The Buffalo Bills entered the next phase of training camp on Monday, when they added some equipment to their practice. On Day Three, the Bills donned shoulder pads for the first time this summer, and had a bit more of a physical practice.
Who stood out in the practice, and who failed to make an impression? Seven observations from the third day of practice:
1) Tyrod takes over the red zone
- Through the first two days of training camp for the Buffalo Bills, Tyrod Taylor had a rather inauspicious start to his summer under center. He was on his way to having a third straight day that failed to impress — that was, until, Taylor completely took over in the team’s red zone drill near the end of practice. He erased an interception earlier in the practice with great throw, after great throw, after great throw. And he did so in an area of the field where the defense has less ground to make up and cover, which condenses the field quite a bit more. The first wow throw was on a comeback route towards the left sideline, when Leonard Hankerson cut back and caught a low liner that was in the perfect spot, which set up the Bills on the three-yard line. One play later, Taylor saw that linebacker Preston Brown was a bit crossed up in coverage, and zoomed it in to Robert Woods for a touchdown. Later on, a perfectly executed play call left LeSean McCoy in the flat against Jerry Hughes, and the rush linebacker couldn’t change directions quickly enough. Taylor delivered a perfect pass in rhythm into McCoy’s mitts and he easily walked in for a touchdown. And that wasn’t it, Taylor added a third touchdown in the drill — another one to Robert Woods, and he probably should have had a fourth if tight end Charles Clay was looking for the ball when it was thrown. This was the same type of player that we saw during the three-day minicamp at June.
2) Gilmore delivers an even bigger statement
- As starting cornerbacks go, Stephon Gilmore has been the best one on the field, and it really hasn’t even been close. Gilmore dominated on the first day of training camp, and while we saw Ronald Darby really struggle during the second day, Gilmore made his best play of the three-day stretch thus far. He once again got the better of Tyrod Taylor with an interception, but this one showed off both his ability and athleticism, skying up for the ball as Greg Little thought he had a catch waiting for him. His first interception on Day One was a good one, but this one put everything you like about Gilmore into one great play. For the second time in three days, Gilmore has showed a playmaking ability as a cornerback which is really the only thing that his missing from his game as a man-cover cornerback in the league. It’s only three days of training camp, but Gilmore seems to be a man on a mission at this point. That mission? To get paid.
3) Dez Lewis struggles, familiar sight for Little
- The darling of offseason workouts out of Orchard Park was none other than wide receiver Dez Lewis. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound wideout was able to string together great practice after great practice and caught the eye of the coaches in the process. It seemed like he certainly improved in a lot of areas. One area that could not be simulated in those practices, and even in the first two days of training camp, was what happened when defensive backs were allowed to rough him up a little bit. Monday marked the first padded practice for the Bills, and it was quite evident that he still had a way to go with that part of his game. There’s no denying his size, but the physicality clearly got to him, and he was mostly held without making big plays. As for Day Two standout Greg Little, a familiar problem of his popped back up again: drops. Little dropped a pass on two separate occasions through the practice, after earning that reputation in his time in Cleveland.
4) Goodwin flashing, but common foe appears
- Still without Sammy Watkins during the practices, the Bills clearly showed that they’ve been impressed with the work that Marquise Goodwin has done so far in camp. To start things off in team drills, Goodwin lined up with Robert Woods as the first-team wide receivers. That role has been fluctuating, but Goodwin has certainly turned some heads. That trend continued during the beginning of practice for the fourth-year wideout, continuing to show off his speed and quick feet to make cuts that left defenders in the dust — and securing all the catches to go along with it. It all came to a screeching halt in the second half of practice, when Goodwin had to be escorted out of practice after being looked at by the training staff. He did not return, and the reason given for the early departure was due to a heat-related issue. His problem has always been staying on the field, so the Bills will have to hope that Goodwin doesn’t miss any time as a result of the issue.
5) Kicking competition Round 2: Carpenter def. Morgan
- On Day One of training camp, Marshall Morgan got the better of veteran kicker Dan Carpenter in the first round of the kicking competition between the duo, but on Monday, the wily vet evened up the series. Although Carpenter missed once, he won the day by nailing 6-of-7 attempts — with his only miss coming from 36 yards out. As for the undrafted rookie Morgan, he went 4-of-6 with misses from 34 and 42 yards out. For the duration of camp, the kicking stats have Morgan slightly ahead of Carpenter. Carpenter has made 10-of-13 attempts (76.9-percent) with misses from 40, 37, and 36, while Morgan is 9-of-11 (81.8-percent) with the two misses from earlier today. As for the kickoff specialist, Jordan Gay has not gotten to attempt a single field goal in camp.
6) OL/DL 1-on-1’s commence
- As the pads went on, it was the first time the offensive line and defensive line got together for my personal favorite drill of camp: 1-on-1s. It’s a simple premise, one offensive lineman versus one defensive lineman. The defensive lineman is doing everything in his power to get to the quarterback, and the offensive lineman is doing everything in his power to stop him. I caught the early portion of 7-on-7 drills as the 1-on-1s got started, so I actually missed the first-team offensive line go through the paces, but I was able to see the second and third units go through the drill. Among the standouts, backup left tackle Chris Martin dominated his two reps against Lorenzo Alexander. Defensively, the freshly signed Casey Walker won two of his three reps that I witnessed, and the tall and long-limbed Bryson Albright gave both Cyrus Kounadjio and Justin Renfrow everything they could handle in two successful reps. On the opposite end of the spectrum, interior offensive lineman Ryan Groy and defensive lineman Lavar Edwards did not show well in the drill.
7) Worthy, Z. Brown stand out in team drills
- A legitimate question heading to training camp was about the defensive depth, and whether or not the Bills had enough to sustain in the event of a few injuries during the season. Two of those depth players brought their A-game on Monday in team drills, and wreaked havoc in the backfield. Both defensive lineman Jerel Worthy and inside linebacker Zach Brown collected two sacks each of Tyrod Taylor. Worthy has been working with the first-team defensive line through the first three days of camp, mainly due to Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams being unavailable to practice. Brown is trying to crack the roster as the team’s top backup inside linebacker, and has experience as a weakside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. More days like this will go a long way in trying to secure a spot for each of the players.
Day 3 MVP: WR Robert Woods
- Marquise Goodwin was on his way to winning these honors, but the footwork and route running ability of Robert Woods was on display. Combine that with his two red zone touchdowns near the end of practice, and that was the determining factor.
Day 3 LVP: DL Lavar Edwards
- The defensive lineman failed to really get solid footing in his one-on-one reps, and was clearly dominated by Cyrus Kouandjio during the drill. He couldn’t pull off a win against the slower guard Cyril Richardson, and on top of it all, was one of only three players that had to run a lap because of a pre-snap penalty.
Did Not Participate: WR Sammy Watkins (PUP), WR Marcus Easley (PUP), EDGE Shaq Lawson (PUP), DL Kyle Williams (PUP), RB Karlos Williams (Non-Football Illness), DL Marcell Dareus (Non-Football Illness), OT Seantrel Henderson (Non-Football Illness), EDGE Manny Lawson (Non-Football Injury), WR Kolby Listenbee (Non-Football Injury)
Up Next: Tuesday, August 2 from 6 pm to 8 pm. Practice is open to the public, but a ticket is needed for entry.
Miss a day of practice? Catch up with my daily observations:
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