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Practice Notes - Day 7

Posted Aug 6, 2011

David Nelson said Saturday morning that he felt good and was ready to go. After sitting through an entire day of testing back in Buffalo for an undisclosed respiratory condition, Nelson with full understanding of his affliction went out and was a major part of the best offensive night in training camp thus far.

“I think it was a combination of two things,” said Nelson. “I got a couple of days off and got my legs back right. They implemented a couple of plays for me. We’re going a little more three and four wide now and there are some things that I can do. And I think the quarterbacks saw today what we were able to do.”

Nelson’s biggest plays went for 20 yards, 40 yards and he had a red zone touchdown on a post pattern for good measure. He chose to keep his newly discovered medical condition private, but assured that in time with medication the issue will subside.

“I spent yesterday doing a lot of tests,” he said. “We went back to Buffalo and did pretty much every test imaginable and we figured out what it was. I definitely didn’t feel 100 percent out there (Saturday). We had to slow down a little bit, but at the same time I’m back out there and it’s going to gradually get back to 100 percent. (Saturday) was a step in the right direction.”

A third down specialist as a rookie, Nelson was determined to carve out a bigger role for himself in the offense in 2011 and it appears he has convinced head coach Chan Gailey he’s deserving of it putting in some plays designed especially for the tall wideout.

“It means a lot, especially with so many playmakers on this team,” Nelson said. “So many guys that can do so many things with the ball, just to be included in that group, we’ve got some great caliber players and any player can take the ball to the end zone at any time. Just to be a part of this and have Chan include me is special.”

Johnson shining
The other star of the night was Stevie Johnson. Johnson was dominant in the passing game. He’s only listed at 205 pounds on the roster, but looks much bigger and stronger than that and he appears to have added some inches to his vertical leap as he made a few plays simply by out leaping the defensive back for the ball.

He was especially dominant during red zone work where he had a pair of touchdowns.

“Chan, he always makes it a point that once we get in the red zone we’ve got to have six,” said Johnson. “If we get field goals that’s good, but we’ve got to have six. We’re too good of an offense to not get touchdowns when we get in the red zone.”

Buffalo’s offense had a solid red zone segment. The quarterbacks had a combined four touchdown passes with Fitzpatrick responsible for three and Thigpen one. The starters got a lot more work in particular Saturday night, and they had no problem with that knowing in a week they’ve got their first preseason game in Chicago.

“We’ve got to be on our game now,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have OTAs or anything, so we’re rushing into meshing with each other. The ones are getting more reps. We went from three to five (reps at a time) in like three days. We’re just trying to speed up the process so we can get ready for the season.”

Injury update
Second-round pick Aaron Williams left practice early Saturday night with a hand injury. Coach Gailey said the hand was being further examined by athletic trainers in the locker room and he’d know more on Sunday morning at the latest.

WR Donald Jones was a new spectator at practice after he got leg whipped on his right calf in Friday’s practice, but Gailey didn’t expect Jones to miss more than a day or two.

LB Shawne Merriman missed a second straight day of practice as he’s got some soreness in the same leg in which he’s had his recurring Achilles problems, but Gailey assured that it’s not a concern.

“He didn’t feel as good this morning coming back. He was a little sorer than we thought he was going to be, so we left him out one more day,” he said. “It’s soreness within that leg, but it’s not dealing with any of (his prior injuries).”

Drayton Florence also cramped up toward the end of practice and had to be replaced in the lineup on the outside at right cornerback by Reggie Corner.

LB Kelvin Sheppard remains sidelined and was to be re-evaluated at the end of the week. Gailey said that Sheppard’s prognosis is unchanged and that he’ll be out 7-10 days from the time of the injury, which would peg him for a possible return by the middle of next week at the latest.

LB Danny Batten was also shaken up when he was the recipient of some friendly fire. Both he and fellow linebacker Chris White were trying to close on a running back, but White ran head on into Batten’s left shoulder and chest with his helmet and shoulder.

Other non-participants were CB Justin Rogers, TE Shawn Nelson and WR Marcus Easley.

Highlights
The defense to its credit did turn in some plays. In 7-on-7 George Wilson showed well in run support as he filled the hole outside preventing C.J. Spiller from getting the corner holding him to a minimal gain.

Wilson also had a pass breakup along the near sideline that could’ve been an interception as he got his hands on a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass.

Reggie Corner had a pair of pass breakups including one that he almost pulled in for an INT.

Jairus Byrd had a quarterback pressure on a safety blitz that led to an incompletion on a hurried throw.

Rookie Da’Norris Searcy had a good tackle at the line of scrimmage on a run by college teammate Anthony Elzy in 11-on-11.

DT Kellen Heard walked a center all the way back into the pocket to the point where Tyler Thigpen almost tripped over the center while trying to deliver the ball on a pass play.

DT Torell Troup stuffed a running play at the line of scrimmage in 11-on-11 for no gain.

And Leodis McKelvin had a pass breakup on a pass in the end zone intended for Lee Evans from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

On the offensive side of the ball David Nelson had a 20-yard reception deep over the middle on a well-timed pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

A short time later TE Mike Caussin slipped behind two defenders for what turned into a 55-yard scoring play in 7-on-7.

Paul Hubbard had an acrobatic catch as he leaped high over his defender to pull in a pass from Tyler Thigpen along the near sideline for a 25-yard gain.

Nelson showed great concentration when he was able to pull in a tipped pass while twirling in the air and hit the ground running for a 40-yard pass play.

Brad Smith busted through a nice hole by the line on a keeper play when he was lined up at quarterback that went for first down yardage and more.

Stevie Johnson fought off his defender to pull in a fade pass in the back left corner of the end zone for a touchdown on a pass from Fitzpatrick.

Roscoe Parrish made a leaping, twirling catch in the exact same spot on a blown coverage, and made a remarkable effort to get his second foot down before falling out of bounds for a score.

Hubbard made his second big play of the night when with the help of a David Martin block he took a wide receiver screen play into the end zone for a TD.

David Nelson ran a well executed post pattern for a red zone touchdown from Fitzpatrick.

And Stevie Johnson capped the night with a high reaching touchdown catch over his defender in 11-on-11 red zone.

Next practice
The Bills will have a single afternoon practice on Sunday and it’s scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm.