By Michael J. Thomas
It’s hard to believe, but Monday was Day 14 at Buffalo Bills Training Camp. There is only one more practice to go. The team spent extra time working on red-zone drills, plus the usual 1-on-1′s, 7-on-7′s, 11-on-11′s and special teams drills. Coach Gailey gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a bit of a break on Monday as he had only the two backups work on the 7-on-7 drills. The team also practiced the 2-minute drill and the offense was successful both times, scoring two touchdowns to end the day.
As always, the team started out working on fundamentals with their position coaches. This time, the offense worked on Growney Stadium, while the defense worked on the Polisseni track and field complex. The players spent about 15 minutes working with their position coaches, until they all came onto the main field for special teams work. John Potter was the only one used for kicking the ball off and he did a good job. The kick returners were Leodis McKelvin, CJ Spiller, Brad Smith and TJ Graham. Spiller had the best return, showing off his speed on his return. Although, Smith had a good return too. Following the special teams work, the team spend time doing passing drills. It wasn’t the usual 7-on-7 yet, but they worked on a 5-on-4 and 4-on-4, focusing on 1-on-1 matchups. The team spend about 5 minutes on this drill and then finally the real fun began, the 7-on-7 drill.
Coach Gailey let Ryan Fitzpatrick skip the drill as the focus was on the backup competition. Vince Young started off with a 10-yard pass to Donald Jones and then hit Scott Chandler for 7-yards. He finished the series off with a 6-yard pass to Derek Hagan. Tyler Thigpen came on the field next and hit Scott Chandler for 8-yards. He then threw a nice pass to Derek Hagan for 30-yards. On the final play of the series, Thigpen overthrew Stevie Johnson. Vince Young came back onto the field and connected with TJ Graham for 9-yards and 8-yards. He then hit Kamar Aiken for 7-yards. On the next play, Young threw a screen to Lee Smith for 3-yards. He then found Ruvell Martin for 10-yards. On the final play of the series, Young connected with Fendi Onobun for 11-yards.
Tyler Thigpen came back onto the field and hit Stevie Johnson for 6-yards. He then found Derek Hagan for 12-yards. On the final play of the series, Thigpen connected with Stevie Johnson for 8-yards. Vince Young came back on the field and found Scott Chandler. He then threw the ball at CJ Spiller’s feet. On the final play of the series, Young saw David Nelson and threw it his way, but Leodis McKelvin broke it up. Tyler Thigpen came back once more and connected with Kamar Aiken for 20-yards, and 5-yards. He then hit Naaman Roosevelt for 6-yards. On the next play, Thigpen threw a nice 30-yarder to TJ Graham. He then hit Derek Session for 7-yards. On the final play of the drill, Thigpen was almost picked off by Nick Sukay who made a great play on the ball, but couldn’t hang onto it.
Following the 7-on-7 work, the team spent more time on special teams. This time, Coach DeHaven had the players work on onside kicks and also squibs. The goal seemed to be for the hands team to work on recovering the onside kick and catch it right away. Scott Chandler started it off with a nice catch that didn’t quite go 10-yards. Lee Smith caught the next one in the middle of the field and Kelvin Sheppard caught one too. On the next play, both Scott Chandler and Brad Smith, who was the kick returner were going after the ball and almost collided. John Potter also had a fake onside squib kick that Brad Smith caught, but bobbled.
Following the special teams drills, the team went to work on the 11-on-11 drills that everyone comes to see. There were referees watching the practice and they ended up throwing several flags in the drill, including on the first play where Fred Jackson ran up the middle for 4-yards. I’m pretty sure someone on the line was flagged for a false-start. Ryan Fitzpatrick then overthrew Donald Jones. On the next play, Fitzpatrick saw Jones again, this time, connecting for 8-yards. He then hit Stevie Johnson for 16-yards. CJ Spiller got the ball next and was tackled by George Wilson for a short loss. He then ran behind Andy Levitre who made a great block to spring him for 10-yards. On the next play, Tashard Choice came in with the backups and ran around the right tackle, bursting to the outside for 14-yards. Vince Young then felt some pressure from Prince Miller, who came in on a blitz and forced Young to throw an incomplete pass. He then hit Naaman Roosevelt for 9-yards, but there was another flag on the play. On the next play, Johnny White ran around the right tackle for 12-yards. Young then connected with David Clowney for 18-yards. On the final play of the series, Tashard Choice took a direct snap and ran up the middle for 7-yards.
Johnny White then ran around the right tackle for 8-yards. Tashard Choice got the ball next and ran up the middle for 11-yards. On the next play, Thigpen would have been sacked by both Kyle Moore and Robert Eddins who came flying into the backfield. White carried the ball again and this time ran up the middle for 6-yards. Zach Brown then carried the ball, but was stuffed up the middle. On the final play of the series, Thigpen overthrew Brown. The starters came back on the field and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a screen to CJ Spiller for 3-yards. He then threw a nice looking 35-yard pass to Donald Jones. On the next play, Fitzpatrick had a miscommunication with Jones and the ball went incomplete. CJ Spiller got the ball next and ran up the middle for 4-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick felt pressure from Nigel Bradham, who flew into the backfield, and he threw it away. On the final play of the drill, Fitzpatrick connected with David Nelson for 9-yards. The horn sounded and the team went to work on some more special teams. This time, they worked on punt returns as they caught “punts” from the jugs machine. The main punt returners were Leodis McKelvin, CJ Spiller, TJ Graham and Naaman Roosevelt.
Following the special teams work, the team went back to work on 11-on-11 drills. This time they worked in the red zone. Fred Jackson started it off, but he was stuffed at the line by Mario Williams. Ryan Fitzpatrick then hit Donald Jones for 10-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick connected with Derek Hagan for a 15-yard touchdown. He then hit Scott Chandler, who dropped the ball. CJ Spiller got the ball next and had a nice run up the middle for 15-yards and the touchdown. Fitzpatrick then hit David Nelson for 12-yards. Tashard Choice then ran up the middle for 2-yards, until he got whacked by Da’Norris Searcy. On the next play, Choice tried running up the middle again, but this time Kirk Morrison crushed him and he fumbled the ball. Nigel Bradham recovered the fumble and ran the other way as the defense cheered on the sidelines.
Tyler Thigpen came onto the field next and hit TJ Graham for 8-yards. He then found Dorin Dickerson for 5-yards. On the next play, Thigpen connected with David Clowney for 7-yards. Thigpen then had a miscommunication with Naaman Roosevelt and the ball fell incomplete. The starters came back and Fred Jackson ran up the middle, until he was shoved down hard by Mark Anderson. On the next play, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pass to Stevie Johnson, but he couldn’t catch it. However, he made up for it right after that with a 15-yard catch. CJ Spiller then ran up the middle for 6-yards. But on the next play, he tried to get around the left tackle and the play was sniffed out by both Leodis McKelvin and George Wilson who tackled him. On the final play of the series, Fitzpatrick hit Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown.
Tashard Choice then ran up the middle for 4-yards. On the next play, Thigpen threw the ball at TJ Graham’s feet. He then threw to David Clowney, but it was ruled out of bounds. On the next play, Thigpen connected with Marcus Easley for a 10-yard touchdown. Johnny White got the ball next and ran around the right tackle for 5-yards. Thigpen then hit Kamar Aiken for 7-yards to finish the series. CJ Spiller led the next series off with a very nice looking 15-yard run up the middle. Fitzpatrick then hit Donald Jones for 15-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick overthrew Jones. He then connected with Lee Smith for a 10-yard touchdown and followed it with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler. On the final play of the drill, Fitzpatrick threw a screen to CJ Spiller for a 5-yard touchdown.
After the horn sounded, the team moved down the field and worked on the 2-minute drill. The ball was placed on their own 30-yard line and each group of the players (#1 and #2 teams) got a chance to run the 2-minute drill with only 1:20 on the clock. Vince Young started the drill off with a pass to TJ Graham, but it was broken up by Isaiah Green. On the next play, Thigpen hit Ruvell Martin for 25-yards. He then went back to Martin for a quick 3-yards. Thigpen then overthrew Naaman Roosevelt on 2nd down. On the next play, Thigpen connected with TJ Graham for 5-yards. He then found Roosevelt for 12-yards on 4th down to move the chains. Young them spiked the ball to stop the clock. On the final play of the series, Young threw a beautiful 25-yard pass to Ruvell Martin for the touchdown and had 17-seconds left on the clock.
Next up was the starters. Ryan Fitzpatrick started it off with a pass to CJ Spiller that he took down the field for 30-yards. He may have gone even farther if it was a real game. Fitzpatrick then hit Scott Chandler for 10-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick connected with Spiller again, this time for 6-yards. On the next play, Spencer Johnson batted the ball down at the line. Fitzpatrick then found Donald Jones for 16-yards. He then hit Stevie Johnson, who ran the ball 7-yards until he was tackled at the 1-yard line by the defense. Fitzpatrick then spiked the ball to stop the clock on 2nd down. However, on 3rd down Kraig Urbik had a bad snap that went past Fitzpatrick and he recovered the ball at the 15-yard line. The clock kept ticking and it was 4th down, but Ryan Fitzpatrick calmly led the offense to the line and the ball was snapped with 1 second to go. Fitzpatrick then fired the ball straight to Scott Chandler for the 15-yard touchdown to end the day.
1. Vince Young had his best practice since Training Camp began. He did a great job in the 2 minute drill and also connected on several good passes in the 7-on-7 drills and the 11-on-11 drills. I was impressed with how poised he looked at commanding the team down the field in the 2-minute drill. It was great to see.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick got the day off from the 7-on-7 drills, but still did a very good job in the 11-on-11 drills and showed how well he could handle the pressure at the end of the 2-minute drill. He also had several touchdowns during the red zone drills.
3. I don’t know if it means anything or not, but Marcus Easley saw hardly any time on the field. He was losing reps to both Ruvell Martin and David Clowney and appears to have slid down the depth chart a bit. I’m a little surprised by this, because he’s had a pretty good camp. I’m wondering if it has something to do with his last game. He didn’t do much of anything.
4. Tashard Choice was targeted by the defense. I’m not sure what he did to them, but those two big shots from Searcy and Kirk Morrison were pretty hard and the crowd groaned as you heard his pads pop. I’m betting it may have something to do with all the chirping that he usually does as he’s shredding the defense.
5. I said it in one of my earlier camp reports, but now I really believe it. Watch out for John Potter. He’s the only one that took reps in the kickoff drills and did a good job. If he can continue to do what he did in the first pre-season game, I have no doubt that Potter will make the team as a kickoff specialist and may take someone like Ruvell Martin or even Dorin Dickerson’s roster spot.
6. Props of the day go to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He spent at least a half hour after practice signing autographs and taking photos with the fans. I was impressed with how happy he looked as he posed for the photos and was even joking around with several fans. I’m sure he made a lot of people happy.
Overall, it was a good day at St. John Fisher. The weather started out dark and dreary, but it ended up being a great day outside and the sun was shining for the last afternoon practice of the year at Pittsford, NY. The action on the field was a little slow, but it was nice to see the offense clicking in the 2-minute drill and it was much better than earlier in camp when they ended the drill with interceptions.
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