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Minicamp Practice Notes - Day 2

Posted Jun 12, 2013

Athletic interceptions, strong defensive play were highlights of day 2 out of 3 of this week's Bills minicamp.


Wednesday was a day where the defense was turning in plays with regularity at Bills minicamp. This is the time of year when a defensive unit is typically ahead of an offensive unit knowing how much more synchronization is required on offense. Knowing Buffalo’s attack also has a new scheme, three new quarterbacks and they’re facing a defense that is as varied as any in the NFL, seeing the Bills defense carry play wasn’t a surprise.

The defensive unit’s pressure packages consistently kept the offense off balance. Buffalo’s pass defenders were getting hands in the passing lanes to force incompletions Tuesday. On Wednesday they registered interceptions.

Almost every interception was a great play by the defensive back. Aaron Williams had his second interception in as many days. He was actually lined up at the cornerback position when he flipped his hips ran alongside Marquise Goodwin and used his long, lanky frame to reach the intended pass from EJ Manuel before Goodwin could get his hands on it. Williams juggled it before finally pulling it in for the INT.

Williams interception Tuesday came from the safety position, a role he’s adapted to quite well this spring.

“Being a safety is such a different world from being a corner,” said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. “Now there are a lot of plays where he ends up locked up on a guy and his corner instincts can take over. But it is a lot of learning and a lot of communication and I think he’s ahead of schedule of where we thought he would be. He’s flashed just the things that we saw in him as far as being a safety. Real nice play yesterday undercut a throw, interception and obviously his range his ability to get sideline to sideline is obviously something we’re going to take advantage of.”

Also registering interceptions Wednesday were Stephon Gilmore, who made a leaping grab on a deep ball down the middle of the field. And Nickell Robey out fought Chris Hogan for a pass and came down with the ball for an INT.  

Opportunity for Duke
Bills fourth-round pick Duke Williams rotated in and out with fellow safety Jonathan Meeks with the second unit Tuesday. On Wednesday the Nevada product ran with the first unit alongside Da’Norris Searcy as Aaron Williams got time with the second unit.

“I got a lot of reps with the ones, interchanging with the other safeties,” Duke Williams told Buffalobills.com. “It was a good look, going with the veterans. They help me out a lot. It’s great for me because I can get a better look at the ‘D’.”

Pettine downplayed Williams’ rotation up to the first unit Wednesday citing that he has given full control of who lines up where in the secondary to defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson.

“I think Donnie has had a plan for rotating those guys,” said Pettine. “He came out of OTAs and had a feel for the pitch count of his guys, who he wanted to get in certain situations, who he wanted to work with the ones. I’ve given Donnie that freedom with the back end to mix and match it.”

Williams mentioned teammates Bryan Scott and Leodis McKelvin as two veterans that have helped him the most with nailing down the playbook.

Offense striving for rhythm
Buffalo’s offense will certainly be prepared come the fall with the myriad of looks they’ve seen from their own defense. Right now offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is just trying to develop some consistency from one play to the next.

“Any time you’re facing a defense we face every single day, it’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions,” said Hackett. “They’re bringing everybody from every place.  You have to do your best to try to get a foundation and make things happen. 

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“(We had) a lot of good, a lot of bad. It’s one of those things that’s an up and down deal. You don’t want to get too excited. You don’t want to get too upset. You want to get a good feel for how everybody’s doing and keep getting better every day.”

The Bills offense made a handful of good plays. Robert Woods had a couple of quality receptions in the passing game as well as Brad Smith and Chris Hogan, but the pressure eventually got to Buffalo’s quarterbacks.

Two minute drill
During a two-minute drill segment run by Kevin Kolb after a big 20-plus yard pickup by Fred Jackson on a dump-off reception, the defense dialed up the pressure.

On four straight snaps they registered sacks. Jerry Hughes got a pair, Nickell Robey and Duke Williams were the first two arrive on the other two pressures.

“I was fortunate because the line was doing such a good job opening up the holes for me,” said Williams. “I just got an opportunity to get a sack and I got it.”

The defense has been as varied with their looks as any defense in recent memory for the Bills at this point in the offseason. Pettine credits his players’ ability to absorb and execute efficiently through the course of the spring as the reason for their use of their full complement of pressure packages.

“It is a lot and that was on purpose and we’ve been pleased,” said Pettine. “Our inventory, we’ve put in a lot. We’ve added. We’ve tweaked some things and changed some things that kind of existed in the system before to take advantage of what we do. I think as a coaching staff we’re very optimistic with how well this group learns.”

Nicked up
Ron Brooks left practice early Wednesday. Crezdon Butler was also held out of the latter half of practice with an undisclosed ailment.

Schedule
The Bills have a tight turnaround for their final minicamp practice on Thursday with a 9:45 workout scheduled. Head coach Doug Marrone addressed the players at the close of practice Wednesday encouraging them to finish the three-day minicamp with the same effort and enthusiasm that has been carried through the first two days.