The Buffalo Bills got to work for their sixth practice of 17 total at St. John Fisher College, a day that showed the coaching staff their first taste of live hitting with the players on their roster, and was merely a precursor to the scrimmage scheduled for Saturday night.
Following the practice, Rex Ryan met with the media and provided some insight on different pockets of his roster. Five takeaways from what the head coach had to say:
1) Dareus updated update
- Following the team’s practice on Thursday morning, Rex Ryan went up to the podium and said that star defensive lineman Marcell Dareus would likely be making his return by the end of this week. Dareus didn’t practice on Friday, and with only one day left of practice before the week ends — seeing as how the Bills have Sunday off — that would mean Saturday would be the day of his return.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) August 5, 2016
When asked about that, Rex backed off his previous prediction, and updated reporters by saying that they were aiming for a Monday return for Dareus. The defensive lineman has been sidelined all six days of training camp while on the Non-Football Illness list, but the Bills have maintained that he would be fine. And hilariously, Rex started off his Dareus answer with the following: “I shouldn’t have spoke. Imagine that.”
2) Mum’s the word on Seantrel Henderson… still
- Along with Dareus, former starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson has been a member of the Non-Football Illness list and has only been able to work on the sidelines with team trainers. Henderson had a battle with Crohn’s disease, and whenever the Bills have been asked about his potential playing status, they have deflected and directed reporters to the medical staff instead. That same trend continued on Friday, which means one thing: there is no immediate plan in place for Henderson to get back anytime relatively soon. With Dareus there’s a plan, and the same goes for Karlos Williams, too. The deeper we dive into August, the more real the possibility of Henderson being put on a reserve list to start the season gets.
3) Kickoff specialist not ruled out just yet
- While Dan Carpenter has basically cemented his status as the team’s field goal kicker for 2016 (making 21 straight field goals in practice might just do that), it leads to the immediate question: Will the Bills be moving on from kickoff specialist Jordan Gay in 2016? While Rex still wouldn’t fully commit to Carpenter winning the kicking job, he did at least give Gay a minor vote of confidence when asked if he would prefer to not keep a kickoff specialist on the roster:
“I think we’d prefer to do that but I think we, when you look at it statistically, I’m not sure on this one but I think the Bills have been right at the top the last two seasons in our kick coverage, so a lot of that can be contributed to Jordan.”
Rex went on to say that the new rule changes with touchbacks going to the 25 would be something to consider in the debate to keep a kickoff specialist.
4) Cardale making progress?
- The best word to describe Cardale Jones’ accuracy through the first six days of training camp is pretty evident: Scattershot. Jones, who is clearly working with the team’s coaching staff on his footwork and dropping back in an NFL offense, has seen a fair amount of passes sail over the heads of his intended targets. However, that’s only what we’re able to see, and from what the coaches see, they’re liking the rookie’s progress.
“I’ve been very impressed by him. Obviously we know he’s got the tools that you look for but he’s doing a great job. I think he studies extremely well and he’s got a pretty good grasp of what he’s doing out there. And it’s not like we hold back a whole lot on him. The defense is running everything known to man against him so I think it’s good to see. He’s got that confidence about him and he can throw it man. There’s no question about that.”
The next step is to turn the classroom success into on-the-field success, but that will only come with time and repetition in using his feet to help his throws.
5) Rex putting a lot of stock in Saturday’s scrimmage
- As the Bills prepare themselves for their next practice, the coaching staff will hope to get a lot out of Saturday’s scheduled scrimmage at St. John Fisher College. They’ll be in full-on evaluation mode, likening it to a preseason game for the Bills. Rex Ryan even admitted that the first-team offense and defense will likely get more time on the field on Saturday than they will during the first preseason game. It will be structured similarly to last year’s scrimmage, only this time around, Tyrod Taylor will be getting all the time with the first-team offense. The Bills will do some stretching, perhaps an individual portion of practice, and then the scrimmage will likely get started shortly after that. Practice is set to begin at 6:30.