Bills minicamp came to a close with a brief 35-minute walk through session on Thursday as the players departed shortly thereafter for their well-earned six week break before training camp.
"The offseason program goes really well," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Our guys are very committed to it. As you know it starts around the first of April or last week in March and continues to now. They've worked awfully hard, they need to get away. They need some rest and relaxation, but they've got to stay on top of everything and that was essentially our message today."
Jauron explained why the coaching staff chose to wrap up offseason workouts with a walk through practice that was not as long as the up tempo practices with helmets.
"Sometimes I think one of the best periods in practice is the walk-thru, the learning," said Jauron. "We slow it down, talk through certain things, talk about details, certain areas that you don't have a lot of time to cover in detail at other times. We decided today would be a good day to do it. That's what we did. We spent the whole time in special teams walk-thru, offense and defense walk-thru, situations."
Lynch's injuryMarshawn Lynch had missed the past two days of minicamp leading up to Thursday's final practice. Lynch has a sore foot after it was stepped on by another player in practice Monday.
The Bills feature back was taken for x-rays and tests, but they all came back negative. With the foot very swollen the training staff chose to keep Lynch sidelined.
Surgery for HawthorneC.J. Hawthorne was thought to be making good progress in recovering from his undisclosed lower leg injury, but on Tuesday he was seen along the sidelines on crutches with an immobilizer cast on his leg.
Head coach Dick Jauron confirmed that Hawthorne had surgery this week.
"C.J. is in a cast right now, and will be for a few more days, it's a leg issue," Jauron said. "C.J. has had some surgery. As far as I've been told, he should be ready for camp."
PUP for Hardy?
Whether James Hardy will be ready for training camp remains to be seen. The second-year wideout has maintained that he should be ready to participate fully come the end of training camp in mid to late August. Prior to that however, the team could choose to put him on the physically unable to perform list.
"I would say that is a possibility," said Jauron.
If put on Active PUP Hardy would be able to come off of that list and practice as soon as he passes his physical.
John DiGiorgio is also coming off of ACL surgery, but is about two months ahead of Hardy in terms of rehab and likely won't be placed on PUP at the start of camp, though Jauron did not rule it out.
So after 12 OTA practices and three minicamp workouts the coaching staff feels good about what their players were able to accomplish, and their head coach is confident they're better off now than they were at this time last year.
"We're certainly advanced beyond it and we should be because they're a year more mature in the things that we do and knowing what we want," said Jauron. "You'd love to believe that you got better. You'd love to believe that on the field talent-wise. We've had a year to study what we liked and what we didn't like. We kept stuff and threw stuff out. It's really exciting when you look at the team and see it develop over time, so hopefully we're a better football team."
Naturally the coaching staff will be able to determine just how much better they are when they reach training camp and put the pads on. Coaches can only evaluate so much about their personnel in helmets and shorts and need to see the physical part of every player's game to see just how much further along the squad has come.
Nevertheless, Jauron and his assistants are eagerly anticipating training camp and making final preparations for the 2009 campaign.
"I'm looking forward to this year and our preparation for that opening game," said Jauron. "To open on a Monday night is huge for us. It's huge for our fans and will be a huge test for our football team and hopefully help us get ready. Not that you need any more motivation for an NFL season. But we open on Monday night against a divisional rival and a very, very talented team. It's a great challenge for us."