Over the past two years, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone has been consistent with his views on fighting in practice. He hates it. He thinks there’s no place for it. He even said on Wednesday that it damages the integrity of football.
Despite the head coach’s thoughts on the matter, sometimes the heat of the moment will get the best of anyone. At Wednesday’s practice, the Bills had their biggest training camp fight since Aaron Maybin drew the ire of his teammates for a hit on Fred Jackson back in 2010.
In addition to the fight, the Bills conducted their second-to-last practice of camp in 2014. Here are some observations from the day:
“That stuff will happen when you’re in pads for 20 days, baby!”
- When the fight settled down and the players had returned to their respective sides, Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes couldn’t help but scream out the aforementioned quote as to why things got so heated near the end of practice. Here’s how it all started: the team lined up for goal line work with only 10 to 15 minutes remaining in practice. The first-team offense was up against the scout team defense and the play had just finished with a Fred Jackson run into the end zone. Starting center Eric Wood and undrafted rookie defensive end Bryan Johnson ended up locking up after the play was over, Johnson ripped the center’s helmet off and then threw one punch. After the initial punch, teammates started pushing him out of the way and he just fired off another punch at one of the pair of players trying to break it up. After that, tight end Scott Chandler ran in and brought Johnson down to the ground which led to some more tussling until teammates and coaches finally separated the pair. Both players had to be restrained. After about five minutes both Chandler and Johnson allowed cooler heads to prevail and didn’t allow the situation to linger. The same likely didn’t apply to Wood, who left the field at the conclusion of practice with a hurried pace, still looking quite agitated by the event and how it unfolded.
Watkins’ Saturday status uncertain
- First-round pick and rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins was dressed for practice for the second straight day, but once again was very limited in what the coaches allowed him to do. Watkins, who suffered an injury to his ribs against Pittsburgh on Saturday, could only participate in positional drills during the Wednesday morning session. He did not do any routes versus air, 7-on-7 work or participate in any team drills throughout the practice. With only one day of practice to go before the Bills take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Watkins’ status for that contest is in doubt. The Bills haven’t ruled out the wide receiver just yet, though. Marrone told reporters after the practice that they have not come to a final decision on how to approach Saturday with their rookie receiver.
McKelvin suffers another injury
- With only one practice remaining on the campus of St. John Fisher College, it’s safe to say that the 2014 version of training camp has been lost for cornerback Leodis McKelvin due to injury. McKelvin had offseason surgery on his hip and has been slow to recover, needing two straight weeks of non-participation in team drills to get himself back up to full speed. McKelvin hasn’t played in any of the team’s three preseason games, but just got back to being a full participant at the beginning of the week. Staying in tact with his camp story line, McKelvin left the practice with a member of the team’s training staff due to a groin injury. If you’ll recall, the cornerback has had many struggles with that area of his body during his career. Unless it was just a minor tweak and the Bills were just being cautious, McKelvin could be in jeopardy of missing his fourth straight exhibition contest.
Brooks steps in
- With McKelvin out and Corey Graham being cross-trained at safety for the week, the Bills looked to Ron Brooks to take the first-team cornerback snaps. Brooks has been an interesting case to track this offseason due to the ‘make or break’ nature of this training camp for him. Since getting on the field, Brooks has filled in with the first-team defense in some spots and has had his most productive training camp since he has entered the league. He also can chip in on special teams if needed, and has proved to be a valuable depth commodity at the cornerback position. It certainly looks like Brooks has played his way on to this roster.
Legursky on alert?
- During the past three practices the Bills have been trying out a new set of combinations along the offensive line. The first-team has been written about quite a bit, but the second-team has seen a notable tweak to it as well. Doug Legursky, who has been the backup center in every practice before this week, shifted over to left guard which allowed Kraig Urbik to take over at center. Monday was the first time Urbik has been seen taking actual reps at center in about two or three years but has been viewed by the team as their backup center if all else fails. He hasn’t had his best three days of practice, but at the very least, the Bills know that in a game Urbik is serviceable if they need to play him. As much as Urbik has struggled in 2014, Legursky is the inferior talent and doesn’t offer as much size at the position. If Urbik does well enough over the next week, the Bills could part ways with their starting left guard from 2013.
Day 20 MVP: DT Kyle Williams
- There are certain guarantees in this world: Bees make honey, fish swim and Kyle Williams makes plays during training camp. It’s a given that he’ll get into the backfield at least once or twice during any given practice, but Wednesday, Williams was constantly in the backfield against the scout team offense. He’s been a full participant throughout the entire training camp and looks primed to have another productive season for the Bills in 2014.
Day 20 LVP: DE Bryan Johnson
- When you’re an undrafted free agent trying to make a roster, and you’re throwing closed fist punches at a helmet-less team leader when the coach of the team has expressed multiple times how much he hates fighting, you might be able to accurately predict your outcome in a week or two.
Injury Update: Cornerback Mario Butler (ankle), cornerback Bobby Felder (groin) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (knee) were the only three that did not participate in practice in any capacity Wednesday.
Up Next: The Bills wrap up training camp at St. John Fisher College with their final practice at 2 pm. For the last time in 2014, practice is open to the general public. No ticket is required for entry.