**Defense takes goal line
**It was the first live tackle to the ground goal line period of training camp, and it took place at New Era Field Friday night. After the seven-play series was over, the defense had the better end of the results.
“Goal line is always fun man because it’s really the most important part of the game, crossing the goal line and defending the goal line,” said Leonard Johnson. “So as we’re getting ready to take the field we’re just defending our turf. We’re just trying to make a stop and prevent the offense from getting a touchdown. It’s physical.”
On the first play Tyrod Taylor scrambled out to his left and whether he would’ve reached the end zone if players were allowed to hit the quarterback is up for debate. It looked unlikely based on how the defenders closed on him.
On the second play, Mike Tolbert was stopped short of the goal line as Preston Brown and Ronald Darby teamed up for wrap up on the big back.
Jonathan Williams slipped at the one-yard line on an attempted cut up the field and fell short of the goal line, though he did rumble in for the offense’s only touchdown two plays later. RG Jordan Mudge and RT Dion Dawkins led the way on that scoring play.
“Goal line is an attitude thing,” said FB Pat DiMarco. “It’s about sticking your nose in there and finishing in the end zone, with your man or the ball whatever it is, just cross the goal line.”
Nate Peterman had to jump on a fumbled exchange to maintain possession on another play which came up short.
The two biggest plays by the defense during the series were turned in by Gerald Hodges, who picked off a pass by T.J. Yates that was intended for Logan Thomas in the end zone.
On the final play of the goal line series, Leonard Johnson came up and stopped Joe Banyard and then held on until help arrived to keep him out of the end zone.
“I just shot my gap, ready my keys and went in to challenge the running back,” said Johnson. “I’ll have to see how it turned out. The guys behind me got me excited so I think it was a pretty good turnout.”
Shaq and others nicked up With the intensity of practice ratcheted up Friday night in terms of contact and tackling to the ground for a couple of segments, there were a couple of injuries. Chief among them Shaq Lawson, who sustained a groin injury, though he was downplaying it after practice.
“It’s nothing serious though, you know,” said Lawson. “I took the day off, I practiced, and they just shut me down. That’s all it is – they just shut me down.”
Undrafted rookie TE Keith Towbridge suffered an ankle injury late in practice and limped off for x-rays and DE Ryan Davis sustained a concussion.
Micah Hyde (hip), Philly Brown (ill), Greg Mabin (hamstring), Ian Seau and Cordy Glenn (foot) were all held out of practice.
Run game making progress The Bills run game has been at the top of the league the last two years, but with a new scheme coming in the door with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, there was some new ground to cover by the offense. Just over a week into camp the offense as a whole feels good about the state of their run game. With LeSean McCoy not doing much Friday night, Jonathan Williams and Mike Tolbert broke off some solid runs through the early team segments of practice. Even Cedric O’Neal and Jordan Johnson turned in some good carries. Williams had the lion's share of positive gains.
“It’s starting to click,” said Pat DiMarco. “You put the pads on and the holes start to open up a little more. We get a little more physical. We’re going against a really good front in our defense. We’re usually running against some eight-man boxes. So it’s tough sledding, but we found some holes in it.”
“I think it’s going really well,” said C Ryan Groy. “We’ve used a lot of stuff that we did last year and we’re also bringing in a lot of new stuff. Those together are going to be tough for any defense to defend. We’re going to mix it up a lot and keep them on their toes.”
Bonus notesDE Eddie Yarbrough stepped in with the first unit when Shaq Lawson was pulled from practice for his groin issue.
Tre'Davious White had a nice looking interception during 1-on-1 WR-CB drills.
S Joe Powell closed out practice with an interception return for a touchdown on a Nate Peterman pass intended for Jason Croom.
Photos from The Return of the Blue + Red practice, presented by Bud Light.