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Defense Active As Bills Try To Beat The Heat

Buffalo's defense carried play on a hot mid-90 degree day on the field at St. John Fisher, which forced one player to retire early. Wide receiver Roscoe Parrish was taken to the cool down pool as a precaution.

"Roscoe didn't overheat, but we didn't want him to," said head coach Dick Jauron. "It was gaining on him. Roscoe is so lean and there's not a lot of body fat on him and those athletes have to be watched carefully, so when he looked like he was starting to get to a point where he might have trouble we pulled him out and cooled him down. He didn't lock up."

"You've got to fight through it every play," said safety Jim Leonhard of the hot weather Wednesday. "Heat like this is something you're not going to be used to it. It's a constant fight every play. It's hard to stay focused when you're that tired."

But the defense didn't seem to have any problems staying focused as they got their hands on a lot of passes in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 segments.

In 7-on-7 George Wilson got his second interception almost the same way he got his first. Donovan Morgan bobbled a low pass from Craig Nall that he was trying to pull in for the reception when Wilson swooped by and went the other way with the football.

In 11-on-11 work Coy Wire forced a fumble on a carry by Dwayne Wright. Jim Leonhard had the recovery as the ball bounded into the defensive backfield.

Angelo Crowell for the second straight practice read the offense's pass play perfectly and jumped the outside route and would've had a touchdown had he not dropped the pass that hit him right in the bread basket.

Defensive end Ryan Neill pursued from the back side of an outside running play covering 30 yards before he popped the ball out from behind on Fred Jackson. Fortunately for Jackson the ball went out of bounds.

Seventh-round pick C.J. Ah You batted down a J.P. Losman pass at the line of scrimmage.

The defensive play of the day went to Keith Ellison who leaped high in the air to tip a Trent Edwards pass to himself for his fourth interception in camp.

"The ball kind of fell in my hands, but the guys on defense really came out hard today," said Ellison. "I feel a lot more confident than last year. I'm just excited to see what we can do this year on defense."

"Keith is giving everyone a run," said Leonhard. "I don't know if he's paying the quarterbacks or what, but they're throwing him a lot. He's making some great plays and we need more guys to step up and turn in plays like that."

Leonhard would do that himself picking off another Edwards pass to the flat intended for Jemalle Cornelius. The safety came down to cover Cornelius like a corner on the play. He would have returned the interception for a touchdown in a real game.

"It was a safety call and we were blitzing and they had four receivers in the game so one of us had to come down," said Leonhard. "It was three step and I had outside leverage and he ran a route right into me and I made the play."

Leonhard attributes the defense's ability to get in the passing lanes to sharper play the past few days.

"I think a lot of it is doing what we do best," he said. "Now we're getting a little further into camp and our technique is getting to where it's supposed to be and if we play well fundamentally on defense we're going to have a chance to make a lot of plays."

Buffalo's head coach also recognized the good play turned in by the defense.

"Perry (Fewell) and the defensive staff have done an outstanding job coaching them last year and through the offseason," said Jauron. "I do believe we're a fast defense. They know what we're trying to do better than they did a year ago. They are getting closer and they are getting their hands on a lot of balls. Some of them are outstanding plays and some of them are not great throws, but we don't really care defensively what they are as long as we get them."

Coverage was also pretty good by the defenders as the offense had trouble stringing completions together. On a couple of occasions both Edwards and Losman had to throw the ball away because of coverage and pressure.

Run game
The defense also won their share of battles in this area. Larry Tripplett and Ko Simpson combined on a tackle for loss on Marshawn Lynch. Angelo Crowell stopped Fred Jackson behind the line of scrimmage and Chris Kelsay got penetration up front to hold Lynch to a carry for no gain.

And Jason Jefferson shut off a running lane quickly forcing Wright to take an outside lane and was slammed by Donte Whitner.

During 11-on-11 however, Anthony Thomas had a strong run through the hole as he appeared to have a spring in his step. He got through the hole so quick and looked so low to the ground it earned some praise from running backs coach Eric Studesville.

"That's how to put it up in there," Studesville shouted.

Shaud Williams read the hole well on an off tackle run that Studesville approved of as well during red zone work.

Pass protection
In two-on-twos and one-on-ones between offensive and defensive linemen the two sides were pretty even.

Aaron Schobel got around Derrick Dockery on and end-tackle stunt. The main reason was Larry Tripplett effectively tied up Dockery and Jason Peters by himself.

Dockery stood up Tripplett a couple of snaps later and Peters successfully steered Schobel wide.

Tim Anderson and Melvin Fowler battled to a draw with Fowler taking the first rep, while Anderson walked Fowler back on another.

Though he was going against second and third string defensive ends, Terrance Pennington was consistently steering pass rushers wide of the pocket with his long arms.

The most interesting part of the drill involved Aaron Schobel. Lined up against former practice squad tackle Walter Stith he got by him with a quick spin move, but slowed up prior to reaching the "quarterback" a role filled by assistant equipment manager Woody Ribbeck.

Immediately coach Kollar had words for Schobel.

"You've to finish and get the sack," Kollar told him.

So on the next rep Schobel beats Stith to the outside and proceeds to run down a fleeing "quarterback" and dragged him to the ground for a sack while slightly tearing his shirt in the process.

Special teams
Kickoff return was again a focus Wednesday as the return unit worked on setting the wedge. Brad Butler has been the wedge captain through camp in between Ryan Neufeld and Brad Cieslak, but suffered a hamstring injury so Jason Whittle was elevated to the role.

Among the returners were Terrence McGee, Roscoe Parrish, Fred Jackson and Jonathan Smith. Shaud Williams and Dwayne Wright filled the fullback role.

Sitting out again were John DiGiorgio (hip flexor), Anthony Hargrove (hamstring) and Jason Webster (hamstring). Josh Scobey was added to the group with a strained calf. And Brad Butler was injured during two-on-two pass rush drills.

"It's a hamstring," Jauron said of Butler. "Hopefully it won't be a bad one. We'll err on the side of caution."

Another night practice in pads Thursday beginning at 7pm.

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