The four-day weekend off seemed to benefit the defense as they were noticeably sharper in their execution than the offense Tuesday as OTAs resumed for the Bills. Several Buffalo defenders got hands on passes as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell continued to install more components of his blitz package right from the start of 11-on-11.
Overall the offense just wasn't crisp. Following the first 11-on-11 series offensive coordinator Turk Schonert turned to his unit and told them their execution was sloppy. Unfortunately things did not improve much from there as dropped passes, inaccurate throws and missed assignments prevented the offense from developing any flow.
"It happens every year you go away for four days and you come back and forget everything," said Schonert. "(Tuesday) was a review day and I think we had more busts than we had all last week. (It's a) learning experience. You have those lulls in a game or distractions in a game where you have to bounce back. We had a four-day distraction and we didn't handle it very well. Hopefully we bounce back from that and we get better."
In all fairness the offense was without two of its top wideouts as Lee Evans was not in attendance, and has yet to participate in any team work coming off shoulder surgery. Roscoe Parrish was also absent leaving Josh Reed and James Hardy as the two starting wideouts. Hardy has seen a good portion of his snaps at the flanker position, but spent more time at split end Tuesday. Reed assumed flanker duties on the other side.
Hardy got most of his touches on crossing routes although there were a few occasions where he was used as a deep threat. But Jabari Greer, who was matched up with him for most of the workout, had the better of the play.
Greer made the play of the day when he snuck underneath Hardy on a crossing pattern and tipped the ball straight up in the air. While Hardy's momentum took him away from the flight of the ball, Greer, who fell down rolled over on his back just in time to pull the ball in for an interception. Greer also had another key pass breakup as he ran stride for stride with Hardy and leapt with perfect timing to knock the ball away from the outstretched arms of the tall receiver.
After getting a lot of starting experience last year, Greer admits that his mindset is different coming into the 2008 campaign.
"I feel like last year was my rookie season to get that amount of experience under my belt and come back this season as prepared as, I am I think I'm only going to get better," he said. "Lord willing, I will take my game to the next level. I feel I'm preparing myself to be the very best that I can be."
Also making plays on the ball defensively were Reggie Corner, who was mixed in for some first team reps and worked in the slot in the nickel package with the second team. Will James, John DiGiorgio and Leodis McKelvin also had pass breakups.
The only other interception was turned in by Ko Simpson and it happened much the way his first INT did last week. Simpson caught a deflected pass on a slightly overthrown ball to Josh Reed. The ball glanced off the receiver's fingertips and Simpson ran underneath the ball for the pick.
For a safety that hasn't been in a competitive football situation for the better part of eight months, Simpson's game doesn't look like its any worse for the wear.
Defensively with the blitzes being installed, Marcus Stroud, Chris Kelsay and Paul Posluszny all flashed at times coming quickly off the ball. Stroud even had to be cautioned for getting a little closer than the coaches would like to Trent Edwards in the non-live football setting.
Elsewhere on the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Schobel was not in attendance and was replaced in the starting lineup by Ryan Denney. Spencer Johnson was on hand, but did not participate. He was lining up next to Stroud at the right defensive tackle position late last week. Kyle Williams stepped in next to Stroud Tuesday.
Getting some second team reps defensively were rookie end Chris Ellis on the left side with 2007 practice squader Corey Mace and John McCargo in the middle. Copeland Bryan was the right end.
On the offensive line Kirk Chambers continued to fill in at left tackle for the missing Jason Peters, who has yet to attend the voluntary workouts. Duke Preston is manning the starting center spot with Melvin Fowler still a spectator due to a shoulder ailment.
At the running back position it appears there's a budding competition for the third tailback role. With Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson pretty secure as the number one and two backs, Dwayne Wright looks as though he'll be facing legitimate competition in Xavier Omon. The two appear to be getting close to the same number of snaps each practice of late.
The Bills have a quick turnaround from Tuesday's afternoon workout as they're back on the field Wednesday morning at 10:30.