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What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices

Posted Jun 17, 2016

From Robert Woods resurgence to the budding Brown-Ragland tandem in the middle of Buffalo's defense there are some interesting things we now know about the 2016 version of the Bills.


1 - Robert Woods is ready to be the No. 2 receiver
A lot of Bills fans worry that there aren’t too many ultra-productive playmakers at wide receiver after Sammy Watkins on Buffalo’s roster. If they had the chance to observe Robert Woods through the course of the spring OTA and minicamp practices, they’d be a lot less concerned.

Woods could merit MVP honors for the offseason practices. His speed off the line is significantly faster this year and his separation is the most consistent it has been in his NFL career.

Last year’s torn groin compromised his effectiveness and required offseason surgery, but Woods has been a terror on the field. Provided it continues when the pads go on, there will be someone who can draw attention away from Watkins.

2 - Taylor poised to advance his game
He’s done everything right when it’s come to pushing his personal game forward once he was named the starting quarterback last summer. Deeply committed with an unrelenting work ethic, Taylor’s work is paying off.

Whether it’s been throwing needle threader passes, directing traffic pre-snap or providing feedback or counsel to a teammate, Taylor knows all the requirements of the job and is delivering on each and every front.

It’s all setting up for him to put together an even better season than 2015 was for him.

RELATED: Bills minicamp notes - Day 3

3 - On field and coach to player communication significantly improved
It was part of the problem for Buffalo’s defense last season. Lack of communication on the field, lack of communication between players and coaches. That’s all in the past now. Though assistant secondary coach Ed Reed was not on hand to witness it in Buffalo last season, he’s been told by his fellow assistant coaches that the communication with the team in all forms is much better than it was in 2015.

“I can only comment off of what coaches have told be about last year,” said Reed. They said, ‘It wasn’t like this last year, Ed, I promise you. You didn’t have guys coming upstairs wanting to ask questions to the coaches.’ They are like, ‘I can count on my hands how many guys came up here last year to ask questions about the defense.’

“Now we’re having guys who want to meet, want to understand what’s going on. Totally bought in to what we’re doing as coaches. For me personally, I was just a safety. I played safety and me and Ray (Lewis) had a culture around that. Baltimore had a culture around the facility. We had tradition on how we did things. We had a standard on how we did things.

“I couldn’t coach here, couldn’t coach the safeties, if they’re not communicating. It’s a given, you have to talk out there. If you’re not talking, something’s wrong. In order for you to talk, you have to understand your job, what you have to do to get guys lined up. If you’re not talking, you’re not going to be successful.

“If you watch the film from last year, you saw a lot of confusion, a lot of not communicating and guys not giving effort. So with that in mind, there couldn’t have been too much communicating out there.

“Some of the offensive guys even said it. You could hear a pin drop last year. So for us to be effective, that’s got to happen. We got to communicate. And to see those guys comment like that, man, we’re getting better. We’re getting a lot better. For where we were last year from what I heard, we’ve gotten a lot better.”

4 - Dez Lewis has the inside track on No. 3 receiver role
In no way is second-year wide receiver Dez Lewis going to allow himself to think he’s got a roster spot in the bag with the Bills, but the strides he has made with his personal game have been big ones. From filling out his body with lean muscle mass, to improving his route running, to establishing a genuine rapport with Tyrod Taylor, Lewis has done everything in his control to advance his game.

He now sits in a pretty advantageous position heading into training camp.

5 - Brown and Ragland could be a heck of a tandem
Preston Brown was given a ton of praise by Assistant head coach/Defense Rob Ryan on Thursday. The third-year linebacker has embraced the defensive scheme wholeheartedly and knows it like the back of his hand. Not far behind him is the man lining up next to him in rookie inside linebacker Reggie Ragland.

The two players are cut from the same cloth. They eat, sleep and breathe football and their work as a tandem could be very entertaining for Bills fans this fall.

“This Preston Brown is going to be a star. He’s been fantastic,” said Rob Ryan. “He’s a vocal guy, he’s extremely smart. He knows the defense. He knows the ins and outs now, so he’s really going to grow in this system. And he’s got a young player next to him that is like his twin. They love football. They’re both tough guys and they’re going to grow together. And we’re going to have something special here, you watch.”

6 - Incognito wins offseason lifter award
The Bills have a number competitions as part of their offseason conditioning program. This year’s winner for Lifter of the offseason was Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito.


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