Thursday's practice was the last workout for the Bills before their Saturday night preseason game against Pittsburgh. Chan Gailey's assistants were vocal early in the practice session. Defensive line coach Giff Smith was just one example. He made his defensive linemen run through two sets of drills a second time during the individual position period because a couple of the players were going full speed.
"I warned you about this," he bellowed. "Full speed all the time!"
Gailey knows, facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that lets it all hang out in the preseason and hides nothing in the way of scheme or play calling, his team better be ready to dictate play or it will be dictated to them.
"You want to be physical," said Gailey. "You want to set the tone. You don't want to have the tone set against you. You want to set it. They're a physical football team. That's what they do. They get ready to play. They have all their blitz packages, all their coverage packages. They do it all. And they're good at it. They're fast and explosive as well. It'll be a challenge for our line and our protection to hold up."
More scout teamPractice Thursday again went heavy on scout team looks of the Steelers for both the first and second team offensive and defensive units. Red zone was a specific focus for the last half hour of the session.
Coach Gailey felt it was imperative that his players get a good feel on the field for all that Pittsburgh does on both sides of the ball.
"(The Steelers) are really a mental challenge, which is something we need," he said. "We need a mental challenge, but it'll be a physical challenge too because they're a physical football team. So this is a great challenge for our football team to go out and play a half and see what we can do."
Wood doing wellStarting center Eric Wood, who is going to see his reps in Saturday's game jump up to 20 snaps, is very pleased with the progress he's made coming off his ACL surgery. Though he's been on the field for just 10 plays in the preseason thus far, he's seen a lot more work on the practice field the last couple of weeks.
"I've taken a majority of the reps the past couple of weeks with the ones in practice," he said. "I'm still getting in a lot of good work out here just not quite as many reps during the game. I think I missed eight reps or so last week with the ones in the game. I probably got 10 times that many last week out on the practice field. We're getting good work in, we're just not taking any chances."
Wood feels as though the extra snaps in practice have him adjusted to the speed of the game again and the snaps against Pittsburgh will do nothing but help. He also believes it will help him with his pre-snap recognition to make calls at the line.
"A lot of it has been getting my technique back so I don't have to think about that pre-snap," Wood said. "But that comes with film study. The more film you study the quicker you're going to be out on the field. Luckily the first couple of opponents we play this year are people we've faced so it's not going to something that I've never seen before. But we've still got to prepare for everything and the Jets package will be huge against us. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on."
Wood said the starting offensive line isn't where they want to be yet, but maintains that it takes time. With Erik Pears missing most of training camp and the preseason and Cordy Glenn named the starting left tackle just this past Monday he's confident they'll get there.
**Morrison at MLB
**For the past week Kirk Morrison, one of the starting strong side linebacker candidates with Arthur Moats, has seen his reps increase at the middle linebacker spot. He's been lined up with the second unit taking reps from Scott McKillop.
Morrison downplayed the move insisting it's all part of the coaching staff's efforts to cross train the linebackers.
"I think that what we're doing as a defense is it's all about being able to play multiple positions and for me having the ability to play middle linebacker for most of my career has helped me out a lot for knowing a lot of defenses," Morrison told Buffalobills.com. "Being able to play outside and inside, strong side, weak side it doesn't matter. That's the way he trains us as linebackers to make sure we see and play each position so we know what each other is thinking and where we should be and when we're out there playing we know where we'll all be."
Arthur Moats, Morrison and Nigel Bradham are the linebackers that have appeared to be moved around the most this summer. Morrison is more than happy to line up in the middle.
"It's just something that I want to add to my value and hopefully on this team I can be an asset at all three linebacker spots," he said.
Morrison is expected to line up at middle linebacker against the Steelers at some point in the game since he'll be having the defensive headset installed in his helmet Friday.
ScheduleThe Bills have a walk-through session Friday before Saturday night's preseason game against the Steelers. Kickoff is 7 pm and the game will be televised live on WKBW-TV Channel 7 in Buffalo with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:30 pm.