After individual position drills head coach Doug Marrone could see his players were sluggish. Dead legs tend to set in a week or so into training camp and a good number of the Bills were there. He huddled everyone up in the middle of the field Thursday and asked them to plow through the practice session.
The players responded and picked up the pace through the first half of practice as Marrone also changed the atmosphere with music blaring down onto the practice field.
"I felt like we kind of came out sluggish," said Nigel Bradham. "And that was one of the ways coach got us going a little bit. He gave us a little music, to get us going a little, get a little momentum and tempo. It picked up the practice a little bit, so it definitely helped."
But after about 70 plays some players were getting sick on the field. After a five-minute break the players finished practice with two more team series, and there were more upset stomachs. No players subbed out however, as those that got sick did so at the line of scrimmage and just kept going.
"You've got to be mentally tough to make it through days like this. Obviously guys are puking out there today, but it's just part of it," said Kraig Urbik, who avoided getting sick. "If you want to do it on Sunday you've got to start here in practice. We get a lot of reps in at a fast pace. It's not fun sometimes, but that's how we're going to do it. It'll be fun in the games once we're rolling."
"Today was one of those days when you look at the schedule and you look at the calendar, and you know you had the scrimmage a couple of days ago and you have two games coming up here in nine days," said Marrone. "The players are going to be sore, the coaches, everybody. I thought they did a very good job. We came out and got a lot of good work on this day. So I was proud of the players from that standpoint."
With the team not practicing again until Friday night there is recovery time built in for the players and Marrone promised to be smart over the next 48 hours with them.
"We're going to make sure we are doing the right thing and help them be able to recover as they get into the short stretch of these two games," he said.
Manuel trying to take advantage of extra workTop pick EJ Manuel got all the reps with the first team offense again with Kevin Kolb not expected back until Thursday evening. He was unofficially 17-24 passing in practice with most of the completions being short or underneath throws. He took one sack and had four plays where he could not find anyone open and tucked the ball to run.
At one point offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was talking to Manuel about hanging in the pocket.
Among Manuel's better throws was a 65-yard bomb down the right sideline to T.J. Graham as Graham beat his coverage badly on the play.
He also threw a nice pass down the left sideline to DeMarco Sampson for a big gain.
His most astute play was his pass over the middle to Chris Hogan when he recognized blitz and beat it by getting the pass off in time for a 20-plus yard completion counting run after catch.
Manuel was fired up after winning on that play shouting, 'We got that one for the first time!' The rookie signal caller then ran down the field to high five his receiver after the play.
Kyle making progressBills Pro Bowl DT Kyle Williams for the second straight offseason is coming off Achilles surgery to remove bone spurs from his heel. He began participating in team work last weekend and feels he's improved physically since then.
"This surgery can kind of be discouraging because it takes so long to kind of bounce back," said Williams. "It's all about getting the tensile strength back in your Achilles. Even though nothing was wrong with it they have to take it off and lay it back down. I'm excited moving forward knowing that I'm getting better and not getting worse. I've gone the other way for a long time now where it's getting worse or staying the same. I'm excited about now and even further in the future feeling better and healthier than I have in a long time."
Williams was active along the line of scrimmage Thursday making a few tap out tackles either at the line of scrimmage or in the offensive backfield.
He hasn't been told yet whether he'll be getting any playing time in Sunday's preseason opener at Indianapolis.
Hopkins has perfect dayKicker candidates Rian Lindell and Dustin Hopkins kicked an allotment of attempts on the turf field Thursday and Hopkins became the first in training camp to hit all of his attempts in a practice session. Prior to Thursday when Hopkins went 11-for-11 neither he nor Lindell had a perfect day in any prior practice.
Hopkins two longest attempts came from 48 and 50 yards off the left and right hash respectively. The rookie kicker looked to be in a set rhythm for the first time all camp.
"I think rhythm is important, especially for me," Hopkins told Buffalobills.com. "I think it's bigger for some guys and not as much for others. I felt really good with Garrison (Sanborn) snapping. He's been doing it long enough so I'm very confident in him and Shawn (Powell) having held for me for three years. I've felt a lot better out there the last two days than the previous practices out here."
Lindell was 7-for-9 on his first set of attempts, missing from 43 (WL) and 51 (WR) yards though he did hit a 51-yarder on his last attempt. He was 4-for-5 on his second set of kicks missing a 39-yarder wide left.
Lineup notesColin Brown re-assumed the starting left guard spot in practice Thursday as Cordy Glenn was back out at his familiar left tackle position after a day inside at left guard. Doug Legursky ran with the second unit and according to head coach Doug Marrone it's going to be just Brown and Legursky the rest of the way until a starter is named.
"I think we're going to stick with those two players that we have there now," said Marrone. "I think that gives us the best chance, and I see both players competing a very high level, and both players are getting better each day. Now, it's just making sure they can go out there and perform in these preseason games because they are doing a good job in practice."
With Leodis McKelvin sitting a second straight day with lingering soreness from Monday night's scrimmage, Ron Brooks got the call at right cornerback with the starting unit. Justin Rogers is still out with a hamstring.
With Brooks on the boundary, rookie Nickell Robey was again the first team nickel corner.
Don Unamba was mixed in for second team reps with Crezdon Butler and it apparently motivated Butler in practice as he had a pair of pass breakups on the afternoon.
Duke Williams got some first team reps at safety as he was teamed with Aaron Williams for some of Mike Pettine's defensive packages.
With OL Keith Williams sidelined, Antoine Caldwell stepped in as the full time right guard with the second unit.
ScheduleThe Bills have a night practice scheduled for Friday at 6 pm.