He had been missing from the team segments of practice for over a week, but on Monday Kevin Kolb was rotated in by Buffalo's coaching staff at the team's afternoon practice.
Kolb took reps with the first unit the second time through in the rotation. EJ Manuel got the starter reps each time a new team segment began. Doug Marrone was careful not to put too much on the veteran quarterback as his injured left knee still appeared less than 100 percent.
"He's just coming back so we're just working him into it," said Marrone. "I just wanted to see that and I think it will just get better and better as we go through because really he hasn't practice in quite a long time. So we were just working him back in there."
"I feel pretty good," Kolb said. "It's getting better every day. No setbacks once we're pushing it so that feels good and hopefully tomorrow is the same way."
Kolb at times moved gingerly off of his left knee when he had to shift his body weight onto his left leg to avoid traffic in the pocket on one play. Stepping into his throws Kolb looked fine and did not appear to lose any velocity on his passes.
"It gets better as practice goes on, but what I don't want to do is push myself and create a bad habit by trying to overcompensate for it," said Kolb. "So it's kind of a fine line there. I'm trying to weigh that out and make sure I'm playing without any pain and if I am playing with some pain then don't let it affect what I'll be doing whenever I'm fully healthy because I don't want to create a bad habit."
Having been through quarterback competitions before, Kolb is more than aware that time is not on his side heading into Friday's preseason game against Minnesota. He'd like to give his knee sufficient time to recover following the freak accident running from one practice field to the other 10 days ago. So Kolb is trying to do more and more in what is a short week of practice at Bills training camp.
"When you're hard-headed, and competitive and everything else all that comes into effect and that's the way that I feel," said Kolb. "When they asked today, they said 'We're going to ease you in,' I said 'No you're not, I want you to put me in.' So that's the way I feel but they're going to play it smart, they understand. They can probably see my progress better than I can. So, hopefully I can take the pride out of the deal and let my injury just come along how it needs to be."
Head coach Doug Marrone said it's premature at this point to determine whether Kolb will be healthy enough to play against the Vikings on Friday night.
"That would be looking a little bit at a crystal ball," said Marrone. "It's too early to say."
Practice right after a game
It's not often that NFL head coaches have their team practice the day after a game. Typically they have weight lifting and conditioning work to establish a good blood flow in players bodies knowing it helps to get the soreness out quicker.
But on a short week Marrone and his staff put the players through a two-hour practice, which was scaled back a bit from their normal sessions.
"We're at a window of really trying to in the evaluation process get the players ready," said Marrone. "It's a short week and we came back. You might've looked at it as a practice, but we tagged off on every drill. We wanted to get them running around. The players did a good job of that. It may be called a practice, but we're being smart about it with the players."
Tuel still going longHe's connected an awful lot on deep passes with Buffalo's corps of receivers in training camp, and he connected with Marcus Easley on a 29-yard pass play in Sunday's preseason opener. Jeff Tuel continued to demonstrate his ability to hit the big play in practice Monday.
On his second play in 11-on-11 team work Tuel reared back and tossed a 65-yard bomb to a streaking Marquise Goodwin on a deep post pattern for a touchdown. With the talented receivers Tuel has at his disposal he hasn't been shy about putting the ball out there for his receivers to run down.
"I think it comes pretty easy with the crop of receivers we have," Tuel said. "It's unbelievable. All the coaches have said just the amount of talent we have on this roster. Everybody can play so I think you'd be stupid not to give them a shot out there just because I think we're going to win those battles. So it's just, it's really not the trust in me, it's just the trust I have in and offensive line to give me the time. You have to take those shots when they're given to you."
Another one of Tuel's better plays Monday was a short toss over a blitzing defensive back to Tashard Choice for a touchdown during red zone work.
Butler rotates upCornerback Crezdon Butler has largely lined up with the second unit on defense at left cornerback through the course of training camp. He also lined up there in the preseason opener and had an exceptional game as we outlined on the Inside the Bills blog Monday.
Coming off his three pass breakup and one interception performance against Indianapolis Butler was rewarded with first team reps in practice Monday.
"It's about being consistent, not just yesterday," said Butler. "It's about being consistent through the camp. That earns you playing time. I knew that from coming in with the new coaches, you've got to prove yourself, so that's what I tried to do."
Butler had a pair of pass breakups in practice on Monday including a nice play on a bomb from EJ Manuel deep down the middle to Robert Woods. Butler knocked the ball away just Woods prepared to make the reception.
When asked about Butler's move up with the first unit, Marrone downplayed the move indicating it was made in part to give Ron Brooks more reps in the slot in the team's nickel package where he is currently holding the top spot on the depth chart.
"He did a good job. Again we're rotating guys through," said Marrone. "With (Ron) Brooks, he's our starting nickel right now so we want to lose sight of Ron's position playing nickel and being our third corner and working people through there. It's really nothing more than that."
Butler is one of a host of players that have been given the opportunity to line up at the left cornerback spot. First, it was Justin Rogers with Leodis McKelvin not working in team segments coming off groin surgery. Then McKelvin stepped in and Rogers soon after sustained a hamstring injury.
Ron Brooks had most recently lined up with the first unit before Butler lined up there on Monday.
Butler would be a welcome alternative on the boundary. Beyond Stephon Gilmore and McKelvin there is not much size to Buffalo's cornerback contingent. At 6'1" 192 pounds, Butler has the kind of stature that matches up well with the taller outside receivers.
He'd provide some welcome insurance knowing McKelvin's injury situation if he can continue to play like he did against the Colts.
Lineup notesColin Brown coming out of the preseason opener remained at the left guard spot with the starting unit. Doug Legursky continued to work with the twos.
Jamie Blatnick was again sprinkled in with the starting unit on defense as was Arthur Moats, although defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has stated that it typically has more to do with their specific personnel packages on defense than anything.
Chris Hogan got some looks with the first unit on offense at receiver after T.J. Graham stepped out of practice early with a groin pull.
WR Kevin Elliott returned from a shoulder injury, but only took part in individual position drills as the athletic training staff made a point of keeping him away from contact.
ScheduleThe Bills have an 8 am practice scheduled for Tuesday morning.