Practice Notes - Day 6

There was some give and take between the offense and defense in practice Friday for the Bills. The better play ebbed and flowed between the two sides of the ball. Where things worked best for the offense was in the 7-on-7 segments where all four quarterbacks were completing passes and the receiving corps was making their share of big plays. But when the Bills went to 11-on-11 team work, things turned around in favor of the defense as their front seven has really done well in controlling the line of scrimmage.

As far as Bills head coach Chan Gailey is concerned that's the best he can hope for from a performance standpoint. If one side of the ball was dominating the other all the time it'd be a concern.

"If you don't have competition and competitive juices don't flow you really get nervous as a coach," he said. "If guys can't respond or don't respond you start to worry."

Dareus okay, WR Nelson a question markMarcell Dareus made a lot of Bills fans hold their breath for a second in Thursday night's practice as he appeared to turn his ankle at the tail end of a run play, and he was held out of the rest of that practice as a precaution. On Friday afternoon, Dareus practiced, but didn't take quite as many reps as he has through the first week of camp.

I feel ok.  I tweaked my ankle a little bit.  Nothing too serious at the end of the day," said Dareus. "Coach said he wanted me to take it easy because it's still fresh from last night.  They just want me to take it easy, take some reps and take it easy most of the day."

What's ailing David Nelson is a bit more up in the air. Nelson, who left practice early Thursday night after being unable to catch his breath according to Coach Gailey was absent at Buffalo's morning walk through and afternoon practice Friday.

When asked about Nelson's whereabouts, Gailey shed some light on the subject.

"Yeah he wasn't feeling good and they sent him back (to Buffalo), they couldn't find out exactly what it was," he said. "They sent him back for tests back to Buffalo. It looks like it's all calmed down now and I think he'll be back probably tomorrow, but at worst Sunday."

Gailey was asked if Nelson's problem was respiratory in nature or physical, but Buffalo's head coach didn't have that answer. Hopefully more will be known on Saturday.

Chandler steps forwardBills tight end Scott Chandler is a virtual unknown to most fans. He joined the team for the final five weeks of the 2010 season and made all of one catch for the club last season in limited playing time as he was trying to catch up on the playbook on the fly.

At camp, Chandler like the others that signed new contracts had to wait to practice until Thursday evening. He made a few plays last night during red zone work and turned in a handful more Friday afternoon.

On the second play from scrimmage in 7-on-7, Chandler got behind the defense and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him in stride on a well-timed play that would've gone for a 35-yard touchdown.

During red zone work he also pulled in a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Tyler Thigpen. Chandler had a handful of other grabs as he showed for a 6'7" 272-pound tight end he can move.

"I like to think of myself as a guy who can make some plays in the passing game and get some separation when I need to," said Chandler. "I'm just excited to be out here and getting a lot of playing time and having a chance to play a lot and make some plays when I have the opportunity."

Chandler, who is a former fourth-round pick of the San Diego Chargers (2007), spent the past two seasons in Dallas, mainly on their practice squad. But he feels his knowledge of the NFL game and the tight end position really took a big leap forward thanks to a fellow Iowa alum.

"I learned a ton from Jason Witten," said Chandler. "He is one of the ultimate professionals in the game. He pays attention to detail and doesn't miss a rep. I was able to learn a lot from him on the approach to the game as well as how to practice. That was something that helped me grow a lot in those two years."

Hopefully the Bills are the beneficiaries as Chandler looks like a prime candidate for the starting tight end job. All he's worried about is having as many productive practice days as possible.

"Right now it's just going out there making sure you have everything down, get your assignments right and make the plays when you've got a chance to," he said.

McGee is freeTerrence McGee isn't one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, so to see a smile from the veteran cornerback following Friday's afternoon practice was something. McGee just completed a practice where in addition to some solid and consistent coverage, he had an interception return for a touchdown.

"I was finally able in this camp to get my hand on the ball so that felt good," he said. "I just made a pretty good break and was able to get my hand on the ball and tap it up to myself and catch it."

McGee is moving very, very well as he's held his own covering Roscoe Parrish a good portion of the first week of camp in the slot despite having to pick that assignment up on the fly.

"As far as the mental reps, it really definitely hurt me personally because now they're sticking me to the nickel, so now I have to learn that," he said. "I could have learned this during the OTA's and mini-camps and then in training camp I'd have been able to minimize the mistakes and get ready for the season.  I'm just learning on the go."

The good news for McGee is he's playing the game the way he has in the past. The nerve problems that cut the feeling in his lower leg last season have been fixed with surgery and he's ripped up physically at a chiseled 208 pounds.

Lineup notesWith Shawne Merriman getting a veteran rest day some younger players got the chance to get some reps with the first team defense. Today's lucky outside linebacker was Danny Batten. Antonio Coleman and Aaron Maybin have also been rotated into that spot when Merriman has stepped out of the lineup during practices in the first week of camp.

"We're playing two of those guys on both sides, Batten and Coleman are playing both sides," said Gailey. "We even worked Spencer (Johnson) some today at one of the ends to give him some work there. We're trying all the different combinations because you're trying to shoot for September 11th. You're not trying to get ready for tomorrow. So you're working as many different combinations to see who fits the best and who can think on their feet."

For the record Johnson had a would be sack on Fitzpatrick as he swooped in and tagged him before he got rid of the ball. Batten did okay in that spot, but has mainly been working with the second unit along with Coleman and Maybin as part of a three-man rotation.

With Justin Rogers leaving practice early due to a twisted ankle, his replacement in the third team defensive unit was undrafted rookie Loyce Means, who had an interception on a tipped pass in the flat Friday. Means runs well and is among the better looking defensive backs of the undrafted rookie contingent in camp.

Special teams work focused on field goal blocks and kick returns. Among the players that lined up for kick return duty were Brad Smith, Donald Jones, Da'Norris Searcy, Leodis McKelvin and C.J. Spiller.

HighlightsIn 1-on-1's Naaman Roosevelt made a few sparkling plays. The first was a 40-yard bomb that he pulled in over his shoulder along the near sideline. He also had another difficult underneath catch that he made despite the fact that the ball was on him quickly.

Roscoe Parrish faked out his defender leaving him far behind as he streaked down the left sideline where Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him for a would be touchdown.

Undrafted rookie Kamar Aiken had a couple of nice catches as well including a deep ball down the right sideline.

In 7-on-7 in addition to some of Scott Chandler's exploits, Lee Evans pulled in a 30-yard pass down the far sideline from Fitzpatrick. He had another long reception of almost the same distance in 11-on-11.

Donald Jones had a pair of tough catches in traffic. He reached over his defender to make a difficult reception on a pass from Tyler Thigpen.

He also what looked like a long touchdown on a pass from Thigpen in 11-on-11, but it was called back on offensive pass interference. He did appear to push off his defender  to create separation.

TE Mike Caussin pulled in a touchdown catch in red zone work on a blown coverage with Thigpen finding him for an easy score.

Paul Hubbard had a couple of acrobatic catches as he put his leaping ability on display to pull in some passes over his defender, including a long touchdown catch in 11-on-11.

C.J. Spiller ran through a nice hole on perhaps the most well executed screen of camp by the offensive line as Eric Wood quickly got out in front of the play.

Defensively, Da'Norris Searcy had a pass breakup on a throw for Chandler from Brad Smith.

Jairus Byrd broke up a pass for Stevie Johnson from Fitzpatrick.

Undrafted rookie safety Rajric Coleman appeared to have a would be sack on a blitz during 11-on-11.

And McGee had the interception return for a score.

Next practiceThe Bills have a night practice on Saturday beginning at 7:15 pm.

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