The Bills Monday practice got off to a rough start for the offense. Execution and some unforced errors prompted some yelling by their head coach. Doug Marrone blew his stack when during an 11-on-11 red zone period two linemen on the right side of the formation committed false starts.
"Stop getting penalties in the red zone!" was the angry comment from Buffalo's sideline boss.
It's not hard to understand Marrone's frustration on the heels of a 14-penalty night against Minnesota, which was preceded by a nine-penalty outing at Indianapolis.
"I think for us it has been too much," said Marrone of the penalties. "I think that when we get into situations, especially the red zone when we work on those situations we have to constantly remind those players that they have to up their area of focus. We don't want penalties down there and they hurt. It's hard to make up certain downs and situations in this league and we've seen that with everyone. We have to make that a point of emphasis with our players and evaluate those situations."
A short time later, Marrone huddled up the offense and addressed the need to remain focused and deliver consistent play down in and down out.
"Well I got with the defense first and then I went over to the offense and I said I appreciated the hard work we're putting in, but it's a little bit of focus (lacking) in individual areas," said Marrone. "We have to push through that. We need 11 players every time they're on that field to make sure that they're focused and doing everything right. That's what I challenged them with and you saw it pick up."
The execution of the offense did improve with their most effective play coming in a pair of two-minute drill drives.
Two minute offenseOn the first drive led by Kevin Kolb, the quarterback hit Stevie Johnson on three consecutive plays in the middle of the field for a total of 31 yards.
"It's a money play for us," said Johnson. "I feel like we have targets everywhere on the field from the backs to the tight ends to the guys on the outside. I guess we just worked that play. We pretty much did what the coach said it was. It was a money play and we got our money."
After a Fred Jackson run and a sack on Kolb by Jamaal Westerman, the offense was facing a 3rd-and-18 situation at the defense's 36-yard line.
Delivering on cue one of his big plays as he seems to do every practice was Marquise Goodwin, who won a one-on-one battle outside and pulled in a well-placed 36-yard touchdown pass from Kolb to finish the drive.
The second unit came out with Jeff Tuel directing the offense, and as has been his approach launched a bomb down the right sideline to Da'Rick Rogers. Rogers came down with the ball for a 49-yard pass play to move the Bills offense into the red zone.
After short completions to Brandon Kaufman and Marcus Easley set up first-and-goal at the seven-yard line, Tashard Choice was given two carries on the next two plays. But Choice was stopped at the one-yard line on second-and-goal.
On third-and-goal at the one, Tuel dropped back to pass and found a wide open Choice in the right flat, who coasted into the end zone for a touchdown.
"It was productive," said Johnson of the two-minute drives for the offense. "Some things went good and some things went bad, but at the end of the day it's all good because we communicated everything between me and Kolb. We did pretty good."
Encouraged about StevieOn Sunday T.J. Graham told Buffalobills.com that he'd be playing in Saturday's preseason game at Washington. On Monday Stevie Johnson, who got his most extensive team work, said the same.
"I'll be out there," Johnson said. "I'll be out there we'll see how I feel game speed when everything changes a little bit. The twitches are a little bit faster. I'll be out there to see how it is and then we'll be rolling after that."
Even head coach Doug Marrone admitted he was pleased with Johnson's progress in the practice setting.
"I am encouraged. I think he's looked better and better and we're working him more and more and he looked better today," said Marrone. "That was our expectation for him to look better and it was an expectation that he had so yes I did feel much more comfortable with that."
EJ updateBills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who rejoined his teammates Monday, had successful surgery on his injured knee and was already back with the team late Sunday afternoon. Marrone provided an update on Manuel's status, but said he'll know more after meeting with the doctors late Monday.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what the doctor says to see if it's going to be shorter (than what they said) prior to the procedure," said Marrone of Manuel's return. The message I got from the doctor was everything went great. I didn't ask for all the specifics, but I'm meeting with the doctors today to go through the injuries again."
Manuel was not observing from the sidelines on the practice field as doctors have advised that the quarterback stay off his feet for the first 48 hours after surgery.
Marrone said Manuel is attending all the quarterback, offense and team meetings and is reviewing practice tape.
"We'll get him out there as soon as possible," said Marrone.
Defense rolling up sacksThe defense had a solid day as the sacks were plentiful. Jarron Gilbert, Alan Branch, Jamaal Westerman, Corbin Bryant, Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Da'Norris Searcy all had quarterback tap outs in practice Monday.
Kyle Williams looked to be effectively rounding into form as he had a pair of sacks, a quarterback pressure and a tackle for loss.
The pressure packages in Mike Pettine's scheme have proven very successful even against a Bills offense that has seen a healthy dose of looks through training camp.
Aaron Williams turned in an interception off a tipped pass, and Leodis McKelvin had a pair of pass breakups as he was given more team work in practice Monday in his return from a groin injury.
Lineup notesWith Thomas Welch sidelined a second straight day Sam Young lined up at second team left tackle, with Zebrie Sanders stepping in for him at right tackle.
T.J. Heath got first team reps at the revolving left cornerback position opposite Stephon Gilmore. Heath was stepping in for McKelvin, who is not all the way back yet and was getting second team reps on a limited basis.
OLB Jamie Blatnick was rotated in for some first team reps as Mario Williams is still on a pitch count.
Colin Brown was again the starting left guard with Doug Legursky the second teamer.
Arthur Moats was rotated in at middle linebacker with the starters as Kiko Alonso's reps were monitored.
ScheduleThe Bills are back on the practice field for their final night practice of training camp Tuesday. It starts at 6 pm.