The Bills brought their first week of OTA practices to a close on Wednesday with their first red zone work of the spring and it was extensive. Counting 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 the offense and defense squared off for more than 40 snaps inside the 20.
The defense had the better of the play early with Stephon Gilmore breaking up the first attempted touchdown pass. Kevin Kolb tried to drop a pass into Chris Hogan in the front left corner of the end zone, but Gilmore knocked the pass away for an incompletion.
Da'Norris Searcy pulled in an interception two plays later when a ball glanced off the hands of Lee Smith and Searcy picked it off in the end zone.
Fifth-round pick Jonathan Meeks also broke up a pass on an EJ Manuel throw that was intended for tight end Chris Gragg.
Linebacker Kourtnei Brown had a tackle for loss when he read an end around perfectly and tapped out Dorin Dickerson for a tackle for loss.
Gilmore also ripped a ball from the hands of T.J. Graham to prevent a touchdown on a pass from Kevin Kolb.
Ron Brooks had a sack on a blitz as Kolb didn't see him coming in time to get the ball off. DL Jarron Gilbert also was credited with a sack off a fumbled snap by the offense.
Undrafted rookie Vernon Kearney had a pass breakup on a Kolb pass intended for Kevin Elliott.
On the offensive side T.J. Graham made one of the better receptions of the day pulling in a Tarvaris Jackson pass in the left corner of the end zone just a step from the sideline for a touchdown. Graham caught the back side of the ball while he was bent at the waist to keep the ball from getting away from him over the sideline.
Tarvaris Jackson made something out of nothing as he tossed a touchdown pass to Kevin Elliott after the initial play broke down. Jackson scrambled to buy time before the throw.
And Chris Hogan made a nice looking over the shoulder catch on a well-placed throw to the back right corner of the end zone by EJ Manuel for the touchdown.
C.J. Spiller also had a few quality rushes both out wide and up the middle.
Left guard rotation continuesIn the voluntary veteran minicamp the vacant left guard position was a two-man battle as Colin Brown and Sam Young rotated there every day with the starting unit. Now it's apparently a three-man competition. On Monday Sam Young was lined up as the starting left guard. Come Tuesday Chris Scott was added to the mix and ran with the first unit at left guard. On Wednesday it was Colin Brown spending time with the ones.
"I'm just trying to get better every day and we'll see where it plays out at the end of camp," Brown told Buffalobills.com. "I've got a lot of things to work on. I'll just play it one play at a time."
All three candidates were with the club last season. Scott spent 2012 mainly on the practice squad while Brown and Young were on the active roster. Having familiarity with one another hasn't made the competition awkward.
"I feel like we all help each other out," said Brown. "I don't feel like I'm not rooting for one of them. Each one of us is trying to do our best and help each other out and see which one is the best at the end of it."
Making the rotation more confusing was the fact that undrafted rookie Zach Chibane was running with the second unit at left guard with Young seeing more time at right tackle and Scott spending Wednesday at right guard.
Clearly the competition is in the early stages.
Anderson back practicingThe 2012 season was an arduous one for Mark Anderson. In Week 5 against San Francisco, Anderson suffered a knee injury that required not one, but two surgeries. It cost him the rest of the season and led to a lengthy rehab process.
This week in OTAs however, Anderson was back on the practice field. By no means is he full go, but he is happy to be back to football-type work instead of just rehabilitation.
"Right now we're just taking it slow with limited reps," said Anderson. "I'm out here going through the plays and just getting used to the defense and trying to move around a little bit and I'm starting to feel better."
Anderson look to be about half to three-quarter speed in the practice setting as he's been used mainly up by the line of scrimmage. On Wednesday however, he did take a couple of pass drops.
"I feel like my legs are under me, but there's still a little bit of work," he said. "I haven't run or done anything in so long and this is my first week actually of getting back out there and getting into the swing of things.
"I'm just getting used to running and used to coming off the ball, getting used to using my hands, doing all the defensive technique stuff. It's going to still take a little while, there's still time and by training camp I should be full speed."
QB RotationThe quarterback rotation changed again on Wednesday with Kevin Kolb the first man through once the team work shifted to the red zone. He was followed by EJ Manuel and then Tarvaris Jackson. Manuel however, was rotated out the next time through the lineup before jumping back in after Jackson ran five straight plays.
Manuel was also held out of 11-on-11 red zone work. Though it's a competition, Manuel said he's been getting some guidance from the veteran signal callers.
"For me, I watch those guys all the time, whether it's in the film room or warming up here on the field. Seeing what they do through the practices, seeing how they talk to their teammates and direct guys out there on the field," said Manuel. "They obviously help when I ask questions, but probably the biggest thing is that they lead by example."
For the quarterbacks mental reps sound cliché, but Jackson knows they have value with all the rotating in and out.
"If you just tune it out and the other guy might do something right, the other guy might do something wrong you've got to learn from his mistake," said Jackson. "And learn from what he does right, just add it to your game, so you know when I get in, if I get this same look, or this same defense, I should make the same decision."
Goodwin backAfter missing Monday and Tuesday third-round pick Marquise Goodwin was back on the practice field Wednesday. Fellow rookies Robert Woods, Brandon Kaufman, Nickell Robey, Jordan Dangerfield and Aaron Tipoti were not in attendance.
Not participating due to injury were Stevie Johnson, Da'Rick Rogers, Justin Rogers, Crezdon Butler, Keith Williams, Zebrie Sanders, Erik Pears, Scott Chandler and Kyle Williams.