By Michael J. Thomas
It was the second day at Buffalo Bills Training Camp and thanks to the CBA rules, the players were not practicing in pads. There was little hitting allowed, but the players still worked pretty hard out there in that warm summer day. The team spent time working in their individual units, 7-on-7 passing drills and the 11-on-11 full team drills. They also worked on special teams drills, including some punt coverage and blocking.
To start the day off, the Bills worked on the two different fields. The defense worked on the new grass field and the offensive players worked on the Polisseni track and field complex. I stayed at the track and field complex because I didn’t want to lose my perfect spot at the 50-yard yard line. It gave me great views for all the action and for some good photos too. I did notice that both Stevie Johnson and Marcus Easley dropped a pass in the passing drill.
Following the individual drills, the team went right to work on special teams. They spent time working on punt coverage and blocking assignments. The players who were catching the punts in the end zone were Leodis McKelvin, CJ Spiller and Justin Rogers. But they really didn’t spend much time returning it. The focus was on the punting team, not the return team. Brian Moorman was booming the punts high and far every single time, kicking several of them over 70-yards. Shawn Powell struggled and was only getting the ball to the 20-yard line each time and had much less hang time. I have no doubt that Brian Moorman’s job is safe!
After the special teams drills, the team went back to work on fundamentals with their individual units. But this time, they were paired up against defensive backs and linebackers. I watched the Quarterbacks with the tight ends/running backs, but I also caught a several plays of the Wide receivers lined up against the cornerbacks. Brad Smith was intercepted by Da’Norris Searcy on one play. I also noticed Arthur Moats with solid coverage, being right near the ball every single time he was out there. Bryan Scott had great coverage on one of his plays and he “tackled” Tashard Choice for a short gain. On the offensive side, Scott Chandler beat George Wilson a couple times. On the other side of the field, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones for a 40-yard touchdown and drew some cheers from the stands. Vince Young also threw a nice 40-yard touchdown, to Marcus Easley.
Following the individual drills, the team went to work on some 7-on-7 passing. Ryan Fitzpatrick started it off with a pass to Stevie Johnson for 10-yards. He then had a nice 40-yard pass to TJ Graham. On the next play, Fitzpatrick again went to Stevie and gained 8-yards. Fitzpatrick then hit Scott Chandler for 12-yards. He followed that with a 5-yard pass to Corey McIntyre. On the final play of the series, Fitzpatrick found David Nelson, who made a great catch and gained about 25-yards. Vince Young came on the field and threw a screen to Tashard Choice for 8-yards. He then found TJ Graham for 6-yards. On the next play, Young hit Ruvell Martin for 13-yards. He then found Kevin Brock for 7-yards. However, on the next play, Young overthrew McIntyre. On the final play of the series, Young threw a pass to Johnny White for 8-yards. The starters came back and Ryan Fitzpatrick was almost intercepted by Jairus Byrd. Leodis McKelvin then jumped in front of the next pass and dropped the interception. Fitzpatrick then hit Donald Jones for 7-yards. He followed that with a 16-yard pass to Scott Chandler. On the next play, Fitzpatrick hit Corey McIntyre who beat Da’Norris Searcy badly and would have gone for a 65-yard touchdown. On the final play of the series, Fitzpatrick connected with David Nelson for 13-yards.
Tyler Thigpen got his chance next and was intercepted by Chris White. He then hit Fendi Onobun for 8-yards. On the next play, Thigpen connected with Ruvell Martin for 6-yards. He finished the series off with a pass to Corey McIntyre for 7-yards. Brad Smith came in and found Marcus Easley for 5-yards. He then ran up the middle for 15-yards. The starters came back onto the field and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Fred Jackson for 6-yards. He then threw a pass to Derek Hagan for 11-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick hit Stevie Johnson for 15-yards. He then had his pass batted down by Justin Rogers. Fitzpatrick then threw a screen to McIntyre for 7-yards. On the final play of the series, Fitzpatrick hit Spiller for 10-yards.
The team then went to the goal line and worked on several plays at the 1-yard line where they snapped the ball into the end zone and practiced what to do in that situation. They even had the ball hit the goal posts a couple times. There were some players where Moorman practiced a bobbled snap and jogged with the ball. This drill only lasted for a few minutes and then the team went to work on 11-on-11 drills.
Fred Jackson started it off with a run up the middle for 4-yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick then connected with Lee Smith for 6-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick pitched the ball to Fred Jackson, but it was read well by the defense and Kyle Williams would have had him for no gain. CJ Spiller then carried the ball and ran up the middle for 10-yards. George Wilson then came in on a safety blitz and made Fitzpatrick nervous so he dumped the ball off to Spiller for 2-yards. Fitzpatrick then tried to find Marcus Easley, but it fell incomplete due to good coverage by the defense. Tashard Choice then came in with the backups and ran up the middle for 12-yards. He followed that up by slipping on the field and was tackled immediately by both Shawne Merriman and Chris White. Vince Young then found TJ Graham, but he dropped it. He then hit Dorin Dickerson, but he wasn’t ready for it and dropped the ball. Young then overthrew Marcus Easley. On the next play, both Spencer Johnson and Kyle Moore would have sacked Young. They were in the backfield very quickly. Choice got the ball again and was stuffed at the line.
Tyler Thigpen got his chance to show what he could do and he was intercepted by Price Miller who could have taken it back for a touchdown. He then recovered with a nice pass to Ruvell Martin for 27-yards. Johnny White then got his chance to run with the ball and only gained about 2-yards. Brad Smith came in next and found Marcus Easley for 11-yards. He then found Chris Douglas for 6-yards just as Spencer Johnson was about to crush him. The starters came back for a final time and Ryan Fitzpatrick could feel Mario Williams breathing down his neck, but got the ball out to David Nelson for 10-yards. Fitzpatrick then hit Nelson again, but this time it was bobbled and both George Wilson and Jairus Byrd went for the ball and ended up colliding into eachother. On the next play, Fitzpatrick went back to Nelson and he caught it for a 16-yard gain. Fred Jackson then carried the ball up the middle for 12-yards and plowed through everyone. CJ Spiller got the ball next and ran around the right tackle, showing his speed and gaining 20-yards. On the final play of the drill, Fitzpatrick connected with Stevie Johnson for 14-yards.
The horn sounded and then the team went back to work on special teams. Garrison Sanborn spent some time in the middle of the field working on his long snapping, while the other players worked on blocking assignments. After doing this for about 5-minutes, the team came together and worked on more punting. This time Shawn Powell did a better job. He actually has a unique spiral on his ball when he punts and it made Justin Rogers drop one of them. Moorman did what he does best and crushed them.
Following the special teams drills, the team went back to work on the 11-on-11 drills. Ryan Fitzpatrick started it off with a pass to Stevie Johnson, but he dropped it. Fred Jackson then ran around the left tackle for 10-yards. On the next play, Fitzpatrick hit Stevie Johnson again, this time for 6-yards. He then connected with Scott Chandler for 8-yards. Marcell Dareus then “tackled” Fred Jackson behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of yards. Fitzpatrick then threw a high pass to Derek Hagan, but he dropped it. CJ Spiller then ran up the middle for 10-yards. On the next play, Vince Young hit Kevin Brock for 5-yards. He then found TJ Graham for 12-yards. Young then had his pass batted down at the line by Spencer Johnson. He followed that by overthrowing Ruvell Martin. On the final play of the series, Young completed a pass to TJ Graham for 15-yards.
The starters came back onto the field and Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with Fred Jackson for 7-yards. On the next play, Jackson carried the ball, but was immediately stopped at the line by Kyle Williams and Mario Williams who were waiting for him. Fitzpatrick then hit Scott Chandler for 6-yards. He followed that with a 20-yard pass to Stevie Johnson. CJ Spiller then ran up the middle for 8-yards. On the final play of the series, Fitzpatrick felt pressure from both Dwan Edwards and Mark Anderson, so he ran with the ball. Tyler Thigpen then came back and had his pass broken up by Tank Carder. Tashard Choice was then stuffed at the line. On the next play, Thigpen underthrew Derek Session. Chris Douglas then got his chance to carry the ball, but Spencer Johnson stopped him at the line. On the next play, Jay Ross chased Brad Smith out of the pocket. Brad Smith followed that by hitting Johnny White, but he dropped it. Ryan Fitzpatrick came back out one final time and found Donald Jones for 4-yards, Justin Rogers tackled him immediately. He then hit Stevie Johnson for 7-yards. On the next play, there was a miscommunication with the receiver and Fitzpatrick’s pass went incomplete. Corey McIntyre got the ball next and tried to get around the right tackle, but Alex Carrington had him right away. CJ Spiller then ran up the middle for 6-yards. On the final play of the day, Fitzpatrick threw a pass to David Nelson for 5-yards.
1. CJ Spiller was my offensive player of the day. He showed some good burst and was hitting those holes really quickly. I was impressed with his run after the catch too. Hopefully he can keep this up.
2. I know they don’t have pads on, but I still saw some nice explosiveness out of Mario Williams. He was harassing the Quarterbacks several times and made Fitzpatrick nervous. He was also in on the running game and teamed up with Kyle Williams a couple times to stop the running back.
3. Watch out for Scott Chandler. Ryan Fitzpatrick loves to use all the receivers and Chandler is one that is getting quite a bit of looks. I have a feeling he’ll be a big part of the offense this year. I can’t wait to see him get more involved in the passing game.
4. Brian Moorman still has it! Sure he’s getting up there in age and some people want to see him pushed for the starting punter job. But I don’t see him giving up his job at all this year. Powell had some interesting punts, but the difference in hang time and in distance is huge. Moorman was booming the ball every time and averaged between 60 and 70-yards on all of them.
5. Props go to Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Marcus Easley, Chris Kelsay, George Wilson, Jairus Byrd, Terrence McGee, Da’Norris Searcy, Bryan Scott, Aaron Williams, Stephon Gilmore and the rest of the Bills secondary for signing autographs at camp. Special props to both George Wilson and Jairus Byrd for spending time chatting with the fans, signing autographs and taking photos. I was impressed at how much they were interacting with the fans.
Overall, it was a good day at camp. Nice crowd and even better weather! The action on the field was entertaining. The crowd cheered several times and seemed to enjoy what they saw. Sure it was a little slow paced, but I have a feeling that will pick up on Saturday when they put the pads on and the hitting can begin. Discuss this topic in our forums…