For the first time in Bills training camp one side of the ball clearly outplayed the other as Buffalo's defense completely thwarted the offense's passing attack in Wednesday night's practice. Pass coverage was sound for the most part, which only enhanced the effectiveness of the unit's pass rush as quarterbacks were often flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw on the run.
"You go through your highs and lows at camp," said Trent Edwards. "Obviously, the defense won (Wednesday) and sometimes we're not going to win a football game. But you have to find a way to learn from it. We have to go back to the drawing board. You can't keep making mistakes over and over again and that's what I felt like we were doing tonight. And that starts at the quarterback position. I've got to make sure that I'm picking my teammates up and that I'm doing my job every single play and I've got to find a way to fix that."
"Obviously I thought the defense dominated out there tonight," said head coach Chan Gailey. "I thought especially in the pass game they made it very tough to throw the football and on one front that's very encouraging and on the other front it's very discouraging."
For Buffalo's defense there's been some good progress. The unit's secondary didn't get their hands on as many passes, but their coverage was very consistent and it led to some scrambles by Buffalo's quarterbacks as they knew under live conditions they wouldn't have that much time in the pocket.
In other instances Buffalo's four man rush was effective in closing the pocket down. Chris Ellis had a 'would be sack' as Aaron Maybin flushed Trent Edwards to Ellis' side of the pocket on one play. Marcus Stround had a 'would be' sack on another play in two-minute drill, Kyle Williams had a quarterback pressure and Dwan Edwards got good penetration for a quarterback pressure on a play action fake during run game work.
Defensive coordinator George Edwards isn't getting ahead of himself with respect to his unit's pass rush progress, but he's encouraged.
"Guys are doing a good job of executing the blitzes and stuff that we're putting in," he said. "We've had some good pressure out of out 4-man rush up top. Those guys have done a good job in some of the situations we've put them in. We're just going to come out here and keep working on it. That's one thing we know we've got to get better at, is rushing the passer and continue our progress there. So we just keep working at it."
"Guys can come from anywhere and I think right now we have about 40 different calls in the first seven or eight practices," said Donte Whitner. "And we still have a lot of installs left. So it's a lot of learning and a lot of detail, but it gives us the best opportunity to win and gives us the best opportunity to pressure quarterbacks."
It was almost ironic that Buffalo's pass rush looked good on the same day that the team parted ways with Aaron Schobel, but Gailey believes he has the personnel to get the job done up front.
"If you know George and his defensive staff they're a very aggressive group and I think that's being instilled in our defense," Gailey said. "We've got some guys that are tough guys and hard workers and aggressive personalities as well and that helps. You can't build something out of nothing. There's something there and we're building on it."
Run gameThe lone bright spot for Buffalo's offense Wednesday night was the steady success of the run game. Some of the biggest gainers in team work for the offense came on run plays.
Fred Jackson was given a huge hole on a great clear out block by Andy Levitre as the 1,000-yard rusher went off left tackle for what would've been a 25 or 30-yard run. Just a few plays later Marshawn Lynch got a hole just to the right of the center and shot through quickly enough to get into the secondary for first down yardage and more.
Later in 11-on-11 work Chad Simpson continued to put his impressive burst on display making a shifty run where he made three cuts, but did not appear to lose any speed and outraced the secondary down the field.
One play later Joique Bell made a great cutback to a wide open gap on the back side for a run that would've gone at least 15 to 20 yards.
"We've been able to run the football somewhat consistently," said Gailey. "That's probably the most consistent thing we've done all camp. So I have been encouraged by that and we've got to continue to build that as camp goes on."
HighlightsDonte Whitner made his presence felt early in practice. During run game drills, Whitner forced a fumble after a short reception in the flat by Jonathan Stupar. He followed that up with a pass breakup three plays later.
"I felt I had to join the party," said Whitner. "I just wanted to come out and take this new defense in stride and continue to make plays."
On another run play Reggie Torbor and Chris Ellis got good penetration to corral Lynch behind the line of scrimmage.
Bryan Scott had an interception after pass pressure forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw off his back foot, which made the ball hang up in the air longer than intended. Scott also had a pass breakup in 7-on-7
Other defensive plays included a forced fumble by Arthur Moats, who popped the ball loose from the hands of Donald Jones. Fortunately for the offense the ball went over the sideline.
Marcus Stroud had a batted pass and a quarterback pressure.
Reggie Torbor had a batted pass as well.
On the offensive side, Felton Huggins had a good looking grab over the middle in 7-on-7.
Shawn Nelson had a big gainer on a well-timed play down the seam from Trent Edwards.
Chad Jackson did a good job of leaping and fighting his defender off to make a catch on the far side of the field from Brian Brohm.
James Hardy outjumped his defender to make a catch on the far side of the field as well from Brohm.
Two minute drillWednesday night was the first time the Bills ran a two-minute drill, and as was the case for most of the night the defense was stiff.
Trent Edwards ran the offense with the first unit. On 1st-and-10 from the 30 Edwards faced a good pass rush was ruled down for a sack for a loss of two as he tried to step up in the pocket to avoid it.
On 2nd-and-12 he hit Roscoe Parrish with a bullet over the middle for a 20-yard gain and a first down.
On 1st-and-10 at the defense's 48, a pass to Felton Huggins fell incomplete. That was followed by a batted pass on 2nd-and-10 and a five-yard completion to Steve Johnson on 3rd-and-10. On 4th-and-5 Marcus Stroud got a quarterback pressure to force a throw that fell short in front of Huggins incomplete.
Despite the turnover on downs, the offense was awarded a new set of downs to continue the drive. Edwards' pass on 1st-and-10 at the 41 was incomplete. On 2nd-and-10 Chad Jackson couldn't hang onto a pass to bring up 3rd-and-10. Parrish made a five-yard reception and before they could get a fourth down play off time on the game clock expired.
"We have to find a way to make plays," said Edwards. "It comes down to lining up and beating the guy across from you and we didn't do that. You're going to have games like that and you're going to have practices like that. But you have to find a way to fight through that.
"There are times when you feel like you're in rhythm, where you're feeling comfortable, the ball's coming out of your hand nicely and accurately. Maybe that happened earlier in camp and it hasn't happened more recently. You're going to go through your highs and lows, but it's a matter of coming back out tomorrow and getting better."
Ryan Fitzpatrick led the second two-minute drill. His first down pass fell incomplete. On 2nd-and-10 he hit Naaman Roosevelt for a seven-yard gain. His pass on 3rd-and-3 was incomplete, leading to a 4th-and-3 situation. Fitzpatrick's pass attempt was batted high in the air by Reggie Torbor, and fell right back into Fitzpatrick's hands. He scrambled to his left in an effort to make another pass, but was corralled by John McCargo in the left flat behind the line of scrimmage ending the series.
Non-participantsThe list of those players who could not practice were Danny Batten, Demetrius Bell, John Destin, Marcus Easley, Keith Ellison, Cordaro Howard, Chris Kelsay, Spencer Johnson, Paul Posluszny and Ed Wang.
ScheduleThe Bills have a single practice on Thursday set for 3 pm.