Thursday night was a practice that belonged to Buffalo's defense when it came to team periods at Bills training camp. Cornerbacks from the top to the bottom of the depth chart were challenging passes and making plays on the ball.
Head coach Dick Jauron chalks it up to a stronger overall pool of talent.
"We feel like we're deeper, we feel like there's more of a challenge at every position in our secondary this year than there's been in the previous three years that we've been here, so that'll show on the field," said Jauron. "And because there are probably more guys that are capable of making plays, so more plays are being made. They've done well and they've worked hard."
During red zone work Buffalo's defensive backs had three pass breakups.
Cary Harris had a pass defensed when he knocked a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass away from Shaine Smith.
One play later Ashton Youboty raked the ball away from Smith, who was about to pull the ball in for a catch.
And Reggie Corner had a leaping pass breakup in the back corner of the end zone on a pass intended for Justin Jenkins. Corner was congratulated by the entire secondary for the play.
Linebacker Keith Ellison has been impressed with the guys lined up behind him, but believes plays on the ball are a result of the effort of the entire defensive unit.
"We've got some really good players out there and it just goes to what our whole defense is doing," said Ellison. "Our D-line is getting pressure on the quarterbacks forcing some bad throws, making them rush throws. DBs are able to step up and make some plays so it just goes to everybody on defense and what we're trying to accomplish. So it's nice to see those guys making plays out there."
Later in practice Drayton Florence had a pass breakup when he forced an incompletion on a pass to Smith.
And John Wendling had a forced fumble. Tight end Travis McCall made a catch in the flat and as he turned up field Wendling popped the ball loose. McCall however was able to make the recovery.
The defensive line also turned in a few plays. Chris Ellis batted down a pass as did Aaron Schobel. Spencer Johnson was credited with a key sack during a two-minute drill period.
On offense there weren't all that many plays to get excited about.
Derek Schouman executed a well-timed play with Ryan Fitzpatrick as he pulled in a pass along the far sideline for first down yardage. Schouman also had a 20-yard reception during the two-minute drill period.
Fred Jackson had a good looking run that would've gone for a touchdown under live conditions after getting a nice alley courtesy of his offensive line.
And Derek Fine had a pair of receptions down the middle of the field on back-to-back plays during the two-minute segment that each went for first down yardage.
Bobby April's kicking units worked on hurrying onto the field to get a field goal off before time expired to practice end of the half or end of the game situations.
They also worked on some trick plays on special teams, which will not be described here.
Injury updateAshton Youboty returned to practice fully on Thursday after missing a couple of practices with a strained groin. Youboty was eased back in however, as he got third team reps at left cornerback.
Also returning to practice on a limited basis was Xavier Omon. He participated only in individual position drills.
Copeland Bryan in his full return off a bad hamstring injury was the second string left defensive end.
Not practicing Thursday were LB Pat Thomas and FS Ko Simpson.
"Ko's was an ankle," said Jauron. "His ankle just got sore on him and we thought we'd give him a couple days off and just see where it takes us."
Also not participating in practice were Steve Johnson, Felton Huggins, Ashlee Palmer and Terrell Owens.
Lineup changesMarcus Buggs ran as the second string middle linebacker, but Pat Thomas was out with a minor injury.
Newly signed linebacker Ryan Manalac was lined up as third string middle linebacker.
Antwain Spann was the second string free safety with Ko Simpson not practicing.
With Youboty taking third team reps at left cornerback, rookie Ellis Lankster got to take second team reps.
The Bills have a Friday morning practice before heading to One Bills Drive Saturday for their preseason game with Chicago. But the practice Friday morning is closed to the public.