Ten practices down, only five more to go for the Buffalo Bills and their 2017 training camp. The Bills made some big headlines on Monday after practice with their signing of Anquan Boldin, which you can read more about here, but they still got through another day of work. And, it just so happened to be Tyrod Taylor’s best day of training camp so far.
What stood out from Monday’s practice? 7 observations from the day of work:
1) “Write about that!” Tyrod has his best day yet
- Monday has been the day we’ve been waiting to see from Tyrod Taylor since training camp started. Both on the field and off of it, Taylor just seemed to be loose. Whether it was throwing the ball from the pocket, goofily posing for a fan’s picture as he was running by to his next drill, or at trying to get Charles Clay to crack while the tight end was speaking during an interview, Taylor seemed like he was just having fun on the field. And it showed, too. He seemed relaxed, and I only saw one throw that was off target. He was hitting his receivers in stride, making the right reads, and in his two-minute drill to end the practice, Taylor went 6-of-7 for 77 yards and a touchdown as time expired. As he ran past reporters, he yelled, “Write about that!” Now, let’s get something straight, I don’t think you should be overly concerned about Taylor interacting with the media after a drive. I think it was more just a product of him being a little bit looser at practice and having fun with it, not in a malicious, taunting type of way. It was all a positive for the Bills to see Taylor operating with full confidence in the offense, and the results were the best they’ve seen yet.
2) Watkins seems fine, and other injury notes
- The record essentially scratched to a halt on Sunday afternoon when Sammy Watkins had to leave the field for about 10 or 15 minutes. It had fans fearing the worst and the snark was out in full force about the wide receiver being injury prone (and laughably even continued hours after he was deemed to be fine). Watkins urged that he was fine, and he merely tweaked his ankle. He wasn’t lying. The wide receiver returned to the practice field on Monday morning, going through all of the positional drills, and then taking as many team drill reps as I’ve seen him do at camp so far — and he looked smooth doing so. Elsewhere, left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) practiced for the second straight day, and it seemed like he took some more time during team drills than he had the practice before. Safety Micah Hyde (hip) returned to take a handful of reps in team drills, which was the first we’ve seen that since his injury last week, meanwhile Shaq Lawson (groin) didn’t take any team drill reps for the second straight practice. One new note to a significant player: cornerback Kevon Seymour was on crutches due to a foot injury, the Bills have deemed him ‘day-to-day.’
3) Incognito is dominating at camp
- Every day at training camp so far, I make about three or four notes per practice about left guard Richie Incognito basically being an impenetrable force during practice, and every day when I sit down to write these, I think to myself, “I’ll sneak him in tomorrow.” On Monday, his day was so good that I couldn’t possibly push it off any longer. Incognito, as he has done on a daily basis, won all of his one-on-one reps. In fact, I have watched the offensive line versus defensive line one-on-one drills every single day that the Bills have done them, and going back in my notes, Incognito has not lost a single rep through the first 10 days of camp. He extended that into team drills, making dominant blocks on the way to touchdowns on consecutive red zone plays. He completely cleared out the way for both of the scoring plays. Incognito, even though he is one of the oldest players on the team, looks to be in line for another superb season to add to his career with the Bills.
4) Ducasse struggling quite a bit
- On the flip side of Incognito, free agent signing Vladimir Ducasse has had a rough go of it over the last several practices, and it came to a head on Monday. Ducasse was overthinking things during both team drills and during one-on-ones. It started off with one of the worst beats of camp, as Marcell Dareus flew by Ducasse and into the backfield with one move in less than half of a second. Ducasse basically just stood there in disbelief. His next rep came against Jerel Worthy, who zoomed right past Ducasse in a way-too-easy fashion. Trying to build the confidence back up, they called for Ducasse to go against Worthy on the very next rep, and the results didn’t differ very much with Worthy getting another easy win. You could definitely tell by the end that it was in his head, and it bled into the work during team drills. He’s been in a competition with John Miller to be the starting right guard, but Miller has easily been the better player at training camp so far. Ducasse has some work to do because I’m not necessarily sold he’s even a lock to make the team. He needs to show well during the preseason.
5) Yarbrough does it again
- I’m really not kidding about this Eddie Yarbrough guy. He has made plays, in a consistent fashion, for nine out of the ten days of training camp. And they haven’t just been solid plays, I’m talking about “sacks” and making the coaches call a play dead in the backfield because he’s in there. The most impressive part now? He’s doing it against the first-team offensive line now that Shaq Lawson has had to sit out the past two days of team drills with a groin injury. Yarbrough hasn’t slowed down, using a variety of moves to get to the backfield. His next big test will be to do it in an actual game. If he can do so, the Cinderella story of Yarbrough’s rise up the depth chart over just a few weeks will certainly be one to remember.
6) O’Leary shows off as a blocker
- During positional work, you can’t take too much away in terms of what you see on the field. However, when the running backs, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive backs all get together to do a one-on-one blocking drill, you can see which players really excel in blocking. To no one’s surprise, the ever-improving Nick O’Leary showed some dominant traits as a blocker. On his first block attempt, he easily handled the more athletic safety Jordan Poyer as the defender tried to rush out wide, and even finished it with a little bit of edge after the whistle. His next rep was against safety Trae Elston, and within a second, O’Leary used his solid leverage to completely throw Elston to the ground. O’Leary is by far the best blocking tight end and has easily carved out a role for himself this year in this multiple tight end and run-heavy offense.
7) Cedric O’Neal commits training camp sin
- One of my favorite performers from the spring workouts was the young Cedric O’Neal, who has one of those stories that make you want to root for him. During the spring, he showed a good burst and solid vision to get up the field, and it made me want to see what he brought to the table once training camp began. Since the pads have gone on, though, O’Neal has faded to the back a bit. He has his moments every once and again, but players like Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, and even Joe Banyard have been more impressive to this point. Worst yet, O’Neal committed a major no-no to end Monday’s practice. He successfully caught a pass during the third-team offense’s two-minute drill and tried to get out of bounds, but forgot to secure the ball totally, which led to linebacker Gerald Hodges forcing a fumble, recovering it, and running it all the way back to the other side of the field. For someone in O’Neal’s position, he cannot afford to make mistakes like that when his opportunities are limited and on the final play of practice, no less. He needs to show up in a big way during the preseason games to make this team.
Day 10 MVP: LG Richie Incognito
- Another dominant day for one of the best Bills players on the field.
Day 10 LVP: RG Vladimir Ducasse
- He was in his head during one-on-one drills, and never really recovered after it.
Up Next: Tuesday, August 8 at 8:45 am for Day 10 of training camp. The practice is open to the public.
Watch the full first 40 minutes of Day 10 below!