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Practice Notes - Aug. 7th

Posted Aug 7, 2013

News and notes from Bills camp on August 7.

The left guard spot has been the position of contention on Buffalo’s offensive line and Wednesday at practice it saw another change. After both Colin Brown and Doug Legursky had four practices each at left guard with the starting unit, the man that lined up to their left kicked inside. Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn moved in to left guard with the starting unit.

According to head coach Doug Marrone however, the move was a one day thing as he and his offensive staff review contingency plans in the event of injury during the season.

“We took Cordy Glenn and we moved him inside,” said Marrone. “The reason why is we’re not experimenting with him not being the left tackle. We know that down the road from now with dressing seven linemen (on game days) we’ll have a swing inside player and a swing outside. A swing tackle and a swing center-guard.

“What we want to make sure of is if something does occur injury-wise and one of the inside players is injured and our swing players goes in there, which one of our tackles is best suited to go in there next? That’s why we wanted to work him there today. I was pleased with that. I saw what I needed to see meaning can he do that and make that transition.”

Marrone indicated that Glenn will be right back at left tackle on Thursday for practice, but it’s clear that the left guard position is one where the coaches are trying to have definitive answers even beyond the starting lineup.  

Welch lines up with starters
With Glenn kicked inside second-team left tackle Thomas Welch moved up to fill Glenn’s spot with the first unit. The Vanderbilt product was glad to get some premium reps Wednesday.

“It felt good,” said Welch. “I’ve been backing up Cordy and they decided to switch Cordy inside to see how it worked out. So I had to step up and take reps with the ones. I felt good out there, so we’ll see what happens.”

Welch, who has put on 15 pounds this offseason, also has some experience at guard after the current staff lined him up there for a day or two in the spring practices. That could be revisited as well.

“We have to move somebody,” said Marrone. “I think from what we saw today, depending on where we’re going to be better on who that swing tackle is, I think we’ll make a decision once we see how the preseason goes. And I think at least we know now in the back pocket, we can always move Cordy in there. With the swing tackle, we know he has to be able to play both tackles.”

A lot of times in the event of an injury to a starting lineman coaches prefer not to move another starter on the line to the one that was vacated. That changes two positions to fill one. Knowing how important the chemistry is up front most coaches are reluctant to do that. Marrone, however, isn’t completely closed off to the idea.

“A lot of times there’s the philosophy that you don’t want to make two moves for one, but if two moves for one (opening) makes you a better offensive line, I think you go ahead and do that,” he said. “Do you like to do that? No.”

Kolb update
Kevin Kolb missed another practice giving EJ Manuel all the reps with the starting unit once again as he deals with a death in his family out of town. Kolb is due back on the St. John Fisher campus Thursday night so he won’t practice again with his teammates until Friday night’s session, the last practice before the team’s preseason opener at Indianapolis.

That’s going to make for a difficult decision for Marrone and his offensive staff. They have to weigh whether Kolb looks prepared enough to play in a preseason game after nearly a one week layoff along with the fact that Manuel has now seen a lot more work in what was supposed to be an equal opportunity competition.

Marrone said Kolb is expected to get clearance to practice and he’ll take things from there.

“I’m going to wait to see how the practices go,” he said. “Things could come up with that situation. We’ll probably talk about that Friday evening, once we know we’re going to a Saturday walk through where nothing should happen barring a sickness and I’ll have a plan set in place for that then. We haven’t had discussions about that.”

Marrone said it’s too early to say whether they would hold Kolb out of Sunday’s preseason game, but it won’t be for time missed on the practice field.

“We’re still in competition and our goal is to be equal and be fair and there are a lot of things that go into that. Right now EJ has approximately 100 more snaps. I think sometimes it depends on what our thoughts are with the people around them too to make sure when we look at things we do it in a fair manner when we do those evaluations.”

Kolb will have missed a total of five practices by the time he returns to the team.

Goodwin steps aside
Marquise Goodwin has been better than advertised in his first Bills training camp. He’s made plays consistently in the practice setting, several of the big play variety. On Wednesday Goodwin was slowed by shortness of breath.

He initially spoke with athletic trainers when he had trouble catching his breath. He re-entered practice and participated in a few more plays before experiencing the same symptoms. The speed receiver sat down on the sidelines and was surrounded by athletic trainers and members of the team’s medical staff.

He was eventually escorted to the hydration-cooling tent and according to Marrone was cleared by the end of practice.

“He was short of breath,” said Marrone. “They took a look at him and he got his breath back and he was fine.”

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been impressed with how quickly Goodwin has progressed with his game despite never participating in an offseason spring camp since he ran track in college.

“We knew he was going to be good,” said Hackett. “We obviously knew he was fast and he showed that he could catch with a lot of the things we saw at the Combine. Even when he played in college and he was out there and they gave him that opportunity he was on point and did a great job.

“I think what he’s done out here up to this point I don’t think anybody expected and I give the credit to him and to (receivers coach) Ike (Hilliard). For him to come out in his first offseason with OTAs, because he was previously in the Olympics, he’s just been awesome. I’m excited about seeing the ways he can help us out.”

Lineup notes
With the first team offensive line undergoing some shuffling it led to some shuffling with the second unit. With Thomas Welch lining up at left tackle with the starters, recent free agent signed Tony Hills was inserted at left tackle with the second unit.

Doug Legursky ran at left guard, while Colin Brown, who has been part of the left guard competition lined up at right guard for the first time.

Marrone said Brown’s new position Wednesday does not mean he’s no longer part of the left guard competition.

“If you see what we’re doing, before we get into the preseason, we’re trying to look down the road to see where that seven (linemen) are,” said Marrone.

On defense with Leodis McKelvin sidelined Ron Brooks got the nod with the first unit in place of him opposite Stephon Gilmore.

Filling in for Brooks, who has manned the top nickel corner role was undrafted rookie Nickell Robey, who has been the second team nickel.

Also being rotated through for first team reps on defense were pass rushers Marcus Dowtin and Jamie Blatnick. Bryan Scott also saw some first team work in certain subpackages. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine confirmed that the rotation of all the edge pass rushers through the lineup is more a byproduct of personnel packages than trying to find the right player combinations.

Getting second team reps at right cornerback Wednesday was recent free agent signee Don Unamba. He split time with T.J. Heath and had a couple of pass breakups.

Punters kicking out of trouble
Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman had his punters kicking out of their own end zone Wednesday.

Shawn Powell had four kicks with his best a 50-yarder with an unofficial hang time of 4.3 seconds. Stahovich’s best was a 52-yard effort with an unofficial hang time of 4.3.

It’s clear that Powell is the physically superior punter in terms of leg strength, but Stahovich has been more consistent through the first week and a half of camp. The preseason games will tell a lot.

Schedule
The Bills have another morning practice on Thursday at 8 am and it is open to the public. It was originally scheduled as a closed practice.