The first two weeks of Organized Team Activities for the Buffalo Bills are in the books as they creep a bit closer to the start of training camp on July 20. During Wednesday’s practice, a sloppy day on offense led to a lot of opportunities for the defense to show their stuff.
Did that happen once again on Thursday? And how did some things shift around without some starters available for practice?
Here is the rundown on some of the notable items:
1) Bills do the two-minute drill
- For the first time in 2014, the Bills carved out a portion of their practice for EJ Manuel to run two separate two-minute drills. The results of the attempts weren’t exactly earth shattering. Both times, Manuel started with 1:42 on the clock and more than half the field to go to the end zone. On their first drill, the offense started with an 8-yard pass to Tony Moeaki. From there, it got ugly. A poorly executed screen attempt on second down resulted in zero yards. That was followed up by a slant to Chris Hogan that was broken up by Corey Graham, and then Hogan was once again targeted on a fourth-down comeback route. He slipped on his break and the ball sailed out of bounds, ending that rendition of the drill. The second one got going a little bit more than the first. After having a throw to the flat to Robert Woods tipped, the receiver still corralled it for a four-yard gain. Manuel then hit Woods over the middle for about an 18-yard gain on his most crisp pass of the drill, beating the zone coverage. The quarterback then missed on a deep throw to Marquise Goodwin, completed a six-yard pass on second down and then had a rather peculiar two-yard gain. His pass was batted back to him, so he caught it and ran, still leaving them two-yards short of the first down. On fourth down, rookie Cyrus Kouandjio was called for holding, and the drill came to an end. It wasn’t exactly the smoothest of exercises, but you have to start somewhere.
2) Glenn at guard
- For only the second time that one can remember, the Buffalo Bills and head coach Doug Marrone put starting left tackle Cordy Glenn inside to guard during a practice. It happened once during training camp last year and again during Thursday’s OTA session. Starting left guard Chris Williams was absent from practice, and the Bills elected to get Glenn some reps on the inside rather than giving Mark Asper more time with the first-team. The move shifted Chris Hairston from the second-team to the first-team and he resumed left tackle duties. That’s likely not a sign of things to come, but just a look at how things could shake out if there is an injury to an interior lineman.
3) Graham (Corey) stands out
- Without Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin able to take any reps during any of the six OTA practices, free agent acquisition Corey Graham has been getting a lot of time on the field with the first team. He’s played both on the boundary and as the nickel corner, depending on the day, and he was always around the ball on Thursday. He picked off two separate passes and was in on a few different breakups as well. He’s been a strong contributor all throughout OTAs as it is, and Thursday was his strongest day of the bunch.
4) Third-rounder getting some first-team reps
- It wasn’t a ton of exposure for third-round selection and linebacker Preston Brown with the first-team defense, but it was a little bit. Head coach Doug Marrone stated after the first practice that as the younger players grew more comfortable, he had no problem with throwing them into the first-team just to get some exposure with it. It took a handful of practices for Brown, but he got his first few reps with the top unit in a nickel package. He and Keith Rivers were the linebackers, which was a bit interesting mostly because Brown was billed more as a run-stuffing middle or strongside linebacker as opposed to one that can play nickel early in his career. Even still, it was a good step for Brown who likely has no chance to start in 2014 unless an injury occurs.
5) Rare sight for Sammy
- Through his first three practices, first-round pick Sammy Watkins was catching everything in sight. It didn’t matter if it was in stride, high, low or behind him, Watkins roped in nearly every pass thrown his way. That’s why it was rather shocking to see a pass go right through his hands during Thursday’s practice. To make matters worse, it landed in the arms of a defensive back for the Bills to create a turnover for that side of the ball. It was his first real lapse of OTAs, so it’s not a trend that is expected to continue based on his previous body of work.
Extra: Video of the day
- Watkins was smooth for all the other parts of the day, including on this comeback route.