By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- Twenty-four hours earlier, Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey couldn't have been much happier with his practice. The pace was swift. There was little downtime. Players were talkative. They gave second efforts and dove for passes. They were in the moment.
Gailey's opinion went south this afternoon at St. John Fisher College. The Bills weren't in pads for their final training-camp session before Thursday night's preseason opener, and their competitive edge plummeted.
"Mentally, we were sort of into it," Gailey said. "This was the first time in quite a while we have not been in pads, and I thought guys thought it was a glorified walkthrough.
"We've got to make sure we learn how to practice without pads on. So we've got to up the tempo with that."
Most of today's snaps went to the second- and third-stringers. Gailey estimated 15 to 20 plays were against looks the Washington Redskins will show Thursday night.
"The mind-set of getting to the game without pads on today, it took a turn," Gailey said, referring to how impressive Monday's practice was. "We have to be able to handle that."
There was, however, one flare-up. Rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore and receiver Derek Hagan needed to be separated after a pass play along the left sideline during a two-minute drill. It was nothing like what happened at New York Jets camp a day earlier, when 20 players got into a full-scale brawl.
"This is an edge sport," Gailey said. "You have to be a little on edge to play it. So it happens from time to time. You just can't let it get out of control."
Some other quick observations from today's practice:
* Gailey said he was confident right tackle Erik Pears will be healthy enough to return next week from sports-hernia surgery. Rookie Cordy Glenn was the starting left tackle today, with Chris Hairston manning the right post.
* Gailey also admitted injured defensive tackle Torell Troup is behind the 8-ball when it comes to making the team. The Bills have depth, and Troup "hasn't played enough to be an established player," Gailey said. "He's still trying to work his way into the depth chart."
* Neither Vince Young nor Tyler Thigpen lit it up today. Brad Smith also took some reps at quarterback. Gailey said he would like to get Smith into a two-minute-drill situation Thursday night.
* Bills all-timers Jim Kelly and Andre Reed watched the practice.
* Linebacker Nick Barnett, his lacerated left forearm wrapped, spent a chunk of the practice riding a stationary bike.