Some crisp fall air greeted fans who came out for Buffalo's final night practice of training camp at St. John Fisher Monday night. The cool weather looked like it helped J.P. Losman as his arm looked lively throughout the practice session.
The Bills starting quarterback had a lot of zip on his passes throughout the evening with his best effort coming in 7-on-7. Losman launched a 50-yard bomb to Lee Evans down the left sideline. Despite perfect coverage from Terrence McGee, Losman's pass was right on the money as it dropped in over Evans' shoulder for a touchdown reception.
In red zone work Losman hit Marshawn Lynch for a touchdown strike as he got his feet down before running over the left sideline in the end zone. He also had a touchdown pass to Robert Royal.
Despite some preseason game struggles by the first team offense, Losman remains convinced that the offensive unit has made great strides this summer.
"We do feel like we are getting better and we are building chemistry and that's what we're looking for in our offense right now," Losman said. "So we are working together, we're feeling very, very confident and think we're going to be very dangerous."
At the same time Losman maintains that there has to be some patience before the fruits of their labor are evident on the field.
"It's a long process and there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," Losman said. "It's getting there and it'll be another good test for us this week."
Buffalo hosts Tennessee on Friday night.
Losman did have a few passes challenged during the evening session. Ko Simpson had a couple of pass breakups, but it was Donte Whitner that made the pass coverage play of the night.
After dropping into the deep third on an 11-on-11 play, Whitner came screaming up into the middle of the field to make a diving interception, did a tumbling roll as he made the catch and was back on his feet heading in the other direction.
Whitner seems to be coming on particularly after strong performance against Atlanta last Friday night.
"He's got the ability as you saw tonight to make very athletic plays and the speed to outrun you if he does get a chance on the ball," said head coach Dick Jauron. "I'm real happy with Donte and his progress. He just needs to keep coming and get more and more comfortable with the communication parts of it and the total package in the defense. But we're counting on him."
Hit of the night
Ashton Youboty earned hit of the night honors. It wasn't a lights out hit by any means, but Youboty came up and caught Shaud Williams broadside after a short reception and knocked him off his feet during the final two minute drill period.
Position battles to go to the wire
It doesn't look as though the middle linebacker battle is going to have an official starter named any time soon. Dick Jauron seems content with letting it play out through the remainder of the preseason.
"It'll probably go down to the wire," Jauron admitted. "I think they're both doing well and both playing well and both are progressing. John DiGiorgio is certainly not an old veteran so he's still learning and Paul Posluszny is brand new to the scheme. We feel real good about both of them both as defenders and as special teams players."
The right guard battle is still going on as well although Duke Preston is spending all his time at center with Melvin Fowler still recovering from an ankle sprain. It also looks as though Brad Butler will soon re-enter that competition as he was limited in practice Monday night.
"I don't really have a deadline," said Jauron of the right guard competition. "I still just want to see it play itself out. I'd love to get Brad Butler back into the mix. I don't know if he'll make this game or not. He practiced a little bit tonight and we'll just have to see on a daily basis how that thing is. He was doing well until he got hurt. We'd like to get him back into it. I feel good about all of them. Certainly with Jason Whittle and Duke (Preston) there's a comfort level there. They both know what's going on. I think that Langston Walker is comfortable with both of them and I'm sure that Melvin (Fowler) is too. So it could go a number of ways."
Denney surgery successful
Bills defensive end Ryan Denney had surgery in Buffalo on his broken foot Monday morning and all indications are it was successful, although Jauron is not quite ready to provide a prognosis for Denney's return to the field.
"Obviously it's going to be a while," said Jauron. "I won't talk about a timetable yet. Bud (Carpenter) and the doctors have talked about it a little bit, but I want to make sure with them, but it will be a while. It's not going to be one of those two weeks things. It's going to be a bit longer than that. But the surgery did go well."
In the meantime C.J. Ah You and Eric Powell are getting more reps in his absence.
"The three guys Eric, C.J. and then Ryan Neill outside of Aaron (Schobel) and Chris (Kelsay), they're going to get a lot more opportunities and they need to make the plays consistently and step up and do that," Jauron said. "I think they're capable of it and we'll definitely get the best out of them because they're good guys and they'll give it to us. We'll just have to see."
Angelo Crowell, Melvin Fowler, Aaron Merz, Donovan Morgan and Josh Scobey did not practice. Scobey did work with trainers on the alternate field which is an indication that he's close to returning.
Safety Trevor Hooper returned to action for the first time since the Saints game when he suffered a head injury.
Buffalo have an afternoon practice scheduled to begin at 2:15 on Tuesday.