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Defense finishes minicamp strong

By Mark Gaughan

There were not a lot of big offensive highlights on the final day of minicamp practices for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills' defense looked solid throughout the 13th and final on-field workout behind the Bills Fieldhouse.

The team now is off until the start of training camp on July 26.

Defensive end Mario Williams made life difficult for right tackle Chris Hairston, as he has throughout the spring workouts, and the defense did not give up many pass plays downfield in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 work.

Bills back Fred Jackson had a good run on the second play of 11-on-11 work, with the offense deep in its own territory. Then Stevie Johnson caught an on-time short pass in front of Stephon Gilmore from Ryan Fitzpatrick for a first down. But Gilmore came back on the next play and broke up a hitch for Marcus Easley. Then pressure in the backfield forced an incompletion for C.J. Spiller.

Tyler Thigpen took second-team snaps at quarterback. Pressure from Shawne Merriman around rookie Zebrie Sanders helped foil a screen pass play. Gilmore had tight coverage downfield on Derek Hagan on an incompletion from Vince Young. Then Kyle Williams got in the backfield to blow up a play. Young did hit Donald Jones deep downfiled with a fine throw near the sideline.

When the starters on offense got their next chance, rookie NIgel Bradham broke through for a sack. Jackson had a good run wide left but then Leodis McKelvin had a breakup of a sideline throw for Jones. On the second-team offense's next chance, Bradham showed good containment on the edge to ruin a wide run by Tashard Choice. ... The Bills were rotating linebackers a lot throughout the workouts.

In situational two-minute work, Jackson had a big catch up the middle to put the offense in scoring position.

The defense generally got the better of 7-on-7 work, with Gilmore and Jairus Byrd playing tight coverage to force incompletions on back-to-back plays. Then Bryan Scott caught an interception on a pass that deflected off Spiller's hands. George Wilson later caught an easy pickoff on what looked like an offensive miscommunication, and then Byrd anticipated a throw over the middle for Johnson and broke up the pass.

Coach Chan Gailey on the physical style Gilmore showed this spring: "It is something that I think is very natural for him. Some guys have to learn how to feel a receiver. I think he has instincts in that regard of understanding what great receivers (do). Probably playing against great receivers in college has really helped that."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |