Buffalo's two quarterbacks continued to try to gain some ground in the battle for the starting job on Monday. The quarterback rotation changed a bit through the course of the afternoon practice, but head coach Doug Marrone is not putting quite as much on the play of EJ Manuel as Kevin Kolb in the early going.
"Kevin (Kolb) is seeing more of the exotic stuff from our defense," said Marrone. "We brought in EJ (Manuel) and gave him a little more reps, but we're careful with what we're showing him. EJ is in a pretty decent position. We throw Kevin out there and Kevin's going in there and seeing everything for the first time. And EJ is able to sit back there and look at it."
Marrone indicated that in the near future Manuel will be exposed to the same variety of looks from Buffalo's multiple defense as well.
Kolb, who had to throw some balls away due to pressure Monday wasn't bothered that he was seeing more of the complex looks from Mike Pettine's defense than Manuel.
"I'm not really paying attention to who gets what," he said. "It's just a learning curve for all of us. Seeing we all know what our defense brings. They bring a lot of different looks. They got us a few times in that third down period - got me a few times I should say. They mix it up well so it's a lot of communication, a lot of stuff to look at but it helps you down the road and I'm glad I got to see it now rather than being surprised by it during the season."
Kolb and Manuel were forced to settle for shorter completions for most of the practice as the pass pressure required the quarterbacks to make quicker decisions.
"I probably saw a little bit more production than I saw yesterday," said Marrone. "A couple of good reads. I thought both quarterbacks had very good one-on-ones against the DBs. I think in the team segments they saw something a little bit and then I saw them miss some things."
Manuel was the first quarterback through in the rotation in 11-on-11, but the second and third 11-on-11 segments Kolb was the first to take snaps. Manuel was then first man through during the fourth and final segment.
Big plays proved hard to come by with Chris Gragg's over the shoulder catch down the far sideline from EJ Manuel late in 11-on-11 work one of the few offensive highlights, though the offensive line did open up a few nice holes in the run game.
"Me and EJ we take a lot of extra time trying to get our timing right." Gragg told Buffalobills.com. "He's a great player and I'm trying to be a great player. Us working together I think we can make a lot of plays for this team."
Defensively, Arthur Moats got things started when in one-on-ones against the running backs, the linebacker tipped a pass to himself for an interception.
Marcus Dowtin had another good day as he stripped a ball from the hands of C.J. Spiller after he made a reception coming out of the backfield for a fumble recovery.
Crezdon Butler intercepted a Jeff Tuel pass on a miscommunication play between the rookie quarterback and receiver Chris Hogan.
Alex Carrington was the most consistently disruptive defensive lineman in practice Monday. Carrington frequently won his one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage and knifed into the backfield on a handful of occasions.The fourth-year defensive lineman has extremely strong hands and effectively sheds blocks or pulls offensive linemen past him on the way into the backfield.
"Coach Pettine does a great job of using different personnel and using guys in the right spots so that's definitely a plus," said Carrington. "It's early in camp, but I'm trying to fit within the scheme. Whenever you're number is called you have to be able to make a play. It is a disruptive defense and very opportunistic. Knock them back and be disruptive. That's our M.O.."
Kyle Williams closerBills Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams is edging closer to a full return. He only did position drill work again on Monday, but was trying to sneak onto the field for a few team reps.
Williams finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel after a long two years dealing with bone spur problems.
"I get a little bit better every day. It's kind of a slow-healing deal. I'm just trying to get the last little bit of explosion back, just working for that," he said. "I'm excited to be moving up, and know that I'm getting better and know that I'm going to be feeling better rather than trying to maintain or feeling worse. It's been that way for a long time, so I'm excited for that.
"There's just this last little hurdle, and it was the same thing with the last one. So I feel like I'll be there sooner rather than later."
Left guard updateFor the second straight day Colin Brown got all the first team reps at left guard, while Doug Legursky ran with the second team. Brown is admittedly a bigger presence at the position at 6'7" and 326 pounds. That would help against some of the bigger defensive tackles in the league.
Legursky has also seen some spot duty at center with the third offensive line although on Monday it was undrafted rookie Ryan Turnley manning the pivot with the threes.
Recent signee Antoine Caldwell could soon be added to the competition. On Monday he got a few reps of team work as he gets familiar with Buffalo's offensive scheme. Caldwell lined up at right guard with the third unit, while newly signed offensive tackle Tony Hills saw some work as a third string left tackle.
Lineup notesFree agent signee Manny Lawson saw a few snaps with the starting unit although Jerry Hughes appeared to get the majority of the first team reps. He lined up on the edge of the formation in practice Monday.
Serving mainly as a strong side linebacker Lawson in this defense will get a chance to grind at the line of scrimmage, while other times he'll have coverage assignments.
"I'm in the SAM (linebacker spot) where I'm back on the ball and I love it," said Lawson. "The instant contact, the instant getting-to-hit somebody, making your presence known on the field—I really do enjoy it."
Nickel corner has flown a bit under the radar as one that has some healthy competition. Through the first two practices it's been Ron Brooks and Nickell Robey manning the slot with the top two defensive units.
Justin Rogers is presumed to still be in the mix, but has been working almost exclusively on the boundary in team segments with the first team as Leodis McKelvin gets back up to speed.
Buffalo's two middle round draft choices at safety saw some time with the second unit as a pairing. Fourth-round pick Duke Williams and fifth-round pick Jonathan Meeks were patrolling the secondary during 11-on-11 work for a good portion of practice.
Also lining up with the second unit has been undrafted rookie linebacker Keith Pough and first-year edge rusher Jamie Blatnick. Pough looked good during one-on-one pass rush drills as he bent the corner on two straight snaps off the edge.
ScheduleThe Bills have a morning practice Tuesday at 8 am.