The Bills hosted their dress rehearsal scrimmage on Thursday. Without preseason games, it was meant to be as game-like as possible so new players could see how head coach Sean McDermott and his staff approach the logistics of a game. The team played two quarters, had halftime and wrapped up after two series were played in the third quarter. The white team won the scrimmage 27 to 3.
Lots of notes, lots of positives—here's what you need to know from the scrimmage.
1. Josh Allen throws for two touchdowns, rushes for one
GOLD STARS ON OFFENSE:
QB Josh Allen
- Allen finished the day with two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and an interception. From my count, he completed 33 of 45 passes with a completion rate of 73 percent. Let me add, it was quite windy in Bills Stadium today. Allen had quite a successful day connecting with new and old weapons.
- His rushing touchdown came on the first drive and was a part of a monstrous 16-play drive. On that drive, the offense produced six first downs. Allen converted a fourth-and-three with a completion to John Brown.
- His second drive was nine plays and resulted in a rushing touchdown from rookie running back Zack Moss. On that drive Brown had three completions, all for first downs.
- Allen's third drive was the shortest, lasting four plays for a touchdown reception from Devin Singletary. Rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis had an impressive catch for around a 30-yard gain.
- Safety Siran Neal intercepted Allen on his fourth drive by picking off a pass intended for Davis. Moss shined on that drive starting it off with an eight-yard gain. Two plays after, Moss had the angriest run of the day plowing through the defense and getting to the second level and knocking over Dean Marlowe for a first down.
- Allen's fifth and final drive of the second quarter resulted in a punt after being sacked by defensive end Mike Love. Receiver Cole Beasley racked up three completions, one for a first down during the drive.
- There were only two series played in the third quarter. Allen finished his day with a touchdown pass to Andre Roberts. The sixth drive went 13 plays, and Allen was nine of 11. The drive ended with three-straight completions to Andre Roberts, the last being his touchdown reception. Tight end Dawson Knox had a reception for a first down, and Brown had two catches that went for first downs on the drive.
WR John Brown
- Brown caught eight of his 10 targets by my count. Seven of his completions were for a first down. With Stefon Diggs out due to lower back soreness per Sean McDermott, Brown stole the day for receivers. Brown ran crisp routes for meaningful yards. He was targeted on almost every drive and played a big part in the ones that resulted in touchdowns.
WR Cole Beasley
- Beasley also had a productive day with seven receptions by my count. The WR was a reliable option for Allen through two and a half quarters of play. Beasley's best reception was for a first down that set up Singletary's touchdown catch. Brown and Beasley did a great job of showing how their connection with Allen has grown from the end of last season.
WR Gabriel Davis
- Rookie receiver Gabriel Davis had an efficient scrimmage on Thursday. From my count the rookie had six receptions, three of which went for first downs. Davis showcased his size and athleticism breaking a few tackles on some receptions. His most notable play came on a big reception where he was tightly covered and had to muscle his way around the defender to make the catch. The catch later led to Singletary's touchdown reception.
RB Devin Singletary and Zack Moss
- These two have the ability to add a lot to this offense this season based on their versatility as running backs. The pair had several notable plays from the day. Moss had a rushing touchdown on Allen's second drive, and Singletary had a short touchdown reception on Allen's third drive. From my count, Moss and Singletary each had two plays that went for first downs. Singletary's two first downs came on the same drive, one on the ground and one in the air. Just like they have shown in camp, the two continue to prove how they can be used in the passing game just as much as the run game. Moss' best play had to be on a third down where he busted through the defensive line into the secondary and knocked over Dean Marlowe for a huge gain.
Scroll through to see the best photos from today's Bills training camp scrimmage, presented by Connors and Ferris.
GOLD STARS ON DEFENSE:
- It's hard to single out just one player here because so many of them had notable plays. On the first play of the scrimmage, defensive end Darryl Johnson batted down a pass from Josh Allen.
- During one Matt Barkley drive that lasted three plays, Ed Oliver got to Barkley for what looked like a sack. Two plays later, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson forced a three and out by sacking Barkley.
- Defensive tackle Tanzel Smart was all over the place during the scrimmage putting pressure on Allen multiple times. Smart blew past an offensive lineman on one play and was close to sacking Allen before he threw it away.
- Defensive end Mike Love sacked Allen twice during the scrimmage on back-to-back drives. Love also brought consistent pressure throughout the day.
- Safety Siran Neal had the lone interception during the scrimmage. Neal intercepted an Allen pass intended for Davis. The pass bounced off the fingertips of Davis, and Neal was right behind him to pick the pass off.
- Two plays before the interception Neal had a big pass breakup on Davis in the end zone.
Other notable defensive players
- Cornerback Tre'Davious White broke up a couple passes and batted down one of Barkley's passes.
- Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were flying all over the place, breaking up passes and recording multiple tackles. Anywhere the ball went, Milano and Edmunds were near.
- Not too much happened from a field goal standpoint in Thursday's scrimmage. Stephen Hauschka split the day by making and missing an extra point. Tyler Bass made both of his extra points. Bass also missed a 55-yard field goal and made a 41-yard field goal during the scrimmage. The rookie made a 43-yard field goal after the scrimmage portion of practice.
2. Passing game timing looks smooth between Josh Allen and receivers
Allen completed 73 percent of his passes today. Completing 33 of 45 passes in a scrimmage is a positive step for the third-year quarterback.
Running back Devin Singletary, who caught a couple passes from Allen, thinks the timing and chemistry between Allen's skill players is right where it needs to be with a couple weeks of prep left before September 13.
"It's definitely been picking up," Singletary explained. "We are getting a great feel for each other, what we like what we don't like. So, for the most part has been on point all training camp. This year we should be hitting all cylinders in the right direction, so I think it's been going good for us."
3. Depth helps the defensive line room
Defensive end Jerry Hughes walked away from Thursday's scrimmage feeling like the defense took a step forward. Whether it was sacks, tipped passes or TFLs—the defensive line brought it all. What's even better was it wasn't just the same defensive linemen, several different players had notable plays.
"I think today was a great job of us using all of our tools, everything that we've been working on dating all the way back from the spring with those Zoom calls to our meetings, our practices throughout training camp," Hughes explained. "I think today was a great stepping stone in us moving forward to being that cold front, being that top defensive unit especially the defensive line unit that we want to be this year. So we're just moving in the right direction right now, and today was a great stepping stone."
From my count, the defensive line had four sacks on the day coming from three different players. There are currently 14 defensive linemen on the roster, and Hughes thinks they all add value to the defensive line room.
"I think it's the fact that each guy comes in every day and is willing to compete," Hughes said. "And the fact that we work so well amongst our group. We want everyone to go out there play well, contribute to the team, make TFLs, tip passes, get sacks so that way we can go out there and be the top defensive unit that we know we can be.
"So when you have guys who are young, guys who understand that, and they're answering that bell, they're stepping up when the lights turn bright. That's huge, especially when those guys are able to kind of listen to coach, listen to some of us veteran players. Take those words and go out there and play fast on the field. We know that we're setting up the right pieces in play to go out there September 13 and play fast."