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Training camp Day Three

Quarterback Trent Edwards had a decent afternoon on Saturday. His best throw was a deep pass the hit receiver Stevie Johnson in stride as he got behind safety Jairus Byrd during one-on-one drills. Edwards was intercepted by cornerback Drayton Florence on a pass that was slightly behind intended receiver Marcus Easley.
 
Brian Brohm
took the snaps as No. 2 for the second straight day with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the No. 3. Brohm had a great throw to rookie receiver David Nelson, who made the catch between two defenders.

The defense has a good plays Saturday. Defensive end Dwan Edwards put left tackle Jamon Meredith on his back during a one-on-one pass rushing/blocking drill. Cornerback Ellis Lankster made a leaping interception in front of receiver Donald Jones on a deep throw by Fitzpatrick. Rookie outside linebacker Antonio Coleman got penetration on two plays in the 11-on-11 session that would have been sacks in a real game.

 

Leodis McKelvin dropped two punts and Lankster muffed another during a special teams segment. McKelvin also didn’t fare too well in a one-on-one matchup with receiver James Hardy, who got deep for a touchdown. McKelvin had good position, but slowed down and appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball, giving Hardy a chance to separate. 

 

---Allen Wilson 

Kawika sits out

Kawika Mitchell was given Saturday off, leaving the linebacker position even thinner since Paul Posluszny, Chris Kelsay and Keith Ellison are sidelined with injuries. Fortunately for the Bills, Mitchell is healed from surgery to repair a torn quadraceps. The team just decided to give him a day of rest.

Meanwhile, defensive end Marcus Stroud had to leave the field before the end of practice because he apparently got overheated. He was taken to the cooling tent before heading off to the locker room.

---Allen Wilson

Spiller close to signing?

There has been no update on how close the Bills are to signing first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller. But a breakthrough might be close at hand.

Cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Rolando McClain, the seventh and eighth picks, have signed deals and the 10th pick, defensive end Tyson Alualu, is reportedly close to an agreement with the Jaguars.

Once that is done, the Bills will have the parameters for a deal should be set for Spiller. Haden and McClain reportedly received five-year deals worth $50 and $40 million, respectively.

---Allen Wilson 

Starks on PUP

Former University at Buffalo running back James Starks will have to wait to make his NFL debut. The Green Bay Packers placed their sixth-round draft pick on the active/physically unable to perform list to start training camp.

Starks is dealing with a hamstring injury that has lingered since the offseason practices. This is a tough setback for Starks, who is expected to compete for the No. 2 running back spot behind starter Ryan Grant.

Starks' career at UB was dogged by nagging injuries, so you hope he can overcome this latest ailment.

---Allen Wilson

Night practice No. 1

There was a good crowd of at least 1,500 in the stands at St. John Fisher for the first night practice of Bills camp Friday. Trent Edwards looked sharp in 7 on 7 drills, hitting Lee Evans, James Hardy, Stevie Johnson twice and then Jonathan Stupar over the deep middle on a pinpoint throw. The offense looked very good in the morning, creating good running lanes for the team's hard-running backs. The defense, however, got the better of 11 on 11 team work in the evening session. Pass rushers put a lot of heat on the quarterbacks. Aaron Maybin was in the backfield frequently, and tackles Jamon Meredith and Ed Wang were among those who took their lumps. Demetrius Bell was rested entirely in the evening session. Bell worked in pads in position drills but not full squad drills the first two sessions of camp.

Rian Lindell made 7 of 8 field-goal attempts, including his last two, from 50 and 53 yards.

"The execution was there more on defense than it was on offense tonight," said coach Chan Gailey. "I thought our guys rushed the passer pretty well. They got off on the ball better tonight than they had before. I thought there was some quickness."

Gailey was asked if he talked to the team at all about the morning scuffle between Maybin and Geoff Hangartner: "No I didn't talk about it. That's part of football. If you've got passion about the game it's going to come out. Sometimes it comes out the wrong way. If it becomes an issue then you have to talk about it because it becomes an issue for a ballgame and you don't want it to show up in a ballgame. ... Do you like to see it? I don't think I'd say I like to see it. I think it's part of the game. I've been in 'em. Everybody that's played the game has been in 'em. It just comes with the territory."

Gailey said linebacker Keith Ellison has a short term injury and should be back sometime this coming week. He said Chris Kelsay's shoulder injury is short-term also. Defensive end Spencer Johnson left the field during the night session. Gailey said that's a "few days, a week at the most."

Former Bills guard Jerry Ostroski, who started 102 games for Buffalo from 1994 to 2001, was on the sidelines watching the team. Ostroski coaches the offensive line for a high school team in Tulsa, Okla. He also does a sports radio show one day a week in Tulsa.

---Mark Gaughan

 

Nic Harris cut, LB signed

The Bills have waived second-year linebacker Nic Harris due to the fact he failed his physical. Harris suffered a knee injury late last season and was not able to recover in time for the start of camp. Harris was a fifth-round draft pick of the Bills last season out of Oklahoma. He played safety in college and was drafted to fit into Dick Jauron's 4-3 style defense. Harris does not appear to fit a 3-4 scheme. The Bills signed Donovan Woods, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker out of Oklahoma State. Woods was undrafted and signed by Pittsburgh in 2008. He played in six games the past two years, one last season. He was cut by the Steelers last November. With Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison and Chris Kelsay all nursing injuries, the Bills can use another linebacker.

---Mark Gaughan

Violence on Day 2

Temperatures were rising on the St. John Fisher College practice field this morning, even though the weather was a very pleasant 75 degrees. A fight between Aaron Maybin and Geoff Hangartner highlighted the two-hour session, and there was plenty of pad popping in addition to the scrum.

On the third play of 11-on-11 work, running back Fred Jackson burst up the middle on a nice run for a gain of about 7 yards, and Maybin came from the back side and smacked Jackson to the ground. Curses ensued, and Hangartner came to the defense of Jackson, rolling to the ground with Maybin. Usually on scrums like this, both parties pop up and go to their respective huddles after some pushing and shoving but for a second it looked like more players could get involved as both sides of the team converged on the pile. Maybin and Hangartner were separated about 5 seconds later. On the next play, Jackson caught a pass in the left flat and was smacked by Jairus Byrd. On the next play, Jonathan Stupar caught a short pass and was popped hard by Donte Whitner, although he wasn't knocked to the ground. The starters gave way to the second units a play later, and there were curses being hurled in both directions.

Guard Eric Wood hollered at Maybin something about "give back some of that money" he hasn't earned yet, and defenders responded.

Said Maybin: "I got a good lick in on Fred and Geoff got upset about. It’s no big deal. Just the emotions of the game. We moved on from it right away. ... I’m never one to shy away from the contact portion of the game. So if there’s nobody willing to get the practice started, I’ll start things off for us."

Said Hangartner: "He hit our starting running back in the back when he wasn’t looking, so I went over and kind of let him know that we didn’t appreciate that and the O-line is going to stick up for our guys. We’re trying to establish an identity on the O-line of being tough and taking care of our backs. It’s going to be physical and guys are going to have confrontations. The more physical it is the more chippy guys are going to be. It’s a part of football. Everybody got a little fired up. It was fun. It made practice a little more fun."

Overall, the running game looked pretty good. Jackson found some good holes. Marshawn Lynch hit holes hard and Chad Simpson, a third-year pro from Morgan State, looked very quick in hitting holes and going straight upfield. I counted seven good running plays in the first 17 plays of full-team work.

As advertised, the backup QB job rotated today. Brian Brohm took the snaps as No. 2 behind Trent Edwards. Edwards was 6 for 6 in 7 on 7 passing drills. The pass play of the morning was a sharp Edwards pass down the seam to rookie Marcus Easley, who made a one-handed catch and kept running straight upfield. Edwards had an interception in team work on an underneath pass for Roscoe Parrish. Edwards took too long to pull the trigger and veteran linebacker Andra Davis read his eyes and made the pickoff.

The Bills were in shoulder pads again. No pads in the pants today. The second-team O-line in position drills was, left to right, Ed Wang, Cordaro Howard, Sean Allen, Kirk Chambers and Jamon Meredith. (I mistakenly left Allen out of that unit on Thursday.) The third-team O-line was Wang, Andre Ramsey, Christian Gaddis, Jason Watkins and Kyle Calloway. The third-team D-line was Alex Carrington, Lonnie Harvey and Rashaad Duncan. There were no one-on-one lineman drills this morning. We'll look forward to that in tonight's session.

Tight end Shawn Nelson continues to show real good hands. He had three good grabs in team work, one on a throw over the middle a bit behind him from Ryan Fitzpatrick. On one of those catches, however, rookie Arthur Moats popped the ball out from behind for a fumble.

Maybin showed speed around the edge at times this morning. Reggie Torbor is bigger (even though they're both listed at 250), which is likely one reason why he's starting on first downs. He's stouter. On passing situations this morning, Torbor came out and Maybin came on with the starters. The Bills were using some four-man lines in passing situations, as the coaches have said they would do all along.

Tonight's practice is 7 to 9 p.m.

---Mark Gaughan

Videos: Gaughan Talks Roster Battles, Fans Talk Expectations

Bills Beat Reporter Mark Gaughan discusses which players are vying for which roster spots in this summary of the first day of training camp:



We caught up with a few fans at the opening day of Bills' training camp. Here's what they had to say:



Edwards' spin on '09

Any Bills player who survived the ugliness of the 2009 season better be open to coping with change.

Trent Edwards got plenty of experience dealing with change last year, and he thinks that will help him in his fourth NFL season this year.

“I think I probably got overwhelmed or stressed over too many little things, too much attention to too many things I shouldn’t be paying attention to," Edwards said of living through last season with the Bills.

“I feel like that was almost good for me now," he said. “I’m a year older, a year stronger, hopefully a year better. And I’m going to use that to my advantage, just like I’m using this competition out here to my advantage. I need to be able to not get too stressed out, not sweat the small stuff, and just take it one step at time."

So what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Bills fans can attest. Watching last year's 6-3 loss to Cleveland was a near-death experience for anyone who was at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Let's say for the record, we're not truly equating pro sports to life and death, by any means, but if you saw the game, you know what we mean.)

Edwards took his standing as the No. 1 QB to open training camp in stride. He knows it will be a long 44 days before the season opener against Miami, and a lot can happen in the preseason games.

Edwards is going to be playing with a starting offense that is learning a new scheme under coach Chan Gailey and that is extremely young at receiver and offensive line. What are the odds the No. 1 offense looks wonderful in preseason against No. 1 defenses? It won't be easy. So we'll see what happens.

Gailey said Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm will rotate as No. 2. Fitz was the No. 2 on Day One Thursday.

“After evaluating all the OTA and minicamp things, we just felt like Trent deserved to start the training camp with the first group," Gailey said. “We’ll have the other guys, Fitz and Brian, alternating with the twos during the course of the first few weeks here. And then we’ll get Levi as many reps as we can get him. But that was how we evaluated it coming out of the OTAs."

What did Gailey like about Edwards in the spring?

“Well, he just made a lot more plays that we thought were positive plays during the course of the minicamps and OTAs," Gailey said. “He did a good job of handling the team. He did a good job when he had the threes, as well as when he had the ones. And that was impressive to me, to be able to go out there and work with whoever he was throwing with."

---Mark Gaughan


Quick hits, Practice No. 1

The Bills practiced for 2 hours and 15 minutes in their first training camp workout under new coach Chan Gailey. They were in pads, which was a big change from the Dick Jauron era. Jauron typically would have two or three days of practice before bringing out the pads.

Asked about the pads, Gailey said: "We’re in training camp, aren’t we? Training camp is a time to go to work. We only have a certain number of opportunities to get out here and get better and be a physical football team so we take advantage of every opportunity that we have."

Besides quarterback, here was a rundown on key position battles: No. 2 WR - it was Stevie Johnson opposite Lee Evans. James Hardy was behind Johnson on the depth chart. OLB - it was veteran Reggie Torbor ahead of Aaron Maybin, as it was at the end of spring practices. ILB - With Paul Posluszny on the sidelines due to a groin injury, both Andra Davis and Kawika Mitchell were with the first unit, Davis generally on the strong side and Mitchell on the weak side. Poz is the weak side inside starter. Davis and Mitchell battle for the other spot, and Davis had a slight edge in the spring. CB - It was veteran Drayton Florence ahead of Leodis McKelvin to start camp. The reality is both of them are on the field a lot of the time. Florence had an outstanding year last season and is a good leader. This is great competition and good impetus for the young McKelvin to push himself.

During position drills when Demetrius Bell was participating, tThe second-string offensive line was, from left tackle to right: Ed Wang, Cordaro Howard, Christian Gaddis, Kirk Chambers and Jamon Meredith. During team drills when Bell sat out, Meredith started at left tackle and Nick Hennessey played right tackle with the second teamers.

Said Gailey: "He’s not quite ready. We’re being precautionary with him, we’re going to ease him back in. He didn’t have the advantage that Eric Wood had of taking the last couple OTAs and minicamp practices. So we’re trying to let him ease into it."

The second-team defense was: John McCargo, Torell Troup and Specner Johnson on the line, Chris Ellis, Ryan Manalac, Arthur Moats and Aaron Maybin at linebacker, and Leodis McKelvin, Reggie Corner, Bryan Scott and George Wilson in the secondary.

There was not a real big crowd in the stands for Day 1 at St. John Fisher College. Maybe a couple hundred people. We'll see what kind of gathering they have for the sessions this Saturday and Sunday, both of which run 3 to 5 p.m.

---Mark Gaughan

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