It was the first night practice of training camp for the Bills and the fans certainly provided an energized atmosphere to the practice setting. Those that appeared to be more inspired for the wide receivers and cornerbacks as they engaged in some very competitive battles throughout the session.
Marcus Easley stood out making some difficult acrobatic catches. After pulling in a pass deep down the right sideline from Tyler Thigpen, who hit him in stride for a 35-yard gain, Easley also made a catch in double coverage from Fitzpatrick again on the far side of the field for a 20-yard pickup.
His best reception of the night however, showed expert concentration. Cornerback Aaron Williams reached high to tip the pass intended for Easley high into the air. Easley had timed his jump to make the catch, so by the time the ball began falling after the tip Easley was falling to the ground, but he still made the catch drawing the biggest reaction from the crowd on the night.
"I'm just trying to get better day in and day out," said Easley. "I made a couple of plays today, but that's just the nature of the position. You learn from the bad plays and if you make good plays you just move forward to the next day."
Easley, who has rotated in with first unit sparingly the first couple of days of camp, saw the most action he's had with the starting unit with most of his other plays coming with the twos Sunday night. Working against physical corners in Williams and Stephon Gilmore, the 6'3" 225-pound Easley more than held his own.
"Those guys are tough," said Easley of Williams and Gilmore. "They bring a physical play to the cornerback position, which really isn't too common. The only way to challenge being physical is to be physical right back at them. It's definitely tough going against them on the perimeter going against those guys day in and day out, but it's only going to make me better."
"It's great to see a young man fight back like that," said head coach Chan Gailey. "It's never easy to go through what he's been through in two years. Marcus had a good night tonight. He seems to be getting better. I hope he can stay out here on a consistent basis. I think we'll see him continually get better if he can."
Also making progress is rookie wide receiver T.J. Graham. The third-round pick has shown more consistent hands in training camp than he did in the spring practices and his head coach has taken notice.
"He's worked at being a better receiver," said Gailey. "He has given it some thought not only working it on the field, but he's given it some thought. The thing we do is give him some freedom and if he'll use his imagination and get out there and do what he does best as far as using his speed the sky is the limit with the guy."
"The more I learn the plays the more I can just be myself and make plays," said Graham. "So it is just me learning the offense and getting on the same page as the quarterbacks."
Graham's big play on Sunday was a 60-yard touchdown pass he caught from Vince Young. The pass went about 25 yards with Graham picking up the remaining yardage after the catch to score.
"(My role is) run fast and catch the ball," he said. "So I have been trying to do that the best I can."
HighlightsFor all the highlights from the team's first night practice just go to the Media Center at Buffalobills.com and watch them in our daily Bills Roundup report.
Young corners stepping upTop pick Stephon Gilmore has been unusually consistent in training camp for a rookie, especially going against the best Buffalo's receiving corps has to offer most of the time. Practically inked in at the starting right cornerback spot at this point, Gilmore has not given up much with only Stevie Johnson getting the best of him during team work.
Gilmore had a few more pass breakups Sunday night including a couple of rake out plays where he kept the receiver from completing the catch.
"I felt pretty good today, I learned a lot today and I made a couple of plays," Gilmore told Buffalobills.com's John Murphy. "I think I'm getting better on my technique and mirroring receivers, and I'm trying to get my hands on them a little bit more, but I think I'm just getting better as a player."
"Stephon is playing well outside," said Gailey. "There's no up and down in the guy. What you see every day is what you get every day. That's been a pleasant surprise. A lot of times rookies if something bad happens to them they go in the tank. He's very strong in that area."
Aaron Williams also had one of his better practices in camp breaking up a few plays in the passing game.
Rogers to sit for a bitSecond-year man Justin Rogers is one young cornerback that won't be factoring into the secondary play for the next few days after he tweaked his hamstring Sunday night during one-on-one wide receiver-defensive back drills.
"I need to get an evaluation on that," said Gailey. "I'll have some more information later, but it's going to be probably a four or five day deal."
Position battlesThe starting left tackle on Sunday night was Cordy Glenn as the rotation between he and Chris Hairston continues every practice.
Chris Kelsay was the starting right defensive end. Vince Young was the number two quarterback as both of those daily rotations have held form as well with Mark Anderson and Tyler Thigpen being the other candidates.
Rookie watchGlenn had his hands full during the team portions of practice with Chris Kelsay. The veteran end was using a variety of pass rush moves to really challenge the rookie tackle.
Nigel Bradham is still being rotated in for a play here and a play there with the first team defense when he gives Nick Barnett a rep off here and there.
Tank Carder is currently running with the third team defense.
Zebrie Sanders has been seeing work at second team right tackle with starter Erik Pears out and Sam Young manning his spot.
Mark Asper has been getting double duty working as the second string left guard and the third team center.
John Potter's leg continues to look strong as he was good on a 53-yard attempt in practice with the ball passing through almost halfway up the uprights.
ScheduleThe Bills are off Monday with their next practice scheduled for Tuesday at 3 pm.