1 - Red zone work raises intensity
The Bills went through their most extensive red zone work of training camp Tuesday, and the level of competitiveness was noticeably raised.
"It was very competitive," said safety Rafael Bush. "The offense is down there, and their job is to not turn the ball over. If they don't get a touchdown they can at least get three points. It's our job to keep them out of the end zone and hold them to three points. So, it's very competitive."
It began with the team's situational period with each offensive unit getting one crack at the end zone against each of the defensive units.
On the first play, Nathan Peterman, who worked with the first team today, had a fade pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin knocked away by Tre'Davious White for an incompletion.
AJ McCarron followed and appeared to have TE Jason Croom open in the back of the end zone, but Bush swooped in for an interception.
"We were just going over it the day before on our off day," said Bush. "Our coach was telling us about reading the quarterback. So I was just going through my rolodex memory and kind of took the classroom to the field and was able to make a play."
Josh Allen got a pair of plays to finish the period. Following an incomplete pass attempt to Quan Bray, he threaded to nice pass over the head of the defensive back to fellow rookie Ray-Ray McCloud, but he couldn't hang onto the ball as it went through his hands and out of bounds.
2 – McCarron fares well
During 11-on-11 play, AJ McCarron put together a good series with the second team offense. After completing a swing pass to Marcus Murphy that got down to the five-yard line, he executed a good play action fake and found Brandon Reilly streaking into the left side of the end zone uncovered for a touchdown.
After finding no one on a roll out on the next play that forced him to run out of bounds with the ball, he delivered a well-timed strike to Charles Clay over the middle for a touchdown. As good as a couple of the throws looked, McCarron downplayed his success.
"It's just a work in progress," he said. "You always push to do better and better each day. I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the offense day in and day out. Just excited to be a part of this."
McCarron fared even better during 7-on-7 red zone work. After hitting Murphy coming out of the backfield for a touchdown, he found Austin Proehl coming across the back of the end zone for a score. On the next play he hit a wide-open Nick O'Leary for a touchdown and then found Kaelin Clay in the back of the end zone for a TD.
Josh Allen followed with the third team and had touchdown strikes to tight ends Keith Towbridge and Khari Lee on back-to-back plays, before Cam Phillips made a diving catch for him in the end zone on the next play.
Nathan Peterman's best red zone series came at the end of practice when he found Khari Lee for a touchdown and closed out the series with a pair of scramble runs for touchdowns.
Almost a week into camp, the quarterbacks are getting a handle on the body language of their receiving targets and it's helping to tighten up the passing game.
"The more time you spend with somebody, the more you learn everything about them," said McCarron. "What kind of route they like to run. What route they don't like to run. What route they're really good at running. Everything about the play and the route. So, it's just a process. I'm just proud of the group. The group has been doing awesome. They've been going 100 percent."
3 - Playmakers
Khari Lee, who is entering his second season with the Bills after appearing in eight games last season, took advantage of his higher rep count in Tuesday's practice.
With Nick O'Leary limited and Logan Thomas practicing only on a non-contact basis, Khari Lee proved to be the main beneficiary. On the day he pulled in a pair of touchdowns during red zone work and held his own on run plays with blocking assignments.
"In the NFL it's always next man up," Lee said. "Whatever opportunities you get, you want to take advantage of them. You never want to see guys down or hurt, you just want to go out and put your best foot forward."
Other notable plays that were turned in on Tuesday included Tremaine Edmunds, who in a 9-on-7 run period shot the gap and stopped Chris Ivory, who used a spin move to get away from an initial tackler but spun right into the rookie linebacker.
Jordan Mills had a nice seal block outside to spring LeSean McCoy during a run period segment.
Shaq Lawson had a tackle for no gain on a check down pass to a back and had a batted pass, as he didn't buy the play fake.
Jordan Poyer made a leaping one-handed interception in the back of the end zone, but only got one foot down inbounds.
Julian Stanford came downhill in a hurry on a run play, leaving Ivory without any room to elude him behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a nice pass breakup in the end zone on a touchdown pass intended for Lee.
Tanner Vallejo had a batted pass during team work to force an incompletion.
Eddie Yarbrough walked his offensive tackle back into AJ McCarron on a bull rush forcing a premature end of the play.