Even a day after they saw one of their most promising young players go down with a knee injury on Friday, the Buffalo Bills went through with their annual scrimmage on Saturday night at St. John Fisher College.
Without Reggie Ragland, they were down to only three healthy inside linebackers, and even had a couple of outside backers (Eric Striker, Bryson Albright) chip in to help. Due to that fact, the Bills canceled about 20 minutes worth of the scrimmage off their schedule because they just didn’t have the man power.
So, how did the players look on Saturday night? Seven observations from the day of work:
1) Efficient Tyrod
- The Bills went through and gave their starting offense three drives in the scrimmage, twice against the first-team defense and once against the second unit. In those three drives, Tyrod Taylor brought his game right back to what we’ve grown accustomed to over time with him. He finished the night completing 8-of-11 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, with his highlight throw going to Robert Woods deep down the right side for a 36-yard touchdown. Taylor actually should have been 9-of-11 for right around the 100 yard mark if it wasn’t for a drop right over the middle of the field. Between the other two passes, only one of them was a blatant misfire — which was a ball thrown behind Marquise Goodwin with Ronald Darby in coverage. The only other miss was the right read: A deep ball to Greg Salas with Jerry Hughes a step behind the wide receiver. The throw needed just a tad more loft, and hit Hughes in the back of the helmet before falling to the turf. Other than that, Taylor was right on with all his passes and led one of the only two touchdown drives out of nine total drives.
2) Down goes Cordy
- Another day, and another injury for a Bills player that is incredibly important to the upcoming season. Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn, who just inked a lucrative multi-year contract extension in the offseason, had to head to the locker room with the training staff following the first-team offense’s second drive. After a short-yardage run, Glenn was gimpy as he walked off the field, and just three minutes later, went to the locker room walking under his own power. It was later revealed to be an ankle injury for Glenn, which if it was of the long-term variety, would be a terrible scenario for a Bills team that depends heavily on the left side of the line to help their running game. In Glenn’s place, it wasn’t third-year player and former second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio that took his place. Instead, it was Chris Martin, the player that the Bills signed just a couple of months ago. The Bills have to be holding their collective breath that the Glenn injury isn’t a serious one.
3) Without Clay, TEs lacking
- For the second time in three practices, the Buffalo Bills were without Charles Clay on the practice field for an unspecified injury, and to make matters worse, blocking tight end Jim Dray also sat out due to an ankle injury he suffered on Friday. That left the Bills with only three tight ends: Chris Gragg, Blake Annen, and Nick O’Leary. Between the three of them, they combined for 2 receptions, 11 yards, two drops, and one of the drops led to the only interception of the practice. Of the three, Annen was the strongest with his one reception for 9 yards, but Gragg and O’Leary were basically invisible on the field. It was a bit of an uncharacteristic day for Gragg, who has carved out a reputation of being a strong practice player most every single day, so his drop was a bit of an anomaly. For O’Leary, though, his drop that led to an interception just gives further proof to the line of thinking that he might be playing his last few weeks as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
4) Goodwin wins the No. 3 WR day
- Saturday night was a tremendous opportunity for all the various wide receivers vying for the No. 3 job with the Bills, and among them all, Marquise Goodwin was the one that stole the show. On all four of his targets, he clearly won his routes against Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Kevon Seymour, and Mario Butler. If it wasn’t for an errant throw by Tyrod Taylor, Goodwin would have had four receptions to his name, but instead he ended the night with three catches for 61 yards. One of those three, perhaps the highlight play of the evening, was a 43-yard touchdown pass down the deep left sideline from EJ Manuel. Goodwin and Greg Salas spent the most time with the first unit, but Salas only managed one reception for 6 yards. The next impressive players were Jarrett Boykin (two receptions, 61 yards) and Greg Little (two receptions, 31 yards), while Dez Lewis and Leonard Hankerson were basically non-existent, not even garnering a target through the 25 attempted passes in the scrimmage.
5) Roller coaster Cardale
- Through the first six days of practice, rookie quarterback Cardale Jones has really lacked a great deal of accuracy, but the coaching staff have been impressed by the progress that he’s making off the field and in the meeting rooms. During the scrimmage, Jones showed his tendencies in live action for the first time — and he was a bit all over the place. There’s no doubt he played the most exciting brand of football by escaping the pocket (four rushes for 28 yards), throwing it deep down the field in the face of pressure (52-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin) and even putting his body at risk in a scrimmage. On his final rushing attempt, Jones dove head first for more yardage, to which one defensive player on the sidelines yelled out “You better slide, or you’ll get your a** knocked out.” It’s clear there are many tools to work with and you can tell he plays a bit of an ad-lib style of quarterbacking when things don’t go perfectly, but he still needs to work on his accuracy and his at times questionable decision making. I liked his evening for the most part, though.
6) J. Williams shows up, Boom goes boom
- The running back room had their first big chance to shine with the scrimmage setting, and rookie Jonathan Williams had to feel quite good about himself after busting open a 19-yard gain where he used his vision and speed to catch the linebackers and secondary on their heels. He’s in a fight for his roster life with LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush, and Mike Gillislee all clearly ahead of him. Karlos Williams will be a roster exemption to start the year, which means Williams, James Wilder, Jr., or Boom Herron will have to give the Bills a reason to carry a fourth running back on the initial 53-man roster. Williams had the most impressive day of the three, while Boom Herron did himself no favors. The veteran running back managed only two carries for two yards, he fell down on his first carry, and then had the ball ripped out of his arms and lost the fumble on his second carry. He’s clearly at the bottom of the pack as it stands today.
7) Tough night for Corey White
- There were plenty of big gains for the Bills on the offensive side of the ball that left the corners completely on an island, and that’s certainly by design with the way Rex Ryan calls his defense. However, veteran corner Corey White had a rough go of it on Saturday night, surrendering two of the biggest gains of the day. Greg Little had him beat on a shorter route that he racked up yards after the catch, and ended up with a 25-yard gain. Later on, it seemed like White was in good position on Robert Woods after the wide receiver stumbled near the beginning of his route, but the cornerback got caught peeking, Woods went right by him and he corralled the Tyrod Taylor pass for a 36-yard touchdown. White has made a few plays in minicamp and training camp with an interception or two, but he’s still very much in a battle to be the first cornerback off the bench if Stephon Gilmore or Ronald Darby gets injured. Working in his favor though, both rookie Kevon Seymour and Sterling Moore surrendered big gains as well.
Day 7 MVP: QB Tyrod Taylor
- The Bills couldn’t have asked for a much more efficient night from their starting quarterback, and he was clearly the winner of the scrimmage after successfully guiding the offense to a touchdown against the first-team defense.
Day 7 LVP: TE Nick O’Leary
- O’Leary quite literally had the ball in his hands, got hit, and let the ball fly up in the air for Corey Graham to come over and intercept. He’s undersized, not quite as athletic as the other tight ends on the roster, and hasn’t shown well as a blocker either. He’s at the bottom of the tight end depth chart.
Final Scrimmage Stats
Tyrod Taylor - 8-for-11, 89 yards, TD
EJ Manuel - 3-for-5, 60 yards, TD, INT
Cardale Jones - 5-for-9, 78 yards, 4 rushes, 28 yards
LeSean McCoy - 1 carry, 3 yards, 1 reception, 3 yards
Reggie Bush - 0 carries
Mike Gillislee - 4 rushes, 21 yards
Jonathan Williams - 3 rushes, 22 yards, 1 reception, 5 yards
James Wilder, Jr. - 3 rushes, 11 yards
Boom Herron - 2 rushes, 2 yards, 1 reception, 6 yards, 1 fumble lost
Glenn Gronkowski - 2 rushes, 1 yard
Robert Woods - 2 targets, 2 receptions, 41 yards, TD
Marquise Goodwin - 4 targets, 3 receptions, 61 yards, TD
Jarrett Boykin - 3 targets, 2 receptions, 61 yards
Greg Little - 3 targets, 2 receptions, 31 yards
Greg Salas - 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards
Walt Powell - 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards
Dez Lewis - 0 targets, 0 receptions
Leonard Hankerson - 0 targets, 0 receptions
Gary Chambers - 0 targets, 0 receptions
Kain Colter - 0 targets, 0 receptions
Chris Gragg - 1 target, 0 receptions
Blake Annen - 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards
Nick O’Leary - 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards
Notable Defensive Stats:
Sacks - DL Corbin Bryant, OLB Eric Striker, S Robert Blanton
Interception - S Corey Graham
Fumble Recovery - S Colt Anderson
Not Practicing: TE Charles Clay (undisclosed), TE Jim Dray (ankle), LB Reggie Ragland (knee) LB Kevin Reddick (knee), LB Jamari Lattimore (broken nose), 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: The Bills have the day off on Sunday, August 7. They'll get back to practice on Monday, August 8 from 10 am to 12 pm. The session 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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