Here we go with notes I collected while watching Day Three, the last day of 2012 Bills mini-camp:
--While the defensive line and defensive backs worked on basic ball, tackling, and technique drills, the linebackers worked on alignment and assignments for a much longer period of time than I had previously noticed. The previous two days they had spent about the same amount of time on drills as the other positions, but not today. They were going over where to line up and how to react and where to go in different formations and situations for quite a while.
--Tashard Choice loves to talk trash to the defense. He was usually the guy every day who got the chatter going once Coach Gailey called for 11-on-11s to begin. No change today. He gets it going quickly.
--Once again, as stated in Day Two’s recap, Stephon Gilmore was very physical against wide receivers off the line of scrimmage. Every time you look up, it seems he has his hands on the man he is covering, which not only allows him to stick with the receiver but have his hands near the opponent’s body ready to make a play on the ball once it gets there.
--There is a dramatic difference in the way the defense sounds and looks when George Wilson and Jairus Byrd are the safeties, as opposed to anyone else. They are always very quick to diagnose the formation and then direct traffic and get other players into proper position. Both clearly know everyone’s assignment and both are very vocal to make sure the defense is set up right. When Wilson and Byrd were not the safeties (after the first unit went off the field), I hardly heard a peep from the safeties. In those cases, it was generally a linebacker like Danny Batten or Arthur Moats calling out offensive formations and helping to move people around, if anyone did it at all. No surprise that Wilson is the leader of the D, and nice to see Byrd is assuming that role right along with him.
George Wilson and Jairus Byrd
--Rookie linebacker Nigel Bradham can run! I know most knew he was a good athlete, but he was very, very impressive to me in coverage today. Whether it was running with a slot receiver or running back, he always seemed to be in the right position, even if it was 15-20 yards downfield. One of the Bills biggest weaknesses the past several years on defense has been the ability of linebackers to cover in space. Bradham looks like he may be a guy who can change that for them.
--Not surprisingly, Arthur Moats is the Energizer Bunny. Always running somewhere. Always bouncing up and down with enthusiasm. With all the competition at linebacker right now, it may be Moats’ energy and attitude that separate and keep him ahead of others on the depth chart.
--I thought Stevie Johnson had a very good day today catching the ball and getting a lot more work in than he had. The first is probably a direct result of the second. Stevie has said he just needs to get more work in so he can feel comfortable running and cutting and not thinking about his groin. He made several nice catches today and looked good turning upfield after he made them.
--In the first 2-minute drill near the end the day, the offense carved up the defense. Coming out of 4 and 5-wide receiver sets, there were a lot of open pass-catchers. On one play, Fred Jackson caught the ball with almost no one around him and turned upfield for a huge gain. The play looked like the exact same play he almost scored on in the final drive of the Patriots home game last year, only coming from the left side instead of the right. The QBs made the right decisions and good throws. After that first drive, the defense did a good job of regrouping and made more plays, including a couple interceptions.