After hitting the road for their first preseason game in Canton, OH, the Bills returned to Pittsford, NY for a Tuesday night practice.
The first practice after Buffalo's opening preseason game took place Tuesday evening and there was good news in the health department as some players got back on the field.
Numbers back at tight end
At one point last week there were all of two healthy tight ends available for practice. On Tuesday they got their last two sidelined tight ends back. Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki both returned to action. Chandler was full go Tuesday participating in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team segments.
"I feel good physically," said Chandler. "I felt a little rusty. I left a couple of plays out there. Just getting back in the swing of it I feel pretty good. I think I got enough time off where the groin healed. I'm just looking to get back in there and contribute."
The veteran tight end said he could've come back to practice late last week, but he and the athletic training staff chose to be safe rather than sorry knowing how long the training camp calendar is this summer. After some running on Saturday and Sunday and then some lighter running Monday he was cleared to participate fully.
Chandler's only disappointment was that he and EJ Manuel were not synched up in the passing game Tuesday night. That's to be expected after Chandler missed more than a week of practice, but the tight end wasn't going to use that as an excuse.
"Ideally we would've made a couple of plays," said Chandler. "He threw me a great pass and I dropped it, but we'll get back into the swing of it. It's day one for me getting back so hopefully we'll be better Wednesday."
Chandler also said he has a "green light" for the Carolina game Friday.
Moeaki was limited in practice participating only in individual position drills.
Synching up the feet paying off
This offseason offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett along with receivers coach Rob Moore committed to a step count based route tree for their receivers. The idea behind it was to put the route running paces of the receivers in lock step with the drop steps of the quarterback to create a more consistent efficiency to the passing game.
"We give them guidelines," said Hackett. "We want to give them foundation of something they can believe in - understanding the depth you have to get to, how many steps it will take to get there and so forth. But at the same time everything has to adjust."
So far the receivers like it believing more precise execution in the passing game will lead to more opportunities to gain yards after the catch.
"I think it's working out," said Robert Woods. "We're seeing the change from last year. When we're breaking out of our routes and the ball is already in the air there's less time waiting on the ball and it gives us more time to make the defender miss."
Tuel still the two
The backup quarterback battle is far from over, but on the heels of his steady performance in the Hall of Fame game Jeff Tuel was again given the large majority of the snaps with the second unit on offense.
Much like he did in the game Tuel demonstrated good ball location on a good number of his throws. His best decision in Tuesday's practice came on a read option keeper in 11-on-11 red zone. Tuel pulled the ball out from Boobie Dixon's bread basket and took off with the ball toward the left side of the end zone for a touchdown.
There was some mixing and matching in the defensive front Tuesday as some players got some reps with the starting units. DE Jacquies Smith got some snaps in place of Jerry Hughes. DL Landon Cohen rotated in for Kyle Williams. LB Stevenson Sylvester was rotated in for Nigel Bradham at outside linebacker.
With Da'Norris Searcy leaving practice very early,due to a personal matter for which he was excused, Duke Williams replaced him at safety with the first unit. Replacing Duke Williams with the second unit was JaJuan Harley.
On offense rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson was rotated in at the right guard spot between Eric Wood and Erik Pears. Only Richardson and Kraig Urbik got first team snaps.
Center Macky MacPherson got the nod as the second team center in place of Doug Legursky, who was sidelined by injury.