1. Diggs and Norman stand out on Day 1
Monday marked the first padded practice of Bills Training Camp. Several new players showcased why they were brought to the Bills, and some returned for their first day in pads after injury.
- Wide receiver Stefon Diggs made a handful of nice plays putting his route running ability and expertise on contested catches on display.
- Quarterback Josh Allen connected with John Brown for numerous completions. Brown ended practice by catching a 50-yard bomb from Allen.
- Rookie wide receivers Gabe Davis and Isaiah Hodgins made their presence known with impressive catches during the team portion of practice.
- Josh Norman notably produced a number of pass breakups. One happened on a pass from Allen to Brown, Norman knocked it away once it got to Brown's fingertips.
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds loved the competition he felt in practice.
"That's what we play this game for, is to compete," Edmunds said. "I'm a competitor myself, so anytime stuff like that happens you love to see it. At the end of the day we are all one team. So when the offense has success out there obviously I'm going to be mad, but at the end of the day it's helping this team. We're helping each other out—offense and defense.
"We're making each other better. That's the goal of training camp is to make each other better so when we go out there on the days we play, we can just dominate. I think that's the whole thing, we just want to compete. Just continue to strive for excellence and continue to see good things out of each side of the ball. I think we're only going to be as good as we push each other."
Prior to practice, McDermott announced CB Levi Wallace (back), G Jon Feliciano, DT Ed Oliver (hip) and TE Tommy Sweeney would not participate in practice. WR Isaiah Hodgins and LB Vosean Joseph wore red no-contact jerseys.
2. Phillips returns to the field; new defensive linemen impress
Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips returned to the practice field in full pads for the first time since his ACL injury in September of 2019. Phillips said today marked day 330 since he had been in pads. The defensive tackle came off the field and straight onto a Zoom call with media where he was gushing with happiness after his first practice since the injury.
"To gear all the way up--cleats to helmets and shoulder pads, and to go out there and not just selfishly be able to go play football again, which obviously is my biggest passion," Phillips said. "But to go and be with my teammates, with the guys that I love, and the guys who played such a great season last year, put on all this offseason work finding a way to make sure that we're all in shape and put ourselves in position to make a stretch and a run here.
"Just to be back out there with those guys and be in the huddle and look around at all my brothers being out there playing with them again. It's the same reason that brought me into the game when I was 11 years old, going out there and playing football with my friends. To be out there and do that against truly a blessing."
Phillips thinks the defensive line possesses several ways to throw off an offensive line this year. The new defensive lineman put on pads for the first time as Buffalo Bills. Defensive end Mario Addison, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, defensive tackle Vernon Butler, defensive end A.J. Epenesa, defensive end Bryan Cox Jr, defensive tackle Tanzel Smart and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer made their debuts today.
"We have some dogs on the defensive line," Phillips explained. "Honestly we have some guys who have come in this league and already proven themselves and have multiple sacks in the NFL. Then we have young hungry guys who are still on the up and up and want to take their game to the next level, get double digit sacks, make their Pro Bowls, win a Super Bowl.
"I look around the room and I keep telling all the guys, I'm like, 'Man look at how many rushers we have, we have guys who can rush the passer.' And it's so great when you can throw a bunch of different groups together. Ends on the inside, inside guys on the outside, a big group, a small group, a joker group--all these different combinations. It's has to be hard for an offensive lineman."
3. K Tyler Bass makes his debut
Special teams coordinator Heath Farwell called the kicking competition between veteran Stephen Hauschka and rookie Tyler Bass a "classic training camp matchup."
"One is a 13-year veteran who brings leadership ability, consistency with a proven record to make them in big games," Farwell said of Hauschka. "The other kid is ultra-talented. Young leg, hungry. He's a big talent, but it's unproven at this point. Without a preseason game we'll try to put him in all those stressful situations and bring him up at the end of practice and get everyone around him to put pressure on him when we can. They're both so talented in what they bring, but it's completely different in terms of what they bring to the table."
Farwell explained they will do several different things during practices to create game-like scenarios for the two since they have no preseason games to evaluate performance.
"Going back to my playing days it goes back to competition and it brings out the best in you," Farwell explained. "Coach McDermott embraces that. We put them against each other with back-to-back kicks, a lot of times we'll have them take the same exact kick. That's done for a reason. Let's see going back and forth and we do that with the punters too. How do we put them in those pressure situations."
Bass got a chance to kick field goals from several different lengths today. Hauschka did not attempt a field goal today.
The rookie connected on six of his nine field goal attempts during practice. His longest make of the day came from approximately 54 yards.