After a day off on Sunday, the Bills were back at St. John Fisher for their seventh practice of training camp. The defense had another impressive practice in what had to be the hottest day of camp yet.
Here are three things to know from Monday's practice.
1. How Kaiir Elam's competitive attitude is helping the team
Rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam has drawn some attention early on in camp due to his competitiveness. Elam has gone up against some of the Bills' best wide receivers and has accepted the challenge with open arms through the first week of camp.
On one play during Monday's practice, Elam prevented tight end Dawson Knox from scoring in the end zone because of his tight coverage. Elam says his competitive nature comes from wanting to help his team win.
"Whoever I go against, just trying to win every single rep," Elam explained. "And ultimately, not just for my benefit, it's just to help the team because if I perform well, that competitiveness kind of just helps the team compete. I love that. I love competing and I just want to win."
Head coach Sean McDermott has gotten a front row seat to watch how his first-round pick is adjusting to the speed and intensity of training camp. So far, McDermott likes what he's seeing.
"I think he's learning every day," McDermott said. "He's out here to work, and I think his attitude is tremendous. He's going against Stef (Diggs) and Gabe (Davis) who are two tough receivers to defend every day. I think he wins some of those and then he goes back to the drawing board on some of those as well. So, he continues to grow every day."
Elam shared he's trying to take advantage of every opportunity to learn from older players wide receiver Stefon Diggs and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Even though him and Diggs have competed hard on the field, off the field the WR has taught Elam how to be an NFL player.
"Between those white lines, we go hard," Elam said of him and Diggs. "We go at it, like we don't play on the same team. But, outside the white line, he's always trying to give me game of how I could take care of my body, what makes him comfortable, what makes him confident. Things like that, just to help enhance my game. So, I couldn't be more grateful. He's just like a big brother I never had, and I appreciate that."
2. A new and improved Ed Oliver
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver has had a hot start to training camp. Oliver has accounted for multiple sacks in just seven practices and had at least one during Monday's practice. The defensive tackle is playing with a comfortability and freeness to him to start season number four because of his teammates around him.
Oliver said linebacker Von Miller has been a huge help for his confidence and the group as a whole, but it's about more than just Miller because the entire unit is playing great ball in camp.
"Don't get me wrong, not only Von (Miller) but like Greg (Rousseau) and his growth, Phil (Jordan Phillips) being back, DaQuan (Jones), AJ (Epenesa), just all of us rushing together and getting a feel," Oliver said on why his game has improved. "It's not just Von. Von can only do so much. But just us as a unit coming together and just rushing. It don't matter who's winning, but is everybody in position? Is everybody ready to make each other right? And that's the thing about this camp that has really been standing out. So what if one guy is winning, it's all four of us winning."
Oliver is right. While he has had an impressive camp, so has the entire defensive line. If there's one position group who has really popped through one week, it's them. In Monday's practice, the defensive line picked up a few sacks and batted down two passes. Defensive linemen Daniel Joseph and Prince Emili batted down back-to-back passes from Matt Barkley. Linebacker Matt Milano also picked up a sack.
The offensive line has still been without some important pieces, but it's made for a great opportunity for that position group to get stronger while they have less players.
Several teammates have noticed Oliver's improvements early in camp. Head coach Sean McDermott thinks it has to do with his approach this season.
"He continues to get better every year," McDermott said. "His attention to detail, his approach year-round, I've seen that grow which is natural for a player in their developing years, years two, three and four in particular. I've seen him come into camp in shape and with a hungry attitude and approach on a daily basis. So, I think he's off to a really good start this camp."
Oliver added to center Mitch Morse’s comments on Saturday when Morse said Oliver and Miller playing on the same side is basically cheating. Oliver agreed but said he thinks it's even hard for an offense when they are on opposite sides. The DT said it's nice to play with a superstar who appreciates your craft.
"You got Von, happy to play with you, excited to play with you, excited to have you side by side going to war with you. That just means a lot to me and just helped me as far as confidence wise and knowing that I can count on him, and he can count on me."
3. Another 4 INT day for the defense + other practice notes
There was no stopping the intensity of Monday's practice as the team got into a couple scuffles during team periods. The defense had another standout day of practice and produced four interceptions. Safety Jaquan Johnson had the first interception on a pass from quarterback Josh Allen. Rookie cornerback Christian Benford got involved in the mix and picked off a pass from quarterback Case Keenum that was intended for wide receiver Kahlil Shakir. Shakir got his hands on the ball but couldn't make the catch, Benford then caught the tipped pass. A couple plays later, rookie cornerback Ja'Marcus Ingram intercepted a pass from Matt Barkley.
The final and best interception of the day came from linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. You want splash plays? Well, Edmunds had a huge one. Allen fired a pass inteneded for wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Edmunds leapt up in the passing lane to pluck the ball out of the air and pull it down. Edmunds did a great job of reading the play and did not jump too early. He showed off his burst and athleticism as well as his ability to catch the ball. Safety Micah Hyde said the linebackers have been putting an emphasis on working on the jugs machines.
The team worked a couple two-minute drills mixed in with their team periods. In one two-minute situation, Allen completed two passes to tight end Dawson Knox, one of which was a nice grab on Knox's end. Allen also placed a nice ball on wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie for a completion. The series ended with a touchdown to wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Running back James Cook also scored a rushing touchdown during a two-minute drill. The rookie made a nice move and hit a hole, which helped him reach the end zone. Tight end O.J. Howard also had a few nice catches.
The most electric play of the day came from left tackle Dion Dawkins who was back at practice after missing two days due to personal reasons. Allen was almost intercepted by Benford but the cornerback bobbled the interception and Dawkins was there to catch the tipped ball and run it into the end zone for a touchdown.
Hyde was back at practice on Monday after missing Saturday's practice with a hip/glute injury. Hyde was in full pads but was not a full participant. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder was back at practice after missing several due to soreness. He practiced in "some capacity" according to head coach Sean McDermott.
Scroll to see photos from Day 7 of Buffalo Bills Training Camp.