Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- Coming off of their 44-20 win over Indianapolis in preseason game number one, the Buffalo Bills got back to practice on Monday to prepare for their quick turnaround for their next game. It's one of only three practice sessions before the Bills take on the Minnesota Vikings Friday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The completion of Monday's practice also is another milestone: the Bills are now through two-thirds of their training camp practice schedule for 2013. With some players returning to the field on Monday, there were some notable performances.
- Although he got some time on the field during positional drills Friday, Kevin Kolb made his return to team drills eight days removed from his fluke injury suffered while walking on rubber mats. Kolb got into the action in all three of the 11-on-11 sets the Bills had lined up. None of the quarterbacks threw the ball a ton on Monday, and Kolb ended the day completing 3-of-8 attempts for just 21 yards. His best pass was a 14-yard completion to Marquise Goodwin on a comeback route. He did his normal routine of rolling to the right and fading backwards in the face of pressure a couple of times. That, without a doubt, is his go-to move when things go awry. Kolb needs to get back in to the swing of things quickly. If he can't play this preseason game, time is running out for chances to beat EJ Manuel for the starting job.
Butler bumped up
- It's been a tumultuous training camp for cornerback Crezdon Butler leading up to the team's first preseason game. When the lights went on at Lucas Oil Stadium however, so did the proverbial lights in the mind of Butler. The cornerback was fantastic in most, if not all of his plays on the field against the Colts. As a result, the Bills were paying attention and rewarded him with a day on the first team defense as the left cornerback. With all the confidence, Butler also went out and had his best practice all camp long. His best play came on a deep ball to Robert Woods from the arm of EJ Manuel. It looked like the ball was in Woods' hands, then Butler took one arm and raked the ball clean out of the wideout's grasp and it fell for an incompletion. He is now the sixth different player on the roster in just 12 days to take reps as the starter opposite of Stephon Gilmore. Head Coach Doug Marrone downplayed Butler being with the top unit a bit, alluding to Ron Brooks needing reps at the nickel. However, the best and most healthy man must win that job. Butler has been good as of late, but it still looks like Leodis McKelvin has a good shot to win the job if/when he comes back from his injury. The longer McKelvin is away the better it will be for Butler.
Tuel turns it up
- Getting some great plays down the field from his wide receivers, once a day third-string quarterback has just unloaded a pass down the field to let his wide receiver make a play. Monday was no different, when speedster Marquise Goodwin terrorized T.J. Heath and easily got behind a slow-to-react safety in Jonathan Meeks for a 55-yard completion. It was a pretty throw by the undrafted rookie. The more he does this in both practice and in the game, the harder it's going to be for the Bills to potentially try and sneak him on the practice squad.
New injuries, players return, one getting close?
- A pair of new injuries popped up for the Bills on Monday. Starting receiver T.J. Graham and reserve outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown each suffered a pulled groin that resulted in them being limited for the rest of the day. Besides them, the players not participating in practice in any capacity are dwindling once again. On Monday, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, cornerback Leodis McKelvin, cornerback Justin Rogers, wide receiver Brad Smith, tight end Dorin Dickerson, offensive lineman Keith Williams, tight end Mike Caussin and defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti did not take part. McKelvin could be on the way back, as he was practicing catching some punts and striding for about 10 yards during the special teams portion. He's recovering from a groin injury. Strongside linebacker Keith Pough had a bit of an upset stomach at the beginning of practice (needing the assistance of a garbage can, if you get my drift), but shook it off to take part in the rest of the day. It was his first practice back since suffering an injury. Wide receiver Kevin Elliott also returned, taking part in positional work. Swing linebacker Marcus Dowtin could only do positional work, instead working with the trainers to the side once it got in to 11-on-11s.
Case of the Monday drops
- Wide receiver Chris Hogan has been impressive through the first 11 days of training camp, and fellow wideout Marcus Easley had a solid showing with seven catches in the team's first preseason game. On Monday though, each player had the case of the drops. Hogan dropped a pair of passes, one going square through his hands on a slant route. Though to his credit, he made a pretty catch along the sidelines over Ron Brooks during 7-on-7s. Easley did the same thing a couple of times as well, adding a pair of drops to the total. If this new injury to T.J. Graham lingers, Hogan will get the opportunity of a lifetime to show he belongs on this roster. If both Stevie Johnson and Graham are out, that pushes Hogan into some two wide receiver sets and certainly when they have three wideouts on the field. He can't let that opportunity slip through his hands. All the same, Easley will get more reps as well. The duo needs to take advantage.
Summers carving a niche
- One of the least publicized positions on the roster is fullback, mostly because of the lack of importance it has through much of the NFL. However, there is a bit of a battle between Frank Summers and Drew Smith to win the job and to this point it's been an open and shut case. Summers is showing not only as a blocker in the run game, he's also carried the ball some and more importantly shows up significantly on special teams. The biggest question will be if the Bills actually want to carry a fullback on the roster. That much is not clear at this point in time.
Fred's newest tendency?
- It's nothing to be concerned about right now and may only be a product of a lack of reps in practice, but running back Fred Jackson hasn't been as decisive as he has been in past training camps. In both the preseason game and during practices, Jackson has attempted to bounce some runs outside. As most know, that's not his strong suit. He's a good cutback runner, but he won't beat many people to the edge and cut it upfield. Perhaps it's nothing more than a recent trend, but one that just hasn't been his game in the past.
- Once again, Colin Brown started practice with the first team at left guard and the rest of the top unit of offensive linemen stayed the same. During one-on-one drills, Brown not shockingly was whipped around by Kyle Williams. Doug Legursky had one loss to Alex Carrington, but threw Corbin Bryant onto the ground because the defensive lineman was playing with his head too far out in front of his body. There was some mixing and matching throughout, with Kraig Urbik even taking a snap at center during one-on-one's. Third string center Ryan Turnley also took a rep at right guard, as did Legursky. Keep in mind, none of these were with the first unit. Instead, think of it more as a cross-training technique.
Day 12 MVP: S Aaron Williams
- It's become more and more noticeable over the past two days why Aaron Williams, and not Da'Norris Searcy, is atop the safety depth chart along with the absent Jairus Byrd. Williams is more gifted athletically and has big play potential. While Searcy may be more instinctive right now, he is limited with what he can do on the field -- especially in coverage. Williams was the best player on the field during team drills Monday, reading the quarterback's eyes on a couple of plays, recognizing a run on one of his blitz attempts and just proving to be a nuisance to the offense. The switch from cornerback to safety came just in the nick of time, and if he can come up and be a solid starter for the Bills it would be a welcomed addition to a secondary that's full of holes at this point.
Day 12 LVP: QB EJ Manuel
- Don't read too far into it. Manuel's performance on Monday was more about missed opportunities than anything. It was a light practice so there weren't many opportunities for the quarterbacks, but Manuel did not convert well enough on his chances. On the day, Manuel was (unofficially) just 2-of-9 for 15 yards. Now, one play down the field was broken up by Crezdon Butler that could have been a completion. However, Manuel missed badly on a couple of throws, including one where Scott Chandler was wide open down the middle of the field in the end zone. Manuel tried to put touch on the throw and overshot him by a good six yards. It was a learning day for the rookie, but one he needs to put behind him for the coming two practices and upcoming preseason game.
The Bills get back on the practice field on Tuesday morning at 8. Practice is once again open to the public.