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WR jobs wide open, too

The Bills will have a lot of work to do in training camp to figure out how there receiving corps shakes out.

Coach Chan Gailey acknowledged that position is wide open as well when the team gets to St. John Fisher College.

Just what do the Bills have after No. 1 wideout Lee Evans? It's still hard to say. Judging from practice repetitions during the three-day minicamp, third-year man Steve Johnson will be giving third-year man James Hardy a strong run for a starting job. It's pretty clear veteran Roscoe Parrish is going to get much more of a chance to contribute out of the slot than he got last season.  

Hardy's practice repetitions were limited. He underwent an offseason operation on his groin, and Gailey acknowledged that cut into his work on the field during the spring. "He told me he felt a lot better these last two weeks than he had the first few practices," Gailey said. 

Undrafted rookie David Nelson, a 6-foot-5 wideout from Florida, also got plenty of action on the outside with the first offensive unit the past three days. Fourth-round draft pick Marcus Easley showed good hands during the spring.

"It's really wide open," Gailey said of the wideout rotation. "I hate to put numbers on 'em. Y'all put numbers on 'em. I hate to put numbers on 'em. We're going to probably, probably - don't hold me to this - but probably have five that we keep (active) on game day. And all five have gotta be a big part of what we're doing."

The Bills' coaches mixed all of the receivers in varying combinations during the spring. Veterans Chad Jackson and Felton Huggins and rookies Naaman Roosevelt and Donald Jones all also were cycled through the rotations with each of the quarterbacks. Roosevelt, the Buffalo native and University at Buffalo star, showed good hands and did not look out of place out there.

In Friday's practice, Ryan Fitzpatrick took the first snaps at quarterback in each of the first four different practice periods. Trent Edwards went second in three of the four periods. The Bills ran one two-minute drill at the end of practice and Brohm got to run it.

Good offensive plays during red-zone work included a Fitzpatrick completion to Lee Evans on the right side of the end zone after the quarterback was flushed out of the pocket. Fitzpatrick then hit Evans on a perfect fade pass to the left side of the end zone. Shawn Nelson showed his talent by making a leaping grab of an Edwards pass on the left side of the end zone. ... Brohm double-clutched on a short pass for Easley and it was picked off by Andra Davis. Brohm marched the backups 50 yards for a score on the two-minute drill, hitting Jones on an out route at the goal line for a TD.

---Mark Gaughan

Gailey calls it wide open

Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey essentially declared the team's starting quarterback competition wide, wide open today as the team completed its last minicamp practice in Orchard Park.

Gailey said he has a pecking order in mind for who will be the No. 1 among Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatricck and Brian Brohm to start training camp. But he said he does not plan to tell the players until they come back to town for training camp, which starts July 29. And he said it won't matter too much who starts out No. 1.

Said Gailey: "We have three guys. They got pretty much equal reps during OTAs and minicamps. We'll go to camp. We'll have a pecking order but nothing's in concrete. Everybody's still gonna have a chance to win the job."

Asked why he plans to wait until camp to tell the players his decision, Gailey said:

"Well, it's still open. Don't read too much into who takes the first snap and who takes the second snap and who takes the third snap (in training camp). Don't read too much into that. It's close."

And he stressed whoever is No. 3 still will be in the running. "(No. 3) still has a shot," Gailey said.

On the medical front, Gailey offered good news about prospective starting left tackle Demetrius Bell, who has been rehabilitating all offseason from knee surgery. Gailey said Bell will be ready to practice at the start of camp at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester.

"I think he's ahead of schedule," Gailey said. "At one time it was a question of whether he would make the first of training camp. I think now there's no question he'll make the first of training camp."

---Mark Gaughan

Jackson presence

Chad Jackson is a former second-round draft choice of the New England Patriots who sort of never got a great chance to produce on that team's star-studded receiving corps and who also reportedly didn't quite work hard enough upon being drafted to suit the Patriots' liking. Nevertheless, he has another chance with the Bills this season and he made his presence known in Thursday afternoon's practice at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jackson showed good hands in picking a quick throw from Trent Edwards out of the air for a touchdown on a slant pattern in the 7 on 7 red-zone period. Jackson has been running behind Steve Johnson on the depth chart this week. But Jackson did hook up with Edwards on a solid out pattern vs. Terrence McGee on Wednesday morning and caught an out from Brian Brohm Thursday morning.

Edwards took the first snaps Thursday afternoon with the first-team offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was second in the first 11 on 11 drill and the 7 on 7 drill. Brian Brohm was second in the second 11 on 11 drill. Reggie Torbor and Kawika Mitchell took the afternoon session off, watching from the sidelines. Edwards hit David Nelson over the middle for a score in 7 on 7 work. Brohm hit Marcus Easley and Shawn Nelson for scores on slants. Ellis Lankster picked off an out pass from Brohm, but it looked like a case of the defense recognizing the play well before the snap of the ball. The Bills close their spring practice schedule with one workout Friday morning.

---Mark Gaughan

Young & Younger on OL

The Buffalo Bills' young backups are getting plenty of work on the offensive line this spring. With left tackle Demetrius Bell and right guard Eric Wood rehabilitating from injuries, it has meant plenty of practice repetitions for reserves. Jamon Meredith has played with the starters as the left tackle all spring. (A story on him is scheduled for Friday's paper). But Meredith was nursing a minor ailment Thursday. And rookie fifth-round draft pick Ed Wang, who has been No. 3 on the depth chart at left tackle, is out with a sprained ankle.

So the starting offensive line Thursday was, left to right, Nick Hennessey, Andy Levitre, Geoff Hangartner, Kirk Chambers and Cornell Green. The second-team O-line was, left to right, Hennessey, Cordaro Howard, Sean Allen, Chamberes and Kyle Calloway.

Brian Brohm took the snaps with the first-team offense. The breakdown went like this in the first portion of practice: Brohm 4 plays, Trent Edwards 4, Ryan Fitzpatrick 4. Then Brohm got 8, Edwards 5 and Fitzpatrick 7, followed by rookie Levi Brown for three plays.

Brohm had a good completion deep down the right sideline to Steve Johnson on the first play of team work. Johnson made a one-handed grab. Fitzpatrick had a good strike to Donald Jones on a slant, then made a nifty lofted completion deep down the middle to Marcus Easley. It looked like a bust by the third-teamers in the secondary. On his second series, Brohm had good-looking completions to Johnson on a slant and Lee Evans on the sideline. Jones made a good diving catch on a slant from Edwards. Naaman Roosevelt had a good catch on an out-route from Fitzpatrick. James Hardy was hobbled a bit and his repetitions were limited. Reggie Torbor continued to get more snaps than Aaron Maybin with the starters at outside linebacker. Marshawn Lynch continued to be a clear No. 3 to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in plays at running back, which is no surprise since Lynch stayed away from most spring practices.

The Bills work again this afternoon then have one more closed practice Friday morning before dispersing until training camp.

---Mark Gaughan 

Fitz-Edwards share first-team

Ryan Fitzpatrick worked at quarterback with the first team offense for the first two sessions but not the third in Wednesday afternoon's minicamp practice. Fitzpatrick got the first chance in the 7 on 7 drill and in the 11-on-11 red-zone portion of practice. The team closed with two full-team two-minute drives. Edwards ran the first-team offense in that section, and Fitzpatrick ran the second two-minute drive with the second-string. Brian Brohm was third in the 7 on 7 and the red zone work but did not get a crack at the two-minute drill. I'm expecting Brohm to get more work with the "ones" on Thursday.

In the first two-minute drill, Edwards moved the offense from the 35 to the opposing 15. But on third-down he was hurried into an incompletion by a blitz and on fourth down he threw to the back of the end zone for Roscoe Parrish. It looked like Parrish got one foot down in bounds but not two. Rookie David Nelson caught two third-down conversions on the drive. George Wilson had two pass breakups on throws over the middle. Reggie Corner had a pass breakup on a throw for Lee Evans. Fitzpatrick took the backup offense 65 yards in eight plays, against second- and third-team defenders. He hit tight end Jon Stupar down the middle for a good gain, connected with James Hardy on a short throw to convert a fourth-down play and then hit Chad Jackson at the goal line on about a 15-yard TD throw.

Guard Eric Wood, who saw his most extensive action in the morning practice, rested in the afternoon. Replacing him with the starting line was Cordaro Howard, an undrafted rookie from Georgia Tech. Working with the second-team offensive line were, left to right, Nick Hennessey, Howard, Sean Allen, Kirk Chambers and Jamon Meredith (who also played left tackle with the first team). Kyle Calloway then subbed in for Meredith.

Highlights of 7 on 7 work included a diving sideline catch by Felton Huggins from Fitzpatrick, a good throw down the left sideline from Brohm to Evans, and another pass breakup by Drayton Florence vs. Parrish. Aaron Maybin and Chris Kelsay were the rush linebackers with the starters all afternoon.

Rian Lindell was 6 for 6 on field-goal tries, ranging from 33 yards to 53 yards.

---Mark Gaughan

Wood excited

Bills guard Eric Wood was upbeat after Wednesday's morning minicamp practice. Wood worked with the starters during both individual unit drills and in 11 on 11 team drills.

Wood, who suffered a compound fracture of his left leg last Nov. 12, said he's well ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.

"Just to be able to come back out here and get to work, it feels really good," Wood said. "I guess we’re looking at seven months. They said it’d be a year so it feels good to be out here."

"They’re just limiting my reps," Wood said. "They’re not trying to push me too hard off the bat and hurt my recovery in any way. It’s healed but there’s still a lot going on down there that needs to be ironed out. They’re not giving me all the reps with the ones but I'm doing about half the reps. I didn't plan on being back for the end of OTAs but as the rehab went on it looked more realistic."

Said coach Chan Gailey: 'It’s huge for us. I’m glad he’s getting the reps, but moreso for the mental aspect for him. Now he’ll really be ready to go in training camp. I think this gives him a great jump start on that. You can watch the film and see he can play football. being out here and being able to communicate and get in the huddle and do those sort of things is big for us and big for him."

---Mark Gaughan

Edwards first with 1s

The Bills opened their three-day mandatory minicamp this morning with a workout at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Trent Edwards worked at quarterback with the starting unit. Ryan Fitzpatrick was second, Brian Brohm third and Levi Brown fourth in the quarterback rotation. However, coach Chan Gailey seemed to suggest that the even rotation that has taken place this spring will continue the next two days.

"You coming to practice this afternoon?" Gailey asked in response to a question on the rotation. "You'll see."

The Bills work from 3:55 to 5:15 p.m. today. They practice twice again Thursday and once on Friday. All workouts are closed to the public.

Everyone on the team was in attendance except for defensive end Aaron Schobel, who is planning on retiring. Linebacker Keith Ellison was not on the field due to a minor injury, Gailey said. Not practicing due to injuries were Demetrius Bell, Ed Wang, Nic Harris and Joe Klopfenstein. Terrence McGee, coming back from minor shoulder surgery, was limited.

We'll have to wait a couple days to see the significance of lineup rotations. Marshawn Lynch was third in the running back rotation behind Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Lynch showed good burst when he did get his hands on the ball. Steve Johnson generally was No. 2 at receiver opposite Lee Evans. It was Roscoe Parrish on the field when the starters went to three wideouts. James Hardy got fewer snaps than Johnson. Recently acquired Reggie Torbor got a few more snaps with the starters at outside linebacker than Aaron Maybin. We'll see how that all plays out the next three days.

Safety Jairus Byrd and linebacker Kawika Mitchell, both coming off injuries, both continued to see their snaps limited. Gailey mentioned Marcus Stroud as another veteran who the coaches will be careful not to overwork. George Wilson filled Byrd's spot. Andra Davis continued to start next to Paul Posluszny at inside linebacker.

The offense was not particularly impressive during the hour and 20 minute session. Toward the end, the offense was gathered together for some words. "It was Curtis; Coach Modkins did that," Gailey said. "He just talked about execution. We hadn’t done a good job of that up until that point. And it got a little better in that last period."

Brohm had some good throws in 7 on 7 red-zone work. Chris Kelsay showed good mobility getting to the back corner of the end zone to break up an on-target Brohm throw for Jon Stupar. Reggie Corner and Drayton Florence had good pass break-ups.

---Mark Gaughan

Spiller to host live chat

Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller will host a live chat at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Fans will have the opportunity to ask the rookie from Clemson questions and view his live responses via video at www.eastbay.com/adidas.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Spiller chat

Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller will hold a live video chat at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the website of the sporting goods retailer East Bay. It's at www.eastbay.com/adidas

---Mark Gaughan

Jammal Brown option gone

Demetrius Bell's status as the Buffalo Bills' likely starting left tackle has survived another perceived threat. The Bills have insisted since before the draft - actually since before last year's draft - that they like Bell a lot. They showed it again by not making a big play for left tackle Jammal Brown, who has been on New Orleans' trading block all offseason. Brown, 29, a former first-round pick who made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2008, missed all of last season with a hernia and hip injury. The Saints won the Super Bowl anyway, in part because Drew Brees is so adept at avoiding sacks.

Washington acquired Brown on Saturday for a reasonable cost. In a conditional deal reported by ESPN, the Redskins will give the Saints a fourth-round pick in 2011 if Washington wins nine games, makes the playoffs or Donovan McNabb makes the Pro Bowl. If none of those things happen, the Saints get a third-round pick. The Saints will send the Redskins a late-round pick. So if the Bills really wanted Brown, they could have had him for a third-round pick (since theirs is likely to be sooner than the Redskins' pick).

What can we conclude from this? It reconfirms that Bills GM Buddy Nix really does not like to give up draft picks. (He built his career on the draft, after all.) And the Bills have a certain amount of faith in Bell. The Bills still have a way to get some insurance at left tackle, and it says here they should take advantage of it. Former Dallas tackle Flozell Adams remains a free agent. He's 35. Even if Bell plays great, it would be comforting to the Bills to have Adams in reserve.

---Mark Gaughan

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