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Bills minicamp notes - Day 2


Here are the items of note from day two of Bills minicamp.

World of difference for WoodsRobert Woods is having a whale of a spring. Explosive off the line, lightning quick in and out of his breaks and acrobatic when going up to pull in passes. It's all in stark contrast to last season when Woods wasn't any of those things. The problem was Woods had torn his groin on both sides, yet played through it until the team shut him down for the final two games of the season.

After offseason surgery and rehabilitation, Woods hard work has revealed itself on the practice field. Wednesday may have been his best day this spring. Whether it was consistent separation, running routes with pinpoint precision or pulling in passes that looked uncatchable, Woods did it all in the team's second minicamp practice.

For the fourth-year receiver just being healthy has made all the difference.

"I feel pretty great," Woods told "I had a long offseason of training and rehabbing and just getting right. It feels good. It's like a blessing to be back out here full speed, running, getting open, back to normal. It feels good."

Woods made several eye-catching receptions during the team portions of practice. His best effort came when Tyrod Taylor's pass on a post pattern was high and Woods climbed the ladder and did a 180 in mid-air to get his hands in position to make the reception before sticking the landing and getting yards after the catch.

The receiver has proven to be a tough cover for just about every cornerback that has matched up with him. Woods attributes

"Getting my stride back and I'm feeling very explosive," Woods said. "I felt like I lacked that last year with the injury and I didn't want it impact me again this year."

Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal quantified the improvement in Woods ability on the field from being injured last year to now.

"A ton. His drive phase is one of the best on the team. He comes off every ball like he's running a go route," said Lal. "He's done a good job of holding that longer in his routes. He's in and out of his cuts the best I've seen him."

Go routesSpeaking of go routes they were a popular play call during Wednesday's practice as the offense continuously tested the defense with long bombs down the sidelines. Whether it was 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 passes were being hurled deep downfield.

The quarterbacks didn't connect on all of them, but receivers did win and get behind defensive backs a good deal.  

"It was a big part of our offense last year," said Lal. "I think we were one of the best teams in the league hitting go balls. Also the way corners played us last year we know there will be something there."

Buffalo did lead the league in points scored outside the red zone last season with 194.

Among the better long distance connections Wednesday were Tyrod Taylor hitting Greg Little in the right side of the end zone. Cardale Jones also hooked up with Dez Lewis for a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown.

Jones continued to work on his deep ball accuracy after practice.

Size helping receiving corpsPart of what appears to be helping Buffalo's receiving corps this season is a sharp increase in size. Last season the tallest receiver who saw consistent playing time was Sammy Watkins at 6-1. Marcus Easley was the tallest on the roster at 6-2. Now there are a total of seven new receivers standing 6-2 or taller.

Most noticeable through the spring has been Leonard Hankerson (6-2), Dez Lewis (6-4) and Greg Little (6-2). Receivers coach Sanjay Lal is optimistic that improving the size in the receiving corps will pay dividends this fall.

"It comes down to how physical can we play," said Lal. "In the red zone there is going to be grabbing. There will be guys hooking people. So now if we're strong and big and physical and nasty, how do we fight through it? So it's encouraging because we actually have the physical skill set to do it. We're not just preaching it and the guy is 5-8 and 168 pounds. He may want to, but physically it won't happen. Now it can happen and there's no excuse."

On the flip side that added size in the receiving corps is also helping to prepare Buffalo's defense for the big receiver assignments they'll inevitably face this season.

"In the past we had a lot of smaller guys, but now we have more vertical threat guys and a lot of bigger receivers this year and you can definitely tell," said Aaron Williams. "They're using their bodies out there. It's helping not only them, but us. When we go against bigger receivers down the road it'll help prepare us for what they look for and so it should benefit us having those big receivers out there in practice."

Group effort in secondaryWhether it's rookie sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour playing cornerback with the starting unit in place of Stephon Gilmore or Robert Blanton making a pre-snap call, the returning players in Buffalo's secondary are committed to assisting every defensive back on the roster. Vets like Aaron Williams knows that will only cater to more consistent play as a group on the back end especially when a starter might go down to injury during the season.

"We're all working together and I think everybody does a great job of keeping each other accountable as far as everybody knowing what they're supposed to do," said Williams, who had an interception Wednesday during team work. "We try to do our best to help each other out on the field. Whoever is out there on the field we want them to know what they're doing at all times. And if somebody gets hurt we want somebody on the back end to be ready to have their name called and fill in that role. We're doing a great job in the DB room of getting in the playbook and watch film all together."

The best example of that team approach Wednesday happened during 11-on-11 team work when Nickell Robey anticipated a route concept, broke off his coverage assignment to sag into the deep middle and knock away a pass intended for WR Greg Salas when CB Corey White wasn't in position to make a play on the ball.

Hughes out with food poisoningBills OLB Jerry Hughes was not on the practice field Wednesday due to food poisoning. Seeing the most time on the field in his absence were OLBs Lorenzo Alexander and IK Enemkpali.

Check out photos of the Bills in action on the second day of minicamp.

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