PITTSFORD -- The Bills got their free-agent signees on the field for Thursday’s night practice.
A full crowd of several thousand at St. John Fisher College saw newly re-signed Drayton Florence pick off a pass early. Florence looked right at home at his starting cornerback spot. New inside linebacker Nick Barnett stuffed a Fred Jackson run off tackle in the red zone and teamed with Reggie Torbor as the linebackers in the nickel defense. Tyler Thigpen got a lot of snaps at No. 2 quarterback. He had two TD strikes to Buffalo’s Naaman Roosevelt in the red zone. One was to the right side of the end zone, the other was on a well-time slant to the left.
Former Jet Brad Smith worked at quarterback, mostly during individual and 7 on 7 work. He doesn’t have a real quick delivery but he throws a good ball, as one would expect from a former start QB at Missouri. If Smith can hit some passes out of the Wildcat formation it could make that scheme more of a dual treat to defenses.
Roosevelt had a good practice working against the third unit. All he does is catch passes. He showed good balance by staying in bounds and hauling in a 30-yard sideline catch. C.J. Spiller showed good burst on cutbacks on two of the better running plays for the first-team offense. Linebacker Andra Davis stuffed Johnny White in the backfield on a run play. The nickel defense was in play for almost the whole practice. Aaron Maybin forced a Ryan Fitzpatrick incompletion by getting wide on Ed Wang. Stevie Johnson wowed the crowd with a one-handed catch in 7-on-7 work. Shawne Merriman looked pretty good again, beating Demetrius Bell on one play. Safety George Wilson intercepted a Fitzpatrick pass at the goal line in red-zone action. In one-on-one line drills, Chris Kelsay had a good rush on Erik Pears. Eric Wood and Torell Troup continued to wage a fierce battle. Bell had two pretty good reps against Merriman. Kraig Urbik and Marcell Dareus traded wins on two snaps. Wang held off Antonio Coleman on two rushes. Guard Chad Rinehart and defensive end T.J. Langley got into a very brief fight, taking each other to the ground after their square-off.