In the final practice before the Buffalo Bills head to Ralph Wilson Stadium for their first preseason game, head coach Chan Gailey wasn't amused by the effort level given by his team.
"I thought after practice that mentally we were sorta in to it," he said. "It's the first time in quite a while that we have not been in pads and I thought guys thought it was a glorified walk-thru."
Despite the "glorified walk-thru" crack from their head coach, there were still a couple of standouts, a few sub-par performances and even a training camp scuffle to complete the afternoon.
Here are a few notes from practice:
- Practice MVP: S Da'Norris Searcy. It's the second straight day where a safety has taken the honors for top player, and it was for yet another two interception day. Searcy's second of the interceptions was the most impressive, closing on the ball intended for Ruvell Martin and ripping it out of his hands for the turnover. Searcy, along with the rest of the second and third-team players, took the majority of Tuesday's repetitions because that's what will happen in large part during Thursday's preseason game.
- Practice LVP: QB/WR Brad Smith. Not that I was expecting all that much out of the dual-position player while he was taking reps at quarterback, but his throws were all over the place. The Bills inserted him at the end of practice for a 60-second drill, to which Smith missed a pair of passes and scrambled the next two plays without getting out of bounds. The jump ball effort in the end zone on the final play was easily thwarted by the defense, thusly ending the practice. We won't be seeing much of Smith on Thursday unless a two-minute drill arises, that's as much as Gailey said on Tuesday after practice. That means outside of the first two drives, get ready for the Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young show.
- It was nothing like what happened at SUNY Cortland with the ESPN Jets, but the Bills had a minor scuffle, dust-up, or whatever you'd like to label it. The "combatants?" Rookie CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Derek Hagan. Hagan went to block Gilmore on a run play and the two engaged with both their arms fully extended while grabbing a handful of jersey each. The play concluded, but Gilmore gave an extra shove. Then, Hagan gave an extra shove. After that, Gilmore and Hagan aimed to take each other down to the grass. It concluded with Hagan hovering over Gilmore, who was flat on his back, and the receiver giving him a couple of extra shoves. If you really want to score it at home, I'd give the edge to Hagan. Ah, training camp.
- I thought a pair of the receivers lower on the depth chart had a solid practice. The first of which is Buffalo-native Naaman Roosevelt, who catches everything in his area. I can only recall him dropping one pass in training camp so far. He has the consistency factor down, there just isn't anything extraordinary about him that may warrant the Bills wanting to keep him around over a Derek Hagan or a Marcus Easley. Plus, he's not that well-off in terms of special teams contributions. The other player that performed well was Ruvell Martin. He dropped one, but made a couple of tough grabs over the middle of the field throughout the day. He was a favorite target of Tyler Thigpen on Tuesday.
- I found it really interesting to watch assistant defensive line coach William Inge throughout the practice. He and Mario Williams were working together pretty extensively when the defensive end was not busy taking team reps. Inge was just going over inside rip moves, swim moves and everything that entails. He really focused on pressure points of the arm and where to gain an advantage by forcing an offensive lineman to do what you want involuntarily if his arms are out too far. Mark Anderson joined in on the work near the tail end of practice.
- There may be a lot of false start penalties called on the Bills on Thursday with the way that training camp has gone so far. Rookie Zebrie Sanders has been the most frequent offender, but Mark Asper, Michael Jasper and plenty of others have been constantly jumping before the snap of the ball. I don't think the replacement referees can screw that call up.
- It may have been during the least-spirited practice since the start of training camp, but Erik Pears taking part in team drills on Tuesday is a nice step forward. Chris Hairston shows some poise and potential, but Pears is the most polished product they have at right tackle at the present moment. Getting him back will be a huge boost to the offensive line.
- Johnny White, Justin Rogers and Mike Caussin did not practice on Tuesday. White was nowhere to be found during the session.
- Pears, David Nelson and Torell Troup all practiced but on a limited basis. Once again, Nelson did not participate in the 7-on-7's or during team drills. It's unlikely that any of the three play in the team's first preseason game. Nick Barnett also sat out of team drills, instead riding the stationary bike with a view of the line of scrimmage to diagnose plays.
The Bills have a walk-thru that is closed to both the public and media on Wednesday, and then they head back to Buffalo. They'll take on the Washington Redskins at home Thursday night at 7 pm.
You can hear the live play-by-play coverage of the game on WGR Sports Radio 550, the official radio home of the Buffalo Bills.