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OTAs - Day 1 - QB competition underway

Posted May 25, 2010

The first day of organized team activities for the Bills saw almost the entire balance of the roster in attendance for the voluntary session Tuesday. It was also day one of the open quarterback competition, and there were two signal callers taking the majority of the reps.

Head coach Chan Gailey however, made it clear that there was a reason Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick saw the bulk of the work in individual and team drills Tuesday.

“These first two weeks, these first six practices we’re giving Fitz and Trent a few more of the reps because Brian (Brohm) and Levi (Brown) had the whole rookie minicamp,” said Gailey. “Those two guys got almost 100 reps apiece in that minicamp, so we’re trying to catch these two guys up because they have not had any reps in it thus far. The first six practices, the majority of the reps will go to those two guys and then it’ll start to even out more as we go after these first two weeks.”

Gailey made it clear that he has a precise plan in evaluating his four quarterbacks through the course of the spring and it will not be tied to completion percentage, touchdown passes or interceptions in the practice setting.

“With everybody learning and starting at ground zero, it’s not just statistics that you go by,” he said. “That’s a key for this thing. You have to look at who is grasping things and who gets it. (A quarterback) may be out there with a receiver that’s a rookie. They may be out there against the third (teamers) and going against a rookie DB it might not be a fair evaluation.”

Trent Edwards was the first quarterback through in Tuesday’s rotation with Fitzpatrick following. Typically they would each get four reps to a set of two for Brohm and Brown, who followed in that order. Playing under his fourth coordinator in four years and learning his third system with the Bills, Edwards is going through the process of interpreting the new terminology.

“Let’s say I’ve been speaking English the last eight or nine years, this is more like Spanish,” said Edwards. “So it’s a little bit of a change and a little opposite of what I’m used to. But you’re still a football player and still studying your playbook every day, still trying to pick it up. That’s what’s nice about going out on and practicing, it’s seeing those plays actually take shape.”

“There are definitely some tongue twisters,” said Fitzpatrick of the terminology. “And (coach Gailey) does a good job of trying to limit the syllable count. Just different shifts and motions and things where you have to get it straight in your mind. It’s not all second nature yet, but hopefully by the end of minicamp hearing it by then it’ll be second nature to everybody.”

When asked for his impressions of the quarterbacks on day one, Gailey was plain in his assessment.

“We don’t need to cancel practice, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in the throwing game,” he said. “We’re rusty and we’ve got to continue to work route running as well as throwing the football. But I can tell we haven’t thrown the football. We’ve thrown it individually, but not with bodies flying around and that’s a lot different.”

Observations
On the offensive side of the ball top pick C.J. Spiller was the second man through when it came to reps at running back behind veteran Fred Jackson. Spiller was even sprinkled in with the first unit during team work where he got some reps in relief of Jackson.

At receiver James Hardy got almost all of the reps opposite Lee Evans in the number two receiver role. When the offense went to the three wide set, Roscoe Parrish was the first slot receiver through. Gailey cautioned that it’s far too early to even predict how things will play out opposite Evans.

“I can’t tell you that because I don’t know,” Gailey said. “We’re waiting to see who is going to step up. It can be any of those guys out there. I don’t know who it’s going to be right now, and I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve been amazed before so it’s not smart on my part to make predictions.”

During the special teams portion of practice, Hardy spent an extended amount of time speaking with Evans as the veteran receiver was providing the former second-round pick with solutions to option route questions and answers on reading certain coverages.

Chad Jackson and Steve Johnson were the next pair of wideouts through in the rotation Tuesday.

Along the offensive front with Demetrius Bell not healthy enough to participate, Jamon Meredith manned left tackle while Kirk Chambers stepped in for Eric Wood with the first unit. Free agent signee Cornell Green was at right tackle with Andy Levitre and Geoff Hangartner in their familiar interior roles.

Defensively, free agent signee Dwan Edwards was part of the starting unit at right end with Kyle Williams at the nose and veteran Marcus Stroud at left end.

Chris Kelsay and Chris Ellis as expected were the outside backers with Paul Posluszny and Andra Davis inside. Kawika Mitchell was limited (see below) and did not participate in team work. Davis has some very solid reads during the run fit portion of practice and would’ve blown up a couple of run plays had they been executed under live conditions.

The secondary had Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence as the starting corners with Donte Whitner and Jairus Byrd the safeties.

Leodis McKelvin ran with the second unit, but that might be short lived. The third-year corner began OTAs much like he did the rookie minicamp as he was around every ball that was thrown in his direction. His focus appears to be significantly sharper than it ever has been.

Highlights
With two quarterbacks and a host of offensive players trying to execute a new offense on their first day some plays were rough around the edges, which kept the highlights somewhat limited.

During 7-on-7 however, Lee Evans caught a deep ball from Trent Edwards for a big play.

Paul Posluszny had a pass breakup during the 7-on-7 period as well.

McKelvin nearly had an interception during one-on-ones with the receivers.

And rookie Marcus Easley got behind his defender to pull in a deep ball from Edwards for what would’ve been a 40-yard touchdown.

Players still on the mend
There was a handful of players not participating Tuesday because they are still rehabbing from injuries and postseason surgeries. Tight end Derek Schouman did not practice at all coming off a torn meniscus in his knee. Offensive lineman Demetrius Bell (knee/shoulder) did not participate, but did conditioning work on the side. Eric Wood (leg) helped deliver some snaps to quarterbacks during individual work, but otherwise observed practice.

“We are looking forward to several of those guys being ready for training camp. That’s what you hope for. I don’t know if he’ll make it or not,” said Gailey about Wood specifically. “But that’s what you hope for.”

Also not participating due to a rehab assignment was LB Nic Harris (knee).

Players limited in practice due to a continuing rehab schedule were FS Jairus Byrd (hip), CB Terrence McGee(shoulder), LB Kawika Mitchell (thigh), C Geoff Hangartner (ankle),WR Roscoe Parrish (knee) and DT Marcus Stroud (knee).

TE Joe Klopfenstein also did not participate Tuesday though he was in attendance.

Buffalobills.com’s coverage of OTAs continues Wednesday when the team has another 90-minute practice beginning at 12:05 pm.

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