The Buffalo Bills are now through two training camp practices, and on the second day, Rex Ryan didn’t like what he saw from the day. It was a bit of a sloppy practice, and one that drew multiple penalty flags.
So how did Rex Ryan respond? Five takeaways from the head coach after Day Two:
1) Laps on laps on laps
- To say that Rex Ryan has been annoyed by the amount of penalties his team has taken since he took over is a bit of an understatement. Ryan tried to enforce a pushup policy early in the 2015 season for those that committed penalties, just to try and put a stop to it. By the end of the year, it didn’t work, with the Bills being tied for the highest total of accepted penalties in all the National Football League. On Sunday, the problem crept back in with multiple pre-snap penalties, and there’s a new rule going in.
"You’re going to see us start to do some things to remind it. You know we just do the pushups and all that, but I think it’s best that, you know, we’re going to start running laps. That was the old, my old coach used to have you do that and it seemed to work then so we’re going to go back to it."
It’s another penalty solution for the penalty problem, so if you’re heading down to St. John Fisher College for Day Three, expect to see some enforcement of the new policy.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) July 31, 2016
As for the Bills’ penalties, old habits don’t have the tendency to go away if you don’t change anything, so it’s good that Rex is switching things up to try and get different results. We’ll see if it actually works.
2) Making sense of Tyrod’s start at camp
- Over the first two days of training camp, Tyrod Taylor has had mediocre practices. That isn’t necessarily a predictor of the future, just an alarming start to camp only because of how good he was during the three-day mandatory minicamp in June. Taylor looked like he was really progressing in putting the ball over the middle of the field and feeding it into tight windows successfully, and he just hasn’t had the same degree of success. Rex Ryan said he believes part of the reason for that is the coverages of the defense are “tighter” now than they were in minicamp. That makes sense to a certain degree, but there was still plenty of opportunities to be had for Taylor over the middle of the field, and deep down the sideline with some more accurate passes. He just needs to shake off the rust, because we’ve seen him do it all before in practice settings.
3) Ragland a “complete player”
- It’s just two days into camp, but the Bills feel like they’ve hit a home run with second-round pick Reggie Ragland. The Bills plugged Ragland into the starting lineup immediately at weakside linebacker, and since coming to Buffalo, the Bills have been over the moon about what he’s shown them.
"I think he’s a complete player. That’s what you saw in tape and that’s what he is here. He can blitz, he can hit, he can stuff the run, and I think he’s good pass defense. He understands it. I think everybody’s question is when you see a guy’s 40 time. But there’s players in this league that…they just know how to play."
Ragland is a solid player and I’m expecting him to do some nice things for the Bills, and maybe even be the best inside linebacker on the team over Preston Brown. However, there still has yet to be a padded practice the Bills have conducted, and it’s tough to really gauge how he’s done without being able to complete a play and make a tackle. That said, on more than one occasion Sunday, he stuffed a run play at the line of scrimmage. He’s one that will be exciting to track during camp.
4) Clay back situation downplayed
- Near the beginning of practice, starting tight end Charles Clay was stretching himself out, but it was more than what we normally see him do during the practices. He was using a foam roller on his back for quite a bit of time as the special teams groupings got together. Now, during the special teams portion of practice, Clay is usually working on his hands with tight ends coach Tony Sparano, Jr., but this cut into that time a little bit. He then took some reps off during team drills and wasn’t in the rotation as much as others/ When asked about it after practice, Rex Ryan said that Clay was fine, and they were just trying to give him some rest — much like they were planning to do with some of their established starters. At the very least, it’s a situation to monitor.
5) Blake Annen buzz building
- With Clay not taking a full amount of reps during team drills, that provides an opportunity for the other tight ends on the roster — and the one that I’ve had my eye on since offseason workouts has been Blake Annen. Again showing that he has the ability to get himself open and make plays down the field, Annen has also caught the eye of Rex Ryan for a specific reason:
“The one kid I always know about him—that kid can really run. And there’s a guy that he might have been a 4.4 something, 40 type guy. So, it’s unusual for that position to have a tight end that can really run like that. Similar to like a (Charles) Clay a guy that has that type of ability that kind, that kind of speed. So, that kind of sets him apart a little bit. We’ll see when the pads come on what kind of blocker he is. And, you know he’s definitely going to get an opportunity to make this football team, so we’ll see how it goes.”
As a blocker, on one rep today third-string defensive lineman Lavar Edwards ripped right past him to blow up a running play, so Annen likely has a way to go. However, if he continues to flash playmaking ability, the Bills will have to think long and hard about him making this roster outright.