1 – Allen making plays He’s had his share of plays in the passing game through the course of the spring, but most of Josh Allen’s more eye-opening passes have been surfacing every so often. On Thursday, Allen delivered quality plays on a more consistent basis.
Part of it was due to the fact that he saw the most reps at quarterback with the second and third team units seeing the bulk of the 11-on-11 and 9-on-9 team work in practice. But you can’t fault Allen for taking advantage of the additional reps.
In a red zone series, Allen made three consecutive completions to TE Jason Croom.
Following an overthrow to Cam Phillips in the end zone toward the tail end of the series, Allen came right back and hit Ray-Ray McCloud III for a score.
Later in practice Allen stacked scoring plays together. One three consecutive snaps, Allen hit Austin Proehl, Croom and Nick O’Leary for touchdowns.
“It goes back to taking advantage of every rep that I get,” said Allen. “I’m just here to try and get better every day and try to be the best teammate possible. Getting better every day is learning behind Nate (Peterman) and AJ (McCarron).”
Allen then closed out the final practice of the spring with a rope to Proehl on a post pattern for a 70-yard touchdown.
“They were in cover four and the safety came down so I took it over the top and Josh saw it right from the snap and we were on the same page and made it happen,” Proehl said.
Allen and the rest of the offense went running 70 yards to the end zone to bounce with Proehl as the horn blew marking the end of the session.
“It’s always awesome to have that energy when you have a group of guys who believe in you and want to celebrate with you when you make a big play,” said Proehl. “All of us contribute from the O-line to the quarterbacks to the receivers. So it felt good.”
Although Allen has made progress through the course of the spring, it’s clear that a true three-way quarterback competition will begin with the rookie still taking third team reps when training camp opens.
“We’ll keep (the rotation) like it’s been,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “Josh will be with the threes and the other two will be with the ones and twos for the most part. Periodically it’ll change a little bit, but for the foreseeable future that’s the way we anticipate starting training camp.”
As encouraging as Allen’s final day of minicamp practice was it’s evident that McDermott is going to need to see the rookie QB stack day after day of consistent play if he is going to move up the depth chart.
“There have been moments along the way through Josh’s time as a Bill to this point where you think he’s a little bit further along in some areas,” said McDermott. “That said he still has a lot of work to do.”
* 2 – Working to make Gaines *Free agent signee Phillip Gaines chose Buffalo because the defensive scheme appealed to him a great deal. Coming from what was largely a man scheme in Kansas City, Gaines is happy to be in Buffalo’s scheme for 2018.
“This one is a lot more eyes on the ball, so there are more opportunities out there,” Gaines told Buffalobills.com. “Instead of the pass breakup, you can get an interception. With their defensive philosophy, I think any DB would like to have eyes on the ball and be in this type of system.”
Gaines was seen by the defensive staff as a player who could factor into their open competition for the nickel corner role in the slot. It’s largely been a two-horse race with Gaines and rookie fourth-round pick Taron Johnson.
The veteran Gaines has seen more time with the starting unit to this point than Johnson. Coach McDermott outlined what made Gaines an attractive target on the free agent market.
“When you look back at his history he’s played nickel before,” said McDermott. He’s played outside as well. So he offers some position flexibility. He’s long at six feet. He’s a smart player that I’ve been impressed with at this point and we’ll see how that position unfolds at camp.”
3 – More time for the twos and threes The final day of minicamp saw a light day of work for the starters. After individual position drill work, very few projected starters participated in the team segments of practice. All three quarterbacks saw some time, but Allen had the lion’s share of the work.
The decision by the coaching staff took away the risk of injury to their more important players while also giving them the opportunity to take a longer look at the second and third team players for evaluation.
Players like TE Jason Croom were appreciative of the extra time on the field.
“Another opportunity,” he said. “You need to be prepared for that stuff, like I said it’s just another opportunity to show everybody what we can do, leave on a good note and get ready for July.”
4 – Taiwan Jones wins the spring The offseason conditioning program began in mid-April and strength and conditioning coach Eric Ciano is known for not only having cutting edge training techniques, but also a program that gets the competitive juices in the players to flow all spring long.
Evidence of that is in their Iron Man and Body Composition competitions.
The Iron Man competition largely deals with work in the weight room and on the field with all different types of events that not only build the players’ bodies up for the long haul of the regular season, but also fosters great competition between the players.
The body composition is more of a player competing against his former self. How much better can he shape his body for football from the time he walks in the door in mid-April to out the door in mid-June?
Surprisingly, one player won both of those competitions as Taiwan Jones took home the Iron Man and Most Improved Body Comp awards.
“That was surprising that I had the biggest improvement,” said Jones of the body composition award. “I wasn’t sure if I could win that one, but I was working hard to get whatever award I could get. I just like competing, so every category they were looking at I was trying to excel.”
Jones admitted he may have had a bit of an advantage. Coming off his broken arm last November, Jones was limited in terms of weight lifting and such and his body fat percentage was probably a bit higher than normal due to his restrictions in rehab.
But he fully earned the Iron Man award.
“Each week we have a different competition and I placed in the top five in each one,” he said. “One week you might be bar hanging, the next week an obstacle course and the next week you’re throwing a giant tire.”
Jones feels the biggest benefit of winning both awards is knowing that the important people at One Bills Drive are aware of his efforts.
“The biggest thing that I’ve taken away from it was that the coaches and the staff noticed my work ethic,” he said. “My confidence never wavered. I knew when I got hurt that I needed to come back strong. I was focused on that in the training room and I started to lift as soon as I could. Just knowing that the staff knows my work ethic and has seen my improvement is validation for me.”
5 – QBs planning meet up with offensive players AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman have been working to formulate plans for throwing sessions with the receivers, running backs and tight ends at some point during the six-week layoff between minicamp and training camp.
“I think the work that we have done to improve our chemistry, improve our timing has been great and I think it’s something that we can build on even more here,” said Peterman. “In this off time, we’re all going to get together. We’ve still got to set some things up, but that’s the plan right now.”
Most players who would be involved sound like they’re on board. One player who is going to even take it a step further is Kelvin Benjamin, who plans to set up one-on-one throwing sessions with each of the quarterbacks.
“We’re all meeting up at once, eventually some time before we come back,” Benjamin said. “But me individually, I just want to try to single them out and have me and the quarterbacks work one-on-one, all three.”