Kyle Williams was back with his teammates Saturday as he arrived at training camp last night following the birth of his second child, a daughter. Williams stepped right into the starting lineup as he was alongside Marcus Stroud to start team work in 11-on-11.
Close to midway through practice Stroud was replaced by Spencer Johnson, who lined up next to Williams. That put John McCargo at left defensive tackle and Jason Jefferson at right defensive tackle with the second unit.
No longer are the Bills employing a specific nose tackle and three-technique (outside shaed of the guard) tackle. The two defensive tackle positions will be interchangeable based on the offensive alignment and the defensive play call.
The defensive linemen manning those positions will adjust their alignment on the fly pre-snap this season. The Bills defensive staff made this change thanks mainly to the versatility Buffalo's defensive tackles offer.
"We like that our defensive tackles can go back and forth and that any offensive movement is not going to affect us as much as it has in the past," said Jauron. "We'll see how it goes as we get more and more into our preseason and see how our people actually play right and left, but right now we feel comfortable with it."
The rain held off and the battle between the offense and defense was pretty even in the afternoon. Both sides of the ball were turning in plays. Angelo Crowell got things started with a pass breakup on the first snap of 7-on-7 to force an incompletion.
During that same series Terrence McGee also raked a pass away from Lee Evans. But Evans and Marshawn Lynch made three other plays in the passing game during the series as Buffalo's attack had some sharp segments at times.
"I think everybody is excited about the new offense," said Josh Reed. "Everybody came in the OTAs with the coaching switches, we knew Turk was going to throw some kinks in there. Everybody just wanted to make sure that they got it down. Going out there we all have that confidence that we need now. We just want to all go out there and make a play."
Trent Edwards again had a high completion percentage as he threw a lot of passes to the flats and in the intermediate area, but he also took some chances down the field. He got a lot of help from Fred Jackson on one play in 11-on-11.
Jackson slipped down the sideline and Edwards tried to drop in ball over Paul Posluszny in coverage. Poz had solid coverage 20 yards downfield, but Jackson leaped up and over Posluszny to pull the ball in for what looked to be a reception and a 30-yard gain along the near sideline.
Derek Schouman also made a nice grab between the hashes and the numbers fighting off Donte Whitner to make the catch.
J.P. Losman hooked up with Steve Johnson on a deep ball that covered 40 yards as the seventh-round pick got behind Ashton Youboty. Dwayne Wright also looked quick out of the backfield making some receptions.
Fourth-round pick Reggie Corner had a pair of pass breakups as he got in on some of the action defensively. McGee had two as well by the time the afternoon session was over.
George Wilson made his first interception of camp as he jumped in front of a throw intended for Scott Mayle.
7-on-7 and 11-on-11
The defense proved to be a little more active Saturday morning as they got their hands on a few more balls. Terrence McGee made an interception along the near sideline and returned it for what would have been a touchdown. Lee Evans fell down on the play, making it an easy one for McGee to make.
Will James got a good hand on a pass intended for Justin Jenkins from J.P. Losman, but couldn't quite come up with the interception. Later on in practice however, James successfully tipped a pass in the air and it was caught by John DiGiorgio for an interception. James began running up the field pumping his fist.
"This is my eighth year and I know how hard it is to get those turnovers," said James. "When that happens on the field whether it's in practice or in the game I get excited about it because it doesn't come easy. And when you get excited that excitement is contagious and other guys get excited and that makes the whole defense better."
Jabari Greer, DiGiorgio and George Wilson also turned in pass breakups this morning.
Pass pressure was a bit more evident as well. Both Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel got good pressure together on the same play in which Trent Edwards was flushed from the pocket. The play ended with an incompletion.
A short time later Kawika Mitchell appeared to come on a delayed blitz and would have taken Edwards down from the blind side had it been live football.
The offense did have some well executed plays on the day. The prettiest of the bunch was Edwards perfectly timed throw deep over the middle to Evans who ran a post pattern.
"I have a very good comfort level with Trent," said Evans. "Obviously he is a different type of quarterback but we have developed a rhythm. We have done some things in the off season to try and help that rhythm and coming out here early on."
Edwards visited Evans for three days in south Florida prior to training camp to throw with him and develop some off field chemistry as well. And it seems to be paying off.
"With Lee not being with us throughout the OTAs I needed to get on the same page with him and throw with him and make sure when it was time to come to Rochester that it wouldn't be the first time I'd throw with him. I was happy to get down there and spend some time throwing with him."
Evans has been a handful for all the defensive backs thus far in camp as everyone has had trouble covering him one-on-one.
James Hardy made some plays as well catching two straight passes from J.P. Losman including one in traffic that drew applause from the fans in attendance. Both Ashton Youboty and Alvin Bowen challenged for the ball, but Hardy came up with it. Hardy also had what looked like it would have been a touchdown reception as Losman hit him for a 25-yard completion.
Losman got his leg rolled up on the play as an offensive lineman fell backward onto his left leg. Losman got up and limped briefly, but appeared no worse for the wear as he took more snaps after that.
Marshawn Lynch again appeared quick and elusive on both receptions out of the backfield and with his cutting on run plays.
Derek Schouman had three receptions in the morning session and continues to get more of the starter reps over Robert Royal. Buffalobills.com asked Dick Jauron if Royal is being eased back into practice coming off the knee injury and Jauron said Royal's health is not an issue.
"He's been free to go (play)," said Jauron. "We have five tight ends so we're kind of mixing them in and they're taking their reps, but we haven't put in a lot of restriction time on him."
Thus far however, Derek Schouman has been the most impressive performer in the tight end group in the team scrimmage series.
The nickel package was also sprinkled in a bit more Saturday as the offense went three wide a bit more. Will James manned the slot with the first unit while Reggie Corner filled the nickel role with the second unit.
Special teams update
Special teams coordinator Bobby April has been busy the past two days as he's worked just about every unit he has in one drill or another.
Gunners have worked on trying to keep punts out of the end zone. Some of the main gunner candidates are John Wendling, Justin Jenkins, Will James, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner, Dustin Fox, Jabari Greer and Kennard Cox.
Punt returners have been working on ball security and properly fielding punts that are either a bit long or short. Roscoe Parrish, Fred Jackson, Scott Mayle and Josh Reed have been the returner candidates getting work.
Kick return candidates include Terrence McGee, Parrish, Jackson, Mayle and Jason Jones.
This morning punt block was a big focus with April having his kickers kick soccer balls on their attempts with the field goal block team trying to block the ball. Being perfectly round soccer balls fly truer enabling for a more efficient drill.
Corey Mace had a couple of blocks. Chris Ellis and Demetrius Bell also had blocks. But the two guys expected to be in the middle of the field goal block unit during the regular season are Langston Walker and Marcus Stroud.