The offense stretched the field a bit more Monday night as the receiving corps made some athletic plays down the field despite being without the likes of Josh Reed (lower back) and Roscoe Parrish (sore knee). But they were clouded by the injuries suffered to two of their offensive tackles.
Both Matt Murphy and Patrick Estes suffered injuries that forced them to leave the practice field early.
The first beneficiary of the deep passing game was rookie wideout James Hardy. On the third snap in team work Trent Edwards aired out a 50-yard bomb to Hardy on a deep post as he got between Terrence McGee and Ko Simpson, made the catch and completed the 70-yard scoring play.
"We came out and we knew that we were going to run that play early and most of the time they didn't roll the right coverages," said Hardy. "But it worked this time and he put it in the right spot for me to get it."
"It's a play that's called where it's only going to work against a certain coverage, where you look deep hopefully you have the protection and take a couple of hitches and if it's not there you've got to check the ball down," said Edwards. "Fortunately James ran a good route and we just have to get more opportunities like that to get him the ball and get the ball down the field."
Joining Hardy on the big play stage was Felton Huggins, who has had a very consistent camp. Plagued by untimely drops in the spring Huggins has had better concentration throughout training camp.
"That was the most important thing when I went home during the break I talked to myself, talked to my trainer, talked to my high school coach and tried to work on consistency and not dropping balls," said Huggins. "I've dropped two, but I've been coming out every day and working on it every day looking the ball in and squeezing it and catching it."
The results are showing. First Huggins pulled in a 30-yard reception from J.P. Losman along the near sideline as he barely out leapt Ashton Youboty to make the catch. Then a few series later he caught another pass deep down the far sideline from Gibran Hamdan that drew some 'oohs' from the crowd.
"It's always good to come out here and have a good practice," said Huggins. "This morning I kind of had a bad practice coming out of the game and coach told me about it so I had to come back tonight shake it off and make a play and do what I had to do."
Deep routes are not a problem for Huggins as his college team (Southeast Louisiana) didn't have much to their passing game besides the long ball, but the 6'3" wideout has been working on developing a more well-rounded skill set.
"This is the first time I'm really playing in a passing offense, because in college I just ran mostly go routes for deep balls and we never had an intermediate game," he said. "Now I'm getting used to having an intermediate game and I'm working on certain thing and I'm getting better and better every day."
Also making plays in the passing game Monday night were Robert Royal, who caught a bullet pass from Edwards during a red zone period. Edwards delivered the ball quickly as it sailed just over Angelo Crowell's helmet and Royal snared it for a touchdown.
Steve Johnson had a nice reception over the middle from Hamdan that would have picked up a first down.
Lee Evans made a good catch over the middle from Edwards and tight end Derek Schouman did the same on a throw from J.P. Losman.
Defensively Paul Posluszny had a nice pass breakup in the red zone on a throw intended for Hardy.
Defensive end Shaun Nua had a batted pass and later added a 'would be' sack.
Donte Whitner returned to practice for the first time since early last week, but unfortunately it was short lived. During an early segment of 7-on-7 he was kicked in his injured ankle accidentally.
"Donte got hit in the leg," said Dick Jauron. "It was not the same issue at all and he just had a little numbness for a while and he said it was coming back fine."
But Whitner did not return to the field for the remainder of the practice.
Blake Costanzo left practice early after taking a blow to the head. He was taken into the locker room for observation as the training staff wanted to make sure he did not suffer a concussion.
Roscoe Parrish did not practice due to a sore knee, Josh Reed is still dealing with a sore lower back and Scott Mayle was not participating due to a hamstring.
Rookie linebacker Marcus Buggs was out with a swollen knee. Tight end Tim Massaquoi is also still out (groin). Defensive end Copeland Bryan returned to practice.
With Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish and Scott Mayle all out James Hardy started opposite Lee Evans. Justin Jenkins was first in the slot while Steve Johnson and Felton Huggins mainly worked with the second team.
Derek Fine continued to get second team reps behind Schouman and Royal and was even sprinkled in for some first team reps in two tight end sets during red zone work. Courtney Anderson ran with the third team.
Once Whitner left the field Bryan Scott got reps with the first team at strong safety with John Wendling filling the void on the second unit.
At linebacker with Buggs and Costanzo out John DiGiorgio had to fill in on the third unit at strong side linebacker in place of Costanzo in addition to his backup middle linebacker duties.
With the offensive tackles going down to injury Kirk Chambers and Demetrius Bell picked up most of the slack during 11-on-11 team work.
The Bills practice again Tuesday afternoon at 1pm with a pads workout scheduled.