By Mark Gaughan
PITTSFORD – The Buffalo Bills’ offense seemed determined Saturday night to rebound from its lackluster showing in the exhibition opener on Thursday.
The offense worked a lot on the running game in practice at St. John Fisher College, two days after the starting unit called pass plays on 16 of the 16 snaps it was on the field against Washington.
“We have not run the ball as much as we wanted to, and we made this week the we’re gonna come back and work on the run game quite a bit,” coach Chan Gailey said.
Gailey said he emphasized the need for the offense to look sharper.
“We had an offensive meeting today about that very thing,” Gailey said. “We made progress last year, but it’s not going to happen just because we did it last year. You’ve got to go make it happen again this year.”
Said receiver Stevie Johnson: "Mentally we have to prepare like champions really. We got to get past the whole 'let’s win this many games in a row.' We have to be thinking like champions right now. Aggressive and dominant, that’s it."
“He wanted to see us be more physical, and I think part of that was coming out here and practicing the run game,” said Bills back Fred Jackson. “That’s something we’re going to have to be able to do, playing where we play.”
A capacity crowd of more than 2,500 watched the session. A crew of officials was on hand calling penalties. The Bills had eight false-start calls on Thursday.
“I think we came out and practiced well,” Gailey said. “It wasn’t lights out (on offense). But you hope it’s not lights out against your defense. We had three more pre-snap penalties, and we’re gonna alleviate those.”
INJURY REPORT: Receiver David Nelson, out the past week with a strained knee, was back in full action. ... Starting right tackle Erik Pears (hernia-groin) was back working in 11-on-11 drills and took part in 15 to 20 snaps. ... Center Eric Wood upped his workload, taking 15 to 20 snaps in team work. Gailey said Wood is expected to sit out the second preseason game (Friday in Minnesota) but is targeted to play in the third game (Aug. 25 vs. Pittsburgh). ... Defensive tackle Torell Troup (back) was limited. Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was very limited. Sitting out were Josh Nesbitt, Justin Rogers and Mike Caussin.
HIGHLIGHTS: In one-on-one passing drills, Stephon Gilmore had a good breakup deep vs. Stevie Johnson. Marcus Easley made a good grab of a deep ball vs. Ron Brooks. Prince Miller broke up a deep pass for Derek Hagan and had another good breakup vs. Nelson. Vince Young connected with David Clowney deep in 7 on 7 work. ... In pass-rush drills, Marcell Dareus and Mark Anderson continued to give linemen fits in 2-on-2 action. ... Pears faced up to Mario Williams pretty well on two snaps.
In 11-on-11 work, Arthur Moats stuffed Jackson off left tackle on the second play from scrimmage. With Sheppard sitting out team work, Moats, Scott McKillop and Nick Barnett started at linebacker. ... C.J. Spiller had a good run off left takcle. ... Brooks had tight coverage on T.J. Graham and broke up a pass down the left sideline when Vince Young went deep to try to burn a blitz. ... Naaman Roosevelt had two catches from Tyler Thigpen, the second coming despite a good hit from Nick Sukay right as he made the grab. ... Kyle Williams was giving the interior line trouble on several plays, knifing into the backfield. ... Kyle Moore whipped around Chris Hairston for a would-be sack or QB hit. ... Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Graham on a well-timed slant. ... In red-zone work, Thigpen didn't get the offense in the end zone on six plays. Fitzpatrick came on and hit Dorin Dickerson with a perfect strike vs. Da'Norris Searcy for a TD in the right corner of the end zone. ... Young threw a 15-yard TD strike to Graham after a nifty step-up in the pocket. Graham got good separation over the middle at the goal line.