Two days down, and one to go for the Buffalo Bills before they break for the next six weeks. Mandatory minicamp has only one more day left, but during the second day, we got to see more of how the rotations have worked throughout the spring workout, and perhaps how it's going to set up for training camp in late July.
Who stood out during Wednesday's practice? Seven observations from the second day of Bills minicamp:
1) Josh Allen has his best day yet
- After watching four practices of Josh Allen with the whole team, I wrote on Tuesday that he has mainly given up and down performances to this point. However, on Wednesday, he had his best day yet without surrendering a throw that makes you utter, 'Well, what was that?' Allen took one set of first-team reps, just as he did on Tuesday, and opened it up by throwing a dart of a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley. He continued in working with the third-team offense the remainder of the day by continuing to show his clear ability throwing the ball that's just a cut above everything else the Bills have on their roster at the position. Now the one thing I did notice him do a couple of times was trying to get away with making a play with only his arm while sacrificing his footwork. There are times where he won't have a chance to set his feet and make a throw during a game, but in these specific instances he had the time to do so, and it cost him an incompletion. However, that was about as much as you could say in a negative light for Allen's practice on Wednesday, and the Bills have to be happy with the progress that he's made already in this short time.
2) Peterman outplays McCarron once again
- For the majority of the practice, A.J. McCarron took the first-team reps with the offense as it was his turn during their spring-long rotation, but as the veteran quarterbacks on the team go, Nathan Peterman outperformed McCarron just as he did on Tuesday as well. McCarron had several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and was having some trouble connecting with his receiver. He salvaged the day with a pair of big plays, one to Andre Holmes in the end zone in a jump ball situation, and another in a one-minute drill to end practice where he just lofted up a pass as time expired and Rod Streater miraculously came down with it in the back of the end zone. On the other hand, Peterman was solid in both his reads and his accuracy all day long. He gunned in a touchdown to Austin Proehl in the back of the end zone, and had a pretty pass that he dropped into a bucket on a deep pass to Robert Foster. Those that don't think Peterman has a legitimate chance to win the job to start the season are sorely mistaken. Now, this is only the spring, and training camp often brings us a bit of a different story as the battles play out, but of the five practices the media has been able to watch, Peterman has been the top guy between the two.
3) Taron Johnson shows well at nickel
- Besides quarterback, wide receiver, and center, the only real competition it seems to this point is at nickel corner. Phillip Gaines has mainly been with the first-team defense in that position throughout the spring workouts, but he hasn't exactly been stellar in his showings thus far. Rookie and fourth-round selection Taron Johnson is his main competition and working against the second-team offense, and today the rookie made a big play to break up a would-be deep ball to Ray-Ray McCloud. Nathan Peterman threw the ball perfectly, but the trouble is the coverage was even better. Johnson was with him stride-for-stride, then read the receiver's hands and made a play at McCloud once he outstretched them to knock the ball incomplete. It drew praise from the entire starting secondary, and safety Micah Hyde even jumped up from kneeling position and on to the field to give Johnson his due. It's early yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Johnson getting some time with the first-team defense as a real competition once things go to training camp.
4) Proehl flashes ability
- So far a mini-battle has ensued between the two receivers the Bills selected, McCloud and Proehl, because of their similar builds. McCloud has had the upper hand for most of the workouts we've seen, but Proehl's route running and ability to finish a play made some waves at practice. Proehl first displayed his solid footwork during rookie minicamp, but he's faded to the background a bit since -- that is until Wednesday rolled around. Proehl's toe-tapping touchdown was incredibly impressive, considering his room for error was slim. The throw was one that he had to go up for, and his body positioning made it seem like he'd have to make an impressive play to get his feet in bounds. He secured the catch, and when he came down with the ball, planted his one foot so he could gather his other one well enough to drag it through the end zone. Those are the types of plays that get you noticed in practices like these.
5) The Groy, Bodine competition continues
- With Wednesday being our first chance to see two consecutive practices, we saw how some of the rotations had been working, and it's now clear that the Bills are rotating their top two centers with the first-team by day, much like they are with McCarron and Peterman at quarterback. Bodine, after he was a member of the second unit on Tuesday, returned to the first-team offense Wednesday. We won't see one player pull ahead until the offensive line can start being physical and blocking, but the competition remains wide open.
6) An undrafted cornerback moves up
- The Bills cornerback group, outside of Tre'Davious White, Vontae Davis, and draft pick Taron Johnson, remains mostly unsettled for how the rest of the depth chart will look. Phillip Gaines certainly has a chance to stick around, but there is plenty of opportunities for younger players to steal a roster spot this summer. For much of the spring, cornerback Breon Borders had been with the second-team defense as their right cornerback. He showed a lot of potential during preseason last year with the Oakland Raiders, and the Bills picked him up late last year. However, over the previous two days, Borders has been bumped down to third-team unit at least for the time being. In his place, undrafted free agent cornerback Levi Wallace has moved ahead at the moment. Wallace, although a bit on the skinny side, has nearly 33-inch long arms. For reference, 32-inch arms are typically the threshold a zone coverage defensive team looks for in players at that position. If Wallace can show he's a sound tackler and can make some plays this preseason, it's not out of the realm of possibilities whatsoever that he makes the 53-man roster.
7) A two-man kick return battle?
- While the Bills have been using four players to return punts through out the spring workouts, we haven't seen much regarding kick return. That changed on Wednesday, and despite having players like Kaelin Clay and Ray-Ray McCloud, the Bills had only two players back returning kicks: running backs Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet. Those two players are likely in a battle for one roster spot this summer, and a big piece of the equation will be if one can outplay the other with that role. As for Clay and McCloud, they were on the kick return team, only as the next line up from the primary return men. For now, it's a two-man show.