Pittsford, NY -- As the Buffalo Bills officially crossed over the halfway point of training camp practices at St. John Fisher College, the team got a pleasant surprise by a starting player pushing through potentially missing some time, and also were without a key piece to their offense because of a minor injury.
On Friday, starting middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard got back to practice in full. Sitting out of Wednesday's night session, Sheppard attempted to practice on Thursday. He got through the individual drill portion, only to be escorted off the field by a trainer.
It's been an undisclosed injury, and one that Sheppard has called "similar" to the ailment that kept him out of mini-camp in June. The linebacker, however, got back in on Friday and took all his reps.
"Shepp came back and pushed through," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He didn't look full speed to me. He came out and got work in which he needs to do."
On the other hand, the Bills were without top wide receiver Stevie Johnson during team drills. The fan favorite sat out the later portion of practice due to tightness in his groin.
It's not the same as the groin that he had minor surgery on in the off-season. Rather, it's the other side that gave him some problems. Johnson said that it will be fine, but is frustrated nonetheless.
"It's very frustrating. But I'll be back though, so I know it's nothing major," said the wideout. "I guess they're just looking out. We don't want it to be anything like it was last year where I played through it and then something happens and I'd be playing through an entire season with something. So we're just being extra cautious."
Justin Rogers, Bryan Scott, Josh Nesbitt, Kellen Heard, Mike Caussin, David Nelson and Chris Kelsay all sat out of the practice. Defensive end Mark Anderson took part in individual drills, but once again was kept out of team drills due to a groin injury.
A step in the right direction for center Eric Wood, getting a lot of work done during the afternoon. Gailey discussed how his starting center is coming along.
"I think very well," said the head coach. "Today he took more than he had taken I think all of camp in team reps. We'll evaluate how he feels tonight and tomorrow morning to get a better feel of how far we can continue to push that."
Elsewhere on the offensive line, with right tackle Erik Pears still not taking any team reps, the Bills mixed in Chris Hairston with some first team reps on that side. Without Pears, Sam Young has been getting all the reps at right tackle.
The team had their first skirmish of training camp. Offensive guard Michael Jasper and defensive end Robert Eddins traded a shot a piece, but were quickly ushered away from one another.
The Bills resume practice on Saturday afternoon at St. John Fisher College. The team will go live with hitting for the first time since training camp started with a goal line drill. The practice starts at 3 pm and is open to the general public.