The offense clicked a bit more in the red zone Thursday night despite not having the services of rookie wideouts James Hardy and Steve Johnson. Hardy sat out with a tight hamstring as he had trouble getting it loose in warmups, while Johnson is still a day or two away with a knee ailment.
Still Buffalo's attack was more productive and consistent. Trent Edwards and Lee Evans really seem to be benefiting from that three day sojourn Edwards took to south Florida to throw with his top receiver this offseason.
The quarterback and receiver hooked up for a pair of touchdowns. Early in practice Edwards zipped a tight pass to Evans outside shoulder as he got just enough separation from Jabari Greer for a touchdown in the front corner of the end zone on the far sideline.
Evans later got by Terrence McGee for another touchdown reception on the near sideline.
"The good thing about Lee is he'll help you in terms of that quarterback-receiver relationship," said Edwards. "He's willing to come back to give you advice to make sure you're on the same page. There was a certain play today where my read wasn't to go to him, but he was open and he came back in the huddle and said, 'I know that's not your read Trent, but I'd like you to look to me on that play because I like that route and I like that matchup.' So I'll try to get him the ball."
Robert Royal is factoring a bit more into the offense the last couple of practices. He caught a touchdown pass down the middle on a well-timed pass from J.P. Losman. He also pulled in a well-placed throw down the seam from Edwards.
"Rob is getting more and more involved in the offense and more comfortable with the offense and once he knows the plays better and has run them a couple of times he's going to be better," said Edwards.
Royal missed all of the spring workouts rehabbing his knee so executing the plays offensively is still a bit new to him, but he took a step forward Thursday night.
Also looking effective in the passing game was Fred Jackson who made a handful of receptions both down the field and out on the edges. Jackson just looks very slippery out there and will be a mismatch for linebackers and most NFL safeties.
One area where Buffalo's defense still had a bit of an edge was in the run game. Buffalo's backs did have some productive carries from time to time, but the run defense was again relatively effective in plugging up holes and stringing plays wide.
Lynch had the best run of the bunch when he caught Donte Whitner off balance and went through his attempted tackle.
Kawika Mitchell came screaming into the backfield on one stretch play to the near sideline and would've had Lynch on a tackle for loss in live football conditions.
Bryan Scott also had a tackle right at the line of scrimmage on Dwayne Wright.
Among the other highlights during full team work was a blitz by Donte Whitner as he got to Edwards before he delivered a quick timing pass on a three step drop for a would-be sack.
Third-round pick Chris Ellis also had a would-be sack on Losman as he knifed inside and got into the offensive backfield quickly.
Terrence McGee pulled in an interception on a pass that was tipped by Josh Reed and returned it the other way. McGee has had a solid camp for the most part thus far.
Scott Mayle made an acrobatic grab as he leaped high into the air to pull in a pass from Losman for a 20-yard pickup.
And Marshawn Lynch, who has looked explosive, got up the field in a hurry on a well executed receiver screen.
In addition to red zone work, the offense also worked on coming out from deep in their own territory. They started inside their own three-yard line and did not gain a whole lot of yardage on three series.
Marcus Stroud made his presence felt during the first series as he batted down a pass attempt by Edwards in the end zone.
Rookie running back Bruce Hall did have a nice cutback run on the final series from inside their own five-yard line as he burst into the secondary for what would've been a long gain.
Holding onto the ball wasn't easy for some of the younger running backs as the defense was persistent in trying to strip the ball and they did force a couple of fumbles.
There was some lineup shuffling Thursday night as Spencer Johnson got first team reps alongside Stroud at defensive tackle. Kyle Williams switched with Johnson and worked with the second unit next to John McCargo.
Third-round pick Chris Ellis got second team reps at left defensive end as he's moved up thanks to Aaron Schobel's absence with Ryan Denney filling in for the Pro Bowl defensive end on the first unit.
Seventh-round pick Demetrius Bell has come along of late and was moved up to the second unit to get some left tackle snaps Thursday night. Matt Murphy flipped over to right tackle with the second group.
Fourth-round pick Derek Fine got a handful of first team reps at tight end as he came in for plays with two tight end sets.
Special teams note
Brian Moorman was showing his touch Thursday night as he was punting from inside the opponent's 40-yard line and was dropping punts inside the five with regularity for his cover team to down.
His best effort was a 32-yard punt that he got to bounce sideways out of bounds at the half-yard line.
Collision of the night
Darian Barnes was busting some heads Thursday night as everyone who came near him in a blue jersey seemed to take a good shot. The loudest collision came when Barnes met John DiGiorgio in the hole on a run play in the red zone.
The crack was so loud that 'oohs' were heard from fans on both sides of the field.
"It's just the job," said Barnes. "I really don't think about. Just got to go in there and make a hole for the back."
Not in attendance
Ko Simpson had an MRI on his surgically repaired left ankle and missed Thursday night's practice.
Aaron Schobel was again excused as he's home dealing with a death in the family.
Unable to participate were Hardy, Johnson, Angelo Crowell and Shaun Nua.