1. Josh Allen and three others miss practice for undisclosed reasons
On Sunday morning the NFL released a statement explaining Saturday's daily COVID testing had returned several positive results from every team who was serviced by the same lab in New Jersey. The Bills were one of the teams that returned positive results from Saturday's testing.
General manager Brandon Beane said the league jumped on the issue early letting them know it wasn't just Buffalo receiving positive results. Due to those positives, some players missed Sunday's practice.
"We'll still be missing some players out there today," Beane explained. "The guys, you'll see when you get out there. I can't go through those names, but you can figure it out. If it's not someone that's been on the injury report, you will know. So, with that, we're just trying to be very cautious. We've been open with our team."
Josh Allen, Harrison Phillips, Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler missed practice for undisclosed reasons.
The team is hopeful those who had positive tests are just false positives and can return to practice after passing two negative tests. The group of players who tested positive were tested again Sunday, all their results came back negative according to Beane. If they pass another negative, they are allowed into the complex and back at practice.
Beane said it's a scenario no team wants to be in, but it's good to work through in order to be prepared for the season.
"It's a good fire drill for our coaches that are going to be missing some guys out there today and teammates as well," Beane explained. "Maybe some guys that were running with the twos are now running with the ones. So, it'll give guys a chance to maybe step up, at those particular positions and it gives our coaches a chance to ask themselves, 'What if this happened on game day? How would we respond?'
"Obviously, it can change game plans depending on which players you'd be missing on either side of the ball so it's unfortunate. I know some of these guys, these players, I talked to a few of them they want to be here. They're frustrated. But this is the process that we're dealing with, and we still have to be cautious."
Quarterback Matt Barkley explained the team found out that practice had been pushed back an hour via text, and after seeing some players were missing from the team meeting, they assumed it was related to COVID-19. Barkley said the team was prepared to quickly adapt in order to have a productive practice.
"Given the circumstances of this year, just having the mindset, I guess for me that I've always had as a backup of always being ready, right?" Barkley said. "And always being ready to go is kind of what I've had to do. So today I guess was just a trial run of what that could look like, if that were to happen in-season. I don't know really any details about who, how and what. But from the looks of it, everyone's fine. But if that were to happen, you need to be ready to go."
Even though some players missed practice today due to what is thought to be a lab issue with test results, Beane and head coach Sean McDermott still have confidence in the system they've been using.
"I just looked at it as something went wrong in this lab, it sounds like, and we will adjust," Beane said. "Everybody's going to do things differently. Hopefully these guys that did have these positive tests, and that are having to sit out today, hopefully they'll be able to be negative on their next test and be able to come back tomorrow and join the team."
2. Stefon Diggs scores TD, Dean Marlowe picks off pass
The team had another padded practice on a hot Sunday in August. Without quarterback Josh Allen at practice, it was time for quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Davis Webb and Jake Fromm to step up.
Here are the best plays from Sunday and a few injury update notes.
DT Ed Oliver (hip), LB Tremaine Edmunds (hip) and LB A.J. Klein (ankle) returned to practice.
QB Josh Allen, DT Harrison Phillips, DL Quinton Jefferson, DT Vernon Butler were out for undisclosed reasons.
WR Robert Foster (concussion protocol) wore a red non-contact jersey. FB Pat DiMarco wore a red jersey but did not participate in drills.
- The defense got off to a hot start. Matt Barkley threw a pass intended for Stefon Diggs that was intercepted by Dean Marlowe. Marlowe also had a pass breakup on Tyler Kroft.
- Duke Williams made a couple of nice catches. Williams caught one from Barkley as he was tightly covered by Levi Wallace. His second noticeable catch came from Webb where Williams pulled the ball into his chest as he hit the ground. At this point we should just coin that as the signature Duke Williams grab.
- We saw some action from Tyler Kroft today. The tight end had a clean grab from Barkley for about a 15-yard gain.
- Isaiah McKenzie did a nice job of locating a pass from Jake Fromm and pulled it in as he fell to the ground.
- Rookie Gabe Davis is having an admirable camp from what we've seen through a week of practices. Davis made his presence known again recording a few receptions. The best catch of the day for him came from Barkley where he made the grab heading towards the numbers and juked a defender for some impressive YAC yards.
- Can't forget Stefon Diggs. The wide receiver had a nice day connecting with a quarterback he isn't as familiar with in Barkley. Diggs makes everything look easy. His best catch was a short touchdown reception where he showcased his ability to reach for a ball in a sea of defensive players.
MY FAVORITE PLAY:
- No jaw-dropping plays today, but my favorite has to be Stefon Diggs' touchdown reception. It's nice to see that Diggs can vibe with a quarterback who's not Josh Allen. It shows how talented he is and how quickly he can adapt. It was a short reception, but Diggs put his athleticism on display reaching for the ball in the end zone. No bobbles in traffic, he made it look easy.
- This award goes to two people today. First, safety Dean Marlowe had a nice day of practice with an interception and a pass breakup. Second, the quarterbacks adjusted well without their starter. Even though it was just a practice, the quarterbacks didn't miss a beat without Allen. They were truly cool, calm and collected. In a world where COVID-19 may mess a thing or two up in practices or in games, the team quickly adjusted being down a few players and still had a solid day of work.
- We only saw Tyler Bass kick today. Bass made four of six field goals. His longest make came from about 45 yards out. His longest miss was about 54 yards. We did not see Stephen Hauschka kick. Hauschka was at practice, just didn't participate in the team kicking period.
3. From rookies to vets, Bills wide receivers are having a great camp
Whether Barkley is watching the rookies make catches or is the one throwing the ball to them, it's easy for him to see they've had a productive camp through the first week of padded practices. Although, Barkley isn't mind blown by what he's seen from Gabe Davis and Isaiah Hodgins this week because he had a preview of the two during the offseason.
"I think they're really talented and really smart," Barkley said. "And when you have that combination, especially in this offense, I think they're going to do great things. I had the opportunity to throw with Gabe [Davis] and Isaiah [Hodgins] out in California for a good portion of this offseason.
"So I got a little preview of what they're capable of--they were on top of all the installs, all the quick plays that we do, lining up, knowing the formations, knowing all the routes. They were on top of everything. And so you have confidence in those guys when they're out there knowing that they're going to be running the right routes and be where they're supposed to be. You can anticipate throws knowing they're going to do the right thing, and that's comforting as a quarterback."
Barkley connected with the back-to-back 1,000-yard receiver in Stefon Diggs several times today in practice, including a touchdown. The quarterback liked the communication he had on the field with Diggs today.
"He's a very communicative player where he gives good feedback," Barkley explained. "We were on the same page, I felt like, after not having gotten a lot of reps. We got a few in Miami when we were down there together. But like you said, Josh [Allen] has gotten most of those recently.
"But today just talking about what I like to see out of his breaks and coming out of his routes, he was on point with really everything. The timing of a red zone touchdown we had on one of those drives was comforting because it was kind of off an individual (period). Just the timing of it and we talked about it, talked through it, what I envisioned. And he ran it perfectly in the team session, and it was a touchdown. Stuff like that will be helpful in the season."