Bills minicamp primer

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It's the only mandatory part of the offseason program. Minicamp also marks the end of the spring practice sessions until training camp opens at St. John Fisher in late July. Here are the items to monitor in the practices that will run Tuesday through Thursday this week.

Minicamp rulesUnder the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the following rules apply to mandatory minicamp. On Monday of minicamp teams can only conduct physicals on players.

Practices must take place Tuesday through Thursday. Two practices are permitted on the field per day, but cannot exceed three and a half hours in total. The second practice in a given day is limited to walk through activity only.

Helmets are permitted, but no pads with the exception of protective knee and elbow pads. No live contact, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Gilmore present; practicing?Cornerback Stephon Gilmore returned to One Bills Drive Monday to get his required physical. Gilmore certainly appears fit and fully recovered from late season surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. It appears likely that Gilmore will be in position meetings at this week's mandatory minicamp, but participating on the field this week might prove to be another story.

Gilmore, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, is working on a new long term agreement with the Bills. In an interview with Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 late last month, GM Doug Whaley admitted that hammering out a long term deal won't be easy.

"It's going to be a complicated process, but the main thing we're excited about is both sides want the goal to be for him to come back and sign a contract," said Whaley.  

WR competition intensifiesWith Sammy Watkins still sidelined in his recovery from foot surgery, the door remains wide open for other wideouts on the roster to step forward to take the top receiver's snaps in the practices. Through the course of the OTAs second-year wide out Dez Lewis has made his presence felt during team segments.

Jarrett Boykin, Leonard Hankerson and Greg Little have also been on hand for all three weeks of OTA practices and have made plays. It will bear watching to see if one of these veterans can measure up to the level of consistency that Lewis has put on display to this point and make for a more crowded field behind Watkins and Robert Woods.

Caution with McCoy?LeSean McCoy was held out of practice late last week with what head coach Rex Ryan called "hamstring tightness." The club clearly did not want tightness to turn into a pull or a strain so he was limited to individual position drills only.

Will the precautionary approach for McCoy continue through mandatory minicamp knowing it was a hamstring injury that kept him from operating at peak efficiency for the first half of the 2015 regular season.

Crowded backfieldThe Bills added yet another ball carrier late last week. Boom Herron is back with the club after spending a part of the 2015 season in Buffalo. He joins a running back contingent that already has Mike Gillislee, LeSean McCoy, James Wilder Jr., Jonathan Williams and Karlos Williams.

Gillislee, Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams all missed time at last week's voluntary OTAs. Herron, who will wear jersey 47, is a veteran who has knowledge of Buffalo's system and may get more work than anticipated if any of the aforementioned backs miss practice time this week.

Karlos Williams, who has missed the majority of the voluntary OTA sessions, is back in town for minicamp this week.

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