The Bills held their first practice of the summer in pads Monday at St. John Fisher College.
The Bills' run defense clogged things up early, and coach Chan Gailey liked the look of the defensive front.
“I feel like just watching our football team, I think we’re more physical than we were last year," Gailey said. “I feel more push defensively when I stand behind the offense. There seems to be more things happening on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage than we had last year. It feels that way."
The first-team run defense looked pretty stout for much of the 11-on-11 session. Linebacker Shawne Merriman did a good job blowing up a screen pass for C.J. Spiller and reacting quickly on an outside run by Fred Jackson. Chris Kelsay smelled out a bootleg play. Dwan Edwards had a bat-down of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass on a stunt with Merriman. The offense did break some runs up the middle later in the period. Spiller popped one up the middle. Jackson had a good run on a trap play. Johnny White continues to get noticed with his hard running. Fitzpatrick showed good accuracy, espeically on some quick throws to Roscoe Parrish, and on a slant to Naaman Roosevelt. Free safety Jairus Byrd showed good range into the end zone in breaking up a well-thrown deep ball down the sideline from Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson.
The offense did not have any troubles with pre-snap confusion, lining up wrong, false starts and other disorganization that is sometimes seen early in camp.
“It was a lot smoother, especially with us making the transition from not being here all offseason working with each other," agreed Jackson. "That’s a credit to everybody being on the same page."
Jackson also credits Fitzpatrick with getting people lined up properly. "Right back at it," he said. "He’s a smart guy. He’s in the playbook. He knows what’s going on.”
The team held its first one-on-one pass rush drills. Left tackle Demetrius Bell held off Merriman in the only snap they faced each other. Nose tackle Torell Troup showed improved strength and leverage with a swim move on Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik and Marcell Dareus held each other to a draw on two reps. Tackle Ed Wang held his own. Defensive end Dwan Edwards looked pretty good.
INJURIES: Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring) is out at least a week. Ditto for eceiver Marcus Easley (hyperextended knee). Cornerback Dominic Cook, the UB product, hurt his knee during the 7 on 7 drills. He had to limp off the field for further evaluation. Cornerback Reggie Corner was back from a sore ankle and practicing. He was taken off the physically unable to perform list.
A crowd of a couple hundred watched the practice. The crowds were modest over the weekend, about 1,000 each day.