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What's poppin'? The Bills in pads, starting Saturday

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- We stand corrected.

Buffalo Bills training camp did not begin Thursday. They didn't have real sessions today either.

Head coach Chan Gailey says it all starts Saturday.

That's when the Bills get popping.

"Tomorrow is the start of camp," Gailey said after this afternoon's apparently fake practice at St. John Fisher College. "When you can put pads on, that starts camp.

"This other stuff is good and important. It helps us. But you really start to find out about your football team when you put pads on."

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement prohibits contact for the first two days of training camp -- as well as offseason workouts.

Tackling is a no-no. Collisions between linemen are verboten, causing some position battles to be more about guesswork than actual scouting analysis.

"It's hard to tell anything right now," Gailey said. "We start real football tomorrow. We'll find out a lot more in the next week."

The Bills' offensive and defensive lines stand to gain the most from contact. One of the benefits of having players such as Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and Kyle Williams on the defensive front is to help the O-linemen sharpen their skills.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said the players are eager to see what they have.

"It's something that we've been excited to see just because there's no contact in OTAs and minicamp and the first couple days of camp here," Fitzpatrick said. "To get the pads on, we'll get more run-game stuff going tomorrow just to see how everybody's doing.

"But it's nice to have a couple days before you get the pads on just to get your feet under you and to get going. ... The first couple days, I don't want to say they've been boring, but they've been very vanilla in terms of what we’ve been doing. As camp progresses it gets more exciting."

That, of course, comes from a guy who wears a no-contact red jersey every day.

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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 |