The pads have been on for a while, but they really got popping at the end of Saturday's scorching practice session at Bills training camp. The team ran eight plays total down on the two-yard line with the defense winning more of the plays than the offense.
"Defense won 5-3 and that's the assessment because you either win or lose down there," said head coach Chan Gailey. "There's no in between. There's no first down, there's no nothing. You either score or you don't. I thought it was a good session. I thought our guys wanted to hit. They've been wanting to go live for a long time, but this was the first time they were able to do it and it was good. It was good for everybody."
With the starting offense and defense squaring off first, Tashard Choice got the first carry with Fred Jackson limited in practice and stretched to reach the ball past the plane of the goal line on a carry up the middle, but there was some debate as to whether his knee was down first. But it was ruled a touchdown.
On the second play Kyle Williams blew right into the backfield and blew up a running play forcing C.J. Spiller wide where he was corralled by Nick Barnett short of the goal line.
Williams along with Dwan Edwards both knifed into the backfield on the next play disrupting the play action call that was made by the offense and Ryan Fitzpatrick and company were foiled again.
"I think it's good to get out there and get hit," said Kyle Williams. "I think it was a good gut check at the end of practice with the heat and pushing through all day and get out there and going live it was good for us. It was good to get some weariness on your legs and push through."
On the fourth and final play the offensive line did their job allowing Spiller to reach the end zone on his feet and almost untouched.
The second teams also got four plays. After a Tyler Thigpen play action pass fell incomplete on the first play, Corey McIntyre got into the end zone on a fullback dive on the second.
Zach Brown got the carry on the third play, but hesitated at the line of scrimmage and paid for it with Danny Batten making the tackle.
On the fourth and final play for the twos DT Jay Ross shed his block well to meet McIntyre in the hole first and was assisted by DE Robert Eddins on the play to keep the fullback out of the end zone.
What came out of the eight-play session was that as much as Buffalo's improved pass rush has been advertised, their run stopping ability may be every bit as good.
"We have to be (a good run front) if we want to rush the passer," said Williams. "I think that's something we've got in trouble with in the past. We can't get pressure, we can't get pressure, but how long does it take to run a 3rd-and-3 route? When that's the kind of yardage you're giving up and it's 3rd-and-5 or less… if you can get them in 3rd-and-6, 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-8 you can bring some pressure."
For all the highlights go to the Media Center at Buffalobills.com.
Big weapons sittingSome of Buffalo's biggest offensive weapons were not part of the team drills Saturday. Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson and David Nelson were all held out of practice, with Jackson doing just individual position drills.
"He got stepped on or his ankle got twisted yesterday slightly so we just held him today so he'll be ready to go Monday," said Gailey.
Johnson was held out as a precaution with a sore groin, but is expected back Monday.
"I do not want to miss this because this is the time where we really get it in and work hard and come together and knowing that I missed the OTAs I think it would be great for me to be out there," Johnson said. "But at the same time we do want to be smart because we have a long season."
Nelson is still recovering from a strained tendon in his knee. Gailey indicated that they too would be back on Monday.
In their absence players like Marcus Easley, Ruvell Martin and Naaman Roosevelt have seen more reps with the first team offense. Coach Gailey however, needs to see more out of them.
"They don't know everything as well as maybe I thought they did or hoped they did," he said. "I think we've got a lot of work to do to get them up to speed to where David and Stevie are. We've got a lot of work to do there to find the right combination of people if we get injuries here or there. And they've got to do it. Somebody has to be able to step up and fill those spots."
Left tackle situationFor the third straight day Cordy Glenn got first team reps at left tackle. While this might appear to be a shift in the competition between he and Chris Hairston, coach Gailey gave indication it was not. With the absence of Erik Pears in the team portions of practice for the past six days, the offensive staff has set up a three-man rotation with the starting unit at the tackle positions.
Cordy Glenn starts at left tackle, with Chris Hairston on the right side. Then Sam Young checks in and Hairston checks out before the first unit is done with their series. When the second unit comes on Hairston usually flips over to the left side, Young gets a few more reps at right with the twos and then Zebrie Sanders checks in at right tackle.
Gailey explained why it was Hairston that was picked to flip flop instead of Glenn.
"We had Hairston over there because Hairston has played right before," said Gailey. "Cordy needs every snap at left tackle that he can get so we've just left Cordy there."
#2 QB updateSaturday was Tyler Thigpen's turn as the number two quarterback with Vince Young rotating through for a series or two. Both signal callers have fared a bit better in the second week of camp.
Thigpen appears more confident pushing the ball down the field, while Young is relying on more underneath throws.
Thigpen hit Dorin Dickerson for a 20-yard pass play dropping the ball right over the H-back's shoulder on a route near the left sideline. He also found David Clowney in the front left corner of the end zone late in practice for a touchdown.
Chandler shiningTight end Scott Chandler is having one of the more consistent camps on the offensive side of the ball. He made another five receptions on Saturday including a touchdown catch during 11-on-11 red zone.
Chandler chalks his success up to a good rapport with his quarterback and finally continuity with his career after bouncing around to a few different teams his first three years in the league.
"When you're on that roller coaster you have to learn to adjust quickly," Chandler told Buffalobills.com. "It's nice to not have to adjust and learn a new offense. To just come in and know everything that's going in before it goes in, you're able to relax more then you're able to play better."
Play of the dayIt's not often that the play of the day is a punt, but Brian Moorman launched a moon shot from his own 30-yard line that forced punt returner Leodis McKelvin to backpedal 15 yards into his own end zone where the ball bounced awkwardly off his shoulder pad and over the sideline.
To McKelvin it had to look like the ball was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. With the line of scrimmage being the 30, the distance on that punt in a game would've been 75 yards. Moorman's career long is 84 yards, but if memory serves that one had some roll. This was all in the air.
ScheduleThe Bills have Sunday off before returning to the practice field on Monday at 3 pm.
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