For the second straight day, the Buffalo Bills got on the field for a practice during mandatory minicamp. The session was highlighted by the second two-minute drill of the 2014 workouts, and the intensity was heightened in the final minutes of practice.
The Bills had some standouts throughout the day, and more interesting roster decisions during the second day of minicamp. Who stood out?
Here are some brief observations:
1) Another day, another play(s) by Robey
- Just like he did in 2013, Nickell Robey had to work his way up the cornerback depth chart throughout the offseason workouts and eventually won himself some valuable time with the first unit. The small cornerback has done it again, showing that he makes plays each and every time the team makes the field. On Wednesday, there were two specific instances that stuck out. The first was during a normal 11-on-11 drill that had Robey blitzing from his nickel corner position. He rushed in and got picked up on the block by tight end Chris Gragg. The Bills attempted to draw him in and throw the ball over the top of him for a little swing pass, only to see the 5-foot-7 Robey leap up and bat the pass down at the line of scrimmage. That was impressive, but even more impressive was the end zone interception to end the two-minute drill for the first-team. EJ Manuel let it fly to the back left corner of the end zone, and Robey used his impressive leaping ability to rise up and pick the pass off that was still over his head a bit. Already in with the first team at nickel corner, Robey just continues to do all the right things during these practices.
2) Hairston at right guard continues
- On Tuesday, Chris Hairston was seen working at right guard with the first unit for the first time since the offseason practices began in May. The Bills must have liked what they’ve seen out of Hairston there, because for the second consecutive practice Hairston split the first-team reps at right guard with Kraig Urbik. To this point none of the trial players at guard have really stuck as legitimate competition for Urbik when the team goes to training camp in July. However, if Hairston continues to get those reps on the third day of minicamp (Thursday), perhaps he’ll serve as Urbik’s stiffest competition yet.
3) Henderson getting first-team reps
- Near the end of practice during the two-minute drill, left tackle Cordy Glenn could not participate. He did not attend Tuesday’s practice due to an illness, so perhaps that was the line of thinking for not having him out there in full on Wednesday. With Glenn out, Hairston at guard and rookie Cyrus Kouandjio working solely at right tackle with the second unit, seventh-round selection and rookie Seantrel Henderson served as the first-team left tackle during that drill. Going up against the best the defense had to offer, Henderson struggled mightily outside of one rep in which the Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams attempted a stunt. That time, Henderson anticipated it beautifully and was in control versus the hard-charging Williams. The rookie is getting opportunities to prove he is worthy of a roster spot, especially now with Hairston working exclusively with the guards over the last couple of days. He needs to improve, however.
4) A new position for a rookie
- At 6-foot-4 and 245-pounds, seventh-round pick and rookie linebacker Randell Johnson definitely stands out in that position group. Which is why one had to do a double take when you couldn’t easily see him while that group was going through their individual drills with the coaching staff. Instead, Johnson found his way over to the defensive end grouping and participated throughout practice as a down lineman. This makes a great deal of sense because some of Johnson’s biggest hangups through OTAs were all about the lack of his coverage abilities. Putting him at defensive end removes those, and allows him to use his athleticism in more of a quick-twitch way. Perhaps they’re just cross-training him, but they like him enough to move him around the defense. He seems like a prime practice squad candidate, as long as the team stays healthy enough.
5) Only one player absent
- The return of both Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson brought the attendance number up to 89 out of 90 (and 92 if you count the three tryout players). The lone absence was tight end Scott Chandler, who was excused by head coach Doug Marrone to take care of a family matter. In his absence, both Tony Moeaki and Lee Smith took first-team reps with EJ Manuel. Of that group without Chandler on the practice field, Moeaki’s athletic and receiving abilities are most evident. Chandler’s absence won’t help Moeaki move up the depth chart, but it’s helping him set up for more reps throughout training camp if he continues to impress.