There were some positive signs on both sides of the ball in Monday's practice at Bills training camp. The most encouraging development for the offense was their performance on both series of the two-minute drill.
Vince Young led the second unit on the first series against the second team defense. The situation was 1:20 on the clock with the ball at their own 30 and needing a touchdown to win. On first down Young hit Ruvell Martin on a deep crossing route along the left sideline for a 25-yard pickup to move in the defense's territory.
After a short completion to David Clowney and an incompletion it was third down, but Young hit T.J. Graham on a slant with 29 seconds remaining. On fourth down, Young hit Naaman Roosevelt for a first down prompting a spike after getting lined up again at the new line of scrimmage.
With 22 seconds left on the clock Young fired a pass over the middle to Martin on a post pattern for a 25-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left to complete the drive.
Head coach Chan Gailey liked what he got from Young in the passing game Monday.
"That's the best he's done since he's been here," said Gailey. "I think today was his best day since he's been here. He's got a better grasp of it at any time in the OTAs or minicamp and I think he's feeling a lot more comfortable."
The first team offense capped their two-minute drive with even more drama. After a slip screen by C.J. Spiller picked up 30 yards Buffalo's offense was quickly into the defense's territory. Completions to Scott Chandler and Spiller moved them inside the 40-yard line with 35 seconds left on the clock. Spencer Johnson batted down Fitzpatrick's next pass attempt, which stopped the clock and brought up third down.
Fitzpatrick fired a bullet to Donald Jones to set up 1st-and-goal at the eight-yard line with 29 seconds remaining. Stevie Johnson then took a slant down to the one-yard line to set up second and goal, which Fitz had to burn with a spike to stop the clock with 14 seconds left.
On 3rd-and-goal from the one-yard line, Fitzpatrick wasn't looking when the ball was snapped to him in the shotgun and he had to retreat and pounce on the ball at the 15-yard line with the clock running.
But the offense quickly lined up and got the snap off with one second on the clock and Fitzpatrick fired a dart over the middle to an open Scott Chandler for the touchdown.
"They're getting a little better," said Gailey. "You keep working it and you keep going and it pays dividends. I thought both the first and the second offense did a good job of running two minute today."
Big hitsBills RB Tashard Choice is one of the bigger talkers on the field during practice. On Monday afternoon Choice had his usual chatter going with some of the defensive players during team work. The defense was ready for him during 11-on-11 red zone work.
With the second unit on offense and defense both on the field, Choice was given a hand-off on the first play from scrimmage. He got around the left corner, but Da'Norris Searcy came from the middle of the field with a full head of steam and hit Choice broad side knocking him clean off his feet to the hoots and howls of the defensive players looking on from the sidelines.
On the very next play Choice was again given the hand-off for an inside run play, but Kirk Morrison came barreling down off the left side and dropped Choice for a loss while also stripping the ball for a fumble. The loose ball was recovered by Nigel Bradham, who ran the opposite way for a touchdown.
Morrison tried to downplay the hits.
"It's just football man," he said. "It's just going against the same guys for two weeks and going toward the end of camp right now so we're just ready to hit another jersey. Last week we got a little bit in playing the Washington Redskins, but we're ready for a big game against Minnesota this week."
"That's football," said Gailey. "In training camp you're supposed to have those. I don't want those in the regular season in practice, but in training camp that's part of it."
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#2 QBs making playsVince Young wasn't the only backup quarterback candidate to make some plays in practice Monday. Tyler Thigpen showed he can connect on the deep passes.
Thigpen hooked up with Derek Hagan on a very well placed 35-yard pass down the left sideline despite good coverage allowing Hagan to keep his stride and get extra yardage after the reception.
He also had a strike to Kamar Aiken over the middle for a 20-yard play and his best of the day again a deep strike down the left side to T.J. Graham for a 40-yard shot that Graham took for extra yardage after the catch.
Thigpen also had a touchdown pass to Marcus Easley during 11-on-11 red zone work.
Both Thigpen and Young also got some snaps with the first team offense during 7-on-7. In fact the pair took all the first team reps while Ryan Fitzpatrick had a lighter load for his throwing arm.
Lineup notesFor the first time in a week Chris Hairston got some reps with the first team offense at left tackle. Hairston would get the first two reps with the ones at left tackle then step out for Cordy Glenn to come in and get the rest.
After Erik Pears would get his four reps with the first unit at right tackle, Hairston would step in on the right side until the first unit's series was over.
Glenn remained at left tackle with the second unit, with Hairston rotating back in to relieve him on the left side and Sam Young coming in on the right to replace Hairston.
Pears and Eric Wood are both getting the first four team reps of each series with the first unit before stepping out so as not to overdo it with both coming off offseason surgeries.
Shawne Merriman did not participate Monday for assorted bumps and bruises and was given a rest day. He's expected to practice Tuesday night.
Spencer Johnson worked his way back into team drills, but only got a couple of reps here and there coming back from a bruised shoulder.
Marcus Easley appeared to be getting squeezed out of reps with the second unit Monday. Ruvell Martin, David Clowney and Naaman Roosevelt were all getting reps ahead of the former fourth-round pick Monday. It's only one day. We'll monitor it to see if it continues.
Lining up at the left guard spot with the second unit that was previously held by the released Mike Jasper was Bills sixth-round pick Mark Asper, who also remained in that same spot with the third string unit.
ScheduleThe Bills have their final night practice of camp on Tuesday at 6:30 pm.