The Bills were talking about their improved depth after their first spring practice of the year at the fieldhouse in Orchard Park.
Said QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: "I think one of the biggest differences across the board for us this year, not only on the defensive side, but I think at every position, is there’s so much competition right now. Guys are competitive. That’s just the nature of the professional athlete. But you just see it every day here. There’s guys competing against other guys who are just as talented as they are. That’s been something that has slowly been changing since I’ve been here, is the talent level from top to bottom I feel like has gotten better and is going to continue to get a lot better because the better you are on defense, the more challenged you are on offense, and vice versa."
Coach Chan Gailey on Day One: “A lot of energy. A lot of quickness. We felt bigger on the field and it felt bigger on the field. It felt quick on the field. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but initial observations were good.”
Here's a look at how the depth sorted out by position on the practice field:
D-LINE: Working with the starting defensive line in individual drills were, left to right: Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay. On the second team were, left to right, Spencer Johnson, Dwan Edwards, Kellen Heard and Mark Anderson. On the third team were Kyle Moore, Jarron Gilbert, Alex Carrington, Robert Eddins and Jay Ross were rotating on the third team. When the 11-on-11 team drills took place, Kyle Williams sat out. On the first team were Mario Williams, Dareus, Edwards and Kelsay. On the second team were, left to right, Spencer Johnson, Heard, Carrington and Anderson.
DBs: First-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore worked largely with the starters at one cornerback. He looks fluid in coverage and in breaking on the ball. The other starter in individual drills was Terrence McGee, but he’s rehabilitating from knee surgery and he’s pointing toward training camp for full-go work. Leodis McKelvin started at the other corner. McKelvin, Gilmore and Aaron Williams rotated with the starting unit. Second-year man Justin Rogers saw plenty of action in the nickel defense. He had one of the best pass break-ups of the day on an out route for Donald Jones.
WR: Stevie Johnson was not practicing due to offseason groin surgery. Starting from the first snap at wideout were Donald Jones and Derek Hagan. There was a lot of rotating at receiver. Third-year man Marcus Easley remains the most physically imposing of the group, at 6-foot-2 and a chiseled 217 pounds. He showed strong hands in catching during the workout. Rookie T.J. Graham caught the ball well, too, although he couldn’t come down with a well-thrown long-ball from Fitzpatrick.
QBs: Just as expected the rotation went: Fitzpatrick, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young, Brad Smith.
O-LINE: Center Eric Wood is six months into his knee rehabilitation. He was not practicing. Neither was right tackle Erik Pears. The first-team offensive line was: left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Andy Levitre, center Colin Brown, right guard Kraig Urbik, right tackle Chris Hairston.
RBs: It’s obvious watching any Bills practice that Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are two of the more talented players on the team. They always look good. Tashard Choice, the former Georgia Techster and Dallas Cowboy, was No. 3. Backing up fullback Corey McIntyre was ex-Pitt Panther Dorin Dickerson, who’s more of a receiving-blitz-pickup fullback at 226 pounds.
LBs: Middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was flanked by Nick Barnett on the weak side and Kirk Morrison on the strong side. Working with the second team were middle man Scott McKillop, flanked by outside men Nigel Bradham and Danny Batten. Arthur Moats and Bryan Scott, a hybrid safety-linebacker, got a good amount of work in sub packages.