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6 OTA Observations - Week 2


In the second week of OTA practices Wednesday's session was open for the media. Here are seven observations from the sidelines.

1 – McCoy jumps inAfter a minor neck ailment kept RB LeSean McCoy sidelined during OTA practices last week, the dynamic back returned to the field this week. McCoy's trademark burst and elusiveness were both on display Wednesday as he deftly dodged defenders on his way up field.

"This week I came back and it felt good," McCoy said. "I'm still learning the playbook and obviously that takes some time, but overall I'm learning fast and I'm used to this with OTAs and preparation. It's just a matter of time as an offense that we're on the same page and (have the) same heartbeat and playing well together."

McCoy is also working on getting used to the new set of men blocking in front of him in addition to the new scheme.

"It's very important, it really is," said McCoy. "I think that's the biggest thing in this game you need the guys up front, they win the battles for defense and offense. And the guys here are coming together. You got some new pieces coming in and they're playing well.  I think we're a young group but they're getting it. I can just tell the difference from the beginning to now." 

With all the running backs on hand the reps for the most part went in the following order. McCoy, Jackson, Dixon and Karlos Williams and Bryce Brown alternated after the top three.

2 – Sammy's ears wide openBills WR Sammy Watkins is still limited in practice to just individual position drills in practice as he rehabs from an offseason procedure. Not participating in the team drills (7-on-7 or 11-on-11) hasn't kept Watkins from immersing himself in the offense.

On most plays Watkins is stepping into the offensive huddle to hear the play call and then lines up about 10 yards behind the receiver manning his assignment on said play to see how the defense is lining up against him and as a whole.

"Mentally I've got to get my reps," he said. "I'm behind. I'm not out there every day with those guys running routes, so mentally I've got to watch the defense, the coverages, watch how things move because I'm going to be coming back soon. And everything will be faster and I've got to pick it up. It's really about the defensive coverages."

The Bills' second-year receiver hopes to be back full go soon, but could not provide a timetable as to exactly when saying he has to leave that up to the medical staff.

3 – Still a three man QB competitionThe Bills quarterback contingent looked a little different on Wednesday. Matt Simms, who the Bills picked up off waivers last Friday, was the fourth QB in the group. Adding him to the quarterback competition for the starting role however, is not the plan per head coach Rex Ryan.

"(The competition) is what it is right now," Ryan said. "Three guys are going to be working at it, they're splitting the reps.  Don't kid yourself, Matt will get opportunities.  Will he get as many as the top three guys? Probably not. One thing about Matt, I know he'll take advantage of the opportunities he gets and I'm not saying he can't make this team."

Simms, who has previously worked with quarterbacks coach David Lee and under Rex Ryan in New York with the Jets, got close to a dozen snaps in Wednesday's practice despite having less than a week of exposure to the Bills offense.

"Even though it was my first day here I got more reps than I did in my last week with the Jets," said Simms. "I'm trying to absorb as much information as possible at the moment. The coaching staff has done a great job of giving me a little bit of a grace period. I feel like I'm moving along pretty confidently right now."

Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel were the quarterbacks working with the first unit on Wednesday. Tyrod Taylor and Simms worked with the second and third team. No quarterback really stood out from the others Wednesday.

Some of the best throws by each of the signal callers were Taylor's throw from the far hash to the left sideline on a line to Marquise Goodwin for a 20-yard pickup.

Manuel's best throw came in the red zone when he showed good touch on a touchdown pass to rookie Nick O'Leary in the back of the end zone dropping the ball over the cornerback in coverage.

Cassel's top pass came on a crossing route to Charles Clay with Clay getting great separation on the play and Cassel hitting him in stride.

Simms best play was his throw on a line to the right side to Marquise Goodwin.

4 – Bryant steps up a unitPro Bowl DT Marcell Dareus was not in attendance at Wednesday's voluntary practice. Stepping in to fill the void at the starting defensive tackle spot was Corbin Bryant. The third-year defensive tackle lined up between Mario Williams and Kyle Williams on Buffalo's defensive front.

Bryant was a very effective player last season as part of Buffalo's second wave of defensive linemen, and for now head coach Rex Ryan says he'd be the first man in for one of the interior starters in the event of an injury.

"We're trying to give everybody opportunities, but if we started a game tomorrow and Marcell wasn't here, then he would be the guy in there," Ryan said.

5 – OL developmentsBuffalo's lineup up front on offense was unchanged from that of a week ago at practice Wednesday. Left to right the starting line went Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller and Cyrus Kouandjio.

Seeing Miller and Kouandjio on the unit's right side is a telling development. It's still not real football as the pads won't be on until training camp, but it's clear the offensive staff wants to get a long look at both players on the right side and see how they work off one another.

At this point it seems like Miller has a stronger foothold on his starting right guard position while Kouandjio figures to be in for more of a battle for the right tackle spot with fellow second-year tackle Seantrel Henderson.

"I'm happy with the way Kouandjio is competing out there, he's doing a nice job," said Ryan. "But I'm ecstatic about Miller.  Miller has handled it---he looks like he's a ten year vet out there.  He doesn't make mental mistakes.  He's an athletic guy.  When we took him we thought he'd be our starter.  We'll see. But I feel pretty confident that he's going to be a major contributor for us."

Buffalo's second offensive line was the same as last week as well with Henderson manning left tackle, D.J. Morrell left guard, Kraig Urbik at center, William Campbell at right guard and Tyson Chandler at right tackle.

5 – Goodwin backAfter getting stuck in his native Texas last week due to extreme flooding in the Lone Star State, WR Marquise Goodwin was back with his teammates and on the field. With Percy Harvin not in attendance at practice Wednesday, the offensive staff essentially utilized Goodwin in Harvin's role.

From deep routes to end arounds Goodwin saw his number called early and often in practice. Tyrod Taylor found him on a bomb deep downfield as he got behind the corner and the safety, but he couldn't hold onto the ball which would've gone for a touchdown.

Goodwin was open on a streak down the left sideline, but Taylor actually overthrew him, a rare occurrence knowing the receiver's speed.    

Though Goodwin was targeted a fair amount most of his snaps came with the second unit with Taylor and Simms throwing to him.

"He's an explosive athlete, he's got that 4.2 speed," said Ryan of Goodwin. "But he's also a route runner. If you get open, that's the guy who should get the ball thrown to him. He's got some of that ability. He dropped that deep one, so he probably wishes he had that one over again. But I've been impressed with him."

6 – Eye catchersSome of the most eye opening plays were turned in by the following players.

Jerry Hughes looked quick off the snap most of the day. He got around the corner a few times netting a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.   

Top pick Ronald Darby had a pair of pass breakups. The first should've been an interception, but on the following play he came right back and knocked away a slant pass intended for Caleb Holley.

Speaking of Holley he made a couple of nice plays in the passing game. Last year's practice squad wideout's best play was on a high-reaching grab along the near sideline on a throw from Taylor in 11-on-11.

Chris Hogan was a busy target with his best play coming on the aforementioned touchdown catch from Manuel in the red zone.

Undrafted rookie TE Clay Burton again made a few plays in the short passing game underneath.

Stefan Charles and rookie DL Erik Williams each had 'would be' sacks.

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