The last night practice of Buffalo's 2011 training camp Wednesday belonged to the defense. Though the offense had a good measure of success in 7-on-7 red zone with a half dozen scoring plays, the defense had just as many pass breakups, and in 11-on-11 held the offense to a limited number of completions that stretched beyond the first down marker.
"I hope that has something to do with our defense," said head coach Chan Gailey who concurred when asked if the offensive performance was ragged. "I thought our defense was very strong. We're putting in some different stuff this week and we've got to work on it. It doesn't look clean. We've got a lot of work to do."
Particularly strong was Kyle Williams, who has had a super camp. His best play Wednesday night was when he anticipated an outside run so well that he beat C.J. Spiller to the corner and corralled him for a tackle for loss.
He and Marcell Dareus have been a potent combination upfront as expected, and it has Williams excited about the possibilities.
"I think when me and Marcell are inside I think if we're getting after it and we're running pretty hot we're going to be hard to deal with," said Williams. "I think that he does some things better than I can, I do some things better than he does. I think we play well off each other. I don't know if you watch practice very much, but I'm always talking to him. I'm always pointing things out to him. I think we've really got a chance to be good. I really do. I think we can do some things up front."
Williams extension in early stagesBuffalo's Pro Bowl defensive tackle also addressed the reports of a contract extension being consummated with the Bills soon.
"As far as all the contract stuff it's early, they're just talking and we'll see where it goes," he said. "That being said, this is where I want to be. I feel like we've got a chance, moving in the right direction, got some good players here, and I want to see what I started here through. I believe that and that means a lot t o me. It means a lot to me that everybody passed on my four times, but the fifth time these guys didn't get it wrong, so I want to be here."
Top 2 rooks excellingDareus is also looking like a quality pair with the other Williams. He and draft classmate Aaron Williams have both had solid camps and are showing noticeable improvement every day on the field. But neither of them is letting their improvement go to their head.
"There's no day where I'm thinking I had a great day or there's nothing I could've done better," Williams said. "Every day there's something you can do better."
Williams' big play Wednesday night was his interception in the end zone during 7-on-7 red zone work that looked very similar to his interception in the preseason opener against the Bears.
He was covering Marcus Easley outside and Easley ran a post pattern. Williams hung with Easley and when the ball arrived from Tyler Thigpen, Williams got his hand in between Easley's arms to tip the ball, which went up in the air. At that point Williams did a 180 in the air to locate the ball and make the INT.
"I just stuck with the ball," said Williams. "When the ball is in the air it's really who wants it more and in my world I want it the most."
Dareus made several plays during the team portion of practice, especially during the run game portion of practice. The Bills top pick was consistently filling gaps and meeting the ball carriers in the hole right at the line of scrimmage. During one-on-one pass rush drills he was also getting the best of most of the linemen he faced.
"He did a great job. He was everywhere," said Gailey. "He's a big, strong physical guy and he had a good night tonight. When he gets healthy I think he can really be something."
Levitre hopping aroundBy now everyone knows that on Wednesday Andy Levitre was back with the starting unit at left guard as he and Chad Rinehart will apparently flip flop between the first and second units each day.
"They just told us we were going to be rotating," Levitre said. "They wanted to see the competition between us, that's all I've been told. I'm just going to keep working. If we can compete and make our position better then it will make us better as a team."
But that wasn't the only place where Levitre lined up with the first unit. He also took a handful of snaps at center with the first unit during the run game period. On one play he had a muffed exchange with Ryan Fitzpatrick and pumped out 10 push-ups as a self-imposed punishment.
Also getting his first few reps at center with the first unit was Geoff Hangartner. It was unclear if he was just giving Eric Wood a break as he was in for just three snaps. Hangartner then stayed in and worked with the second unit when they subbed in.
The way Chan Gailey makes it sound, the rotation that went on at center was just to get a look at some of their options there behind Wood.
"We're trying everything and you can never as we witnessed in the Minnesota game last year you can never have enough guys that can go play center," said Gailey. "So we just working emergency type people and that's what it is emergency type people."
Back in Week 13 last season with Eric Wood inactive (ankle), Kraig Urbik was starting at right guard. Hangartner, who was at center, suffered an ankle injury. Urbik replaced him at center, but was injured a short time later and did not return. Levitre was forced into the center role in the fourth quarter of that game.
HighlightsMarcus Easley had a pair of touchdowns the first one came on a busted coverage in the right corner of the end zone on a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The second scoring play came five plays later when he found a hole in a zone coverage and took a Levi Brown into the end zone.
Brad Smith lined up as a wideout and pulled in a well-thrown pass from Tyler Thigpen for a TD.
Paul Hubbard grabbed a fade pass in the back right corner of the end zone from Smith for a touchdown as well.
Stevie Johnson had the toughest looking touchdown catch as he fought off a pair of defenders and a possible pass interference to hold onto the throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Defensively, Terrence McGee raked a ball away from David Nelson to force an incompletion in 7-on-7.
Drayton Florence had Nelson as a cover assignment a short time later and broke up a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass headed for number 86.
Rookie Aaron Williams tipped a Tyler Thigpen pass for Easley and then caught it in the end zone for an interception.
Reggie Torbor had good coverage on Scott Chandler and knocked a pass away to prevent a first and goal situation.
Da'Norris Searcy had a pass breakup on a crossing route by Naaman Roosevelt to prevent the completion.
And Nick Barnett knocked a pass away with a diving effort on a throw that had Stevie Johnson targeted at the goal line.
In 11-on-11 Reggie Corner registered a sack as he got to Tyler Thigpen before he delivered the ball downfield.
Nick Barnett had a big hit on Brad Smith just as Smith got through the line on a quarterback keeper.
Scott Chandler did a good job splitting a pair of defenders to pull in a 25-yard pass from Thigpen down the seam.
Donald Jones ran a good looking post pattern as Thigpen was just able to get the ball out to him for a 40-yard pass play. Jones also made a ridiculous one-handed catch along the far sideline during a run game period.
And Brad Smith got into the secondary in a hurry on a designed run from the quarterback spot.
Injury updateShawne Merriman did not practice after being pulled out early on Tuesday with leg tightness. Also missing practice Wednesday was Dwan Edwards for the first time in camp as well as Mansfield Wrotto.
Other mainstays on the sidelines included Shawn Nelson, Justin Rogers and Kelvin Sheppard. Add in Chris Hairston and Chris White and that's almost half of the draft class on the shelf. Their injuries are robbing them of valuable reps on the field.
"Shep and Rogers have really missed a lot of time and it's going to be an uphill battle for them," said Gailey. "It really is. You just can't afford to sit out. That's the way it is. We're a production business and if you're not on the field you can't produce."
Rookies K Chris Hazley and DL T.J. Langley were also non-participants as was receiver Craig Davis and defensive lineman Kellen Heard.
WR Roscoe Parrish returned Wednesday night from a hamstring injury, but outside of some light individual position drill work Parrish was very limited as he's eased back into the practice setting.
Final camp practice
The last practice of 2011 Verizon Wireless Bills Training Camp is on Thursday at 2:20 pm.