1 – Live period a draw between offense and defense
It's probably just the kind of result a head coach is looking for. In Buffalo's first live, tackle-to-the-ground period of training camp, the nine-play series proved to be a draw.
The defense got the better of the run game as the only rushing touchdown they allowed was a scramble by Nate Peterman, after he found no one open following his drop back. While the offense found success off play action in the pass game.
On the first play, Chris Ivory was stopped short on a run off left tackle. He was also stopped three plays later when Tanner Vallejo got an early read and beat Ivory to the hole. Vallejo held him up until help arrived to keep him short of the goal line.
LB Julian Stanford stopped RB Keith Ford when the third teamers came out for their three plays. Ford was stopped a second time when Xavier Woodson-Luster was the first to reach the ball carrier.
In the pass game however, Peterman, while under pressure from an onrushing Shaq Lawson lofted a pass to the right rear corner of the end zone. TE Jason Croom ran under and got two feet down for the touchdown.
"It was really just a quarterback putting it in a place where only I could get it," said Croom. "It's about making each other look good and that's what we did."
Croom and Peterman were actually college teammates for two seasons at Tennessee, so the on-field chemistry wasn't surprising.
AJ McCarron off play action found a wide-open Nick O'Leary just beyond the goal line for a score. And Josh Allen rolling out to his right, threw a bullet back across his body when he spotted TE Khari Lee and stuck it in his bread basket for a touchdown.
Photos from The Return of the Blue & Red 2018, presented by Bud Light, at New Era Field.
2 – Player rotation to continue for a bit
Over the last few days of camp, the coaching staff in all three phases has done a fair amount of experimentation when it comes to rotating players up or moving them to a different position. LB Deon Lacey for example, has seen time with the starting unit at weakside linebacker. WR Brandon Reilly has seen snaps with the first and second units.
Head coach Sean McDermott explained the team's philosophy when it comes to testing players or giving them fresh opportunities.
"This time of year, there's a window of opportunity where we can look at some things, try some things out, experiment how we look with this guy who is normally a two playing with the ones, if he's earned it. We've done that," he said. "Same thing to your point with the three's moving up with the twos. We'll continue to do that mix and match. At some point, we're going to have to, much like the quarterback position as well, get it set so we can develop some continuity and chemistry amongst that first group."
When asked when that cut off point typically is, McDermott indicated that it's somewhere between the second and third preseason game.
"Certainly, as we get into these preseason games, you look at the evolvement between game two and game three," McDermott said. "Somewhere in there, game three being somewhat of a dress rehearsal. There's important parts of game four, also, in preseason, so somewhere in there."
With a handful of veteran players getting the day off Friday night, some of the beneficiaries included DT Adolphus Washington, who was in for Kyle Williams as a starting defensive tackle. Deon Lacey was the starting weakside linebacker in place of Lorenzo Alexander. And John Hughes got second team defensive tackle reps with Washington moving up the ones.
Rookie Taron Johnson also got rotated in as a first team nickel for part of the practice as he continues to battle with Phillip Gaines.
3 – Bush, Croom, Ford head list of playmakers
In what was easily the most physical practice of training camp, there were some headliners Friday.
Rafael Bush put his physicality on display when he separated WR Ray-Ray McCloud from the football after making a catch over the middle. On the very next play, Bush again forced a fumble when he hit Robert Foster from behind after he made a catch over the middle. Julian Stanford recovered the fumble on the play.
"We're trying to do some special things out there on defense, and you just have to make plays out there," said Bush. "I was just trying to make a play and I ended up forcing the fumble there."
LB Ramon Humber also had a hard hit over the middle on WR Kaelin Clay and forced an incompletion.
In addition to his touchdown catch in tight space along the right sideline of the end zone during the goal line series, TE Jason Croom also made a nice catch on an out route from AJ McCarron.
"I'm trying to make a play for any quarterback is back there," said Croom. "I've always felt like you have to make each other look good. They put it in the area for us, it's our job to make the play for them."
The third playmaker of the night was undrafted rookie RB Keith Ford. The Texas A&M product has had a few nice runs here and there through the first week of camp. On Friday he took advantage of the holes provided by his linemen up front.
His best run came during an 11-on-11 period where he made a jump cut to get into the hole and then he broke into the open field where he outflanked the secondary on his way to what would've been a 70-yard touchdown run.