1 – Peterman leads off
Head coach Sean McDermott laid out the plan when minicamp was over. AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman would rotate with the first and second team offense, while Josh Allen worked with the third team unit.
For the first practice, Peterman got to bat leadoff with the starting unit. Of course, Peterman wasn't interested in reading into it at all.
"I try not to think about the whole rotation and getting into that because you start overthinking it," Peterman said. "That's not the game we're playing. We're playing against the defense. We're trying to drive the team down and score. It doesn't matter when you're lining up. It's about getting the ball in the end zone."
Aside from finding Kelvin Benjamin on a couple of pass plays during team work, Peterman was the victim of good coverage downfield and an amped up pass rush from the first team defense.
AJ McCarron performed well with the second unit hitting Rod Streater and Brandon Reilly on crossing routes on back-to-back plays.
"When you get your opportunity, you try to make the most of it," he said. "You have to just have fun."
Josh Allen was one of the players Bills fans were most interested in seeing and he gave them something to cheer about right away. During an early situational period, after Peterman has a pass to the sideline broken up by Tre'Davious White and McCarron hit Chris Ivory on a check down out of the backfield, Allen came in and ripped a 20-yard dart to Robert Foster.
The play drew cheers from the fans on hand.
"I have never felt this type of energy from a practice before," said Allen. "It was cool to see the crowd get very energetic. Every good play the fans were cheering. It definitely adds a little more pride to the way you practice. You want to come out here and play well and continue to get better."
Despite all of Allen's arm strength, two of his better passes were touch throws. The first went to Pat DiMarco on a route out of the backfield. The other went to Foster, with Allen dropping it over the defensive back and Foster's shoulder for a 25-yard play.
2 – Foster and Reilly flash
In the spring practices back at One Bills Drive, Robert Foster seemed to turn in a quality play or two every day in the passing game during team periods. The undrafted rookie picked up right where he left off in June on Thursday.
He got behind the defender on the aforementioned deep ball from Allen in 11-on-11. On the very next play he took a crossing route almost all the way across the field to the numbers where Allen found him getting good separation again.
Foster also got rotated up for some reps with the first team offense, something he hoped for, but certainly didn't expect at the outset of camp.
"It's definitely a blessing. I was excited for it," Foster told Buffalobills.com. "I'm just happy to be here and compete with my teammates. Learn from the vets and have them point me in the right direction to be the best player I can be to help the team."
Foster is spending a ton of extra time in the film room with offensive assistants like Chad Hall and Shea Tierney as well as offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to nail down assignments and adjusting to defensive coverages.
"Being able to read the defense before the ball is snapped. That's what I'm working on now," he said. "That's the next step for me, being able to read defenses better."
Meanwhile Brandon Reilly is looking like a much quicker and faster receiver this summer. After fully investing in the team's offseason conditioning program he's clearly quicker off the line and on Thursday was forcing defensive backs to make decisions quicker about whether to turn and run or body up.
"I think just comes with the lifting," said Reilly of his improved speed. "All the lower body stuff. It helps you get quicker and gives you more acceleration. Yeah I definitely focused on getting stronger and quicker and just have to keep stacking days together."
Reilly's best play Thursday came on a crossing pattern that went to the left side of the field for a 20-yard pickup.
"We left the huddle and AJ just said, 'Get across and get in the window,'" Reilly told Buffalobills.com. "He threw a great ball and we made a great play."
Check out photos from the opening practice of 2018 Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris.
3 - Phillips relishes one-on-one drills
While the offense and defense ran seven-on-seven drills to work on the passing game, the offensive and defensive linemen went mano-a-mano in one-on-ones. Not surprisingly, Harrison Phillips won more than his share of battles.
He outflanked one offensive lineman on a rip move and later went to a counter spin move after he was tied up on his initial pass rush and won again.
"It's the most fun part of practice," Phillips told Buffalobills.com. "So much of the game is won in one-on-one matchups and you only get so many of them. If you win 10 percent of them you're a Pro Bowl player. So I'm just trying to hone in on the craft and be more than just a run stopper."
Phillips explained how some of the veteran players on the roster broke things down with respect to winning on your pass rush 10 percent of the time.
"You get 100 one-on-one rushes a season where you know it's going to be a pass play," he said. "Not the screens, not the boots, not on second and first down, but on third down if you're a starter or a rotational player you'll get about 100 one-on-one rushes a season. If you win 10 of those you'll probably a Pro Bowl player."
Phillips wrestling background and strong hands make him a tough out in a one-on-one interior pass rush situation.