The Buffalo Bills held their first night session at St. John Fisher College Sunday, and worked in front of a spirited group of fans. The team ended the practice with a 90-second drill starting 80-yards out from the end zone.
The results? The second-team went four-and-out, while the first-team had the pass batted at the line of scrimmage and was intercepted on their very first play. That ended the night in Pittsford, NY.
So for the second straight day, the defense did the majority of damage. There were some offensive standouts, but as a whole the defense reigned supreme. With that said, let's give out some practice awards:
- Day 4 MVP: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore. I thought the rookie had his strongest day so far. He was physical with receivers at the line, he stuck to his assignments like glue, and more importantly he stayed with the play even if the ball hit the receivers' hands and ripped it out for an incompletion on a few occasions. It's always a big learning process for a young cornerback, but Gilmore certainly showed well for himself Sunday evening.
- Day 4 LVP: Left tackle Cordy Glenn. While he had a positive day on Saturday, Glenn did not have his best practice on Sunday. Chris Kelsay routinely blew by Glenn as he was attempting to keep the pocket clean. With the type of talent on the defensive line and the offensive line being a patchwork one as it is (Eric Wood, Erik Pears both not doing team drills), they needed one of their 'starters' to make a play. Glenn just didn't have it Sunday. He's young and there's a long way to go before the season starts, but he needs better days than that one.
- A pair of wide receivers really stood out, and they aren't any of the usual suspects. Here I go writing about another rookie -- but hey, why not? T.J. Graham had a very nice practice for the Bills. He looked comfortable catching the ball over his shoulder, and burned Ron Brooks deep on a fly route for a very, very long touchdown. Graham has a big opportunity to earn some trust from the coaches while David Nelson is out nursing a strained tendon in his knee. As does Marcus Easley, who had the catch of the day against Aaron Williams. Williams got a hand on the ball and it tipped straight in the air, and Easley was able to control his body enough to secure the catch on the sidelines. He was also very smooth and fluid in his movements, having what was his best practice yet in this writer's opinion.
- Might as well keep rookie watch going with the play of Ron Brooks on Sunday evening. He got burned by Graham for a big time touchdown, but there's also a little bit of concern from me about how he plays the ball. For one reason or another, Brooks doesn't quite seem to get himself turned around in time to make a play on the ball. It always seems like he's a step behind or a tad late. He is above average at reacting to a receivers hands, but his anticipation could be way better. That's just the pangs of developing a young cornerback.
- I have been so impressed by Scott Chandler throughout the first four days and I can't believe this is the first time I'm writing about him. It just seems like there's something a little bit different about him this year. Maybe it's a bit of swagger -- I recall him being more vocal than I've ever seen him during practices at OTAs and mini-camp -- or maybe it's the fact that the Bills re-signed him. Whatever it is, it's working. Everything within his reach has been caught. It doesn't matter if it's in traffic or if he knows there is a potential big hit coming, if the ball hits his hands it's a reception. If he can continue that in to the season, that's a great security blanket to have for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- In the daily "how did the backup quarterbacks look" portion of the notebook, I'll give you this answer: A bit better, but still not that great. Tyler Thigpen had his best pass of training camp when he hit a receiver right in the hands on a rather lengthy flag pattern. Vince Young saw a weakness in coverage (they didn't spy the QB, which is a no-no against Young) and quickly took off for a big gain twice. Other than that, there were still opportunities to complete passes that quarterbacks normally should that were instead misfired and incomplete. Ryan Fitzpatrick is far and away the best and most consistent quarterback at training camp.
- When it comes to third string left tackle James Carmon, there is no way he will make the 53-man roster. He is just too raw at this point and doesn't consistently put it together enough. However, he is a rookie, and is in only his second season as an offensive lineman. Yes, you read that correctly. He was a college defensive tackle up until his senior season when Mississippi State flipped him to left tackle. You see some flashes with Carmon. That along with his frame (6-foot-7, 320-pounds), I think he could be an ideal practice squad project-type left tackle. Everybody loves one of those, and the Bills don't have that right now.
- David Nelson, Josh Nesbitt, Erik Pears, Kellen Heard and Mike Caussin did not participate in any capacity on Sunday. Torell Troup and Shawne Merriman both did some individual drills before the Bills got in to team drills. Justin Rogers injured his hamstring during the session.
The Bills have the day off on Monday, and get back to work with practice Tuesday at 3 pm. The session is open to the public at St. John Fisher College.