Four training camp practices in the books. And the Buffalo Bills get Monday off now, with the regular season opener just six weeks away.
They practiced in front of another big crowd early Sunday morning, with sunshine and comfortable temperatures in the mid 70s. Here are the top developments from Sunday's training camp workout:
1. BOUNCE BACK DAY FOR THE BILLS RUNNING GAME
It was the best day so far for the Bills rushing offense at training camp and it was just what the offense needed. Quarterback Nathan Peterman credits good blocking by the line, and the rest of the offense, for some big runs hit during 11-on-11 team work.
"That was an improvement from yesterday," Peterman said. "We wanted to be more physical—set the edge and establish the line of scrimmage. I thought the offensive line, fullbacks, running backs, wide receivers blocking safeties –they did a great job of that today."
The Buffalo offense got its' usual flashy work from running back LeSean McCoy. And backup RB Chris Ivory hit the holes hard as well. In one of the first 11-on-11 sessions of the day, Ivory found a big crease over the left side and showed surprising speed and quickness as he burst through the hole and picked up 15-20-yards.
"That's a misconception by a lot of guys who really haven't had a chance to see me play on the field this close," Ivory said after practice. "That's something that I've had –the quickness and speed, and it's been undervalued. When the time comes, that's what you'll see."
Ivory said the run game got off to a slow start the first few days in camp, mostly because the first few practices were un-padded. This weekend, both workouts have been in pads.
"Yeah it's a little bit better to see things develop," he said. "You have more cuts and you're able go all out. That's what we were able to do today and going forward we want to do the same thing."
2. PADS + POPS= A PHYSICAL TRAINING CAMP PRACTICE
Buffalo's second day in pads was also the fourth straight day on the training camp practice field. And in the early going, the Bills looked like a team ready to hit. It was the most physical of the four training camp workouts so far this year.
In the first 11-on-11 session Sunday, Bills defenders Shaq Lawson and others got into a post-whistle shoving match with offensive linemen, including Jordan Mills. Even with coaches separating the players, it didn't amount to much. But it did put the Bills intensity and physicality on display.
"That's just guys out there competing," rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. "Guys out there want to win. It's football and things like that happen."
Edmunds got put to the ground by center Ryan Groy when the rookie tried to blitz up the middle.
"Yeah, hey, this is the NFL. Stuff like that will happen. You just have to shake it off for the next play," Edmunds said.
The Bills get Monday off, then come back to Fisher Tuesday for three days of practice in Rochester. Next Friday, it's a practice in front of fans at New Era Field in Orchard Park for the 'Return of the Blue and the Red' event.
For now, players like Peterman are looking forward to a one-day break before jumping back into camp.
"It's always good to get a little break," Peterman said. "You can review the last four days, what you did good, what you need to improve on. You try to make those improvements and be ready for the next stretch we have."
3. MURPHY'S THE STARTER FOR NOW AT DEFENSIVE END; PLENTY OF WORK FOR SHAQ
The Bills 2016 first round pick, Shaq Lawson, has plenty of eyes on him this training camp as he tries to establish his role on the Buffalo defense. For now, free agent acquisition Trent Murphy is atop the depth chart at left defensive end. But defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is hesitant to call this a "make or break" training camp for Lawson.
"Shaq is so young. To say that this is a make-or-break year, that would be hard to do," Frazier said Sunday at Bills Camp. "I think his best football is ahead of him. He just needs to stay healthy and keep improving. He came in in great shape. He's off to a great start in camp. He's much too young, it's too soon to say this is a make-or-break year for Shaq Lawson in my mind."
Lawson turned 24-years old last month. He actually found himself lining up with the first team for the early and late team periods of practice Sunday. With Murphy coming back from a serious knee injury he suffered with Washington last year, Lawson is likely to see plenty of first team reps as camp moves along.