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OTAs - Day 5 - QB progress, blitz packages, Spiller split wide

Posted Jun 2, 2010

Bills head coach Chan Gailey made it clear following day five of team OTAs that no quarterback to this point has stepped forward as a front runner through the first week and a half of practices. Based on the type of evaluation Gailey intends to make it’s unlikely that a leading candidate will be determined prior to training camp.

When asked if he was satisfied with the progress of the quarterbacks specifically, Gailey offered the following response.

“Never,” he said. “Again it goes back to never being satisfied. We’re making progress every day though. I see these guys understanding what we’re trying to do and I think they’re getting better. We’ve got a long way to go yet. It’s easy when you’ve got shorts on and nobody is hitting you. That’s the easy time to play quarterback. It’s a lot harder when they’re all flying around you and they’re all trying to take your head off.”

It seems clear that Gailey wants to wait to fully evaluate the quarterbacks in training camp and the preseason when practice conditions and the games are a bit closer to live regular season action.

For what it’s worth Trent Edwards was the first QB in the rotation for 7-on-7, while Ryan Fitzpatrick was the first man through in 11-on-11. Edwards followed Fitzpatrick in 11-on-11 with Fitzpatrick doing the same with Edwards in 7-on-7.

Again Brian Brohm and Levi Brown got fewer snaps under center.

Fast paced learning
Knowing there’s a lot of ground to cover in installing new offensive and defensive schemes, Gailey and his staff have been pushing the players with a high volume of playbook installation each day. On Wednesday there were blitz packages installed on defense, while the offense worked on draw plays, screens and blitz pickups.

Adding plays and packages at such a quick pace has challenged the players mentally and kept them intently focused. Despite the demanding schedule Gailey is not convinced it will give him and his staff time to refine those plays and packages when they get through the whole playbook the first time.

“There will be review days,” he said. “I’m not sure there will be very many refinement days. But they’ll be a lot of review days. Hopefully in those review days we do a little bit of refining, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where I’ll need to cancel practice.”

Observation notes
Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin both got some first team reps on defense during 7-on-7 work. Terrence McGee appeared to get the day off with respect to team drills. McGee is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and is not full go.

The defensive staff appears to be mixing and matching different combinations of players of late. George Wilson, who has been getting reps with the second team at free safety got snaps at strong safety with the first team as he was paired in centerfield with Jairus Byrd.

Rookies Torell Troup and Alex Carrington also got sprinkled in for some first team reps during the run fit portion of practice. Troup has shown some good penetration in OTAs, something that was deemed by some to be an area in need of improvement for him. Carrington meanwhile looks like a perfect fit as an end in a 3-4 as he has demonstrated an ability to consistently hold the point of attack.

“I will say that our rookie group has added size and speed and a great deal of quickness to our football team,” said Gailey. “We’ve got a good group of young players and that includes the free agents, not just the drafted guys. We’ve got some guys that have shown a lot on the football field. They’ve really been quick to learn.”

Lydell Sargeant was part of the rotation at nickel corner seeing work in the slot.

Steve Johnson for the second time this week was lined up opposite Lee Evans at receiver with the first offensive unit.

C.J. Spiller got some of his first offensive reps split wide instead of in the offensive backfield. He had one reception as a receiver in Wednesday’s practice when he was matched up on a linebacker.

Highlights
With Shawn Nelson still not in attendance Jonathan Stupar and Michael Matthews continue to take advantage of the extra reps. Stupar had two especially nice looking catches Wednesday.

Lee Evans made a couple of technique-sound receptions along the near sideline as he expertly got both feet in bounds on both plays.

James Hardy had a well-timed play with Ryan Fitzpatrick that went for a 20-yard gain during 7-on-7.

The first team offensive line had a very good looking blitz pickup during 11-on-11 team work giving Brian Brohm enough time to hit rookie David Nelson for first down yardage and more inside the numbers.

And Chad Jackson had a nice catch on an outside route from Levi Brown.

Defensively, Paul Posluszny had his third pass breakup in as many practices on a throw intended for Jonathan Stupar underneath.

Ashton Youboty almost had an interception on a pass for Evans late in 7-on-7.

Rookie outside linebacker Danny Batten had a ‘would be’ sack on Trent Edwards.

Chris Ellis had a batted pass during 11-on-11 team work.

Defensive aggressiveness
Bills defensive coordinator George Edwards said aggressiveness will be part of the team’s identity on defense and that was evident with blitz packages going in the past day or so. A handful of times the defense got quality pressure on the quarterback.

“You’ve got to like an aggressive coordinator that’s not going to have you on your heels and is going to have you in attack mode,” said Dwan Edwards. “You want to be the guy with the gun, not the guy running from the guy with the gun.”

The offense, however, had answers with the draw play catching the defense over committing to the pass rush a couple of times.

With the defense pinning their ears back and coming up field hard, Fitzpatrick ran a draw play to C.J. Spiller who darted through a cavernous hole for what would’ve been big yardage.

Some defenders were caught so out of position that it prompted some hooting and hollering from some offensive onlookers that were not participating in that particular play.

Six plays later rookie back Joique Bell also had success in making a big gain on a draw play with the defense focused on getting to the quarterback. Naturally there was more chatter from the offensive sideline.

Schedule
The Bills wrap up week two of OTA practices Thursday with a 12:05 pm practice. That’s followed by a voluntary minicamp which runs Friday through Sunday.

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