The defensive unit performed admirably up front as the third week of OTAs commenced Tuesday. Buffalo's defensive linemen were consistently getting pressure on the quarterbacks flushing them from the pocket during team work.
On the day the defensive front unofficially had four 'would be' sacks and three pressures as Buffalo's quarterbacks were forced to scramble on more than a handful of occasions.
Defensive line coach Bob Sanders has been focusing a lot on hand technique with respect to pass rush with his linemen, and took it up another notch bringing in Joe Kim, a Tae Kwan Do expert that has worked with six NFL teams over the past 18 years.
"Since 1991 I've been working with NFL teams," said Kim. "What I try to do is bring my martial art background and I try to figure out how the hand-to-hand fighting, the leverage and the footwork can help their pass rush skills now."
Kim has worked with the likes of Bill Belichick, Jim Bates and Nick Saban. Sanders began working with Kim in Miami and later Green Bay, and made the short drive up from his home base of Cleveland to tutor Buffalo's players.
"We've watched every sack in the NFL over the past two years this offseason and 90 percent of the sacks in the league are off counter moves," said Kyle Williams. "So it's really helped us to stay busy and taught us how to counter off an initial move."
Kim affirms that the Bills players are hungry to learn his techniques, which is no surprise knowing Buffalo has ranked 29th in the league in sacks over the past two seasons. And there appeared to be an improvement just in the first practice Tuesday alone.
Taming the WildcatBuffalo's defense got a respectable amount of reps in against the 'Wildcat' formation that Miami made so popular last season. The coaching staff realizes they're likely to see more of it within their division and possibly elsewhere. Donte Whitner feels exposure to it in the practice setting will be important.
"We know that this is a copycat league, and we know that Miami got off to a fast start last year with the Wildcat catching some teams off guard and it got the momentum rolling for their season," said Whitner. "Obviously they drafted Pat White and it doesn't take to a rocket scientist to know that they're going to use him in the Wildcat and they're going to add a lot more wrinkles to the Wildcat. And he's a dangerous guy, and that formation is dangerous if you don't stop it early.
"If you continue to just let them pound away with it and get big plays and feel good with it they'll use it the entire game and you don't want them to do that."
Whitner is glad the coaching staff is keeping their approach to defending the Wildcat formation fresh in the players' minds. He feels getting reps against it once a week will help keep Buffalo's defenders ready for it.
Sound machineFor the first time during OTAs the Bills practiced outside in Ralph Wilson Stadium. That allowed the coaching staff to take advantage of the stadium's audio system as they blared loud music down onto the field to challenge the offense's ability to communicate.
Overall they fared well with just one snap count issue.
Back in the fold for practice Tuesday after missing last Friday's practice were Lee Evans, Chris Kelsay, Roscoe Parrish, Dominic Rhodes and Langston Walker.
Back from injury and participating in practice were rookie sixth-round pick Cary Harris, Derek Schouman and Kyle Ward.
Nelson added to absentee listBills fourth-round pick Shawn Nelson was absent for his first voluntary OTA practice Tuesday. Head coach Dick Jauron is expected to provide an update at week's end.
Also absent were Josh Reed and Aaron Schobel.
Defensively, pass pressure was supplied by Aaron Maybin, who disrupted Gibran Hamdan's progressions twice in the same series, flushing him from the pocket on the second such play.
Chris Kelsay had a 'would be' sack on Trent Edwards in 11-on-11 work.
Three plays later Kyle Williams knifed into the backfield and got to Edwards before the pass was thrown.
Linebacker Alvin Bowen also had a sack and defensive end Jermaine McGhee had a quarterback pressure forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw sooner than he wanted. And Copeland Bryan had a 'would be' sack as well.
George Wilson however, was the defensive playmaker with a pass breakup early in 7-on-7 followed by an interception four plays later on a pass tipped by Marcus Buggs during red zone work.
Seventh-round pick Ellis Lankster continues to make plays as he had an interception 11-on-11.
Tight ends Derek Fine and Derek Schouman scored touchdowns on back-to-back plays with both pulling in touchdown receptions.
Steve Johnson made a good looking catch over the middle during the red zone period as well, and had four receptions on the day.
Run plays were more of a focus for the offense so there were fewer opportunities for Buffalo's receiving corps as Lee Evans and Terrell
Owens combined for five catches in the practice.
During the two minute drill portion of practice the offense needed a field goal and had one timeout at their disposal. Trent Edwards led the first unit into safe field goal range with time still left on the clock.
Veterans Kirk Chambers and Seth McKinney continue to hold down the starting roles at the two guard positions on the offensive line. Rookies Andy Levitre and Eric Wood are still being rotated in however, a good portion of the time.
Roscoe Parrish spelled Josh Reed in the slot with the first unit, but also lined up wide on occasion. Steve Johnson was also sprinkled in for some first team reps in four wide formations.
Reggie Corner and Drayton Florence were the starting cornerbacks with the first defensive unit with Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee still spectating due to injury. Kyle Ward came on to play on the outside in nickel package with the first unit when Corner moved into the slot.
The second team cornerbacks were sixth-round pick Cary Harris and the seventh-rounder Lankster.
Fifth-round pick Nic Harris continues to get snaps with the second unit and is also seeing reps with the second team nickel.
Free agent signed Marvin Philip got reps at center with the second team offense. Brandon Rodd a 2008 practice squad player for Buffalo last season had been seeing more of those reps previously, though the staff may just be rotating them at this point.
Unable to participate were John DiGiorgio, James Hardy, Pat Thomas, Ashton Youboty, Leodis McKelvin, Terrence McGee, Jonathan Scott, C.J. Hawthorne and P.K. Sam.
Sam and Hardy were doing work on the side with the Bills' athletic training staff.
McKelvin is hoping he can be back some time this week.
Youboty has an outside chance to return next week.