On Monday, the Buffalo Bills trotted their prize of the offseason out in front of all the national media and they came away with a lot of praise. The big networks didn’t stay for Tuesday’s practice, and that was probably for the best from an offensive perspective.
The most humid day of the three practices by far, Tuesday morning provided closure at some positions while others became wide open. It was also the first time of the summer that the Bills practiced in full pads.
- To put it bluntly, the Bills’ offense had their worst day of training camp to this point. The quarterbacks weren’t on the same page as the wide receivers and the offensive line couldn’t consistently keep the defense out of the backfield. Head coach Doug Marrone called the opening parts to the practice “sloppy,” and concluded that they need to be better than what they were. No arguments here, or from mostly anyone else that viewed the practice. EJ Manuel was indecisive during 7-on-7s and coupled it with some inaccurate throws to his receivers throughout team drills. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz brought the first taste of his blitzing packages at the offense and caught them off guard for most of the day. It would be prudent not to overreact to such a down day by the offense, considering that it was only one of their first practices. However, they can’t afford many more days like that one if they want to progress like they think they can.
Tuel gets some time
- A strong few weeks of offseason workouts for Jeff Tuel (in the opinion of the coaches) mixed with some poor play by normal backup Thad Lewis has put Tuel squarely in the discussion to be the backup quarterback in 2014. Tuel put a lot of effort into improving himself physically from where he was last season and it has helped him get into the mix to be the backup perhaps a year earlier than expected. On Tuesday Tuel and Lewis alternated series with the second offense, and then Marrone confirmed following the session that it was indeed an open competition. The way it looked on day three, Lewis needs to be a lot better than he was to hold off Tuel.
Tori Gurley problems
- One of the biggest issues for Lewis was his inability of getting on the same page with recently signed wide receiver Tori Gurley. On at least three occasions during the practice Lewis looked Gurley’s way and delivered the pass in one area of the field, only for Gurley to run an entirely different route than what was expected. It resulted in two incompletions and one interception, which visibly frustrated Lewis — and for good reason. Those types of things will happen during training camp, but it’s partially the quarterback’s job to make sure everyone gets on the same page.
Kicking competition complete
- One “competition” is over before even starting. The Bills emphatically proclaimed Dan Carpenter their field goal kicker for the 2014 season. In two of their first three practices the Bills worked on their field goal kicking units, and for all 16 attempts Carpenter was the man doing the kicking. Despite selecting Dustin Hopkins in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Bills are giving him no chance to push for the job. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters following the practice that the only way Hopkins could make the roster would be as a kickoff specialist. The competition, if you can call it that, is over. For what it’s worth, Carpenter has hit 15-of-16 field goal attempts.
Moorman wins Round 1
- While there wasn’t much to the kicking competition, Brian Moorman is at least facing a bit of a challenge in having to beat out Jake Dombrowski for the punting duties. On the third day of practice, Moorman came away the clear winner. On punts that were designed to gather both distance and hang time, Moorman was far more effective. On seven punts, he averaged a hang time of 4.85 seconds, getting in to the five-second realm twice. Dombrowski’s punts were shorter and only had an average hang time of 4.68 seconds on his six attempts. Although Dombrowski had the best individual hang time of the day (5.26), his day wasn't as good as the one Moorman had.
Day 3 MVP: DC Jim Schwartz
- It appeared as though Schwartz had the Bills’ offense confused for much of the practice, sending blitzes from his linebackers and cornerbacks both. He overloaded the offensive line and they couldn’t do anything to thwart it.
Day 3 LVP: The offensive line
- It didn’t matter where the blitz was coming from, the Bills had a hard time picking up a good portion of them throughout the first few parts of 11-on-11s. They started to get the hang of it later on in the practice, but by that point the damage was already done for the day. The defense won Tuesday, and now they await the offense’s retort.
Up Next: The Bills get back on the field Wednesday morning at St. John Fisher College. They’re scheduled to take the field at 8 am.