Monday morning's practice marked the first in which top pick C.J. Spiller was carrying the bulk of the load at running back. Spiller lined up with the first unit and believes he can handle the workload he'll have for at least the remainder of the preseason.
"The mindset is when a man goes down, you never want to see it, but you have to prepare yourself as if you're next in line," Spiller said. "That's how I approached it in minicamps and that's how I'm going to approach it now. We had two great guys go down so now it's time for the next guy in line to try to step up and those are big shoes to try to fill this preseason. I'm going to try to do my best."
Spiller was followed in the rotation at running back by Chad Simpson and Joique Bell.
New guysThe injuries suffered at running back and wide receiver over the past week led to the addition of two new players to the practice field Monday morning. Buffalo signed RB Andre Anderson and WR Aaron Rhea.
For Anderson and Rhea (pronounced Ray) the morning practice was a bit of a whirlwind, but they didn't mind getting their feet wet early. Both were thrown into the team setting of practice, as they got reps in 11-on-11 work.
"After a little while I'll get a little more used to it," said Rhea. "I was thinking a little bit too much today, but I did okay for the first day. Tomorrow I should know more plays and do better."
Rhea, who spent this past spring in Vikings camp, feels he knows what to expect in the training camp setting. His focus right now is on the Bills' playbook, which he'll have to have a basic working knowledge of by Thursday night when the Bills host the Colts in Toronto.
"Every night you've got to study, study every minute you get a chance," said Rhea. "I've just got to get used to the plays."
Three vets returnThree veteran players came off the injury list Monday to re-join their teammates in practice.
Right tackle Cornell Green was back in his starting role and appears to be on track to start in Thursday night's preseason game barring any setbacks. Green along with Demetrius Bell and Eric Wood were held out of the preseason opener last Friday.
Spencer Johnson, who has not participated in practice since July 30th, returned and appeared to be full go as he lined up with the starting defensive line at left end. Johnson was stepping in for Marcus Stroud, who was held out of the morning practice.
Meanwhile tight end Derek Schouman practiced and looked to be moving around fairly well as he made some plays in the pass game during the team segments of the morning session.
Morning highlightsLee Evans showed good concentration when a pass on a slant tipped off his hand and body. He was able to re-locate the ball and pull it in for the reception.
Evans later got behind his defender down the far sideline with Trent Edwards leading him perfectly for a 45-yard pass play before the safety closed to that side of the field.
Derek Schouman caught a well-timed pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick over the middle for a 20-yard gain during 7-on-7.
Naaman Roosevelt made a shoestring catch with his fingertips on a comeback route to the near sideline from Brian Brohm.
Chad Jackson pulled in a 47-yard touchdown catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick down the far sideline in 11-on-11.
And Roscoe Parrish caught a 20-yard bullet over the middle from Edwards during a two-minute drill.
Lineup changesWith Spencer Johnson filling in for Marcus Stroud on the starting defensive line, John McCargo stepped in on the second unit for Alex Carrington, who sat out the morning session.
Rashaad Duncan also saw second team reps at end.
LB Reggie Torbor has been primarily an outside linebacker for the Bills since arriving, even though he played primarily inside the last two seasons in Miami. On Monday Torbor was lined up inside more with the second unit on defense alongside Kawika Mitchell. Torbor and Mitchell were teammates previously with the New York Giants.
James Hardy and Ed Wang along with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch were the only other non-participants.
NIGHT PRACTICE NOTESBuffalo's night practice concluded with some good news as head coach Chan Gailey revealed that Marshawn Lynch's ankle injury may not take as long to heal as first believed.
"I think it's not a major injury by any stretch of the imagination and I would think he could be back by the last preseason game," said Gailey. "That's what we're hoping anyway."
Buffalo's last preseason game is Sept. 2nd at Detroit and is just 17 days away. Lynch hasn't been forced to stay off the ankle as he was standing on the sidelines watching practice for both the morning and evening sessions Monday.
If Lynch can play in the final preseason game and be a lock for the season opener it would certainly make plans a bit easier knowing Fred Jackson's status for the first regular season game against Miami is very much up in the air.
Gailey didn't deny that going without both Jackson and Lynch for the next couple of weeks will slow the offense's progress heading into the season.
"It's a setback," Gailey said. "Any time you lose two really great players it's a setback. I don't care where you are. We've been set back on defense because of Kelsay and Posluszny being out. That part is tough, but it happens all the time. That's part of this business you've got to deal with it and go on."
The Bills sideline boss also confirmed that Brian Brohm will in fact follow Trent Edwards in the quarterback rotation in the second preseason game Thursday night in Toronto against the Colts. Brohm did not appear in the first preseason game as Gailey decided to let each of the signal callers behind Edwards get extended playing time in one preseason game each instead of small parts of two games.
After watching the entire first preseason game from the sidelines, Brohm, who ran the final two minute drill segment Monday night, feels the difference between this opportunity and the one he got in Atlanta last season in Week 16 are like night and day.
"It's totally different when you get to go through OTAs, minicamp, training camp," Brohm said. "I've been through install numerous times, so I know this offense and I feel comfortable with it, so it's just a matter of going out there and executing it."
More coming up Wednesday in our game preview on the home page of Buffalobills.com.
Gailey was asked if the quarterback competition is still open with a week remaining before camp breaks and the team returns to Orchard Park to continue their regular season preparations.
"Oh yeah, sure it is," he said. "Every day we evaluate everybody. That's the way it has to be. You can't let anybody sit there and say to themselves that it's locked up. I can't say that to myself either, that's not fair. If I say that to myself then I should tell them."
The reps for Brohm and Fitzpatrick continue to be split down the middle, with Edwards getting the work with the first unit.
The little thingsOn the heels of the preseason opener the team went over the game tape with their coaches and in practice Monday, while there wasn't a singular emphasis on any one aspect of their games on offense, defense and special teams, Gailey and his staff made sure to emphasize a few areas that they felt needed some reinforcement.
"We were focused more on doing the little things, protecting the football, making sure that we're not grabbing them on defense, some little things like that that we talk about and make sure we pay attention to," said Gailey. "We missed nine tackles in the ball game, we can't do that. We've got to emphasize tackling continuously. The basics really, the fundamentals are what wins and loses."
Bryan Scott built on his solid play in the morning practice with an interception and a tackle for loss in the evening session. Scott picked off a pass that was intended for Lee Evans during 7-on-7.
His tackle for loss came a running play for Joique Bell in 11-on-11 red zone work.
Reggie Corner has a pass breakup on a throw that was intended for Chad Jackson.
Drayton Florence got a quarterback pressure on Trent Edwards on a corner blitz. Edwards got a pass off to Roscoe Parrish in the flat, but he was dropped for a 'would be' tackle for loss by Donte Whitner.
Chris Ellis had a 'would be' sack during 11-on-11 team work.
And Reggie Torbor broke up a pass intended for tight end Derek Schouman.
Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Chad Jackson down the far sideline with a 25-yard strike.
Roscoe Parrish made a twisting, leaping effort to pull in a pass over the middle from Trent Edwards.
Joique Bell scored a touchdown thanks to a good hole off right tackle from the line in front of him during 11-on-11 red zone work.
Chad Simpson took a screen pass from Edwards and followed his lead blocker Geoff Hangartner all the way to the goal line before bowling Hangartner over to break the goal line himself.
And Naaman Roosevelt made a difficult over the shoulder catch from Brian Brohm during the two-minute drill for a 25-yard gain.
In and out
Alex Carrington was the only new non-participant at practice Tuesday. John McCargo filled in for him with the second unit defense at end.
Marcus Easley was absent Monday with Gailey indicating that the rookie receiver's surgery is coming up soon. A prognosis will be determined based on what the surgeons find after looking at his injured knee.
Cornell Green, Eric Wood and Demetrius Bell were all limited in team segments of practice. When they were not on the starting line, Jamon Meredith (LT), Cordaro Howard (RG) and Kirk Chambers (RT) stepped in for them.
Paul Posluszny and Keith Ellison continue to be sprinkled in for team reps in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
The Bills have their last full practice before Thursday's preseason game in Toronto against Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon at 3:15 pm.