to time with their execution, but Buffalo’s head coach is looking at the bigger picture and the advantageous matchups that they’ll be able to put on the field come September.
“I’m happy. I’m really happy about where it is. I’m happy with the ability of our matchup potential now and where we can put different players,” he said. “There are things now that we can do that we couldn’t do last year. From that standpoint I’m happy.
“As far as trying to go out on the field and keep score, that’s tough. There are moments all the time for both sides. The only one who is ever going to really win out here is the head coach because some days the offense is going to do well and you’re happy for them. The defense is going to do well and you’re happy for the defense.”
As far as EJ Manuel’s development is concerned Marrone likes the strides that his quarterback has made in June.
“I’m excited because what happens is that a lot of times even players you’re looking at the end product and looking for end results. For us we’re looking for those steps and where he’s going with the ones he’s taking,” said Marrone. “Really with everything we’ve got going in and the volume, which is full scale right now, he’s making a great amount of improvement in the things he didn’t do as well last year. It starts with the foundation and his footwork and the things that are going on. I’m really excited about where he is and the amount of stuff that we put on his plate.”
“I would say from the last game last season to now I’m way further ahead,” said Manuel. “We’ve learned our responsibility of having the ability to change plays. Coach Hackett is not second guessing what we’re doing. I think he trusts me a lot more to get us in the right play. I definitely feel a lot better with my grasp of the offense.”
Watkins feels good about what Manuel has shown in the spring to this point.
“He’s a great quarterback and from a wide receiver point of view we’ve got to get the steps (down),” said Watkins. “It’s our fault if he doesn’t get us the ball because it’s all about steps and timing and it’s coming along. We’ve still got a lot to work on because sometimes we’re doing five and six steps when we should be doing seven. That’s something we’ve got to clean up before we start the season.”
Among some of the better plays turned in during team portions of practice,
Sammy Watkins took a quick slant pass and tore up the field and likely would’ve outrun the safety on the play for a 70-yard touchdown.
During red zone work
In the nickel he was paired with
Another entrenched starter, who saw his most extensive action in the team portions of practice was safety
J.J. ‘Unga was working at second team right guard while
The Bills mandatory minicamp begins next Tuesday with a 3:15 practice. Head coach Doug Marrone said he expects everyone to be in attendance.