Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- The second-to-last day of practice at St. John Fisher College in 2013 will forever be overshadowed by the news that came down after the team wrapped up their work on the field Tuesday night. Franchised free safety Jairus Byrd ended the stand-off between his representation and the Buffalo Bills by signing his one-year tender.
You can read all about that here, but it didn't take away from the work done on the field at the final night practice of training camp. The team started to do some scout team work, and more daily impressions were made.
It wasn't a particularly great day for the players on the second and third-team offenses.
A tale of two quarterback performances
- Bouncing back from a rather weak performance on Monday morning, current first-team quarterback Kevin Kolb had a particularly solid practice during Tuesday's night session. The veteran was consistent all day and didn't hold on to the ball for too much time in the pocket. His day ended hitting 11-of-14 passes for 147 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown. On the scoring toss, Kolb bought time by maneuvering the pocket and threw it high in the end zone to the 6-foot-7 Scott Chandler. All the tight end had to do was reach up and grab the pass while shorter defenders failed to defend the pass. For undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, his string of bad practices continued. While he was running some scout team offenses at times, Tuel once again showed the penchant for holding on to the ball too long, staring down his receivers and sailing his passes. His unofficial stats for the practice ended with completing 7-of-14 passes for just 49 yards and also throwing two interceptions. Tuel didn't get much help from his offensive line, but you'll get more on them in a bit.
No Gilmore? Tuesday's first-team duo
- Early on in the practice, Buffalo's top cornerback Stephon Gilmore suffered a toe injury that forced him to miss the rest of practice. With Leodis McKelvin and another pair of cornerbacks still trying to slowly work their way back in, the first-team had a rather interesting mix of boundary corners. On one side was the undrafted, 5-foot-8 Nickell Robey, and on the opposite side was former practice squad player T.J. Heath. Both have struggled when inserted into the role along the sidelines.
Two corners working their way back
- While the Bills continue to see what kind of depth they have at the position, a pair of injured cornerbacks took a step forward on Tuesday night. Both Crezdon Butler and Justin Rogers participated in team drills for the first time since suffering their individual injuries. Rogers had a nice breakup of a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin, but then surrendered a big play over the middle of the field to Stevie Johnson. Butler seemed to get less reps, but came away with one of two interceptions thrown by Jeff Tuel simply by reading the undrafted player's eyes. Both players have at times taken first-team reps at training camp and seem to be major competitors to make the 53-man roster.
Stevie making strides but had a quick scare
- Since getting involved in 11-on-11s this week, Stevie Johnson has really gotten back into his normal groove in being a dependable and open target for his quarterback. He only had a pair of receptions for 40 yards during practice, but also beat Jumal Rolle on a fly route that was overthrown. Early on Tuesday though, Johnson felt his hamstring act up a little bit. He came off the field and was immediately attended to by head trainer Bud Carpenter. Johnson sat out the rest of the first team drill reps, but then got back on the field later on in practice to finish out the day. He admitted post-practice about feeling a little twinge in his hamstring, but said the pain subsided and that it wasn't a problem. The Bills can't afford to mess around with the wideout's hamstring injury. If he's feeling even the slightest amount of pain, the team should shut him down until the start of the regular season.
Former fifth-round pick struggling mightily
- Although the entire roster is bedecked in Florida State graduates, one former Seminole is in grave danger of getting cut for having a sub-par training camp. Offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders, a former fifth-round selection of the Bills, found himself getting beat easily during 1-on-1 drills against the defensive line. On one rep, he too easily gave up the lane to Corbin Bryant. Then on the next he ended up face first on the ground as undrafted linebacker Keith Pough got to the quarterback with ease. He was also a member of the ever-struggling backup offensive linemen on Tuesday. All in all, Sanders is a draft pick of the former coaching staff and is in jeopardy of being given up on by the team that drafted him.
- Three separate plays stuck out like a sore thumb for rookie inside linebacker Kiko Alonso. He really excelled in three different phases he's going to be depended on weekly to perform at a similar level. On one rep, Alonso read the run perfectly and shot the correct gap to get to the running back basically as he took the handoff. Just two plays later, the second-round pick dropped back into zone coverage and read Jeff Tuel's eyes as he stared down his target over the middle of the field. Alonso reacted and was able to step in front of the pass to knock it down for an incompletion. The speed and ferocity of his blitzes also showed up during the practice, making it quite an impressive day for the rookie. It seems like the Bills may have a pretty good linebacker on their hands for the way Mike Pettine runs his defense.
More scuffles during Marrone's camp
- The intensity continued at training camp this summer, with two more heated disagreements happening between offensive and defensive players happening on Tuesday. One was a semi-normal battle between offensive lineman Zack Chibane and defensive lineman Corbin Bryant. The two were engaged in contact past the whistle, and then wrestled each other to the ground. That one was quickly broken up. The oddest one didn't last too much longer, but saw undrafted rookie cornerback Jumal Rolle getting into it with wideout Brandon Kaufman, taking off his own helmet and throwing it, and then putting up his fists to declare his desires for fisticuffs. Kaufman cooly walked away and the two were separated. It's not often you see a player remove his own helmet and then try to fight another player that still has his on.
Da'Rick misses on big play chance
- Working with the scout team during Tuesday's practice, undrafted rookie wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers missed on a big opportunity to make a difficult catch. Rogers beat the cornerback and Jeff Tuel delivered a pass down the left sideline on a fly route that was the perfect range to make a catch between the trailing cornerback and approaching safety over the top. Rogers had the ball in his hands, lost his concentration and fell to the turf as the ball came loose. He's running short of having many opportunities during 11-on-11 drills with other receivers getting healthier, so he must capitalize on all his chances to show the coaching staff that it would be a mistake to release his down-the-line potential. If he doesn't, the turk could be coming.
Day 17 MVP: DT Marcell Dareus
- Really this could have gone to any of the first-team defensive linemen but Dareus was just a little better than the rest. Like many, he had a sack during the practice in one of the constant pressures on the day. However, it's something he did early on that one normally doesn't see from a defensive lineman that got him the top honors on the day. Dareus dropped back into coverage and then tracked Jeff Tuel's pass intended for Marcus Easley. The throw was late and cornerback Justin Rogers was able to deflect it, causing the ball to flip up and was caught by the approaching Dareus in a bang-bang play for an interception. Dareus returned it all the way back for a would-be touchdown.
Day 17 LVP: The backup offensive linemen
- Here's a fun statistic from Tuesday's practice: The Bills allowed 10 sacks to their defense in 62 plays of 11-on-11 drills. Nine of those 10 sacks came against the second and third-team offenses in only 31 plays. Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Alex Carrington, Mario Williams, Torell Troup and others all got into the fun of getting to the backfield and having the play blown dead before Jeff Tuel could unload the pass. Now, it was a scout team day and that could have caused a bit of confusion. However, a lot of times the linemen were just flat out beat by the man lining up in front of them which caused the negative play. It's a day that will likely make most of this group cringe when they go back and review the film.
The Bills have one final practice at St. John Fisher College on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. Then they break camp and head back to Orchard Park for the rest of their preseason preparations. The final camp practice is open to the public.