Just like that, training camp is wrapped up with practices available to the fans at St. John Fisher College. Now only one shortened morning session separates the Bills from traversing back to Buffalo for good, signaling the start of the season is closing in.
After a storm full of heavy rains, thunder and lightning passed over the campus in the hours leading up to practice, fans in attendance were greeted by a cool and comfortable temperature with perhaps a pair of very light sprinkles throughout the two-plus hour workout.
The Bills were under the lights one last time in Pittsford in 2012. Here are some of my observations from the final night practice of this year's training camp:
- Practice MVP: S George Wilson. The seventh-year veteran has been solid all throughout training camp, but I thought his last day was his best. He's noted for his communication, but it was his recognition and angle of pursuit that really made him be the standout to me on Tuesday night. He sniffed out the proper hole on the otherwise shifty Brad Smith during his run attempt up the middle. He was also solid in pass coverage, breaking up plays on a few different occasions. He may not be the starting strong safety for the long-long term, but he's rewarded the Bills for a lot of work and coaching they've devoted to him in his career with his present abilities.
- Practice LVP: The injury list. Without anyone being incredibly terrible on Tuesday night, the worst part of the practice for the Bills was seeing three players go down with an injury late in to the session. Kellen Heard, Johnny White and James Carmon all could not finish out the practice. They're added to the list of Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Robert Eddins, Mike Caussin and Kevin Brock as players who missed all or a part of practice Tuesday. Even Nick Barnett got dinged up a little bit, but he got back in to team drills shortly after.
- In only the fourth scuffle of training camp, fans in attendance were treated to the one that lasted the longest before ultimately being broken up. Tight end Lee Smith and defensive end Sean Ferguson were holding on to each other's pads a little bit too long during team drills, and a bit of a tussle ensued. More players got involved, and both Kellen Heard and Sean Ferguson ended up without their helmets on. Dorin Dickerson was also ejected from the scrum early on in to the altercation. Four of those in 15 days of practice isn't that much.
- Vince Young shook off a slow start to the practice to have another solid outing for the Buffalo Bills. He shined especially in the 7-on-7 red zone drill. He found targets Marcus Easley, Fendi Onobun, Ruvell Martin and more to put the ball in the end zone. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is his job to lose. He just has to go out and prove it. That starts in Minnesota against the Vikings on Friday night.
- Mark Anderson is noted for his rather unique way of getting to the passer, but he did something on Tuesday that showed he's more of a versatile defender. During team drills, Anderson played the part of left end with C.J. Spiller in as a running back. Playing a wide-technique, Anderson kept a close eye on Spiller and sniffed out a screen play heading to Spiller right away. It was very good recognition skills on his part. If he continues that, it can keep him and his athleticism on the field for longer rather than having to depend on guesswork with situational defense.
- I saw something I haven't seen at training camp through the first 14 days. I actually witnessed Scott Chandler drop a pass that he should have caught. The tight end has been one of the best players at camp in the three weeks they've been in Pittsford, so I had to do a double-take when I saw it happen. He's made tough catch after tough catch for the first-team offense. I think he deserves a pass for his one mental lapse.
- A lot has been written in these notebooks about Marcus Easley the past two days, and it still holds true. However, Easley made a couple of nice plays early on in to the evening on Tuesday. With Stephon Gilmore draped in coverage, Easley made a nice back shoulder catch 25-yards down the sideline from Tyler Thigpen. He also had a nice catch along the one-yard line from Vince Young in 7-on-7's. In team drills however, Easley saw a potential big-time play heading towards the left sideline hit his hands in stride, only for the football to go right through them and hit the turf. He can't afford plays like that while he's buried on the depth chart. He's got three games to prove himself.
- Already outlined in the LVP category, the only other new item is in regards to Shawne Merriman. Following a rest day on Monday, Merriman was back to work on Tuesday.
The Bills have one final abbreviated practice on Wednesday morning, then head back to Buffalo. The team flies out to Minnesota on Thursday, and take on the Vikings Friday night at 8 pm.