**A determined Dareus
**Back practicing Tuesday was Marcell Dareus, who returned from a strained hamstring. Although his reps were managed the defensive tackle was effective in practice early. During a 9-on-7 run game period, Dareus routinely forced inside runs to bounce outside and he and Kyle Williams effectively clogged up the middle. Dareus cannot be handled one-on-one, but even on some double teams his could not be moved from inside gaps.
"I have something to prove to myself, to my teammates, to our fans," Dareus said of the upcoming season. "I just want to do my best. If I'm doing my best, I know its good enough."
Dareus thrived in an attack-style scheme three years ago that ran a 4-3 front and defensive coordinator said they'll be sending their front four in much the same way. Dareus, who is used to being disruptive, is looking forward to being productive in the new system and feels he has a firm handle on what's expected of him.
"With this defense with (coach) McDermott, he did a great job with that," said Dareus. "He strategically clarified every position for everybody. If you do your job everything else takes care of itself. We still have a little bit more jelling to do, but for the most part everything has been clear cut for us."
Ragland inside and outLinebacker Reggie Ragland is close to a year removed from suffering his torn ACL. It was Aug. 5th last year that it happened. Tuesday was his third day in pads and he feels like he's carrying his weight well.
"The more and more I keep getting at it, the more and more I'm feeling better," he said. "I'm taking it day by day. Today my leg felt good with the pads on so I just have to keep getting better and better."
And as much as fans and outside observers want to make the middle linebacker role an issue, head coach Sean McDermott has taken a different approach when it comes to Ragland.
"There's a plan for every player. Reggie's (plan), again, second-year player coming off of the injury he came off of. Really, this is his first year," said McDermott. "Acclimating him to practice tempo – he missed most of the spring – acclimating him to the system and putting him in position, like we try to do with all of our players, to have success; success early, and success in the long term. I like what he did the other day – the second day in pads. I saw a physical aspect of his game, an emotional aspect of his game that we need in our defense. A lot of work remains for all of us, including Reggie at this point."
In Tuesday's practice, Ragland was deployed at middle linebacker with the second unit for most of the day, but he also lined up outside for a snap or two in base defense with rookie Matt Milano at the mike linebacker position. He also lined up outside of Milano in the second-team nickel package as one of the two linebackers.
It could be a byproduct of the fact that Lorenzo Alexander had the day off and Tanner Vallejo rotated up to the starting unit in Alexander's place, but it seems obvious they want to see just how versatile Ragland's game can be.
"Whatever coach wants me to do," said Ragland. "If he wants me in sub I'll play in sub. If not I'm going to still play hard and come and do my reps in sub. I'll do whatever coach wants me to do." Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said in the spring that Ragland could play outside and it may very well come to that as it doesn't appear as though Preston Brown is relinquishing the middle linebacker role any time soon. Ragland said he and Frazier talked about that a while back.
"We've already talked about it," said Ragland. "So if and when the time comes the coach will come to me and talk about it (again)."
Either way, what's most encouraging is how Ragland's reads on plays look as instinctive as ever, particularly in the run front.
"Being physical is a mentality," Ragland said. "That never left me. Learning the new defense is going to take time. I get more and more used to it the more I come out here, the more meetings I'm in and the more film I'm watching."
Position battlesThe rotation on the right side of the offensive line continues, but there was a bit of a tweak to how the rotation operated. For the first few days, Vladimir Ducasse and Dion Dawkins would rotate in on the third and final snap for the first team offense during team periods. While that did continue Tuesday, there also were a couple of series where Ducasse and Dawkins were starting the series and John Miller and Jordan Mills rotated in on the third and final snap.
Seantrel Henderson continues to rotate in for Cordy Glenn, whose reps are being monitored. Henderson for the most part has performed well, though he did get beat inside when he took too deep a pass set and Jerry Hughes slipped inside for a would-be sack.
Tanner Vallejo was the fill-in for a resting Lorenzo Alexander Tuesday with the starting unit. Head coach Sean McDermott complimented the rookie.
"We're very impressed with what he has done on the field," he said of Vallejo. "Seems to be very business-like in his approach off the field, in terms of the time he spends in the preparation and that translates into his success on the field so far. So, he is productive, he's around the football. Early at this point, and early returns are positive at this point, still a lot of work to get done though."
With Vallejo up with the first unit, first-year LB Jacob Lindsey continues to get quality reps at outside linebacker with the second group. In the spring before Ragland returned, Lindsey was the second team middle linebacker. Now he's outside and Tuesday got more second team reps than Gerald Hodges who ran mostly with the third team.
With LeSean McCoy out with a stomach bug Tuesday the running back rotation was as follows.
Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Joe Banyard, Cedric O'Neal and Jordan Johnson.
DE Eddie Yarbrough appears to have moved up to the second team for the foreseeable future. The first-year player out of Wyoming has moved past DE Max Valles, who played with the third team Tuesday.
Punt return candidates who took reps on Tuesday were Rashad Ross, Walt Powell and Tre'Davious White. Brandon Tate is still not all the way back from injury.
Bonus notesRyan Groy stepped in at starting center for Eric Wood (veteran rest day).
The receiver rotation makes it appear as the top six are as follows - Watkins, Holmes, Jones, Brown, Streater and Jeremy Butler.
Walt Powell and B.T. Sanders were both shaken up during the course of practice, but both returned to action.
The Bills offense dominated the situational period early in practice. It was a 4th-and-goal situation from the eight-yard line, and on three consecutive plays the offense scored touchdowns. First, Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins in the back left corner of the end zone. Then T.J. Yates hit Philly Brown in the back right sideline on a fade for a TD. Nate Peterman then followed with the same fade pass to Rod Streater for a score.