Here's the Bills news of note for July 31st.
**1 - Zay Jones lining up in different places
**It certainly hasn't been surprising to see, but rookie wide receiver Zay Jones is lining up in a few different places in the offensive formation. It's the kind of cross training that the Bills want to have in their receiving corps to better fill roles when injury strikes.
"I think a lot of receivers are asked to (line up in different places) especially young guys you know," said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. "And certainly guys that we draft have a chance to do a little bit of that. So, with Zay, I think we're moving him around a little bit to different spots. But, each guy, they'll learn their role."
The approach makes sense knowing that aside from Sammy Watkins the rest of the receiver roles are up for grabs. Why not give every receiver on the roster an opportunity to line up in different roles to see where they excel and help the coaches find the best fits.
Jones worked both out of the slot and outside in his record-breaking senior season at East Carolina in 2016, so he's familiar playing out of multiple alignments.
Dennison said at this point they're waiting on someone to separate from the rest of the group.
"If somebody steps up in a certain role then we have to shift some guys around and that's OK," Dennison said. "As long as we've got numbers and we feel like we've got some good numbers and good players all across the board. But I don't have crystal ball."
**2 - Bills under the radar training camp battle
While Bills training camp is underway, there will be plenty of camp battles to keep an eye on but one that Bleacher Report's, Sean Tomlinson, is interested in is at wide receiver. Tomlinson recently wrote an article about some under the radar training camp battles.
With Watkins entrenched as one of the starting wide outs, there will be competition for the second wide receiver spot in which Tomlinson figures that rookie Zay Jones will be competing with Corey Brown and Andre Holmes.
Here is a small bit of what Tomlinson has said about the battle:
He turned those 158 catches into 1,746 yards, and his 399 receptions over a four-year NCAA career set a new FBS record. Jake Hamilton of BuffaloBills.com noted that throughout spring practices, Jones "looked the part" of a top-three receiver.
Ideally he'll be more than that, especially with health questions always hovering around Watkins. But inexperience is a factor, which is where Corey Brown and Andre Holmes come in.
Brown is entering his fourth season. He struggled in 2016 along with the rest of the Carolina Panthers offense. But he's only one season removed from setting single-year highs in touchdowns (four) and yards per catch (14.4).
Holmes is further back in the competition for the No. 2 role after a few dud seasons. But the six-year veteran still has a history of production to fall back on and possibly rekindle after his 693 receiving yards on 47 catches in 2014.
3. PFF: Bills training camp battle to watch for
Pro Football Focus recently broke down one of the training camp battles to monitor, as the Bills get ready for their season opener. The position that Rooney mentions is at the right tackle position where he believes it will be between Jordan Mills and rookie Dion Dawkins.
Although it is still quite early, here are some stats Rooney provides:
- Last season, Mills graded as the 56th best tackle among 77 qualifying tackles with an overall PFF grade of 56.5. He was one of the worst run-blocking tackles last season with a run-block grade of 47.5 ranking 66th out of 78 qualifying tackles.
- Mills wasn't much better in pass-protection either, his 57 total pressures last season were the fifth-most among tackles with a minimum of 179 pass block snaps. His pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) of 91.9 ranked 66th among 74 tackles (PBE measures pressure allowed on a per snap basis with weighting towards sacks).
- Many analysts feel that Dawkins' best position at the next level will be guard but his play at tackle last year at Temple was impressive. He ranked 19th among 315 qualifying tackles last season with an overall grade of 86.4.
- Dawkins PBE of 98.4 ranked third among draft-eligible tackles last season. He gave up two sacks and surrendered just nine total pressures on 443 pass block snaps in 2016.