With the close of training camp at St. John Fisher College on Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills packed up and moved back to Orchard Park for the remainder of the season.
In the 16 practice sessions available to the media, players were showing clear trends as to who had a strong training camp as a whole, and who left a lot to be desired.
Let's take a look at who takes home the awards (albeit fake ones) for their time in Pittsford, NY:
Flying up the Depth Chart: LB Arthur Moats
- Not many saw the surge of Arthur Moats as a strongside linebacker coming -- not even head coach Chan Gailey. Moats has taken to his new and permanent role better than anyone could have anticipated. He's been able to not only answer some questions when it comes to depth at linebacker, but he's now considered the slight favorite to win the starting job. A job well done by a guy that has had to switch positions more than any player should.
Sinking like a ship: WR Marcus Easley
- This was a very important training camp for Marcus Easley. Coming off two straight years that landed him on the injured reserve, Easley was healthy and needed a good camp to secure a roster spot. He had his bright spots, but for the most part Easley has let many chances slip away. He's been passed on the depth chart by Derek Hagan, T.J. Graham, Ruvell Martin, David Clowney and Naaman Roosevelt. The former fourth-round pick really needs a strong next few weeks in order to stick around in 2012.
Best Fight: CB Stephon Gilmore vs. WR Derek Hagan
- Unfortunately there were no Aaron Maybin versus the offense moments like there were in 2010. However, the one skirmish that sticks out the most involved first-round pick Stephon Gilmore and rising wide receiver Derek Hagan. The two were engaged in a block attempt by Hagan on a run play. After the play was called dead, the two didn't let go, leading to a few jabs and both players taking each other down to the ground. The two have been chattering back and forth at each other dating back to mini-camp. I liked it because Hagan went with the "Don't pull that with me, rook," ideology, whereas Gilmore endorsed the "Just because I'm a rookie doesn't mean I'm going to take that garbage," approach. I enjoyed the competitive fire by both players.
Best Moment: S Da'Norris Searcy and LB Kirk Morrison flatline HB Tashard Choice
- It happened late in training camp, but Tashard Choice was not happy following one practice in particular. During team drills, Choice took a hand-off and busted left to open field. Da'Norris Searcy read the play the whole way, and rather than giving the two-hand touch appraoch, Searcy lowered his shoulder and dropped Choice cleanly. Choice, a noted trash-talker, elicited reactions from other defenders telling him to get his expletive expletive up. The next play? Another hand-off to Choice, and the same result. This time Kirk Morrison decked Choice in the backfield and the ball was jarred loose. The way the defense on the sideline reacted, you would have thought someone just pulled off a dunk jumping from the three-point line.
Rookie Standout: WR T.J. Graham
- With all due respect to Stephon Gilmore, I wanted to go away from the first-round pick because he's expected to stand out as a first day starter. While Nigel Bradham and Ron Brooks have progressed as players through camp, the award for standout goes to T.J. Graham. Looking shaky at best throughout OTA's and mini-camp, Graham became someone the first-team could start to depend on by making tough catches and showing the burst that made him a second-day pick. He hasn't passed the top four receivers (Johnson, Jones, Nelson and Hagan), but he has certainly played his way in to the rotation.
Rookie Dud: OG/C Mark Asper
- Two offensive linemen were up for this award, with it coming down to Zebrie Sanders and Mark Asper. Sanders struggled to get his false start problem fixed throughout training camp, but did show some signs of life at times. While he may not make the active roster, the practice squad seems likely. In the case of Mark Asper, he has struggled mightily throughout camp. There weren't many bright spots for the former Oregon player, and he's gotten called out during drills by Joe D'Alessandris for his poor play and technique.
Camp LVP Runner-Ups: DT Alex Carrington and WR Marcus Easley
- For reasons stated above, Easley is a clear choice for one of the runner-up spots for least valuable player. The other goes to former third-round pick Alex Carrington. He had plenty of chances throughout camp to show the coaches he could help the team. With both Torell Troup and Kellen Heard sidelined by injuries for much of camp, Carrington could have made a case to the coaches that he should be kept around. Instead, he's looked plain and average against third-string players and has does nothing to warrant a roster spot.
MVP Runner-Ups: DT Kyle Williams and TE Scott Chandler
- When the Bills signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson for the defensive line, the impact they are projected to have is obvious. But the indirect impact they are having is helping Kyle Williams get back to his old ways. Now healthy following successful foot surgery, it's the Williams of old that lines up with the first-team defense. His fire off the snap and overall penetration in to the backfield really stands out each practice. Scott Chandler has also been a strong contributor to camp on a daily basis. Easy catches, tough catches in traffic -- it doesn't matter. Chandler has roped everything in and become one of Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite two targets. He looks primed to have a better season than his last one.
Training Camp LVP: QB Tyler Thigpen
- I don't think it's that much of a surprise that one of the backup quarterback competitors is training camp's least valuable player. Thigpen, who has been the least consistent between he and Vince Young, really did nothing through the early part of camp to help him get the backup job. In fact, his performance may have had the reverse effect if his counterpart had really come out and played well. Thigpen improved a bit as practices went along, but his performance along with the second-team, led to an exasperated Chan Gailey declaring that things couldn't get much worse.
Training Camp MVP: S Jairus Byrd
- I know, I know. I'm a broken record when it comes to Jairus Byrd. However, now that the All-22 film will be available to fans, just take the time to watch everything he does in the secondary if you're a subscriber. Listen to Mark Kelso during game-day broadcasts about what Byrd does. He is a complete free safety -- solid in coverage, play recognition and tackling -- and is on the cusp of becoming one of the best in the NFL. He's a hidden star on the defense because of the position he plays, and he proved it all camp long.