By Mark Gaughan
PITTSFORD -- Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel hit rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin on a 63-yard touchdown pass on the final play of practice Friday at St. John Fisher College.
The play capped a good day for quarterbacks on Day 5 of training camp. Veteran Kevin Kolb had his best day of camp and arguably was a bit more effective than Manuel.
But Manuel's final throw was the highlight. It was a lofted pass down the left sideline that hit Goodwin in perfect stride at about the 20-yard line. The speedy Goodwin bolted into the end zone.
Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hacket was so enthused he ran and gave Manuel a leaping chest bump. That was Hackett's second leaping chest bump of the final 11-on-11 portion of practice. Just six plays before, Kolb scrambled to his left against a blitz and found a wide-open Robert Woods for a touchdown, prompting a celebration between Hacket and the QB. It was debatable wehther blitzing safety Duke Williams would have sacked Kolb before he got the pass off. From this perspective, it would have been a sack.
"I want some pictures to see how high he’s getting," Kolb said of Hackett. "Yeah, that’s one thing he brings, he brings some energy, we’re out there having fun. Touchdowns are fun, so we’ll keep doing them."
Coach Doug Marrone on Hackett's enthusiasm: "I think when you talk to players about passion and excitement and you don’t do that yourself, and you’re not a good example of that, I think it’s very difficult to get that out of players."
Presuming Williams' blitz didn't produce a sack, Kolb drove the offense 65 yards in seven plays. The other big gainer was a 20-yard run by C.J. Spiller up the middle. Kolb hit Brad Smith for 18 yards on a slant pattern to start the drive.
Kolb also had a nice TD bullet to rookie Chris Gragg on the right side of the end zone during red-zone work. Kolb had a tight-window TD strike to T.J. Graham in the back of the end zone during the first red-zone session.
"I feel like every practice has gotten better and better for myself. I feel more comfortable out there. I feel more comfortable with the play calls, with the footwork. There’s always going to be a little bit of rust when you come into training camp. But today by far was not only my best day, but I think as an offense those last three or four team periods I think we looked as smooth as we have so far."
It didn't start out that way. Hackett huddle the offense together after the first 20-play sequence to tell them to pick up their production. The Bills' defense had sacks on all five passing plays in the first sequence (there were 15 runs and five passes in the stretch). Kyle Williams had the first. Marcus Dowtin and Corbin Bryant each had one. One was a jailbreak of about six defenders. The other came on a blitz.
Manuel took 30 snaps, Kolb took 29 and Jeff Tuel eight in 11-on-11 work.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn has had his hands full with edge rusher Jerry Hughes so far. Hughes beat him for a would-be sack on the second play of the second team segment. Then Hughes beat Erik Pears off the other side for a sack on the next play.
Hughes played in Mario Williams' place with the first-string defense. The second-string defense to start out was: Torell Troup, Alan Branch and Jarron Gilbert on the line, Dowtin, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott and Jamie Blatnick at linebacker, and Crezdon Butler, T.J. Heath, Duke Williams and Mana Silva in the secondary.
Doug Legursky took the first-team snaps at left guard. The second-team line was Sam Young, Colin Brown, David Snow, Keith Williams and Tony Hills or Thomas Welch. The third team line was Zebrie Sanders, Zack Chibane, Ryan Turnley, Antoine Caldwell and Hutch Eckerson.
The Bills' two place-kickers did not have a great day. Rian Lindell and Dustin Hopkins each went 6 for 10 on field-goal tries. Hopkins' misses were from 43, 51, 44 and 49 yards. Lindell's misses were from 49, 52, 47 and 50 yards. A crowd of about 750 watched the session.