1. Bills wide receivers shine in practice
Josh Allen, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Buter and Harrison Phillips all returned to practice today after missing practice on Sunday. Allen said he was one of the false positives from the lab that experienced contamination issues from Saturday's test results. The QB explained his frustration from missing out on important reps, but understood it was a good opportunity for the team to adjust on the fly.
It was the second straight day of padded practices for the team and another hot one in Orchard Park. Here's the highlights you need to know about from Monday.
RB Taiwan Jones (knee), RB Christian Wade (quad), CB Josh Norman (hamstring), FB Pat DiMarco, OG Jon Feliciano (pec) and TE Tommy Sweeney (foot) missed practice.
LBs A.J. Klein (ankle) and Tremaine Edmunds (hip) were limited in practice. WR Robert Foster (concussion protocol) was limited as well and wore a red non-contact jersey.
- Josh Allen was under pressure and spun free to find John Brown in the end zone. Brown made a textbook grab while Taron Johnson made it tough to execute with his coverage. Smoke has had a sneaky good camp. I'm excited to see how his chemistry with Allen has improved from last season once we hit Week 1.
- The defensive line brought solid pressure on several plays. They tipped one of Allen's passes, which Jordan Poyer picked up.
- Tight ends Lee Smith, Jason Croom, Tyler Kroft and Dawson Knox all had catches today. Out of the four, the one that stood out most was a Knox catch while he was tightly covered by Matt Milano. Knox said he spent all offseason on the jugs machine working on improving drops from his rookie year. The TE put his hands on display making a catch with Milano all over him.
- The defense had several nice pass breakups from Tre'Davious White, Taron Johnson and Siran Neal. Poyer and Johnson were flying all over the place providing great coverage on plays.
- Running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both caught passes today. These two will be huge when it comes to adding versatility to the offense.
- Isaiah McKenzie had a few impressive catches today. The best McKenzie reception came from a Jake Fromm pass, McKenzie turned on his wheels to run around the defense and find his way into the end zone to score.
- Stefon Diggs was slow to get up after a play during team period. Once he got on his feet without help, he was back in practice making catches. Diggs didn't have any highlight reel grabs today but caught several passes.
- Don't worry, I didn't forget about the rookie wide outs. Gabe Davis doesn't drop a lot of passes. He caught two in a row from Matt Barkley. The following throw, Isaiah Hodgins made a nice grab falling to the ground. In WR vs. CB one-on-one drills, Davis had Tre'Davious White on him like a blanket. Davis somehow made the catch in the end zone. Dude has had a great camp.
- Saved the best for last today. Don't count Andre Roberts out as a wide receiver just because he's the returner. This man had some great catches today. Roberts caught a pass from Barkley in the end zone as he was running out of play. It looked like he got his feet in in time, but I'm no ref. His second TD grab was absolutely wild. Roberts had Neal tightly covering him, but the WR tracked Barkley's ball perfectly over the shoulder into his hands as he fell into the end zone for a touchdown.
MY FAVORITE PLAY:
- This is not up for debate. Andre Roberts had the highlight reel touchdown catch of the day. Roberts beat Neal and perfectly tracked the ball into his hands as he laid out to make the grab falling into the endzone. Kudos to Barkley because that throw was money. Roberts showed today that he's talented enough to be used as a receiver in certain packages and not just as the team's returner.
- Tough to name one player on defense because several had productive days. Poyer and Johnson had nice practices today swarming to the ball, making it hard for wide receivers to make plays. Everywhere you looked, Johnson was usually right in the action. Poyer picked up a tipped ball that dropped to the ground. The defensive line also brought good pressure today during team periods.
- Stephen Hauschka saw action today during the kicking period. We didn't see anything from Bass, but he kicked on Sunday. Hauschka was 5 for 5 during the kicking period and made one extra point during a team period. Hauschka's long field goal was from about 54 yards out.
2. Josh Allen loves what he's seeing from WRs
There are currently nine receivers on the Bills roster, and several are fighting for a spot on the team. This has made for some impressive competition between the group.
In my practice notes, I wrote about Roberts and McKenzie having notable days. Yes, there have been some consistent wide receivers making plays every day like Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis. But it also seems like it's always someone new popping up having an exceptional practice, making it a competition worth watching.
Josh Allen thinks the wide outs are doing a fantastic job of learning the playbook and bringing it to the practice field.
"The competition, it's obviously heating up," Allen said. "As the days dwindle down, we're going to have to see guys that are continuously making plays. I can't say a bad thing about any one of our guys. I think our guys can go and play anywhere. Obviously, it's the league and there's business decisions that need to be made.
"But right now, I'm just super proud of our room and how they've been out there competing--going through their process, how they've been learning the playbook. We've been throwing a lot of different stuff at them, and they've been able to handle it and run with it in stride. It's good to see these guys out here making plays. I love each and every one of them, and we want what's best for them and what's best for this football team. They're giving everything they've got right now."
Allen gave us an update on he and Stefon Diggs' timing. He explained it's on the right track and will get better once they begin watching film together.
"As far as watching film and that stuff goes, we're a little behind on that," Allen explained. "But, that's going to change here. We'll start sitting down and kind of going over things that we see, that I see. He's going to be able to relay that back to me, try to get on the same page that way. But I think right now, the things that he's able to do, I'm reading him extremely well. He's made some crazy plays already. I can't wait to be on the field with him."
3. Why this camp is different for Micah Hyde
There are competition battles to make the roster all over the offense and defense. Head coach Sean McDermott loves bringing players in to battle with each other, but Micah Hyde senses a different type of competition between the team this season.
"I think that this being my fourth year here, this is the most competitive we've been, especially this early in camp," Hyde said. "Just going at it. Not just the corners versus receivers. You have safeties versus tight ends, you have running backs against all the linebackers."
Hyde explained even though they've made it to the playoffs twice in three years, the team has gotten so much better since the first playoff run. The safety said he has loved watching the offense grow and improve since he got to Buffalo.
"To see that process of the offense coming along, a guy like 17 is just going to go out there and compete every single day," Hyde explained. "The surrounding positions around him just stepping up too, it's good to see. So the new guys, Diggs and Gabriel [Davis], those type of guys just making plays. It's good to see because there were some years that on offense we were struggling. There weren't those guys to make plays. It's making us better, we're making them better and ultimately it's going to make the team better."