The rains arrived at the St. John Fisher campus at just about the midway point of Bills practice Sunday afternoon, but the team worked through it. Head coach Chan Gailey saw an advantage in trying to execute in challenging elements.
“You need a day like so you learn how to handle a wet ball,” said Gailey. “I think they had one ball on the ground out there and we practiced in a lot of different situations from our Wildcat to our goal line to our regular offense. So I thought we handled it well.”
“This is the weather that we play in,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “We’ll get a couple of these games every year so we’ve got to be able to deal with the elements. Learn what you can and can’t do, especially for me, types of throws that I can make and am comfortable throwing. It’s good for the centers to snap the ball in the shotgun, even the exchanges with the center and the running backs. It was good work for us to be out there and I thought we were productive.”
Fred owns goal line
Goal line didn’t happen until the very end of practice in the pouring rain, but it didn’t seem to affect the first team offense much. Head coach Chan Gailey had three consecutive run plays called for Fred Jackson and Jackson reached the end zone on all three.
Jackson and his offensive teammates were hooting it up getting louder with each successful carry. It re-emphasized what an emotional leader Jackson is on this team.
“He can get us going with his emotional play on the field,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think he knows and understands that that’s his role and he’s got a big influence in terms of what we do.”
The second unit on offense wasn’t quite as successful on their three goal line plays. Tashard Choice broke the goal line on the first play for a score, but Johnny White was stopped short on the second carry. A play action pass by Tyler Thigpen to Fendi Onobun in the left corner of the end zone fell incomplete.
For the notable highlights from practice you can check out our daily Bills Roundup report in the Media Center at Buffalobills.com.
Position battle update
Coach Gailey is biding his time with one of the more popular position battles going on in camp. More than two weeks into camp the Bills sideline boss gave an update on the number two receiver job, still giving the edge to Donald Jones.
“He is ahead as he was when he came here, but nothing is locked in granite right now,” said Gailey. “Everybody is still working to see where we’re going to play them. We’re going to play a lot of guys anyway.”
Gailey has been leaning Jones’ way since the spring and hasn’t changed his tune. Add in the fact that he believes Jones has improved his game and it’s his job to lose.
“He’s had a very good camp,” Gailey said. “He’s looked quicker and faster than I remember from last year.”
Cordy Glenn continues to get first team reps at left tackle despite the return of Erik Pears at right tackle, at least on a part time basis. With Pears taking some starting reps at right tackle it’s lightened the load for Chris Hairston, who had been forced to take reps at both starting right tackle and second team left tackle. But Hairston is still getting second team work at left tackle to this point.
Gailey indicated that very soon Hairston will be more full time at left tackle soon.
“We’re going to get him back and get him more left tackle snaps before it’s over with,” Gailey said.
Whether the daily rotation between Hairston and Glenn with the first team resumes however, appears to be up in the air.
Arthur Moats and Kirk Morrison appear to still be rotating at that starting strong side linebacker position, but Moats gets more reps there through the course of practice.
The number two quarterback job between Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young still looks like a dead heat. Each of them have turned in some nice plays here and there, but no one has demonstrated a level of consistency to separate their game from the other.
The only non-participants in practice Sunday were Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt and Kevin Brock. Mike Caussin remains on active PUP. The three injured players have already been declared out for Buffalo’s next preseason game on Friday in Minnesota.
“They’ll all be out for this game,” said Gailey. “Justin is probably the closest of any of them right now (to return). We might get him to practice a day or so before the game, but we won’t play him in the game.”
Derek Hagan was sidelined briefly with what was initially feared to be a leg injury, but instead proved to be nothing more than a rug burn on the turf after a hard fall on a deep route when he and George Wilson competed for a pass. He returned to practice a short time later.
Spencer Johnson again skipped team drills with a minor shoulder injury. He expects to be back full go in a couple of days.
Kelvin Sheppard returned to practice and did do team work after skipping 11-on-11 Saturday.
Terrence McGee is coming along and appears to be moving around better coming off patellar tendon knee surgery in the offseason. He had his first pass breakup in team work Sunday. Still, it’s not expected he’ll play in the Minnesota game either.
Ron Brooks made another interception Sunday following up on his solid preseason game performance against Washington. The rookie cornerback was lined up at right cornerback with the second unit and jumped in front of a Tyler Thigpen pass intended for Kamar Aiken and took it up the right sideline to the opposite end zone.
“He’s done a very good job. He is a kind of underrated guy. He’s got a lot of ability,” said Gailey. “I’m anxious to see how he continues to progress. He could help our team a lot this year.”
Scott Chandler continues to put in solid day after solid day. He had another six receptions (unofficial) Sunday including a difficult fingertip grab over his head from Vince Young on a seam route to the end zone for a score during red zone work.
Leodis McKelvin has been getting some reps here and there at left cornerback in the Bills starting base defense in place of Aaron Williams. It’s likely just a way to keep McKelvin sharp at the boundary corner position after getting almost all of his work in camp in the slot.
George Wilson and Mark Anderson teamed up for a tackle for loss on C.J. Spiller during 11-on-11 that both players had diagnosed early.
Dwan Edwards looked strong on a quarterback pressure on Fitzpatrick as he forced a hurried throw and incompletion. He deftly used his power and burst to split a pair of interior linemen on the play.
Special teams worked on onsides kicks. Among those on the hands team included George Wilson, Ruvell Martin, David Nelson, Donald Jones and Scott Chandler.
The Bills have a 3 pm practice on Monday.
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