By Mark Gaughan
Bills wide receiver Derek Hagan has been in the NFL six seasons and never has caught more than 29 passes in any one year. So he's not a fan favorite in the discussion about who will emerge as one of the Bills' top three receivers this year. Nevertheless, Hagan continues to show good hands in spring practices, and he made some fine catches in Wednesday's minicamp workout.
Hagan was a third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2006 but played his way into just one start in a little over two years in Miami (36 games). Since then he has bounced from the Giants to Oakland to Buffalo, which signed him as a free agent last Nov. 22 due to a rash of injuries on offense.
With Stevie Johnson rehabilitating from offseason groin surgery, Hagan has been getting a lot of snaps with the starting offense this spring. Johnson is back working in limited duty in full-squad work this week. In Wednesday's session, Hagan caught a TD pass in the right side of the end zone on a superb throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hagan had a nice catch from Fitzpatrick on a deep corner route in 7-on-7 work late in the practice.
Third-year receiver Marcus Easley had a good practice. He caught a TD strike from Vince Young over cornerback Isaiah Green in red zone work. Then he caught another one several plays later from Fitzpatrick.
Tyler Thigpen took second-team snaps at quarterback and Young was the third QB. But Young threw the ball a bit better than Thigpen. It's going to take Young time to adjust to a new offense. But his good arm and quick feet were in evidence. On one red-zone play, he nimbly escaped the pocket due to pressure from a blitz and threw a strike on the run to Naaman Roosevelt in the end zone. Young also had a perfect, 20-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to tight end Dorin Dickerson. Those were two of the prettiest offensive plays of the day.
With Terrence McGee recovering from a knee injury, Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams started at cornerback. The first-team defensive line was Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay. Middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard sat out the workout. Filling in for him much of the time was Scott McKillop, flanked by Kirk Morrison and Nick Barnett. The Bills rotated linebackers a lot.
Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones and rookie T.J. Graham for TDs in the first red-zone session. Graham hung on for the catch in tight traffic. The lone interception of the day came from Leodis McKelvin, who caught a rebound of a ball from Fitzpatrick that was tipped by Bryan Scott. Receiver David Nelson slipped and fell on the play. Receiver Ruvell Martin beat rookie Ron Brooks on a deep pass from Thigpen. Near the end of the practice, Fitzpatrick had a fine long throw down the sideline to Johnson, who got a step behind Aaron Williams.
The Bills' final minicamp practice is Thursday afternoon. Then the players are off until training camp opens on July 26.