By all accounts, it was the most physical practice of training camp thus far for the Buffalo Bills. There were great plays being made, excitement, hard hits, and the crowd that packed St. John Fisher College was in to the full padded session.
That is, until the Bills' prized possession of the off-season, third overall pick Marcell Dareus, fell down and immediately grabbed at his lower leg.
To his credit, Dareus stayed in one more snap after the injury, then walked with a slight limp over the the area the rest of to players were resting. It took a solid five minutes, and then the Bills training staff came over to attend to him. They made him walk a bit, and the team's worst fears were avoided.
"They just held him out [the rest of practice] for precautionary reasons," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He could have finished practice but he tweaked something and they said hold him out the rest of practice. We'll get him back tomorrow."
But the rest of the practice featured plenty of highlights for the right reasons. For starters, Nick Barnett, Brad Smith, Tyler Thigpen, Drayton Florence, Scott Chandler and Garrison Sanborn were all allowed to practice for the very first time thanks to the ratification of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Barnett was thrown in to the fire, getting a lot of reps with the first team defense.
"It feels good" remarked Barnett. "It's the first day for me so I'm definitely rusty and trying to think too much. So I've just got to continue to work, and continue to get it down and start getting a little more comfortable with it."
He wasn't the only one. Thigpen immediately took snaps as the second team quarterback in his first day on the job.
"I felt like there was some good things, some bad things," said Thigpen. "It's been about seven months since I've put some shoulder pads and a helmet on. But there's some things I can learn from and correct from today. So I'm definitely excited to get in there in to the film tomorrow and watching."
The first day group provided some solid moments from the session. Barnett was barreling at his blockers at full speed during team drills, Florence knocked over Stevie Johnson on a couple of pass plays, Thigpen threw some nice passes in to the end zone and even Chandler got in on the fun for some solid receptions during 7-on-7's.
Here are some notes from the rest of the evening:
- C.J. Spiller had a terrific practice. He was showing burst to the line of scrimmage, identifying the correct hole and hitting it at the right moment. He was even lowering his pad level at would be tacklers to try and get more yardage.
- The 1-on-1's for offensive and defensive linemen continue to be my favorite thing to watch during a football practice. Spencer Johnson looked powerful throughout, getting past Andy Levitre on one and blowing past Chad Rinehart on another.
- Rinehart got in a bit of an altercation, the first of training camp. He and defensive lineman T.J. Langley got into it after Langley went high and knocked off the guard's helmet. Rinehart took exception to it, and they scuffled down to the turf. It's actually kind of funny, both men wear the number 76. Number envy, perhaps.
- Kraig Urbik continues to struggle a bit. He gives up a ton of ground against starters in the 1-on-1 drills.
- Here's the obligatory Aaron Maybin bullet. Maybin went up against Erik Pears and Demetrius Bell one separate reps. The winner? I'll give you a hint, their nickname isn't Mayhem. However, Maybin did have a nice play, speeding by Ed Wang to force an incompletion during team drills.
- Stevie Johnson had a tremendous day, coming down with a few great catches that drew applause from the onlooking fans. He put his body on the line for a couple of them.
- Brad Smith started off the session working exclusively with the quarterback group. He spent time after practice throwing the football around forty or fifty yards with Thigpen.
- The newly signed Craig (Buster) Davis trotted on to the practice field 15 minutes in to the session. The former San Diego wide receiver was signed this evening. For those keeping track at home, he'll wear number 85, meanwhile backup long snapper Danny Aiken switches to 73. The Bills have also waived former UB player and undrafted free agent Domonic Cook.