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.