Day four of Bills training camp brought about the first live contact, tackle to the ground segment of camp. It happened right at the end of Sunday's practice down on the goal line. Though the two sides of the ball only went six snaps, there were some violent collisions in the battle of wills that happens in the trenches when the offense is trying to punch it over the goal line and the defense is trying to stand tall.
"It felt good. We've been hitting pads for about four practices so it felt good to finally take some of the running backs to the ground and quiet them up a little bit," said outside linebacker Chris Ellis. "But it's good competition, we need it every so often in practice. So it was a good thing."
"We all knew it was coming all day," said Geoff Hangartner. "It wasn't that long. I was only in there for three plays. It was three plays for every group. But it's fun to get down there. You're tired, it was a pretty warm day out here and it's fun to get down there and compete and play some real football for a few snaps."
On the first snap of live goal line, Fred Jackson was stopped short of the goal line. The next play was a play action fake, but Trent Edwards couldn't connect with Michael Matthews in the back of the end zone. On the third snap Marshawn Lynch was stopped short of the goal line.
The fourth snap saw the offense hit pay dirt as rookie Joique Bell beat everyone to the front right corner of the end zone on a stretch play for a touchdown.
He was followed by Chad Simpson, who was so quick through the hole that it gave him just enough room to get his head and torso over the goal line before being taken down.
Hangartner, who watched the last three goal line plays when the second unit was in, was impressed with Bell and Simpson.
"Chad (Simpson) and Joique (Bell), you see some bursts from those guys and they do some really good things. That's kind of surprised me because I knew what Marshawn and Fred could do and will do, and it's nice to see some other guys doing something and it'll be really interesting when we get C.J. (Spiller) here and see what he brings to the pack. He's fast. I remember that from the spring. We'll see where he fits into the mix when he gets here."
Simpson has been especially quick through the hole through the course of camp on run plays, which can quickly endear a back to his linemen, who don't have to hold their blocks quite as long with him on the field.
On the last snap of goal line Ryan Fitzpatrick could not hook up with Jonathan Stupar on a pass play to the end zone.
Takeaway daySunday proved to be the most productive for the defense in terms of takeaways. Defensive coordinator George Edwards' group had four by the time practice was over.
Linebacker Andra Davis got things started as he jumped an out route on the far sideline in 7-on-7 and picked off a pass intended for Chad Jackson. It's his second interception in camp.
Two plays later George Wilson made a shoestring interception on a deflected pass that bounced off of Derek Schouman.
Reggie Corner cut underneath rookie receiver Donald Jones to get to the ball first in 11-on-11 and then held on to maintain possession as Jones tried to wrestle it away from him. The play was a small example of how much emphasis Buffalo's defensive backs put on getting takeaways.
"Turnovers are always going to be the key to success," said Corner. "Whoever gets the most turnovers usually wins the game. That's something that we really focus (on) and strive for as a defense."
The biggest interception came in the end zone when a 50-yard bomb intended for Marcus Easley was hauled in by Drayton Florence, who played solid technique putting him in position to make the play.
"It was a fire zone coverage and I saw he wasn't running a quick route so I just stayed inside leverage and turned and found the ball and came up with the interception," Florence said. "George Edwards and (secondary) coach Catavolos are doing a great job of teaching the techniques and we're picking it up pretty fast."
Florence also had a pass breakup in the team portion of practice and LB Reggie Torbor had a batted pass.
Offensive highlightsOffensively, there were some quality plays made as well. Chad Jackson made a diving catch in the flat.
Derek Schouman had a good reception over the middle early in 7-on-7 from Trent Edwards.
Rookie David Nelson pulled in a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on a crossing route in the deep middle during 7-on-7.
Donald Jones also worked the middle of the field well and pulled in a pass from Levi Brown for a 15-yard gain.
Jonathan Stupar had a well-timed play with Brian Brohm, who hit him in stride down the seam for a 20-yard play.
Steve Johnson had a good catch over the middle at the start of team work as he did a good job of finding a hole in the defense and sitting down to make a play.
Fred Jackson had one of the better looking run plays as the line opened up a good hole for him off left tackle allowing him to get first down yardage and more.
Trent Edwards had the best touch pass of the day dropping a throw over the cornerback, but inside the sideline allowing Lee Evans to make the catch and get both feet in for a 20-yard play.
Joique Bell got into the secondary and knocked a safety backwards that tried to come up and lower his shoulder into him.
Chad Simpson also showed a great burst getting through holes quickly in the run game.
And Naaman Roosevelt made a leaping acrobatic catch as he was spun around by his defender, but managed to hold onto the ball as he hit the turf.
Bell get team work, Wood sitsOne of Buffalo's starting linemen coming back from injury saw more work than he has thus far in training camp while another sat out for the first time in camp.
Demetrius Bell participated in 11-on-11 team work for a handful of plays Sunday. It was the first time he was given snaps in the team setting.
"I'm glad to get back in there, but I still have a long way to go," said Bell. "It was good to take some full speed reps against the defense. It felt good, but I still have to get the feel of my legs up underneath me."
Wood was given the day off. He had not missed a camp practice prior to Sunday. Head coach Chan Gailey had mentioned at the outset that both linemen would not be overworked coming off lengthy rehabilitations during camp.
Filling in for Wood at the starting right guard spot for the first half of practice was undrafted rookie Cordaro Howard, who to this point had been the left guard with the second unit. The second half of practice, second-year lineman Andre Ramsey manned Wood's position with the starters.
In and outForced to leave practice early was rookie OLB Danny Batten. He appeared to tweak his shoulder in one-on-one pass rush drills, but kept practicing. Later in team work he came on a pass rush and looked as though he re-aggravated the same shoulder.
After spending a short time with the athletic trainers he walked to the locker room. Head coach Chan Gailey did not address the media Sunday, so an update on Batten's status won't be known until Gailey speaks to the media following Monday's night practice.
The non-participants along with Wood were Keith Ellison, Chris Kelsay and Paul Posluszny. Jon Corto is still on Active PUP.
ScheduleThere are two practices on the schedule Monday, but only the night practice at 7 pm is open to fans that have tickets for entry. The morning practice at 9:30 is closed to the public.