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Top 3 things to know from Day 6 of Bills training camp


As the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get it Started" blared over the loudspeaker, quarterback Josh Allen danced around as his helmet rested on the top of his head like a baseball cap. Following his first full-contact practice since January, safety Damar Hamlin was greeted with another warm welcome from Bills Mafia as he ran onto the field and began to stretch.

That was just a glimpse into how Tuesday's practice went.

Here are three things to know from Day 6 of Bills training camp.

1. The battle for CB2 heating up, but very much undecided

Defensive backs coach John Butler spoke to the media prior to practice and offered his thoughts on the closely-watched competition at the second starting cornerback spot across from Tre'Davious White. As it stands, Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford have all spent roughly equal time working with the first team defense.

"We have a plan in place that every single day is a little bit different in terms of who gets the reps, who gets the exposure at that position, and we're encouraged with it," Butler said. "We have a 'one day at a time' approach but … tons of preseason practice to continue to evaluate that and see where we're at as we not only head into the beginning of the season, but obviously throughout the season as well."

Elam, who was drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, received praise from Butler for his coverage at the line of scrimmage.

"All those plays that he's made so far in this camp, whether it be in one-on-one situations, which he's done a nice job of in our individual one-on-ones or in team have been when he starts at the line of scrimmage, can contest the wideout, he can minimize the space and he's done a nice job of that so far," Butler said.

Deonte Harty (11). Buffalo Bills Training Camp at St. John Fisher University, August 1, 2023.

Butler said that Jackson is a versatile threat, particularly due to his ability to make a difference in the run game.

"I don't want to get into comparatives here, but Dane can play with space a little bit more can play off and bail, has a little bit more visual and ability to see the things that are going on," Butler said. "Two years ago … I believe if you look at the analytics [Jackson] was the number one or number two run game tackling corner in the NFL, so he's a tough kid that obviously we expect him to get back to that level."

Finally, Butler pointed out that Benford has an ability to learn quickly, in addition to being the biggest physically of the trio.

"His ability to take what we're coaching and what we're walking through and immediately apply it to what he's doing on the field, and then what the offense is doing and very quickly process what's happening, I would say … it's a very unique and strong trait of his," Butler said.

Butler believes each of the three are unique in their own way as the battle for CB2 continues, and said that "when we know, we'll know" when it comes to naming a starter.

2. Damien Harris is happy to be a Bill

After spending four seasons in New England, running back Damien Harris feels at home in Buffalo.

"This is a great organization, it's a great team, great coaches, great teammates," Harris said after Tuesday's practice. "I feel welcomed here, I feel like I fit in here. The city of Buffalo has definitely welcomed me with open arms."

Harris revealed that he has been getting along with his new teammates, including Allen and running back James Cook.

"Obviously [Allen] is a great football player and when we're between the white lines, he's very serious business," Harris shared. "But outside of that, he likes to keep everyone engaged, keep a smile on everybody's face and that kind of personality and mentality keeps guys fresh mentally."

"[Cook] is a little more mild-mannered, but he is very, once you peel back the layers, he's got that same personality and he likes to have fun. We all do. We're all in this together to just, first and foremost, come out here and compete every single day. But once we're off the field, whether it's in the meeting rooms, or when we're watching film, we cut up, we like to have fun, we like to laugh."

Harris has been looking sharp out of the backfield during training camp, and wants to make the most of his opportunities to contribute to the Bills offense.

"I want to take as much of the burden off of Josh as I possible can," Harris said. "I want to let him go out there and play free, throw the ball, stay healthy, do his thing. … If I can take some hits off his shoulder and keep his legs fresh, I would love to do that."

Harris played 26 games over the last two seasons, scoring 18 touchdowns and averaging over 4.5 yards per carry. His size makes him a threat in the red zone and it often takes multiple tacklers to take him down.

3. Damar Hamlin's interception + practice notes from Day 6

The sun hid behind the clouds for the most part on the first morning of August, but there was no shortage of bright spots for the Bills defense.

In an 11-on-11 drill, linebacker Matt Milano, whom Harris and left tackle Dion Dawkins revealed to be a big house music fan, broke up a deep pass from Allen intended for rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid. Milano ran stride-for-stride with Kincaid down the sideline to make the play.

Hamlin got his first interception of camp, picking off a wobbly pass from Matt Barkley. Hamlin slid to the ground to make the catch and ran it back for a touchdown, high-fiving his little brother on the sidelines as Bills Mafia cheered him on.

Defensive back Cam Lewis stayed aggressive on defense, which paid off multiple times. In an 11-on-11 drill, Lewis blitzed Allen, forcing an errant pass. Later in the same drill, Lewis broke up a pass intended for receiver Khalil Shakir.

Multiple players across the defensive line got "sacks", bursting through the wall of offensive linemen and gently tapping the red jersey-donning quarterbacks.

Dawkins, a longtime veteran of the offensive line, spoke on the value that going against the defensive line brings to the offense and vice versa.

"The beauty of it is we're getting better," Dawkins said. "Like every rep, guys are not thinking about it like, 'Man, I just lost. I just lost that rep,' it's more so like, 'Yo, this is why you finally won. This is what you did.' … So it's back and forth, ping-pong."

Dawkins even took time to give edge rusher Greg Rousseau a detailed breakdown of how to improve his approach while coming off the line of scrimmage.

"He did a good job of coming back up and then looping around for the strip sack, which is cool," Dawkins said. "That's why we practice. I really do love when it's a plus and a minus, a plus and a minus because, like if everything was a plus (for the offense) and I made 100 percent of my shots and my blocks, then it'll be weird, like nobody's perfect."

That isn't to say that the offense looked lackluster. Allen went 7-for-9 in Tuesday's only one-on-one WRs/DBs drill which took place at the defense's 10-yard line.

Receiver Stefon Diggs used his quick feet to advantage when getting off the line, easily losing his defenders and catching each of his three passes from Allen for touchdowns.

Cook also continued to display his ability as a pass-catcher, running a deep wheel route allowing Allen to place the ball in stride to the second-year running back.

With only one practice until the Return of the Blue and Red practice at Highmark Stadium, Dawkins is excited to finally be back in Orchard Park.

"Honestly, that is my highlight of camp. … The amount of fans that come out there just to see us practice is unreal. Maybe it's similar to [St. John Fisher], but they fill that bowl up. The crowd is there, we get to sign autographs and show faces, and I get to be me," Dawkins said with a smile. "And in a situation where I get to be me, I'm going to be myself, if y'all know."

Today's inactive players were:

  • S Jordan Poyer (veteran rest day)
  • DT Tim Settle (groin)
  • WR Isaiah Coulter (knee)
  • WR Bryan Thompson (concussion)
  • CB Kyron Brown (groin)

The Bills will take Wednesday off until returning to the practice field at St. John Fisher University Thursday morning.

Scroll to see the best photos from Day Six of Buffalo Bills Training Camp

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