The Buffalo Bills got back to work on Monday for the first of four straight days with practices at St. John Fisher College, and to begin the week, the Bills saw the return of three of their best players.
Sammy Watkins, Marcell Dareus, and Kyle Williams all made their long-awaited return to the practice field, and after the fact, Rex Ryan spoke with reporters about those players. He also got to the injury situations that are still developing.
Five takeaways from the Bills head coach following Day Eight of practice at St. John Fisher College:
1) Ragland still has swelling, Cordy’s high ankle sprain
- The fans of the Buffalo Bills are still wondering what will end up happening with rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland, especially after the weekend report that the second-round pick has a partial ACL tear. While it wasn’t an outright update on Ragland, at least there were a few more details uncovered as to the process. At this point, Ragland’s knee still has a lot of swelling and he’s still getting treatment, and Rex Ryan said they’re waiting for some range in motion of the knee. He was scheduled to have a second opinion on Monday. As for Cordy Glenn, the Bills starting left tackle and one of the highest-paid players on the roster, he suffered an ankle injury on Saturday night during the scrimmage. While Rex Ryan didn’t give an update on any timetable for Glenn, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on what kind of injury it is.
#Bills LT Cordy Glenn suffered a high-ankle sprain, source said, but doesn't sound like there is structural damage. Likely out for preseason
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2016
My advice: don’t even push it with Glenn. The Bills know what he is, they know he’s one of the best players on the team, and certainly he had a more than promising start to training camp this year. There isn’t a need to rush him back for a preseason game if they don’t need to. Just get him ready for the start of the regular season and then go from there. This situation could have been a lot worse.
2) Limiting Sammy
- With the return of Sammy Watkins, who was clearly the best wide receiver on the field Monday even in limited reps, the Bills have to be a bit careful with him. Much like they’re doing with LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, and some of their other established starters, the Bills have to be careful to not overload Watkins during training camp — especially not to the point where they’re putting him in jeopardy of re-aggravating an injury or even creating a new one. Rex Ryan echoed those sentiments and said he has to stay with wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal and prevent any situation of them overexerting Watkins during camp. As for his first day back to practice? Rex Ryan said, “I was impressed.”
3) Rex on Tyrod’s daredevil practice stunt
- In the confines of a game, what Tyrod Taylor did near the end of Monday’s practice was totally respectable and likely commended by most for giving it his all on the field. That said, when Tyrod Taylor went airborne, got flipped around, and landed awkwardly on the ground in practice just to try and secure a pretend touchdown, it had people thinking to themselves ‘What the heck was he thinking?!’ Include Rex Ryan in that group:
“It’s like, “are you kidding me?” Like please. You know, “don’t do that.” But you do. You like literally hold your breath because we think that we got a really good one there. We’ve got a fine, outstanding quarterback, and you’d hate to see something like that happen where something would happen with him. So he’s got to take care of himself, too.”
Taylor is okay after the stunt, but in a practice setting, there’s no way he should have even considered doing that as the established team starter.
4) Dareus’ role identified
- With Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus both coming back on the same day of practice at St. John Fisher College, it finally gave fans of the team the answer to the question many had been asking: Do the Bills play Dareus at defensive end, or at nose tackle in Rex Ryan’s scheme? The answer to Rex Ryan was cleared up immediately at practice. Dareus lined up at nose tackle almost every time he was in there, with Kyle Williams at five-technique defensive end. While in base formations he’ll be at nose tackle, Dareus will also be Ryan’s ace in the hole, and the matchup exploiting option he’s had in previous stops:
“Marcell in my opinion is the best nose tackle in football, but he’s not just a nose tackle. He’s got other abilities. You know, where you could put him over a guard, you can put him over a tackle, and we’re going to take advantage of it. If we think we’ve got some sort of mismatch in our favor, we’re going to—get ready to block this guy. And so that’s something that you look at.
Dareus and Williams were a bit limited in their first day back to practice, not taking part in the two-minute drill during the session.
5) What will Brandon Spikes be for the Bills?
- The Bills signed a familiar name on Sunday to help the inside linebacker room, but after a year off from football, how much can Brandon Spikes really contribute to the team this year? Spikes had been a 4-3 middle linebacker for the most part, so there also has to be a bit of a learning curve in applying himself to Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. The head coach admitted that Spikes would be a middle linebacker only in his scheme, and that would mean a more athletic option is needed in playing alongside him. Due to that admission, I think the only way you see Spikes on the field for the Bills — if he makes the team outright, is either if Preston Brown gets injured or gets benched for extremely poor play. While the Bills will believe it’s good to see the 28-year-old Spikes motivated, he’ll need things to break his way to see the field in 2016.
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