The Buffalo Bills dodged a major downpour to start the morning, and fit in a practice at St. John Fisher College as they continue to march towards the end of training camp. With the end of Tuesday’s session, the Bills have now gone through 13 of their 16 total practices, and are now halfway through practices this week.
While the intensity wasn’t nearly as high as compared to some other practices, there were still some notable moments throughout the day of work.
Seven observations from Day 13 of Bills training camp:
1) First day back, Manny Lawson’s role is clear
- The Bills certainly didn’t tip their hand about Manny Lawson’s return to practice, but he passed his physical on Tuesday morning and participated on Tuesday. Lawson injured his pectoral muscle in the offseason trying to bench press 405-pounds for a second time, and in the process, kept him out of practice for almost three weeks of training camp. As he came back in, Lawson went through the positional drills in the early stages of the practice, but did not participate in 11-on-11 team drills. He did, however, participate in a walk-through portion of defense which is where we found out the Bills’ intentions for him. Lawson was lined up at right outside linebacker, with the first team, in place of Lorenzo Alexander. While his timetable for a return to game action has yet to be determined, once he is all the way back, it’s pretty clear that he’ll be in the starting lineup and taking a ton of snaps until Shaq Lawson is able to return.
2) Seymour steps into bigger role
- The Bills have loved what they’ve seen from rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour to this point of training camp. He has looked the part during minicamp, practices during camp, and in the first preseason game of the year. The Bills were without their nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman (ankle) at practice on Tuesday, which paved the way for an opportunity to the well-deserving Seymour. For the first time since he’s been a part of the team, the Bills tried Seymour out as the nickel corner with the first-team defense. He performed fairly well against the slot receivers he was up against, but again, this is only practice. In the event that Robey-Coleman can’t play on Saturday against the Giants, we’ll get to see Seymour in an entirely new role and how well he does with it. He’s done everything right so far to be the first man off the bench in the event of an injury to one of Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, or Robey-Coleman.
3) Tyrod’s excellent accuracy
- Outside of one throw in the red zone, and one deep ball in routes versus air, I thought the throwing day for Tyrod Taylor was extremely good. He was hitting his receivers in stride with the right amount of speed, loft, and precision necessary to complete his passes. After a bit of a slow start at training camp, he’s been solid really since the fourth or fifth day of training camp, and today might have been one of Taylor’s best days at camp. His accuracy was right there all morning long, especially on what seemed to be a pretty subdued practice elsewhere on the field due to the rain. It didn’t matter if it was short, intermediate, long… Taylor was hitting his mark way more often than not.
4) The running back divide
- For the second straight day, the Bills had Karlos Williams available to them at practice. On Tuesday, he actually worked in to team drills and got one rep with the first-team offense. For the rest of the time, however, he was mostly put into duty on the scout team, so his ascension up the depth chart will have to be over time — not just one day. The other interesting part of how the reps were divvied up on Tuesday was that there was a clear division with the running backs on the roster. Four players got time with the first unit during team drills — and mind you, Reggie Bush was absent from the day of work — which to me meant that two guys are buried on the depth chart. The four were LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee, and Jonathan Williams. None of those four players got any time with the third-team offense, as those duties were strictly left for James Wilder, Jr. and Boom Herron, two players that struggled mightily in the preseason. Judging it off that, a lot of ground — and perhaps too much at this point — will need to be made up for Wilder, Jr., or Herron.
5) Biermann’s first day
- The Bills called in for some help at outside linebacker with the signing of veteran free agent Kroy Biermann, who is now 30 after eight seasons in Atlanta. On his first day with the Bills, we got a bit of an idea with how he’ll fit in with the team. Although it was on scout team mostly, Biermann — who has played at both inside and outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme — lined up on the outside with the defensive scout team. That clearly makes the most sense, seeing as how the Bills are without both Shaq Lawson and IK Enemkpali for a significant amount of time. They also put him in with the first-team punt coverage unit on his first day, which is a great development for him. Biermann isn’t a lock by any means to make the roster even though he’s a veteran player, so the more he can do — and successfully, the better his chances of making the roster. His implementation on special teams, quite literally on his first day, will go a long way.
6) Greg Little still mixing in with the first-team offense
- At this point in training camp, it’s mostly been Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Marquise Goodwin taking reps with the first-team offense at wide receiver. And even though Rex Ryan has been non-committal about Goodwin being the No. 3 receiver, that’s certainly the way it’s trending — and it’s trending heavily in that direction. Even still, when the Bills went into work against scout team, there was another wide receiver mixing in occasionally: Greg Little. Now with Leonard Hankerson released by the team and Jarrett Boykin on the bottom of the depth chart looking up, it seems like Little is the best chance of the veteran wideouts to still make the 53-man roster at this point. He’s battled some drops this summer, but has been the most impressive of the three. He’ll probably get some shots with the top unit in the next two preseason games, which will either make or break his bid to rejuvenate his career in Buffalo.
7) Mills has a rough day
- The right tackle position still firmly remains question mark, although not in the sense of the starting job being on the line. That job has belonged to Jordan Mills all throughout training camp, and that’s the way it’s likely to stay heading into the regular season barring injury. The question, though, remains with how effective that spot will be on the offensive line in 2016 — because Mills has failed to impress at training camp this year. He struggled once again on Tuesday, giving up countless pressures to Jerry Hughes. And while Hughes is an incredibly good player and pass rusher, he’s a starter in the NFL, and Mills is going to have to deal with players like Hughes all season long in pass coverage. The right tackle position is a trouble area, and there aren’t any viable solutions on the Bills roster as it stands today.
Day 13 MVP: LOLB Jerry Hughes
- He was in the backfield quite a bit on Tuesday, and made for a not so great performance by Jordan Mills. Hughes is extremely talented, and shows bits and pieces of it at camp practices when asked to get after the passer.
Day 13 LVP: OT Justin Renfrow
- During some work with the offensive line and defensive line, Renfrew as often the weak link against the defenders on duty. Then again in team drills, Eric Striker flew right past Renfrow off the edge to blow up a play, and Renfrow was essentially frozen in space.
Not Practicing: RB Reggie Bush (personal, excused), G Richie Incognito (ribs), LB Reggie Ragland (knee), OT Cordy Glenn (ankle), S Aaron Williams (concussion), WR Dez Lewis (shoulder), WR Greg Salas (hamstring), WR Marcus Easley (PUP), EDGE Shaq Lawson (PUP), OT Seantrel Henderson (Non-Football Illness), EDGE Manny Lawson (Non-Football Injury), WR Kolby Listenbee (Non-Football Injury)
Up Next: The Bills next practice on Wednesday, August 17 from 10 am to 12 pm. Practice is open to the public, and a ticket is not needed for entry.
Miss a day of practice? Catch up with my daily observations:
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