Pittsford (WKBW.com) Bills linebacker Kelvin Sheppard took part in the morning walk through on Thursday but is expected to miss a couple of days of normal practice with an undisclosed medical issue.
Sheppard wouldn't reveal the issue after practice on Thursday but said it's minor in nature. "I'm here, breathing, smiling and communicating. I think I'm pretty fine", said Sheppard. "Couple of days I'll be back on the field".
With the first preseason game of 2012 a week away Head Coach Chan Gailey says his team has made "some progress" over the first week of training camp, but that there is plenty of work to do. One thing is for sure, the second team offense needs to be more consistent, Quarterbacks Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen have struggled at times with their accuracy as the head-to-head competition continues for the back-up role.
"It is a little early but it is a concern. It is not just Tyler. He and Vince both are having some trouble there", said Gailey "The twos in general are not performing very well offensively. I think our ones are doing some good things. But our twos are struggling offensively" , Gailey continued.
"Right now it's about being on the same page with the receivers", said Tyler Thigpen. "I need to make sure I'm making the right protection calls on the offensive line. For us it's just consistency, going out there everyday and taking steps forward. Not taking steps backwards."
Thigpen is vying to earn the backup role behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for a second year. The Bills brought in veteran Vince Young to add some competition at the position. I asked Thigpen on Thursday if he was surprised by the move.
"I thought they'd bring someone in to compete with me. That's the NFL", said Thigpen. "I didn't know their thinking behind it. Chan sat me down and said we still believe in you. We want more competition to have you push yourself", said Thigpen.
Below are transcipts from after practice provided by the Buffalo Bills:
Head Coach Chan Gailey
PM Practice – Thursday, August 2, 2012
On LB Kelvin Sheppard’s progress towards returning to practice:
Yeah, he is trying to get back in there. It is probably going to be a little bit of a slow progress. We will see how he does. It may be tomorrow, it may be next week. I do not know. They have to tell me when I get inside.
On the practice LB Arthur Moats has been getting:
He is (working with the first team defense). We are trying to rotate those guys through different spots and different places. He is doing a good job. He has earned some reps from his play in OTAs and mini-camp. Now here he just picked up right where he left off in OTAs and mini-camp. He has done a good job. He has been very impressive this far.
On the job LB Nigel Bradham has done thus far into training camp:
Bradham has done a good job. All those (linebackers) are young. They have got to learn the system. They are trying their best. They have got a lot to learn but they play fast and physical. Those are two things that I have a hard time teaching: playing fast and playing physical. We can teach the rest of it.
On if the second team offense took a step forward:
I do not know. I will have to watch the film. I think they did. It is hard to go to the other way.
On QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Derek Hagan seeming to have a connection in practice:
(Hagan) is taking advantage of his opportunity. Derek Hagan is working his rear end off out there. It is a great thing to see. He wants to make this football team and wants to be a big part of our offense. He has done a good job. He made some big plays out there today. He is making a real bid to be a near lock.
On Hagan’s trouble sticking with other teams in his previous NFL stints:
I do not know anything about previous, all I know is the last half of last year he did some good things. This year he has come in and worked hard. I do not worry about what a guy has done before he got here. What he does when he gets here is what is important to me.
On how the offense performed in comparison to the last couple of practices:
I thought the offensive first group did a good job out there today. They did some good things. We had some creases to run in and we hit some big plays down the field. That is one thing. It was not the defense’s best day. Dave (Wannstedt) and I were talking after practice, even if it is not your good day you cannot give up the big play. They may have some creases here or there, but you have to make sure you keep pushing and do not give up the big play.
On DE Shawne Merriman’s performance in practice:
(His good performance in practice) is not just the last couple of days. He had the nicked ankle, but before that and since then he has given great effort. It looks like he has some quickness to him. Stamina is good. Hopefully he will make the season and things will go well for him. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do when we get it really live.
On why the Bills have been so high on DE Mark Anderson:
That goes back to Buddy (Nix’s) and mine feeling about guys. Do not judge them for where they were, what they have not done or what they were pegged to do. Judge them on what they did. He had a great year last year. He played extremely well and was looking for another home. We were glad that he chose this place. We were fortunate to get him and really glad to have him. He is going to be a big, big part of our defense.
On why he essentially called a timeout during practice:
We had one situation there where we kind of talked about how to handle (things). We ran a couple plays and talked about substitutions, running on and off. Trying to get the 12th man off the field if we are trying to substitute in our no-huddle or how to call a quick play. I just addressed that situation. That is a five minute segment that we have almost every day that we cover some situation. We saw it out here the other day with the field goal where we tried to spike the ball if we have that situation. Little things like that we just take five minutes to talk about.
On why LB Byron Scott and DE Mark Anderson saw decreased reps in practice:
Yes. Scott got hit on his thigh the other night, was tightened up and could not loosen it up. I think it is minor and you hope those things continue to be minor. Same thing with Anderson. He has been nursing his groin.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
PM Practice – Thursday, August 2, 2012
On running game between Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller:
It is huge for us to get both of those guys going. They are different style backs but both very effective. For their running styles, we like what both of them do. It is kind of hard in training camp when you are not ‘full-go-tackling’. Some of those runs that may look like a two-yard gain; we have seen those guys play so those go for a lot more than that. The last two days we have put an emphasis on the run game a little bit. We have the pads on now so we are doing more of that. It has been more of a focus and it is really big for our offense. When we are successful, those guys are running it.
On how the coaches share the ball between the two running backs:
That is why Chan gets paid the big bucks. That is his job to keep both of those guys happy and figured out. For me, I have to make sure that they know, and I think they do, how important they are to our team; both of them. And they are both guys who want the ball. They are competitive, they are not happy when they do not have the ball, but they are going to go out there and give it their all every play. They are not going to mope around and be upset about it. They are going to play football and that may be the best quality that both of them have.
On WR Stevie Johnson getting back:
Yea, me and Stevie are cool. There was some stuff today where I am throwing it three steps more before he is into his break. We are on the same page and it is something that we have had for a while now. It is good to get out there and do it, and to know that I have him is a safety blanket out there.
On the coaches wanting to see more from the back-up QBs:
For most of my career I was in that spot. You are either the second guy or battling to be the third guy. It is a tough balance. You have to go out there and execute plays. But you have limited reps so you also want to go out there and make big plays and it is about keeping the proper mindset. Keeping that winning football mindset to where you are not trying to throw a home run every time, you are trying to go out there and be effective in every play. That was always a tough balance for me to strike and those guys are working through it now. I thought he challenged me and he challenged them and I think we came out and had a better day today.
On if it is a mental battle for the back-up QBs every day:
That is how it is done. They have got to do it that way. It is not the easiest thing but that is the most fair thing to do because they are both getting the look and they both need to work with those guys. When it is your day to play with the twos and get the majority of the reps, you want to make sure that you are on top of it and effective.
On how ‘game-realistic’ it is for the guys on the other side making it for him:
It is good right now meaning some of the moving in the pocket, making throws or hanging in there and throwing one. Right now, not taking it under the chin but knowing they are there and I have to stand in there and do it. It is also great work for our guys up front. With the different games and things that they are seeing with the great rushers off the edge and the power guys in the middle and just to be able to handle that and communicate; we are getting a lot of good work with it right now.
On if the depth in the team will make them a more ‘fine-tuned’ unit:
Yea I think so. I think there is more depth on this team and there is more competition. The talent level is higher so that makes both sides of the ball better because they go against each other every day.
On taking shots down the field today:
It is what we installed today I guess. We are still installing plays and different things and today we had some of the deep balls. We were able to get a couple of them, which was good to see. It was not just one guy; there were a lot of guys making plays down field so that was good for us. Hopefully it loosens them up a little bit in the secondary. We knew we had to come out today and have a better day today. They really handed it to us the last couple of days and we wanted to make sure that we went out there and made some plays today.
On overall assessment of the offense:
Not really. It is hard at this point to see where we are especially. We were talking earlier about the run game; you do not get to see a lot of that in terms of how effective we are being and that is a big part of who we are so I think we are comfortable with where we are right now. I think we are comfortable right now. The communication; we are still working on some things and putting guys in and out just to see what the line-up combinations are going to be and the personnels but I think we have a lot of work to do but we are headed in the right direction.
Wide Receiver Derek Hagan
PM Practice – Thursday, August 2, 2012
On his chemistry with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick:
It is feeling really good. We have been working hard, just dating back to last year. Coming in to OTAs, the summertime and all that stuff—just putting in that work. We know we have a long way to go to get to where we want to be when the season ends. Our goal is to get to the playoffs and hopefully beyond. If our offense clicks we can definitely get there. We have to play four quarters of football. It all starts in training camp and we will go from there.
On if he has a handle on how Fitzpatrick likes routes to be run:
I think so. Like we said, this offense is wide open. Whether it is myself, Stevie (Johnson), David Nelson, Donald (Jones) or T.J. (Graham, anybody that is out there is capable of making plays. It just all comes down to timing. If you are doing the right things then the ball is going to get to you. Sometimes you getting the ball is really what the coverage dictates. We all have to take our time, be patient and hopefully Fitz will get the ball to us.
On head coach Chan Gailey’s comment that he is working hard:
That is where it all starts. It all starts at practice. Just trying to come out one day at a time and not worry about the next day. Obviously today is Thursday and with today’s practice pretty much over with, I will go in and take a look at film. Come back tomorrow. It is another day and time to get better.
On watching himself have a good day on tape:
It is always a good thing, but even if I have a good day I am trying to see exactly what I did wrong. Sometimes I may do something wrong and I may not see it. I just try to go in. It is always a positive if you are doing good things. You just want to keep working on those little things that is going to make yourself better.
RB Zach Brown
AM Session – Thursday, August 2, 2012
On if he had a good feeling after the tryout camp about possibly getting a call:
Yea, I did a real good job there. I got good feedback. I just felt like I did a real good job so anything could happen.
On how he and the Bills left things after the tryout:
Just stay ready. Stay working out. If you get that call, be ready. So that is what I did.
On how he stayed ready:
Just training. Luckily I have a quarterback back home and a few friends that are in the same situation as me. So we would go to the field and do a lot of fieldwork, or just go to the gym. We pretty much just stayed the course with it.
On where he is from:
West Palm Beach, Florida.
On his transferring to Pitt being a good move for him:
I love the University of Wisconsin and the time I had there but it just felt like it was time to see what else I could do at another university. And it worked out.
On if Wisconsin already having a No. 1 running back led to his transfer:
It was pretty much just getting on the field. I played with a lot of good backs at Wisconsin, and I just felt like if I made that transfer I would be able to get on the field a little bit more.
On being able to show that he could catch the ball at Pitt:
I would like to say that I am a well-balanced back and I was able to show that there.