Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- A day not deprived of many different story lines, the Buffalo Bills went through perhaps their most adventurous of days so far through training camp at St. John Fisher College. From a freak injury, to live hitting to a star player taking another step forward, there was plenty to chew on for the fans and media in attendance.
If you missed anything about the incredibly bizarre injury that happened at Bills camp on Saturday, be sure that you're up to speed. Aside from that, there was plenty to glean from the most interesting practice of 2013 thus far.
One small slip for Kevin Kolb, one giant leap for EJ Manuel
- An incredibly unfortunate turn of events for quarterback Kevin Kolb leaves him day-to-day with a knee injury, and the man that benefits the most is quite obviously EJ Manuel. With Kolb leaving practice Saturday before the Bills got into 11-on-11's, that left all the first-team repetitions for Manuel. The best part of it for the rookie? The Bills defense held nothing back just because he was a rookie. They sent unique blitzes at the first-round pick, which sometimes resulted in a forced throw or a sack. That's what Manuel needs at this point though. He needs to be exposed to anything and everything if they are completely serious about him potentially winning this job outright. Kolb being off the field for more than just a few days could be the crushing blow in his hopes of winning the starting job. Manuel didn't throw any interceptions, but one area he needs to improve is not settling for dumping it down to the running back option. That was a tendency at Florida State that he must break with extended time under center. On the plus side, Manuel delivered a pair of terrific deep passes to receivers running a fly route down the sideline. Marcus Easley roped one in for a touchdown.
Bills practice goes LIVE
- With the live scrimmage scheduled for Monday night's practice at St. John Fisher College, Head Coach Doug Marrone attempted to ready his team for the physical aspects of that day by going live for 15 straight plays to end practice. It started with eight straight plays along the goal line, where the offense scored a touchdown six separate times. Four of the touchdowns were of the rushing variety, while the other two went to the receiving-eligible sixth offensive lineman on a passing score. The offense was called for offsides on one of their attempts, otherwise it would have been seven touchdowns in eight plays. The recipients of the passing scores? Thomas Welch and Sam Young. Upon both receptions, the entire offense ran over to the player and celebrated the "gotcha!" type of touchdown they just scored. With only one day of practice before the live scrimmage on Monday night, it would be fair to expect Sunday's session to be a light, non-padded practice for the Bills.
Mario inching his way back
- On Friday, Doug Marrone told reporters that they would be working outside linebacker Mario Williams back in to practice slowly. The precautionary approach took another step forward on Saturday, with Williams taking part in the install portion, stretching and positional drills with the defensive linemen. The next step for him will be starting to get involved in 11-on-11's even on just a limited basis.
Another rookie moves up
- Due to the injury suffered by wide receiver Stevie Johnson, that means another spot to run with the first-team in practice is wide open. On Saturday, the youngster that stepped in was none other than third-round pick Marquise Goodwin. Now with Johnson on the sidelines, when the Bills were in three wide receiver sets it featured the three wideouts the organization selected within the first three rounds of the past two drafts. T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Goodwin got the time with the first team. Woods took quite a large portion in the slot when all three were on the field, leaving Graham and Goodwin on the outsides. This could be a perfect storm for the former Texas wide receiver. He started out on the second-team taking passes from EJ Manuel. Now with Manuel looking poised to run away with the job, the injury to Stevie Johnson came at just the right time where he could continue to build that chemistry with Manuel throughout practice. At this point Manuel might be more comfortable with Goodwin than any other receiver on the roster.
Butler bleeds his own blood
- For the third time in training camp, there was a minor disagreement between an offensive and defensive player that resulted in a brief scuffle. For the second time of the three, it involved cornerback Crezdon Butler. As mentioned previously, Manuel connected on a bomb to Marcus Easley for a touchdown. The cornerback getting torched on the play? Butler. Only a few plays removed, he was taking some heat from some offensive players on the side that chose to try to get in his head while he was approaching his next rep on the field. Hearing the trash talk right up until the ball was snapped, Butler got a bit charged up and went high to the facemask of wide receiver Chris Hogan on his jam attempt. Hogan took exception and went high on Butler. Somehow Butler's helmet popped off and the already in-motion arms of Hogan accidentally jettisoned the cornerback's helmet in to his face. Butler went to the sidelines, spitting out blood from his mouth and being attended to by the trainers. He got back in for more reps later on in the practice.
Marrone gets vocal during team drills
- Generally a very encouraging head coach, Doug Marrone took exception to some things that were irritating him on the field Saturday and erupted with some choice words for the offense. At one point, defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert got in to the backfield virtually untouched to blow up a passing play. It caused Marrone to scream out "Protection! C'mon!" Building off that, Marrone then was not happy with the speed in which the players were moving, and kept screaming to stop walking and pick up the pace. If there's one thing we know about the new head coach, it's that he wants the practices to go a certain way, and isn't bashful about making himself heard when he's not pleased.
Tough to get a read on Branch
- The Bills elected to sign free agent defensive lineman Alan Branch this off-season to a one-year deal, and he really didn't make himself stand out at any point during the first five days. At first thought, many believed Branch would be battling for the first-team repetitions with Alex Carrington. However, Branch has been getting most of his work with the second and third units. On the first day of live contact, however, Branch had his strongest practice with occupying blockers and even wrapping up a run play before it got anywhere. Maybe all he needed was some live contact, but he was disappointing leading up to Saturday. As written on Friday, Branch shouldn't be in much real danger of getting cut but if he doesn't discern himself he'll let that potential conversation linger even more.
Left guard stays the same… for now
- For the second straight day, the Bills kept Doug Legursky with the first-team at left guard while Colin Brown was once again on the second team. Both players are making many mistakes out there, and Legursky was directly responsible for Marrone's blow up during 11-on-11 drills after Jarron Gilbert came away with an easy sack. The job may end up going to the lesser of the two evils at this point. Or, the Bills will have to wait for the first set of cuts and hope someone can come in and compete.
Day 6 MVP: HB Zach Brown
- Steadily getting more carries throughout training camp, Zach Brown had his best practice since joining the Bills on Saturday. Brown's decisive running helped key the Bills to two separate touchdowns during the live goal line drill. One was a straight handoff to Brown, who powered it through and in to the end zone. The second, which was the last of the goal line drill, featured Brown taking a handoff wide and stiff-arming Nigel Bradham to free himself enough for an end zone run. Coming in to camp, Kendall Gaskins was the name some were watching to potentially steal the third running back job. Perhaps Brown should be getting more buzz than he has been as legitimate competition for Tashard Choice.
Day 6 LVP: WR Da'Rick Rogers
- It truly was a day to forget for undrafted rookie wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers. When the Bills got to their 7-on-7 work, Rogers took a knee on the sideline. The Bills were obviously missing a wide receiver on the left side and there was a long pause before one of the coaches finally screamed out "Da'Rick!" At first, a readied Marquise Goodwin hopped in to the play, but Rogers finally popped up, buckled his chinstrap and got into the play. Forgetting to be somewhere when you're supposed to be there is a big no-no for any player, especially an undrafted rookie. Later on, Rogers had a big chance to redeem himself when he was wide open down the left sideline on a fly route. He beat his man and EJ Manuel delivered a perfect throw. Rogers took his eye off the ball for a split second and the ball went through his hands and dropped to the turf, negating a sure touchdown. Saturday's practice was not the way to build momentum from how glowingly Marrone spoke about him after Friday's session.
The Bills get back on the practice field at 2 pm on Sunday. Practice is once again open to the public.