The Bills were surprised with a canceled practice yesterday but were back in full pads on Thursday. It was also the first day of camp with referees.
Here are three things to know from Thursday's practice.
1. Big plays from Khalil Shakir and Gabe Davis + Baylon Spector's standout day
A few players returned to the practice field on Thursday afternoon after being out with injuries. Offensive lineman Ryan Bates and defensive tackle Tim Settle were back in full pads after missing some time but did not participate in team periods. Wide receivers Jake Kumerow and Jamison Crowder, as well as safety Micah Hyde participated in team periods today after coming back from injury.
In one-on-one's, the standout catch came on a pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs was being covered by cornerback Dane Jackson but was able to get separation and make a jaw-dropping one-handed grab as he was going toward the sideline.
The team spent most of the second half of practice in team periods. On one of the first plays, Allen dialed up a beautiful deep ball to wide receiver Gabe Davis. Davis turned a shoulder and caught the ball in stride while tightly covered by Jackson.
Rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir had a couple of nice plays as well. Shakir jumped up in the air to catch a high placed ball by quarterback Matt Barkley. The wide receiver looked like he adjusted his route to be able to make the catch. On one of the last plays before the team started to work in the red zone, Shakir connected with Allen on a deep ball that the WR caught in the end zone for a touchdown.
"He's done a pretty good job in terms of learning the offense," Allen shared. "He's been switching up from Z (position) to F. He's a smart kid and runs some really good routes. So, it's good to see him getting some reps with us and producing. I'm excited about him."
Rookie linebacker Baylon Spector had several standout moments in Thursday's practice. Spector helped force a fumble and recover a ball originally caught by Crowder. Later on, Spector intercepted a pass from Barkley.
The team finished up practice by working in the red zone and the goal line. The running backs got in a lot of work during that final period and scored a few rushing touchdowns. Running backs Zack Moss, Devin Singletary and Duke Johnson each found the end zone. The group also had some nice runs during team periods thanks to good blocks by the offensive line.
2. How the battle in the trenches is making both sides better
Buffalo's offensive line is still without a few key pieces but thankfully that hasn't limited the competition with the defensive line. In Thursday's practice, the defensive line was able to get to the quarterback on multiple occasions, but the offensive line also held their own at times and gave quarterback Josh Allen a clean pocket. Defensive linemen A.J. Epenesa, Ed Oliver, Shaq Lawson, DaQuan Jones and Jordan Phillips all accounted for what looked like sacks during team periods.
Linebacker Von Miller said regardless of who has been healthy on the offensive line, the group has been putting up a fight and are making the defensive line better.
"You want a guy that's gonna leave it all out there and that's gonna spar hard with you so you can be prepared when the bullets are flying," Miller shared. "Going against Dion (Dawkins), going against David (Quessenberry), all these guys are great. Tommy Doyle, we've had some battles as well. He's gonna be great as well.
"All these guys are the bodyguards for Josh (Allen), and iron sharpens iron. Being able to compete against great tackles and an elite quarterback like this, it's been fun."
Allen agrees that the pressure he has been feeling from the defensive line will only make him and his offense better come Week 1.
"They're pretty dang good on that side of the ball, which is exciting to see," Allen said of the defensive line. "Obviously bringing in a guy like Von (Miller), teaching some of these young cats too in Greg (Rousseau) and A.J. (Epenesa). Bringing back old faces in Jordan (Phillips) and Shaq (Lawson). Then you bring in Tim (Settle), DaQuan (Jones) and Ed Oliver's kind of stepping his game.
"So again, the names I can go around and say good things about each one, but they're intense right now. They're bringing it and that's going to make us better."
Oliver has accounted for several sacks since the start of training camp and seems like he has really turned a corner and is off to a hot start in 2022. Miller thinks Oliver has a chance to be one of the greatest at his craft.
"I see some things that make Ed great," Miller shared. "He has a great get off. He's able to pass rush, play the run. He can get vertical. He can pretty much do anything... I got Greg and Ed, it really just makes my job so much easier. It's comforting to think about all these things in the offseason and what you could be and come out here on the field, and you have some success versus a very good offense that we have."
3. Practice intensity trending upwards
Since the full pads went on, there have been a few scuffles throughout practices. While fighting is never encouraged, head coach Sean McDermott said he would rather dial it down than feel like he needs to ramp up the practice intensity. Good thing there has been no lack of juice in the last few practices.
Josh Allen said he brings that type of energy to practice because it helps the team focus on the task at hand.
"We've got to find ways to put our focus back into what we're doing and focus on the here and now," Allen shared. "Sometimes it's necessary. Good teams sometimes fight. Guys want it so bad. Guys are very competitive, guys push each other.
"So, you saw a little tempers flare again today. And again, that's all because we want to win. We want to work really hard. We want to beat the guys across from us. And it doesn't matter who it is. But it's good to see the intensity right now coming out from both sides of the football and the whole team because, again, we just want to win football games."
Linebacker Von Miller believes it's a good sign that some practices have been chippy and thinks that intensity starts with the leadership of his quarterback.
"It's just part of the brotherhood when it comes to football," Miller explained. "There's gonna be some high tempered times, and I've seen it with all the teams that I've been on. It doesn't matter if it's training camp, it could be the eighth week of the season, it could be anytime. You're around these guys every single day, you compete at a at a high level every single day, and it just happens sometimes."
The Buffalo Bills take to the field during Day 10 of Training Camp.