1. Defensive line is getting active
The strength of the defensive line has been on display multiple times through camp - getting penetration. In the past three practices, the line has created a number of big plays with tipped passes. Shaq Lawson batted down one pass on Thursday, which linebacker Matt Milano intercepted.
“It’s been a camp of that, a lot of tipped passes,” Lawson said. “You know we get a tip, hands on the ball, it can create a lot of great things, interceptions for touchdowns. We had big Phil (Jordan Phillips), he tipped the ball for himself yesterday and scored and today I tipped the ball and Matt caught it. So, I mean it’s all about the ball, anything we got to do to get the ball back to our offense.”
Josh Allen says there’s a difference between tipping a pass in shells versus full pads.
“There’s some tall defensive lineman and without the pads and without actually trying to get to the quarterback the d-linemen tend to stay back and put their hands up and it’s a little bit of cheating the drill,” Allen said. “But, at the same time it’s something I’ve got to work on as well and if it’s happened a couple of times then maybe it’s something to think about, just kind of moving and finding a window to find some of these underneath routes. So, it’s something to keep an eye on, but it’s not a big concern for me.”
Whether it’s a little bit of a cheat or not, Allen is proud of the strides the defensive line has taken in camp.
“When I’m watching practice I see Star, especially in the run game and when we go nine on seven,” Allen said. “His ability to kind of hold up two guys and be in the gap there and that opens up our linebackers to move freely and obviously you got Jerry and Trent on the outside that are doing their thing and you know I can go on and on. Jordan Phillips had a pick six in practice yesterday and you know when you have a big guy touchdown, that’s rare and you’ve got to celebrate those.”
Lawson says the unit's mindset is to be the best and get to the quarterback.
2. The Bills come home for The Return of the Blue & Red
After seven practices at St. John Fisher College, the Bills will head back to Buffalo for The Return of the Blue & Red night practice on Friday, Aug. 2 at 6:15 p.m., gates open at 5:15 p.m. Allen is looking forward to getting back to his home turf.
“You know I think it’s kind of the first time some of the new guys are going to be able to kind of feel that excitement and that energy in our stadium,” Allen said. “You know we always talk about defending our dirt and it starts tomorrow, so you know I’m assuming there’s going to be quite a large fan base there and we are excited to get in there and practice and show what we’ve been working on.”
The second-year quarterback says it’s the closest environment to a game and is eager for the rookies to experience what he felt last year.
“To see all these fans show up in our stadium, to kind of get that pre-game feeling, the jitters and the nerves were actually there and I think that’s kind of what some football players play for,” Allen added. “They love that excitement and that energy that they feel when they step on the field for the first time.”
In addition to the practice, fans can also take part in several family-friendly activities like photo ops, interactive games, performances by “The Stampede,” Billy Buffalo appearances and more.
3. Can Josh Allen throw the ball 100 yards?
Sean McDermott started his Thursday morning with an interview on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, answering the tough questions about if Josh Allen can throw the ball 100 yards.
“I believe he can,” McDermott said with a laugh. “We’ve got a couple 100-yard routes, make sure you tell all of our opponents out there we’ve got a couple of 100-yard route combinations out there probably that we stole from Nate (Burleson) years ago.”
McDermott isn’t really focused on any 100-yard routes, the head coach wants to make sure Allen continues to grow in his second year.
“The key right now is for Josh to develop and continue to grow in our offense and the thing about it is he’s got that growth mindset," McDermott said. "He loves to learn, loves to grow, loves to compete.”
After practice Allen went on NFL Network to discuss what he’s seen at camp, telling NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano the contrast from year one's training camp to year two is night and day.
“Being in the same system with Coach Daboll for that year, it’s been awesome,” Allen said. “You know we’re able to bounce a lot of different ideas off of each other. I’m very in tune with what you know goes into the offense and Coach Daboll’s done a fantastic job of taking things out that aren’t necessarily my strengths and putting in things that I really like.”