The Buffalo Bills just got done with their fifth practice of training camp at St. John Fisher College, and following that morning session in the hot, hot heat, the head coach of the Bills addressed the media.
What are some interesting roster notes that Rex Ryan commented on? Five takeaways from the head coach on Thursday:
1) Dareus returning soon
- Through the first five days of training camp, the Buffalo Bills have been without two of their presumed starters on the defensive line. Marcell Dareus (Non-Football Illness) and Kyle Williams (Physically Unable to Perform) each have yet to take part in a practice in the way that all the other players have been, but both have been doing work along the sidelines during the sessions. At least for one of those, that could be coming to a close rather quickly.
“I think when you transition into the practice those guys are on, you know, on schedule. Everything looks good and wouldn’t be surprised to see, you know, Marcell, even, later in this week.”
A Dareus return not only would be a welcomed sight to the Bills and their fans, but it would also immediately give us insight as to how the defensive line depth stacks up at this point of training camp. Jerel Worthy, Corbin Bryant, and Adolphus Washington have been the first-unit almost exclusively through five days at camp, so it will be interesting to see which one gets removed from the top unit. If it is this week, there are only two more days (Friday and Saturday) of practice, so Dareus could be coming off that reserve list before you know it.
2) No validity given to latest Watkins report
- Monday, August 8 — that’s been the latest targeted day by the Bills, as reported by The Buffalo News, that the long-awaited return to practice for wide receiver Sammy Watkins will occur. Watkins has been sidelined for the offseason after he recovered from offseason foot surgery, and has been slowly progressing since that point in time. Rex Ryan wouldn’t give an inch of validity to the report, saying that he has no idea whether or not that day will come to fruition for the Bills and Watkins. The team has mostly been mum on Watkins’ potential return to practice, only offering up that they believe he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. In the meantime, the top Bills wide receiver has been doing plenty of work along the sidelines with the training staff.
3) Update on the No. 3 WR job
- Since training camp started, the Bills have now conducted five practices and are nearly a third of the way through the workouts. One of the most competitive and up in the air jobs going, the number three wideout job got a minor update on Thursday afternoon. While Rex Ryan did say it’s still a bit early to identify real standouts, he then proceeded to outline players. Consistently, he has brought up Greg Salas’ name in press conference settings, and without being prompted to, brought up Salas’ name in unison with the No. 3 job first.
“But, you know, Greg Salas is a guy that, you know, he made a great catch on a third and two, today. Tyrod was really patient he took away the first three options, then hit the deep and he makes a great catch. But, he’s got some savvy, great hands, so there’s a comfort level there.”
The head coach later went on to mention Greg Little, Jarrett Boykin, and Dez Lewis, but if you would like to read into his comments and tact of the answer, it would appear Salas is the early favorite to land that role.
4) The reason for Striker’s demotion
- It was a great story that unfolded on Tuesday night, with the undrafted rookie Eric Striker getting his first opportunity to run with the first-team defense at right outside linebacker. Bills fans and Oklahoma Sooners fans both loved the underdog story, and it got plenty of attention on social media. However, it was rather short-lived, as Striker was with the third-team defense on Thursday. Why did he get so demoted so quickly? Rex Ryan revealed that even though the rookie showed some good plays for the Bills, he also “had like five busts” on defense. If Striker wants another crack at some time with the top unit, he’ll need to know that playbook inside and out, and show instincts for the position to go along with it.
5) A broken nose between linebacker friends
- In what likely will be the most bizarre injury you’ll read about in this year’s version of Bills training camp, is the story of Jamari Lattimore’s broken nose. Rather than paraphrasing, here’s Rex’s quote in full:
“He got his nose broken. You know—and no, there wasn’t a punch or anything. It was a -- we were actually through, just walking through a drill and a player slipped and when the player did he fell back, like this, and his knee came up and actually UFC’d him right in the nose. So, it was like, it was a, you know, it was an accident, but it’s just one of those things that happens.”
This is the first time I’ve heard of an injury in a walk-through, that’s for sure. So, which teammate did the nose breaking? Rex Ryan said he thinks it was fellow inside linebacker Randell Johnson, and that Johnson felt terribly about it after the fact. Lattimore has been sitting out of the last two days of practices.
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