As the first week of OTAs wrapped up for the Bills their top two picks turned in some plays. James Hardy made some quality receptions over the middle and Leodis McKelvin made his first interception when he jumped in front of a route in the slot and took it the other way.
The two rookies made progress in their first week as the coaching staff made a point of sprinkling the younger players in with the first offensive and defensive units.
"We need to look at different mixes of guys, certainly with our young players we need to expose them to as much as we can so we can start making some judgments," said Bills head coach Dick Jauron. "And we have a feel for them as players off of college tape. We won't really know until they get into a preseason game or at least some kind of camp activity where we have a better feel for them. But this is where it starts so we need to mix them."
Third-round pick Chris Ellis also got some first team reps in place of Aaron Schobel at right defensive end, while fourth-round pick Reggie Corner factored into some subpackages.
The defensive interior also saw its share of shuffling as the third different first team combination was lined up Thursday. Marcus Stroud and John McCargo were paired up with the first unit. They were followed by Spencer Johnson and Kyle Williams at the nose and three technique respectively.
Keith Ellison also got some first team reps at linebacker with Kawika Mitchell not in attendance Thursday. As a result college free agent Marcus Buggs moved up to the second unit to fill Ellison's place.
Peters absence addressed
With no sign of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters at the voluntary workouts Dick Jauron addressed the questions as to his whereabouts.
"As always this is not a mandatory camp," said Jauron. "It's amazing that our attendance is really… has been terrific and the guys that are here, are the guys that we coach and the guys that aren't here they have reasons but I don't necessarily get into them."
Jauron said he sends a letter to every player on the roster where he likely expresses the hope that they will consider attending all of the team's offseason workouts, but Jauron did not divulge whether he had spoken to Peters personally.
Lee Evans and J.P. Losman were also not in attendance.
As for how the offense is coming along Dick Jauron knew with a few changes that there would be an adjustment period and that period is now.
"I wouldn't say it was real sharp and it probably shouldn't be at this time," said Jauron. "There's a lot to work on. I think Turk (Schonert) and the offensive staff has done a nice job of starting the installation of the offense. Things are a relatively new for us and that goes slowly but they've done a nice job."
As far as Edwards is concerned there isn't a long learning curve with respect to the changes in the scheme.
"I would say a majority of the terminology is pretty much the same," Edwards said. "There are different routes and different words for those new routes, but a lot of our formations and a lot of our routes, a lot of our run calls are pretty much the same and that's going to help the young guys out a lot. Me and Marshawn were in the system last year and it's benefited us in the first couple of OTAs so far."
One big change is the expansion and freedom of audibles for the quarterbacks. There was only a smattering of audibles this week, but Edwards expects that to change in the OTAs to come.
"We'll see a lot more when we get more looks from the defense," he said. "Right now they're only doing some pretty basic coverages so far. We're seeing more as the week went on, but not where we need to audible though. They're in the offense, and hopefully we can make that adjustment next week."
The no huddle or hurry up series resumed on Thursday as Buffalo's offense put together two series against the defense. The run and pass were mixed pretty evenly. Marshawn Lynch had a pair of strong rushes, Fred Jackson had a nice catch out of the backfield and Hardy made a pair of receptions including a nice one over the middle.
Edwards like many believes Hardy will have a positive impact on Buffalo's attack, but pointed out how valuable Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish are underneath.
"He adds a lot," said Edwards of Hardy. "We're calling plays where there were some plays we couldn't call last year just based on certain looks we were getting and not having the ability to do things. A lot of that is due to his ability. The thing is if you watch the past few practices James is doing a great job. But if you look at Roscoe and Josh they've made big strides in this offense and that's only helping us out and taking a lot of pressure off Marshawn and the offensive line if Roscoe and Josh can get separation for us."
Reed and Parrish have been frequent targets of Edwards this past week.
On the second no huddle series Gibran Hamdan made only one completion as the drive was shortened due to time constraints, but Scott Mayle made a difficult leaping grab along the sideline which would have made it first-and-goal on the drive. Late in practice Mayle made another big catch in traffic despite perfect coverage from Jabari Greer.
Derek Schouman and Courtney Anderson continue to run as the top tight ends and were often on the field at the same time.
Defense adding blitzes
Defensive coordinator began inserting some of his blitz package into the practice setting. On the whole the offense and defense played to a relative draw on the blitz plays. Paul Posluszny tapped out Edwards on one play. Josh Reed actually had a nice third down reception that beat the blitz for what would've been a first down. Ellison also had an interception off Matt Baker that was intended for Steve Johnson.
Melvin Fowler and Robert Royal again did not participate. Fowler appears closer to returning as he participated on a limited basis during individual position group drills. Lee Evans has also not participated at all in the team work segments coming off shoulder surgery. Jauron said he's not going to push Royal and Evans to participate fully prior to training camp.
"I don't think and we're not necessarily pushing them to get them involved in this," said Jauron. "Lee as you know did all of the individual work. Robert wasn't scheduled to do any of these things. We anticipate they'll both be completely healthy for training camp and that's good. Strength wise, weight wise, body fat, all of those things are good in both of their cases and they're both guys we trust completely. They won't be involved in our OTAs unless something unforeseen occurs."
Hall of Fame attendee
Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas took in a portion of the workout along the sidelines.