It's the third and final week of OTA practice sessions for the Bills, which leads into the team's mandatory minicamp next week. Here are some observations from the field.
1 – QB competition still tightWith the third week of OTA practices coming to a close this week there is still no sign of a clear front runner in the quarterback competition. Each of the signal callers have had their moments and their struggles, but no one has separated themselves from the other two when it's come to overall performance.
"It's definitely tight," said Chris Hogan of the quarterback competition. "All three of those guys are going out there every single day, they've got a lot to learn and we're still early in this offense. We're progressing as an offense and each of them are progressing well each day. So it's going to be a good competition. I think it helps them with the competition being so tight going into camp. It's only going to make them play better."
With a sustained wind of 15-20 miles per hour on the practice field Wednesday the wind had an effect on some passes early in practice. Matt Cassel's best throw was a shot to the left side of the field to TE Charles Clay as he hit him in stride for a 20-yard gain.
EJ Manuel fired a strike over the middle to Chris Hogan for a play that would've gone for first down yardage and more.
Tyrod Taylor showed good ball location on a throw in the flat to TE Chris Gragg despite good coverage allowing Gragg to get yards after the catch and reach the end zone during red zone work.
Although there have been plenty of reps for all three quarterbacks, head coach Rex Ryan isn't close to pulling the trigger on reducing the competition from three to two signal callers much less settling on a starter.
"I don't think we're going to see anything in the next few days, in the mandatory camp, where we'll say this guy is clearly our starter," said Ryan. "That's not going to happen. We're going to keep that competition going and at least give guys opportunities when it's tackle football. This guy is the starter—that's not going to happen. It's a three-horse race. That's how I see it."
2 – Offensive tackle shortagePractice on Wednesday was lacking numbers at the offensive tackle position. Both Seantrel Henderson and undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler were not in attendance at the voluntary workout leaving the team with two full-time tackles in Cordy Glenn and Cyrus Kouandjio.
To replace them in the lineup the offensive staff kicked guards William Campbell to left tackle and Darryl Johnson to right tackle with the second unit. Glenn and Kouandjio manned the starting tackle spots.
Johnson saw some time at tackle already during OTAs when he was rotated in on occasion and was slotted there with the third unit. Knowing the talent the two first-year players were facing they had their hands full.
3 – D-line tearing it upThe defensive staff chose to dial up some of their pressure packages Wednesday and saw a good deal of success, especially with two of the team's top four tackles not on hand. Mario Williams walked his opposing tackle backwards on a few pass rushes. Jerry Hughes got around the edge to tap out Tyrod Taylor for a 'would be' sack.
Marcell Dareus defeated an attempted block to register a tackle for loss on a run play. Stefan Charles batted down a Matt Cassel pass right at the line of scrimmage on an attempt over the middle.
"I think we'll be able to have a good mix where we say here are our talented guys and put them out there and let them know what to do and say, 'You've got to block our talented guys,'" said Kyle Williams. "We're also going to have defenses and looks where we're going to disguise and confuse. It's a good combination with the players we have."
Buffalo's second defensive line is rounding into form with Jarius Wynn, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles and Alex Carrington rotating in for the starting group.
"That's a good group to turn to when we step off," said Williams.
4 – Offensive players everywhereThe number of offensive weapons added to Buffalo's offense this offseason has been well documented. That caliber of talent can win on most plays in one-on-one situations. However, offensive coordinator Greg Roman isn't relying on that. He's got backs, receivers and tight ends rarely lining up in the same place more than once or twice.
"He does a good job of moving guys around," said TE Charles Clay of Roman. "I can't think of any position where I'm lined up at more than another. The receivers will tell you the same thing. They're moving around as much as I am."
Chris Hogan, who has largely been a slot receiver in his time in Buffalo has been outside and inside, on the line and off the line as well as in motion. While that might mean more for receivers and tight ends to retain and execute the players like that variety.
"We're moving around a lot more, which is great," said Hogan. "It allows us to get open. It puts us in a better position. The defense can't just line up and not be able to move and just stay in that defense. Us moving around allows us to see what they're doing and get them into a defense we want them in."
5 – Heavy instructionBuffalo's wide receiver group has been studious when it comes to route running. Sammy Watkins, though limited in practice, has mentioned how he feels the group is already a more refined route running unit. His fellow wideout Chris Hogan agrees and both give receivers coach Sanjay Lal the credit.
"Coach Lal has been great," Hogan said. "Our first couple of meetings he explained to us that he'll stay up late at night trying to find ways for us to get better. It shows. Every single day he's got something new for us to do. Whether it's a cone drill or something with our routes, whatever it is he's always trying to find ways to make us better as receivers."
Lal gets assistance from senior offensive assistant Chris Palmer, who on Wednesday was dispensing advice on the field to undrafted rookie WR Andre Davis. He was urging him to make every route look the same by carrying his body the same way every time he leaves the line of scrimmage. Palmer told him he was running too high, which makes it hard to convince a defensive back that you're going deep.
The players say Lal is very detail oriented, but they have bought in completely as several of them have seen positive results in their performance.
"From a technique standpoint it's been great," said Hogan. "It's really been helping us and honestly the four years that I've been here and this new group, this is the best I think we've looked running routes."
6 – Eye catchersHere are some of the players who turned some heads at Wednesday's OTA practice.
Top pick Ronald Darby made another interception in practice. This one came during a red zone period. With his receiver up against the sideline Darby using inside leverage got his head around to out jump the receiver and pull down the pass intended for Tobais Palmer five yards deep in the end zone for the INT.
Undrafted rookie TE Clay Burton continues to make plays. He appears to be the check down option underneath a good deal, so Burton has seen the ball a lot, but he hasn't dropped a pass yet. So although the plays he's made haven't been spectacular he has been consistent.
TE Marqueis Gray was putting in a good day with a couple of nice receptions before a drop late in practice, but it didn't seem to bother head coach Rex Ryan that much.
"He's looked great. I know he dropped a ball, but outside of that he's been really impressive," said Ryan. "The big thing is going to be when we put the pads on—the kind of blocker he is. He can do all the route running and catching the football and all that—his kind of speed is impressive. Now it just becomes can he have the same kind of impact as a blocker. That's something we'll be looking for."
Robert Woods was a busy target Wednesday making a handful of catches in the intermediate area of the field. The third-year wideout also pulled in a touchdown pass during red zone work right under the uprights.