The Bills held their third practice of training camp on Tuesday morning, and while the session was quieter than the first two without fans in attendance today, it didn't slow down the competition on the field.
Here are three things to know from Day Three.
1. Defensive line shines
The defense has shined through the first few practices of camp by forcing turnovers, providing good coverage and pressure on multiple plays. On Tuesday, the defensive line stood out from the rest.
"You see a lot of other guys playing at a high level," Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. "Hats off to Greg (Rousseau) and Boogie (Basham) and a lot of the young guys that put in hard work this offseason, and it's showing out there. They're stronger, faster and they're playing more confident, and it's ultimately going to help the defense out."
Defensive linemen Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle and C.J. Brewer each got their hands in the passing lane and accounted for three batted passes during team periods. Settle has flashed in other ways during the first week as he also had an interception on day one of camp.
The DL also did a good job of limiting the run game on Tuesday by plugging up holes and making it hard for the running backs to find wins.
The rest of the defense isn't shocked by the defensive line play and agree it makes life easier for them and gives them a higher chance of winning their one-on-one matchups.
"We knew coming into this, obviously through OTAs and minicamp that the defense was gonna be a problem," Safety Micah Hyde explained. "So, those guys up front, they're working. They've got great coaches, great players out there. We know that there's going to be some opportunities for us on the back end because of it."
2. Stefon Diggs vs. Kaiir Elam battle is heating up, James Cook continues to impress
Another highlight from Tuesday's practice was the one-on-one battle between wide receiver Stefon Diggs and rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam. As a rookie, it can be easy to back down from a challenge against a veteran, especially when it's a star like Diggs. But when it came time to line up against Diggs, Elam was not backing down from the challenge.
The two went against each other a couple of times. On one occasion, they both ended up coming down with the ball as Diggs initially made a great catch, but Elam ended up ripping it away. Bills head coach Sean McDermott has mentioned multiple times how he wants camp to be full of competition, and those one-on-one reps were a great example of a veteran and a rookie challenging each other to be better.
With White out, Elam as well as many other cornerbacks have gotten a great opportunity at a handful of reps during practices. Safety Micah Hyde thinks the rookie has done a great job of learning from the older players.
"I think with K (Kaiir Elam) he's been fortunate enough to be put in a position, whether it's the coaches we have in the secondary on defense or even the players, he's able to step in right now with some guys that have been together for a long time," Hyde said. "So, he hears what we're talking about, he hears how we see things in meetings. He can paint the picture himself just by asking the questions that he asks. I can't speak for him, but I feel like if I'm a young guy in his position, I'd be really fortunate to step into that position. And we're not asking him to be anything that he's not, just go out there and play your ball."
Another player who's not backing down from pushing to have success early in his rookie year is running back James Cook. The Georgia product has impressed early because of his skillset as a receiver in addition to being a running back. When Cook catches the ball it looks effortless. He has good vision of the field and has versatility in his route running ability. Cook continued to show out at practice on Tuesday with a couple of nice catches and run plays.
3. Tremaine Edmunds working on being the best he can be
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but the LB isn't focusing on when that next contract will come around. He's concentrating on what he can do to up his game in 2022.
"I got the same mindset every year, and that's just to be the best player I could be," Edmunds said. "I put in good work this offseason, trusting what I've done, trusting the work that's been put in and just relying on my brothers out here. Every day I come out, I don't even think about that stuff because I'm having fun."
Edmunds is tasked with a lot as the mike linebacker in a defense that plays heavily in nickel. Many of his teammates appreciate his ability to cover a large part of the field. What Edmunds is working to next is doing a better job of taking the ball away.
"He's talked about obviously catching the football and making plays that way," Safety Micah Hyde said. "But working on the jugs and stuff with him, even these last couple days in training camp you can tell he's been doing that. And not just him, (Matt) Milano too. We do the jugs a lot during the season, and they've kind of picked up on what we've been able to do. So, I know those plays will come. You can't force them, you can't get out of position to try to make those plays, you just stay within the defense."
Through four years of play, head coach Sean McDermott has loved what Edmunds has given the team, and he's looking forward to more of that in year five.
"Tremaine's done a phenomenal job," McDermott said. "He's done everything we've ever asked since day one, and he's a consummate pro. I think he's off to a great start. He's always been in shape, and I love his command of our defense."
Edmunds has been viewed as a leader of the defense for the last few seasons, but this year McDermott is seeing a sense of comfort in the linebacker's leadership.
"I think that's just the natural evolution of his growth," McDermott added. "Part of it is on the field, part of it is off the field, and I think he's becoming more and more comfortable. The other day the offense was doing some things and he was right on it in communicating that to the defense and that's something I hadn't seen to this point, and I was very impressed by that."