1 – Run game in gear
With Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon still on the shelf, it's been hard to ascertain how ready Buffalo's run game is for the regular season, especially behind feature back LeSean McCoy. In Tuesday's practice however, the offensive line and the backs did well in a four-minute kill the clock drill.
The coaching staff actually put two minutes on the clock, so essentially the offense needed to get a pair of first downs to run out the remaining time since in the situation they were given they were ahead on the scoreboard.
Karlos Williams ran with the first unit in place of McCoy and ran tough with gains of 11 and four yards on his first two carries. On a 3rd-and-5 with 31 seconds left, Matt Cassel ran a bootleg off a play fake to the left for a first down to successfully kill the clock.
"That was one of the first times when the offense won that scrimmage part of it," said Rex Ryan. "That's good because it shows you the way we're able to run the football, but we have to be able to stop it on defense."
The offensive line did well to open up running lanes for the backs as well as fullback Jerome Felton and the tight ends.
"They were doing a great job," said Bryce Brown of the offensive line. "They were just executing and their technique was solid and that's what works down there in the trenches."
Brown ran with the second group and did a good job to cut up the field and stay in bounds to keep the clocking moving on a 14-yard carry that got close to the left sideline. Unfortunately the second drive run by Tyrod Taylor ended when a poor shotgun snap went off Taylor's hands and resulted in a fumble recovery by LB Andrew Hudson for the defense.
EJ Manuel and the third unit were able to kill the clock on their drive with Manuel taking a knee at the end.
2 – A steady day for Cassel
He wasn't all-world, but Matt Cassel had a steady day at quarterback Tuesday. Cassel continues to get the lion's share of the reps with the first unit. Unofficially the veteran QB received about half the snaps with the starters. Manuel and Taylor split the rest.
For the most part Cassel made good decisions and took risks when it was warranted.
"Part of it within a competition is not putting pressure on yourself to do too much and staying within the offense," he said. "I was a young player too trying to make plays and you run around and you think you are doing something wonderful and you are throwing the ball down about to make a play and all of a sudden bad results happen. That is one thing you have to guard against and that is what we talk about all the time. The consistency of playing the position is making sure on third down if you're running around the throw is to throw it away. We will punt and we have a good defense and we will go from there."
Cassel's best decision came on his bootleg to kill the clock in the four-minute drill. Two of his better throws were a strike to Sammy Watkins on an underneath route to beat the blitz, and a pass to Percy Harvin in the front right corner of the end zone in 7-on-7 red zone work.
3 – Defense wins third downBuffalo's defensive unit may not have been successful in defending against a four-minute drill against their offense, but they did get the better of the Bills offense during a third-down team segment. Cassel beat the blitz on a couple of plays and Tyrod Taylor appeared to get the ball off in time to complete a pass to Deonte Thompson, but more often than not the defense's pressure packages got to the quarterbacks.
"We got sacked a bunch," said Ryan of the offense. "If we had some live bullets in there we would've gotten hit a few times."
The defensive player who stood out the most during the third down period was Marcell Dareus, who logged a pair of 'would be' sacks. Even when the pressure didn't get a sack it did force hurried throws from the QBs. Unfortunately there were two dropped interceptions by the defensive backs.
Bonus notes RB Karlos Williamscontinues to impress the offensive staff. He got more reps with the ones than the other backs behind LeSean McCoy again on Tuesday.
LBs Randell Johnson and Michael Buchanan were rotated in with the first team defense in place of Manny Lawsonor a few reps here and there. LB Ty Powellrotated in for a few snaps in Nigel Bradham's spot with the ones.
DT Corbin Bryantfilled Kyle Williams starting defensive tackle spot as he's out with a quad contusion.
Kraig Urbikstepped in for Richie Incognitoat starting left guard. Incognito has a swollen ankle after some friendly fire from a running back in practice Monday and did not participate.