By Mark Gaughan
The Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-Stevie Johnson connection looked to be in regular-season form during the first day of training camp at St. John Fisher College. The Buffalo Bills' quarterback hooked up repeatedly with his favorite receiver throughout the team drills. On just the second play of 11-on-11 work, Fitzpatrick hit Johnson with an accurate deep pass down the left sideline, and Johnson hauled it in a step behind rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Fitzpatrick was on target most of the day. The Bills practiced with softer "shell" pads on their shoulders. It was a session that looked a lot like spring workouts because the team was not in full pads. That will come in several days. A crowd of about 300 watched.
While Gilmore got beat on the pass to Johnson, he looked good on his first day. The Bills' first-round pick was like glue on most receivers all day long. He worked exclusively with the starters. The other starting corner was Aaron Williams, and Leodis McKelvin was the nickel corner.
Terrence McGee (knee) saw only very limited duty in team drills. Center Eric Wood (knee) also worked only a bit in individual drills. Defensive tackle Torell Troup (back) was a little sore and was held out of most of the action.
In one-on-one blocking drills, defensive end Mark Anderson looked great, showing a good burst. Defensive end Shawne Merriman showed his form of old on his first snap, whipping around rookie Cordy Glenn. Big guard Michael Jasper was stout in his snaps. In one-on-one passsing drills, rookie Tank Carder had a good moment, getting a pass breakup against C.J. Spiller. Carder also had an interception off a Vince Young pass in 7-on-7 work.
Depth-chart information: With Wood resting, Kraig Urbik started at center, and Chad Rinehart took Urbik's right guard spot. The second-team O-Line was, left to right, Glenn, Jasper, Colin Brown, Keith Williams and Sam Young. The third-team O-Line was, left to right, James Carmon, David Snow, Mark Asper, Jake Vermiglio and Zebrie Sanders. The receivers rotated a ton. But generally, Derek Hagan was the third outside guy with the first unit behind Johnson and Donald Jones.
Defensive depth-chart info: Anderson started at right end on the defensive line. The linebackers rotated a ton depending on their situational roles. The second-team defensive line was: Chris Kelsay, Spencer Johnson, Dwan Edwards and Merriman. The second-team linebackers were Nigel Bradham, Scott McKillop or Chris White, and Arthur Moats. However, Moats got snaps with the starters in a variety of nickel situations.
The third-team D-Line was Robert Eddins, Alex Carrington, Kellen Heard and Kyle Moore.
Highlight plays in 11-on-11 work included some sharp throws from Fitzpatrick to slot receiver David Nelson, along with a couple of slants and intermediate sideline strikes to Stevie Johnson. Rian Lindell booted a field goal from 55 yards.