The media contingent for the first day of OTAs was larger than usual for the Bills with Terrell Owens taking part in his first practice with his new teammates. But the pace on the field is what grabbed the attention of onlookers as there was a high tempo from the first horn.
Owens has good first day
Terrell Owens didn’t take long to get involved in the offense. Though he’s still absorbing the new terminology, the veteran wideout hooked up with Trent Edwards for the biggest play of the day as he pulled in a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown during team work.
“I’m just trying to get in sync with Trent and obviously with the offense,” said Owens. “There are going to be competitive days where the offense is going to have their day and the defense is going to have their day.”
Owens was pretty quiet on the field throughout the practice session as he seemed very focused on getting acclimated to his new surroundings. Even a couple of his new teammates characterized him as quiet.
Owens also had a catch over the middle in 7-on-7 and a reception on a comeback route along the right sideline as the defense was playing off coverage allowing him to get a clean release.
“He’s talented and a physical guy that catches the ball well and moves well,” said Trent Edwards. “He’s obviously in great shape. He’s running deep comeback routes one after the other and my job is to get comfortable with him and the rest of the guys. And I thought it was a great start.”
During team work and 7-on-7s there were big plays turned in by the offense and some plays on the ball by the defense as well.
Tight end Derek Schouman made a nice leaping grab on a crossing pattern as he spun in the air to pull in the pass from Trent Edwards.
Owens 60-yard touchdown catch was followed three plays later by a 40-yard reception by Lee Evans from Edwards down the left sideline as he got behind Leodis McKelvin.
Justin Jenkins had some great hand fighting with rookie seventh-round pick Ellis Lankster as he successfully ripped the ball from Lankster for another long reception downfield.
And Steve Johnson made a pretty over the shoulder one-handed grab along the right sideline for a 25-yard gain before going out of bounds.
Defensively, Lankster made up for the big play he gave up as he jumped a route by Roscoe Parrish to make an interception off Gibran Hamdan, earning him praise from veteran safety George Wilson. Lankster later had a pass breakup as well.
Terrence McGee had a diving pass breakup on a pass intended for Owens along the left sideline.
Chris Kelsay had a ‘would be’ sack on Edwards during team work and fellow defensive end Chris Ellis had a batted pass.
Where they’re lining up
Right away it was apparent just how much faith the coaching staff has in rookie offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre. Both players were quickly inserted at right and left guard just a few reps into team work.
Veterans Kirk Chambers (left) and Seth McKinney (right) began most of the series with the first unit at the guard positions, but after a two to three snaps Levitre and Wood would sub in.
With new candidates at right guard moving out to right tackle was Brad Butler, who is getting re-accustomed to the position he manned for his entire college career at the University of Virginia.
“It’s going to take some time to get readjusted,” said Butler. “I’m fortunate that I have someone like Chris Kelsay across from me who is going to work hard in practice and help me out. It’s something I’ve known about since the draft and as I’ve said before whatever coach Jauron wants me to do I’ll do.”
Flipping over to the left side was Langston Walker. The eight-year veteran has spent more than a season of his career on the left side before and played parts of two games there last year.
“I’m a team player. They asked me to do it early and I’m doing it, no arguments,” said Walker. “I’m not worried. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I’ll do it until they continue to ask me to.”
Lined up wide naturally were Lee Evans and Owens with Josh Reed working out of his familiar slot role. The second group was Justin Jenkins, Steve Johnson and Roscoe Parrish.
At tight end Derek Schouman and Derek Fine led the rotation with Jonathan Stupar and Shawn Nelson working in. Nelson saw most of his work with the second and third unit.
Defensively, the unit looked familiar with Chris Kelsay, Spencer Johnson, Kyle Williams and Aaron Schobel across the front. Johnson was filling in for Marcus Stroud who was not participating.
Seeing Schobel participating fully was an encouraging sign with the veteran pass rusher coming off a Lisfranc foot injury.
“I felt good,” said Schobel. “I’m 100 percent.”
Schobel showed some good explosion during some individual position drills coming off the line, which was pleasing to his teammates.
“It’s always good to see him out there. I know what he can bring to the table,” said Kawika Mitchell. “I looked forward to playing with him last year, but unfortunately he got sidetracked with some injuries. So it’ll be nice having him out there.”
The linebackers were the same as that of last season with Keith Ellison, Paul Posluszny and Mitchell. In the secondary Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin manned the corners with Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner at the safety positions.
Second-year cornerback Reggie Corner was running with the first team as their nickel cornerback in the subpackages. Corner finished his rookie season strong last year when given more opportunities.
With Ashton Youboty still sidelined coming off plantar fasciitis from last season and veteran signee Drayton Florence not fully up to speed on the defensive system, Corner has a real big opportunity to further improve the initial impression he made on the coaching staff.
Second-year defensive end Chris Ellis and veteran Copeland Bryan shared snaps at right defensive end with the second unit.
Top draft pick Aaron Maybin worked at left defensive end with the second group as well. Maybin didn’t think the speed of the game picked up much practicing with the veterans, and said he wasn’t nervous working with NFL vets and
“Not at all, not at all,” said Maybin. “Once you get to this level if you’re still nervous and you’re not confident in your abilities you need to stay in school. I think mentally I did a pretty good job preparing myself for the change of pace. It picked up a little bit. Nothing too serious, football is football.”
At quarterback after Edwards rotated out, Gibran Hamdan ran the second team offense. It’s presumed that’s due in part to the fact that Hamdan is more familiar with the offensive system than free agent signee Ryan Fitzpatrick at this stage of the game. Whether that changes sooner or later remains to be seen.
Rookie cornerbacks Cary Harris and Lankster got most of their reps with the third unit, but were sprinkled in for a handful of snaps with the second team defense.
In and out
In addition to Aaron Schobel, second-year linebacker Alvin Bowen was also participating fully coming off a torn ACL suffered in training camp last August. Bowen appeared to move well and did not appear to be favoring the knee at all. The Iowa State product ran mainly with the third unit on defense.
Not participating was receiver C.J. Hawthorne, Ashton Youboty, John DiGiorgio, James Hardy and Marcus Stroud.
Youboty is still rehabbing from a bad case of plantar fasciitis, while DiGiorgio and Hardy are still in the middle of the rehab process for their torn ACLs.