Bills head coach Doug Marrone said speed was a priority in terms of what they were looking to add to the roster. Marrone and his offensive staff saw that speed time and again in practice Saturday, the second day of rookie minicamp, most often in the form of third-round pick Marquise Goodwin.
Goodwin got behind cornerbacks on the outside a few times during 7-on-7 team work often gaining a couple of steps on them. The problem was neither EJ Manuel nor Jeff Tuel could get the ball to him early in practice.
On the very first play from scrimmage, Goodwin successfully got behind the defense racing down the left sideline, but Manuel's pass fell short as Goodwin's speed had him out in front of the pass. Even though he geared down to try to come back and make a play on the ball he couldn't make a clean play on it.
The same thing happened seven plays later with Tuel under center. Again Goodwin got down the field in a hurry and despite Tuel's best effort to get it out to him in a hurry, Goodwin again outran the pass for another incompletion.
"We've just got to get the timing down," said Goodwin. "The quarterbacks are doing tremendous out here as well as my other teammates. We're just working hard day in and day out and we'll get the timing down and it'll be perfect. We got it perfect out here a few times."
Finally with Goodwin flipped over on the right side of the formation they made a connection. The third-round pick again got behind the defense and this time, Manuel hit him in stride for what looked like an easy 60-yard scoring play.
For Goodwin, this is the first spring that he's not running track in several years. As far as he's concerned that's a good thing.
"It's actually been a lot better on my body. I'm a lot healthier," said Goodwin. "I've got that football mentality year round. It's all football now."
Goodwin said that sprint training is demanding on the muscles and with track meets all over the country the travel wears on the body as well.
"I'm not traveling as much, no jet lag, my legs are fresher and I'm around my teammates here," he said.
Goodwin's success in getting behind the defense was creating such a problem that defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson had his cornerbacks making better efforts to re-route the speed receiver.
So much attention was being paid to Goodwin at times that it opened up opportunities for the other receivers on the field, most notably Robert Woods.
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On one particular play, Goodwin was followed by the boundary corner, safety and even the nickel corner on an out route leaving Woods all by himself 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Woods was so wide open that he turned up the field and picked up another 10 yards before any defensive back tapped him out.
"It's really just teammates working together and doing our job," said Goodwin. "Worry about ourselves and do our jobs and the rest will take care of itself. I just ran my route the best that I could and it enabled Robert to get open and he caught the ball and made a play. That's what we're out here to do."
Woods making playsFor the second straight day Woods was turning in plays left and right. The second-round pick unofficially had six receptions on the afternoon. His separation from defenders is so consistent that he routinely has room to gain yards after the catch. He just looks like a very polished receiver.
Among his more impressive attributes is his ball concentration. Woods made a pair of receptions off tipped passes. The first was tipped by his former college teammate, Nickell Robey, who just missed an interception on a diving attempt, but Woods calmly pulled in the pass and took off upfield.
He also tipped a pass up in the air to himself as the defensive back went flying past him and made the catch in the flat again taking off up the field for more yardage.
The other nice reception he turned in was more EJ Manuel than Woods. The receiver ran a good route, but Manuel showed great touch hitting him 25 yards downfield dropping the pass over the linebackers and underneath the safety to Woods for a big play.
Tuel coming alongUndrafted rookie QB Jeff Tuel hasn't been the recipient of many snaps. He's had an unofficial total of 18 over the past two days to Manuel's 52. His best throw Saturday was an 18-yard out to Chris Hogan from the far hash that he placed perfectly on Hogan's outside shoulder.
"I feel like and I might not get as many reps as EJ, so I've got to be real smart and put the time in off the field to really get the plays," said Tuel. "But overall I felt good, I felt like I knew my plays and understood the progressions of the offense so I felt good about it."
Tuel admitted he was a bit disappointed that he went undrafted, but is just eager to put his best on the field and see what kind of role he's able to secure with the Bills.
"I just wanted a shot," he said. "I think every kid's dream is to get drafted, but when it doesn't (happen) you've got to jump on any opportunity you get and my opportunity is here and now and that's all I'm looking at.
"I'm just here to compete and when I took my pre-draft visit here I got along really well with the coaches and had a great time and loved the atmosphere and here to compete and I'll leave it in the coach's hands."
Robey faring well in the slotFellow undrafted rookie Nickell (pronounced nick-ELL) Robey, is an undersized cornerback at 5'8" and 165 pounds. The USC product played both outside and in the slot in college, but has been almost exclusively in the slot here in rookie minicamp.
"The Buffalo Bills want me on the inside so that's what I'm going to do," said Robey. "That's my job. I got the most reps at nickel so when I go out there I'll do whatever I've got to do for the team. The team wants me in the nickel so that's what I'm going to play."
Being undersized, Robey always take the field, be it practice or a game with the intention of proving he can overcome that lack of size.
"I feel like I play with a big chip on my shoulder. I come out here every day, listen to coach and be coachable and just do what I've got to do for the Buffalo Bills," Robey told Buffalobills.com. "That's the main objective, do what I've got to do for the team."
Robey almost had an interception lining up opposite his former college teammate Robert Woods, but just got a fingertip or two on the pass that Woods took down the field. But on the very next play Robey was the beneficiary of a tipped pass that he picked off and took the other way for a touchdown.
"You've just got to be patient and keep playing," Robey said. "When you come out here you've just got to play every single play and move on to the next one. I just kept saying to myself that I have to anticipate and stay positive and sooner or later something is going to come out good. I came out there and worked my tail off and kept working and got an interception, took it for six."
WR sidelinedThe only player unable to participate Saturday was undrafted WR Kevin Norrell. He pulled up in practice after a play in 7-on-7 Friday and was held out of the Saturday session.
ScheduleThe rookies put a cap on their minicamp Sunday with an 11:15 am practice.