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Practice Notes - Aug. 21st

Posted Aug 21, 2013

News and notes from the final day of Bills training camp at St. john Fisher

It was a shortened practice to close out training camp Wednesday, but it carried with it the same energy, the same hitting and the same tempo that Doug Marrone’s coaching staff has instilled in the players from the very start.

“They always say this is going to be the worst practice, but with the guys around here it wasn’t as bad as you would’ve thought,” said Stevie Johnson. “They’re making it fun. The energy is great. We’ve just got to keep it going and keep working hard.”

“It hasn’t been a secret, I’ve been happy. I really have, with how the players have gone out and worked,” said Marrone. “I don’t think we’ve wasted a day out here and at times you can do that in camp when you hit these long periods. Players know that we’re progressing. I think you can see that on film. I think they understand we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

“I think there’s probably more excitement at each practice than there’s been in the past and it’s probably because of the young coaching staff we have,” said C.J. Spiller. “We just tried to make it fun. That was the biggest thing we wanted coming into this camp. Come out and just make it fun, but also get the job done and get your work done. And then the tempo. It made everything kind of go by faster.”

For Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb Buffalo is his third NFL training camp and in his six years in the league he’s most impressed with the one he just completed at St. John Fisher.

“We’re on the right track,” he said. “It’s definitely one of the best camps I’ve been a part of as far as administrative-wise, and as far as work ethic-wise and what we got accomplished. I’m excited about the team. I’m excited about where we’re going.”

Byrd update
Bills S Jairus Byrd, who signed his franchise tender Tuesday, is expected to report to the team on Thursday at One Bills Drive. Buffalo’s head coach was understandably pleased to get a premium talent back on the roster.

The plan moving forward is to get Byrd as acclimated to the new defense as quickly as possible.

“I think he’s coming back ready to go,” said Marrone. “He’s looking to see what we’re doing, we’re coming back ready to get him out there on the field. We all know what type of player he is and I don’t think it’s as big of an issue as maybe people might make it out to be. You can see the great things he’s done on film. Obviously he’s a competitor.

“I’m sure that he was in communication with a lot of his teammates and I think that that helps the transition when he comes back in of knowing what we’re trying to accomplish and he’s trying to accomplish the same thing we are as a team. He knows that our goal is to try to get back to the playoffs.”

Marrone said Byrd is not expected to play Saturday, but if it works out logistically he is welcome to make the trip with the team.

“I haven’t even spoken with him yet with this process going on because of all the logistics of the travel and where he’s going but if he’s ready to come on the trip, I’d love for him to come on the trip,” Marrone said. “We haven’t discussed that, but I would like him on the trip and we’ll have to see where he’s at. He might have to do a couple things with the doctors and physicals and all that stuff that you do and hopefully be able to get that done and we can bring him on the trip.”

Gilmore sits
He was pulled out of practice Tuesday as a precaution after planting wrong on his right foot and twisting his toe. On Wednesday Stephon Gilmore was again held out of practice and watched most of the session from the sideline.

Gilmore, who was downplaying the injury insisting it was nothing serious is not expected to miss Saturday’s preseason game at Washington.

Lineup notes
With Gilmore out of the lineup, Leodis McKelvin and Crezdon Butler were the starting cornerbacks during team work. McKelvin had a pass breakup and an interception Wednesday as he made plays on the ball for the second day in a row.

Butler had a chance at an interception, but couldn’t hang onto it. He did have a pair of pass breakups. The second cornerback pairing was Justin Rogers and T.J. Heath.

Two minute drill
Both the first and second units got some two-minute drill work in on this final practice of training camp Wednesday. Kevin Kolb threw three straight completions to Stevie Johnson on a crossing pattern, Fred Jackson along the left sideline and then a big gainer down the right sideline to T.J. Graham for a 30-yard pickup to move into the defense’s territory.

Needing just a field goal on their drive, Kolb stopped the clock on second down with a spike, and then handed off to C.J. Spiller on third down, which went for a loss on a tackle by Torell Troup. But it set up Dustin Hopkins for a 44-yard attempt to win the series.

The second unit offense was the beneficiary of a pass interference call to pick up positive yardage without the clock moving. After throwing completions to Chris Gragg and Marquise Goodwin on back to back plays to approach midfield.

Following three straight incompletions and a couple of penalties led to a 4th and 25 at the defense’s 45-yard line, Tuel took a shot at the end zone down the left side with a deep pass that had Marcus Easley targeted. Leodis McKelvin had other ideas and picked off the pass for an interception to close out the final practice of training camp.

Schedule
The Bills have Thursday off, then a walk through on Friday before traveling to Washington D.C. to face the Redskins Saturday afternoon. After that Buffalo resumes practicing at One Bills Drive on Monday.

For coach Marrone and his staff it’ll be an exercise in transition as they strive to keep the players in the same type of preparation mode they were in at training camp

“Really our concern is they have to keep pushing themselves too because when we’re out at training camp we all know what it is,” said Marrone. “You’re going to go to work, you’re going to practice, you’re going to communicate with your teammates and you’re going to go. And there is less outside distractions. Less people pulling you away from what your objective is to make this team.

“I think it’s important knowing we’re going to change the whole entire environment. We’re changing it for players, changing it for coaches, changing it for staff, but we can’t change that mentality and environment drives that behavior. So we have to go back and do a heck of a job of making sure that we somehow find a way to visually change this environment and still go back and say we’re in camp mode and we’re still working.

“A lot of teams have that challenge. If we can do that and transition the way that we’ve been working here I think we’ll be okay and be ready to go when the season starts.”