The defensive backs were the story of Buffalo's second night practice of training camp. The men in the secondary have certainly had their share of pass breakups through the first week of camp practices, but on Wednesday night four of their six pass breakups went for interceptions.
"They're doing a good job," said head coach Chan Gailey. "The defensive backs are seeing a lot of things and reacting to the routes they're seeing a lot of. They're doing a good job picking up on those things. They're getting better."
Jairus Byrd had the first interception of the night as he took advantage of a Ryan Fitzpatrick overthrow attempt to Stevie Johnson over the middle during 7-on-7.
In 11-on-11 rookie safety Nick Saenz picked off a Vince Young pass not far from the near sideline that had David Clowney targeted.
Cornerback Prince Miller had the other two interceptions, the first coming on an aggressive play when he ripped a contested ball away from Ruvell Martin and went the other way with the INT. Then late in practice Miller foiled a two-minute drill series by the second team offense when he picked off a Tyler Thigpen pass over the middle that was also intended for Martin to end the drive.
"I think we're getting accustomed with what they're running (offensively)," admitted Byrd. "But I also think our techniques are looking good too. It starts with that first. I think we're getting our techniques down and jelling well and we've just got to keep that going."
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D-line busy tooBuffalo's defensive line wasn't far behind the secondary as they had three batted passes at the line of scrimmage. One was turned in by Mario Williams during the final two-minute drill series. Williams also had a sack earlier in practice.
Another batted pass was made by Dwan Edwards, who swatted away an offering by Vince Young.
Spencer Johnson, who had a big night, had a batted pass which actually flew back at Fitzpatrick enabling him to catch his own pass. Fitzpatrick scrambled out to his right with the ball, but didn't get very far before he was surrounded. Additionally Johnson had a sack and made the play to end practice for the night.
Johnson also had a sack, but his biggest play came when during a two-minute drill drive by the first team offense the ball slipped out of Fitzpatrick's hand as he brought his arm forward to pass. Johnson caught it on the fly and returned it 30 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
First team repsJohnson was given a load of first team reps tonight in place of Marcell Dareus, who was used sparingly. Dareus told Buffalobills.com that he was just given a rest with the reduced workload and that he's not dealing with any kind of injury. Johnson took advantage of the opportunity and was wreaking havoc all night with the likes of the two Williams and Mark Anderson.
Shawne Merriman was also rotated in for some first team reps and got some pressure off the edge on a couple of plays going against rookie Cordy Glenn.
Chandler in syncStarting tight end Scott Chandler is becoming and more and more frequent target of Ryan Fitzpatrick during the team periods of practice. The passing game mismatch caught five passes Wednesday evening with Fitzpatrick hitting him in stride on every throw.
"(Fitzpatrick) and Scott (Chandler) and (Fitzpatrick) and Stevie (Johnson) are really the two that are the most in sync," said Gailey. "We've got to find out who else can get there before we get to game one."
Shep sitsStarting middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was a notable non-participant at practice Wednesday. Head coach Chan Gailey didn't have much to offer on the linebacker's status.
"He sat out," said Gailey. "He may be out a couple of days we'll see. He's got a situation he's dealing with. It's medical and that's all I'm going to say about it right now."
Taking the starting middle linebacker reps in his place in the base defense was Scott McKillop.
Eric Wood gets more team repsAfter seeing a handful of team reps in Tuesday's practice and feeling fine Wednesday morning, Wood was handed a few more reps Wednesday night. Wood took a total of 12 team reps getting the first two of every first team series in the pivot.
Overall Wood was pleased with his explosion and burst off the ball knowing the strength in the leg has been at 100 percent for some time now.
"That's the kind of stuff I've been doing for a while in all those individual drills and through my rehab too," Wood told Buffalobills.com. "I feel pretty comfortable. It's a lot of knocking rust off in team and trying to get comfortable in my pads again."
Wood fared well for the most part, though there were a couple of snaps here and there where he appeared to dial it back. Some of the defensive tackles were also smart enough not to put Wood in a compromising position on a couple of plays and backed off instead of trying to power through him.
Nelson updateDavid Nelson is still on the mend, but told Buffalobills.com in a best case scenario he'd be back on the practice field by the weekend.
ScheduleThe Bills have an afternoon practice scheduled for 3 pm.
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