There was an awful lot of enthusiasm surrounding the Bills' first practice Saturday morning, and a lot of that excitement was T.O. generated. Upon emerging from the locker room Owens got a loud ovation from the fans on hand at St. John Fisher. The exuberant fans continued during practice as the crowd whooped and hollered every time Owens touched the ball.
"That's what we expect from the fans so the reception felt good when I came out," said Owens. "I'm used to it. Everywhere that I've been there has always been that type of reception. Every time I touched the ball there was an eruption. I don't know why it happens, just a T.O. following I guess."
"I think it's great for our football team," said Jauron of the attention that Owens received.
"Obviously he helps us as a player and then for our organization and city and franchise I think it's great. It adds a lot of excitement. It's terrific for us."
After practice Owens played to the crowd putting his hand up to his ear to see how loud they would cheer for him to come and sign autographs. The playmaking wideout signed for about 15 minutes.
"Anything that I can do to keep the fans into it, and let them know that I'm thankful for them," said Owens. "I hear them out here and I recognize them. It's not easy standing out here in the stands in the hot sun hooting and hollering every day. It's good to interact with them a little bit."
Where they're lining upWith the unsigned rookie offensive linemen absent as camp began Buffalo's offensive line underwent some shuffling particularly with the second unit. The starters had Langston Walker at left tackle with Kirk Chambers at left guard, Geoff Hangartner in the pivot, Seth McKinney at right guard and Brad Butler at right tackle.
The second unit however, had Demetrius Bell at left tackle, Marvin Philip at left guard, Brandon Rodd in the middle with Chris Denman and Jonathan Scott on the right side. Philip and Rodd switched back and forth with each other at center and guard in between series.
Denman played more tackle than guard in the spring, but slid inside with the roster a bit short at guard. Also during individual position drills Demetrius Bell got some reps at left and right guard as that is still a potential position for him in addition to tackle.
"It's a realistic option for me," said Bell. "For me it's good to know more than one position. I feel the coaches did a good job of getting me ready to do that and I have no problem playing the position if I have to."
Knowing the importance of getting his starting five on the offensive line together as soon as possible, Jauron would prefer to have all the viable candidates in camp including Eric Wood and Andy Levitre, who are still unsigned.
"They need to be here," said Jauron. "That being said, I understand all the things that go into the negotiations, both sides, but they need to be here. They'll miss work that's just hard to make up and one of the great advantages of playing in the Hall of Fame game is you have that extra week and for a young player is really a week they could use."
At the tight end position on offense Derek Schouman was the first tight end through the rotation in most case during team work, but the reps were split pretty evenly with Derek Fine. They will be the top two candidates competing for the starting tight end role. Jonathan Stupar and Travis McCall rotated in.
The wideouts were grouped pretty much as expected. The first set included Lee Evans, Terrell Owens and Josh Reed when they went three wide. The second set of wideouts consisted of Steve Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and Justin Jenkins.
In the offensive backfield Marshawn Lynch saw the bulk of the work, with Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes to follow in the rotation. Xavier Omon also got some reps here and there. Justise Hairston suffered an injury during individual position drills and went to the locker room. He did not return.
Jackson as expected also split out from time to time as a receiver during practice. He did so at least four times during team work in the morning session.
Defensively, the front four were the same as last season with Chris Kelsay, Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams and Aaron Schobel across the line. The second unit from left to right was Ryan Denney, Spencer Johnson, John McCargo and Copeland Bryan. The third unit was Chris Ellis, Ventrell Jenkins, David Lindquist and Jermaine McGhee.
At linebacker the starters remained the same from a season ago with Keith Ellison, Paul Posluszny and Kawika Mitchell. The second unit featured rookie Nic Harris on the strong side with Marcus Buggs in the middle and undrafted rookie Ashlee Palmer on the weak side. The third unit from left to right was Jon Corto, Pat Thomas and Alvin Bowen.
The cornerback depth chart was as follows as it played out on the field. Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin lined up as the starters on the outside, with Reggie Corner the first nickel corner. The second set of corners had Ashton Youboty and Drayton Florence as a pairing. Youboty was also the second team nickel corner with rookie Ellis Lankster stepping in to play on the outside in place of Youboty. The third pairing of corners was Corner and Lankster , with Lydell Sargeant rotating in.
Sixth-round pick Cary Harris and Sargeant did not see much time on the field.
At safety the pairings were similar to what they were in the spring workouts with Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott the starters, George Wilson and Ko Simpson the second pair and John Wendling and Dustin Fox the third group.
Getting back into the swing of practice can often be a bit ragged on the first day, but the offense executed relatively well.
"It was terrific start today," said head coach Dick Jauron. "We're glad to start another NFL season."
"Our front five did a good job today," said Trent Edwards. "We've still got a long way to go, but I was very pleased with all 10 guys around me and it feels good so far. It really is nice that we have the weapons that we do. And it's a matter of protecting the football and being accurate
with the football."
Recognizing that the defense has yet to install much of their blitz packages this early in camp, the front line did relatively well on offense when it came to protection. Edwards found Lee Evans early and often as his separation was consistent. Evans unofficially caught seven balls in the practice setting mostly on intermediate routes. Owens unofficially pulled in seven as well.
"I just try to do the things that I need to do in the offense," said Owens. "The goals that I set for myself are to be that number one guy and be that playmaker and be productive on the football field."
Marshawn Lynch had some good burst in his step as he saw the bulk of the work out of the backfield.
And Roscoe Parrish snared a nice pass over the middle in stride on a well-timed play.
Defensively, Reggie Corner almost picked up where he left off in the spring as he laid out for an overthrown pass intended for Justin Jenkins, but could not hold onto the ball.
Marcus Stroud knifed in between the guard and center to get a quality quarterback pressure on Trent Edwards, which forced Edwards to check it down to Dominic Rhodes.
Paul Posluszny shot the gap and would have had a sack on Edwards on a pass play that ultimately went to Owens.
Edwards had a nice flick pass under pressure that he delivered underneath over the middle to Schouman on a crossing pattern.
George Wilson had a pass breakup on a play where it appeared Ryan Denney may have had a sack as well on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Afternoon HighlightsThe defense had to make coordinator Perry Fewell a happy coach as they posted five interceptions in the afternoon workout and several other plays on the ball.
Ashton Youboty got the pick parade started when he stepped in front of a Gibran Hamdan pass intended for Roscoe Parrish for an interception.
Paul Posluszny had an interception when he anticipated a short pass over the middle to Xavier Omon from Ryan Fitzpatrick. His interception return might have gone for a t-d under live football conditions.
Donte Whitner got in on the interception act leaping high to catch an underthrown pass by Edwards.
Linebacker Pat Thomas helped his cause as he reached high to make an interception over the middle off Matt Baker.
"This defense is probably a mixture of what I've played in at Jacksonville and Kansas City the past couple of years," said Thomas. "So I feel can draw from both of those defenses and apply them here."
Leodis McKelvin had the last interception of the day as he stepped in front of a quick strike pass intended for Owens from Edwards.
Turning in pass breakups were Marcus Buggs, Drayton Florence, Terrence McGee and Youboty. Chris Ellis and Spencer Johnson had batted passes at the line of scrimmage. Aaron Schobel had a pair of quarterback pressures.
On offense Roscoe Parrish showed good feet on a reception in tight space along the near sideline.
Lee Evans made a handful of receptions in the intermediate area.
Tight end Jonathan Stupar made a diving catch over the middle on a pass from Hamdan.
And Owens turned in the play of day one as he got behind his coverage to pull in this 50-yard bomb from Edwards for the touchdown, which brought Bills fans in attendance to their feet.
Injury updateMarcus Stroud pulled up early in practice with what appeared to be a tweak of his left hamstring. The athletic training staff was taking no chances and pulled him from practice as he had his leg wrapped in ice for the rest of the workout.
Not participating on Saturday was running back Justise Hairston who suffered a leg injury in warm-ups during the morning practice and did not return for the rest of the day.
SundayThe Bills have a pair of practices scheduled for Sunday. The morning session is set to begin at 8:40 with the afternoon workout set for 2:25pm. The afternoon workout will be in shells and helmets.