For the second straight day the NFL world revolved around Pittsford, New York, as the Buffalo Bills were once again the only team to have a practice. That will change in short order as the rest of the teams start reporting to camp over the course of the next week, but with the spotlight still on the Bills, their prized addition of the 2014 offseason showed off in a big way.
Watkins wreaks havoc
- Sammy Watkins picked a great day to have his best practice as a member of the Buffalo Bills. With the bigwigs at ESPN, NFL Network, FoxSports1 and the MMQB all in attendance on Monday afternoon, Watkins put on a show for all to see. The crowd 'oohed,' 'aahed,' and cheered anytime the first-round selection touched the ball... and it happened quite a lot. He burned Leodis McKelvin very early on in the practice deep, he caught a pass tight in coverage with a defender on his way to him and then he jumped up on a tipped pass to bring it in over three defenders, all while getting poked in the eye. It's been a great start for Watkins to say the least.
A plus and minus for EJ
- The evolution of EJ Manuel as a quarterback continues with every day at training camp, and today had a brief example of what he needs to do more of, in addition to what he needs to stay away from. First, the good: Manuel saw Watkins have a step on his man on a 12-yard slant, recognized the underneath coverage from the linebacker and fed the ball into the perfect spot over the hands of the linebacker and just short of the oncoming safety. He allowed his receiver to make a play and trusted himself in the process. He needs to do more of that, especially in game settings. On the negative side of things, Manuel stared down his target over the middle of the field and allowed undrafted rookie safety Kenny Ladler to step through the receiver and pick off the pass. That's the second straight day Manuel tipped his hand and it resulted in an interception.
- The second day of practice was not kind to cornerback Ron Brooks to say the least. Brooks got beat down the sideline deep for a touchdown twice during one-on-one battles, and then completely blew an assignment during team drills that left Chris Hogan wide open on the sideline for a reception and a subsequent touchdown. Brooks can't afford many more days like he had on Monday if he wants to make the roster. The Bills likely already have five spots spoken for at cornerback (Gilmore, McKelvin, Graham, Robey, Cockrell) and they could choose either to just go with those five or settle on Brooks, Kamaal McIlwain, Mario Butler or Brandon Smith for a sixth spot. The point is, his safety is not guaranteed in 2014.
Back to a little order on the O Line
- When Cordy Glenn couldn't get on the field for the first day of practice and then rookie Seantrel Henderson, who was taking the first-team left tackle repetitions in his place, got injured within the first hour of practice, some were quick to say the Bills were doomed. Less than 24 hours later, Henderson was back on the field taking reps with the first team and all was right again in the world -- outside of Glenn not being available, of course. There wasn't any variation with the right tackle in first-team reps, with Erik Pears continuing to get all of them. At right guard, however, Kraig Urbik lost some snaps to the challenging Chris Hairston just as he did at mandatory minicamp. That job could be for the taking.
Spikes needs to cool off
- The Bills welcomed in Brandon Spikes in the offseason to help stop a problem that has plagued them for some time: allowing teams to run all over them. While those are the big plans for him and his one-year contract, he had to end his practice early. It was quite a hot and humid day in Pittsford, NY, and Spikes got a cramp and went and spoke with the trainers. They immediately removed his helmet and shoulder pads, and dabbed a cold towel on the back of his neck. After a few minutes of observation, he was sent to the cooling tent to take a dip in the pool right next to the field. There isn't any word on if he'll be back for Tuesday's practice, but dehydration on a football field must always be taken seriously. It was a good job by both Spikes and the Bills to recognize it and not push through it.
Bradham buzz building from Marrone
- Nigel Bradham was once again taking first-team snaps at weakside linebacker and has a big opportunity in front of him. Head coach Doug Marrone was asked about Bradham specifically, and really complimented the linebacker on what he's done so far in 2014:
"I saw a change, more of a commitment from him when we came back, which I give him a lot of credit for. He came back and really had a solid OTAs and really played well. I think that when obviously the situation with Kiko, and talking with Jim, and we've been talking about Nigel for a while of how pleased we were with his play. We said, hey you know what, we've got a guy that's been playing real well, that's a heck of an athlete, that's played and has done some good things and I'm excited about him having that opportunity."
Camp's first skirmish
- Much to the dismay of head coach Doug Marrone, wide receiver Robert Woods and safety Da'Norris Searcy got into a bit of a scuffle following a play during team drills. The two locked up and never let go, with both players ending up on the ground. Teammates quickly swooped in and broke up the pair of players, with defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson taking Searcy aside and having a word with him. Since Marrone has been head coach, he has continuously said that he wants his players to stay away from that behavior in practice. Searcy and Woods both got back on the field and took a rep two plays later without any other words exchanged. It appears Marrone's message sunk in.
Day 2 MVP: WR Sammy Watkins
- It didn't matter what the route was or where the ball was thrown, Watkins caught everything on Monday.
Day 2 LVP: CB Ron Brooks
- Three (really) bad beats is enough to bench a player in a game. Brooks needs to be a lot better and way more consistent if he has designs on making the 53-man roster.
Up Next: The Bills get back on the practice field bright and early Tuesday morning at St. John Fisher College. The practice will be held at 8 am, and open to the general public.