1 – Offense hums in two-minute drill
It was the first crack at a two-minute drill segment during a team segment of OTA practice on Tuesday for the Bills. Suffice to say the offense was ready, most notably Josh Allen.
The scenario was an end-of-the-first-half drive for the offense beginning at their own 30-yard line. The offense had 1:45 on the clock and a couple of timeouts at their disposal.
After Jordan Poyer broke up Josh Allen’s first pass attempt for Jason Croom, Allen came right back on 2nd-and-10 and hit Robert Foster for a 33-yard gain to move into the defense’s territory. After a short swing pass to LeSean McCoy, the Bills feature back picked up three yards and got out of bounds to stop the clock at the defense’s 34-yard line.
Again Allen looked deep for Foster down the right sideline, but Tre’Davious White got perfect position and knocked the intended pass down at the goal line.
That brought up a 3rd-and-7 at the 34 with 1:06 left. The offense ran a draw play to Frank Gore, who picked up the required seven yards to move the sticks.
Ray-Ray McCloud picked up 10 yards on a reception along the right sideline. McCoy picked up another seven on another swing pass and got out of bounds to stop the clock at :31 seconds at the nine-yard line.
After Allen had to throw the ball away on 2nd-and-2 from the nine, the quarterback converted the 3rd-and-2 with a draw up the middle for a first down and promptly spiked the ball to stop the clock on 1st-and-goal from the six.
With 11 seconds on the clock, Allen dropped back and fired a bullet to the end zone when Zay Jones deftly weaved through traffic, came down with the ball and managed to tap both feet in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
“Just a well-executed drive by the offense throughout the entire two minute,” said Jones. “We competed hard. The defense won some plays, but ultimately we came out with the little victory of the day I guess. But it was a nice end zone route that I had on Tre’Davious. Josh had a pretty good ball and the offensive line held up and I was able to come down with it.”
“We were just working through what type of plays we want to run,” said Josh Allen. “What type of throws we can and cannot make in those situations, like being able to get out of bounds. End of half you want to make sure you have the ball last and use as much time as possible. At the same time you want to be aggressive and try to score.
“We went down there, just kind of taking what the defense was giving us and Zay made a play in the back of the end zone.”
What was most impressive was the decisiveness of Allen. It’s very evident that he feels comfortable in this offense and confident in his ability to hit targets.
2 – Feliciano and Long man the pivot
The news about Mitch Morse’s core muscle injury that required surgery a few weeks ago, coupled with the fact that Russell Bodine isn’t ready to return from offseason shoulder surgery has left a sizable gap in Buffalo’s depth chart at center.
But this is where the position flexibility that GM Brandon Beane and his personnel department strive to acquire becomes critical.
Manning the center spot for the starting unit on Tuesday in practice was free agent signee Jon Feliciano. Feliciano was signed primarily to play the guard position for the Bills, but he has a wealth of experience in the pivot.
“I was the primary backup center the last four years in Oakland,” Feliciano told Buffalobills.com. “I’m very comfortable there, but I’m only place holding until Mitch (Morse) gets back.”
Feliciano and Spencer Long are alternating days at the center spot. Long played center last year for the Jets.
Both Feliciano and Long have also lined up at left and right guard in OTAs. So too as guard Quinton Spain.
Though some might see all that juggling as disruptive, Feliciano believes it will make them a more resilient unit once they reach the regular season.
“I think it’s actually a benefit with us switching positions,” he said. “Quinton Spain is playing left and right guard. Me and Spence are playing left and right guard. It’s a benefit because we’re getting to work with other tackles and other guards. It’s going to help us come together quicker.”
Feliciano has been part of offensive lines with good position flexibility before. His Oakland line despite heavy shuffling only gave up 18 sacks in 2017 to finish third-best in the league.
He feels they can have similar success due to the position flexibility in Buffalo.
“Spence and I have both played different positions and when you have guys like that you don’t miss a beat,” Feliciano said. “It’s nothing for me to play the left or right side or go to center and I know Spence feels the same way.”
In terms of other roles on the line, Ty Nsekhe was the starting right tackle opposite Dion Dawkins on the left. Spencer Long and Quinton Spain were the starting guards with Feliciano in the middle.
The second line left to right was LaAdrian Waddle, Wyatt Teller, Ike Boettger, Jeremiah Sirles and Cody Ford.
As the Bills continue 2019 OTAs, check out photos of each of the 91 players on the team.
3 – The defensive back situation
There has been interest in how the starting cornerback spot opposite Tre’Davious White was going to shake out. Right now, the incumbent at the position, Levi Wallace, remains at the right cornerback spot.
The outside corners with the second unit were E.J. Gaines and Kevin Johnson. During an early team segment of practice, Johnson jumped a short route and intercepted a Matt Barkley pass, returning it the other way for what looked like it would’ve been a touchdown.
Johnson also had a strong pass breakup on a quick slant later in practice. Toward the end of the session in the final team segment, Johnson was rewarded for his efforts as he got a couple of reps with the first unit stepping in for a play for White on the left and then Wallace on the right side.
He also had a pass breakup that even Johnson would tell you should’ve been an interception, but he was trying to run to the end zone before he had control of the ball.
All in all, it was a strong day for Johnson in coverage.
“Things are going good. I’m acclimating to being on a new team,” Johnson told Buffalobills.com. “The guys and coaching staff are helping me to adjust to playing in a new scheme. So every day I’m just trying to get more comfortable.”
Undrafted rookie Cam Lewis and Ryan Lewis ran with the third team at corner.
At nickel, Taron Johnson, though participating in a red non-contact jersey fared well. E.J. Gaines saw some time in the slot with the second unit.
Click through to see the best photos from the first week of Buffalo Bills 2019 OTAs.
4 – Tuesday standouts
Among the players who turned in plays on Tuesday besides Johnson on defense were Shaq Lawson, who had a tackle for loss on a run play by Senorise Perry. He also had a very impressive pass breakup when he had to drop into coverage to cover Isaiah McKenzie of all people and got to his landmark to break up the pass.
Lawson was lined up at second team right defensive end Tuesday. Trent Murphy manned the starting left defensive end role opposite Jerry Hughes.
Also turning in plays were Tremaine Edmunds, who broke up a pass for LeSean McCoy. And LB Maurice Alexander had a forced fumble and fumble recovery when he stripped TE Tommy Sweeney over the middle after the catch.
On offense Jason Croom turned in some nice plays in the passing game before leaving early with a leg injury. After the plays turned in by Foster and Jones, Isaiah McKenzie, Dawson Knox and undrafted rookie Nick Easley also made their presence felt.
Another beneficiary on offense was rookie RB Devin Singletary. With Frank Gore not participating in team segments and LeSean McCoy seeing scaled back reps this time of year, Singletary put his elusiveness on display in the run game.
He bobbed and weaved through traffic at the line and often reached the secondary on his runs. On one particular run, Singletary’s decision making on where to run was so sound that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll shouted from the sideline, ‘Yeah baby!! Great run!!’
Daboll then made a point to find Singletary after the play and tap him on the helmet.