Ninety-three degrees with 75% humidity. I watched practice from the opposite side for a breeze at my back and a different perspective. BillsMafia Editor Robyn (after her 24 hours’ worth of botched flights from Wyoming) and airport angel Celeste joined me, and yes: They are as nice as everybody says.
It’s Military Appreciation Day, and a guy in a black U.S. Army t-shirt, red, white, and blue Bills’ mohawk, and red-fringed leggings ambles by. I think my C.O. at Ft. Jackson would have had something to say about that. Anyway, we thank you for your service.
First on the field were Josh Allen (avoiding rubber floor mats with good footwork, already throwing), Taron Johnson (doing onside kick-catching), Horrible Harry (who paused again to pray at field’s edge), Breon Borders, Tyler Davis, Nathan Peterman (who’s keeping his feet still and throwing), and RayRay. The last out seems to be McCarron, who’s not wearing a helmet at this point. Later, he’s doing his thing with helmet on.
Zay Jones has a helmet on for the first practice this year. He’s catching footballs from Josh Allen, and you wonder how soon, and for how many years, we will see that combination.
The three punt catchers today do not include Kaelin Clay for once. They are RayRay, Proehl, and Kerley.
Shady is on the sidelines, doing some extra stretching. Chris Ivory, likewise is doing some serious hip flexion exercises.
Most effort in calisthenics award goes to Josh Allen, Dion Dawkins, Wyatt Teller, Adam Redmond, and Tre White. All of these men have been mentioned before. In the past, my grandson came to practice with me and noted that a certain wasn’t putting forth “his whole effort”. A week later, Sammy Watkins was gone.
Positional Drills ensued, with WRs following Kelvin Benjamin’s lead like a mother duck is followed by her ducklings. The order of the ducklings: RayRay, Malachi, Kerley, Jones, Proehl, Holmes, Reilly, and Foster. The TEs are off doing blocking. RBs are running through the gauntlet avoiding a punching bag at the end. It was the most troublesome for Marcus Murphy.
Trent Murphy is still out, but his running halfway across the field and back leads me to believe he’s taking it day to day.
Now for some real-ish stuff. With McCarron at the helm, Shady makes a long catch look easy. O’Leary, with Poyer all over him like a cheap suit, makes an amazeballs catch. Chris Ivory makes a catch that makes us remark that there’s not just a one-cut bull here. Cadet misses one, with Deon Lacey again reminding the coaches not to forget him. Josh Allen throws one behind Logan Thomas, but Thomas’s insane catch radius says, “Don’t worry, Cowboy; I got you covered”.
A slick in-out move from Zach Olstad, followed by a very nice catch, makes me remark to Robyn, “You know how the Bills could save some money? Keep Olstad and trade diMarco.” Towbridge had to avoid Siral Neal’s nice coverage to make a catch, followed by O’Leary’s catch and Marcus Murphy’s Play of the Day catch right on the money from Allen. Whoop; there it is. Robyn wants us to know that Josh Allen’s footwork is light years better than when she’d see him at Wyoming, where “it looked as though he was wearing clown shoes.”
Peterman passes to the outside shoulder of Robert Forst, and we’re thinking, “This is the best the offense has looked”. Shady makes another nice catch from Peterman. Croom gains separation even though he was covered like Tre White on Jerry Rice (see what I did there?). Towbridge vs Dean Marlowe nets a similar result. Deke of the Day goes to former Oklahoma RB Keith Ford, who in the last 3 practices has surpassed Marcus Murphy in production. He left Xavier Woodson-Luster with nothing but embarrassment. LJ McCray makes a crucial rookie mistake in covering Nick O’Leary. He waits until O’Leary is finished catching the ball and then bangs into him. You have one job.
The next play may or may not come back to haunt us. Peterman’s throw to Shady is a swing route just a little out of reach, but McCoy stretches out his arms, catches the ball, and rolls. He gets up from the completion and is holding his hip. Later we see him getting hip muscle stretching on the sidelines. A large cumulus cloud provides some relief to the fans in aluminum bleachers. We hope to see more of both Shady and shady in this practice.
After an uneventful fire-drill field goal practice and punt practice (Marcus Muphy, Jeremy Kerley and RayRay), we have the offense vs air. Safety Dean Marlowe gets a pick (and frankly, a first mention, but at least it’s a good one).
A collective sigh of relief when we see Shady back in for this. McCarron’s QB. Zay Jones is also in on the play, motioning, then doing a simple out pattern, and catches the ball like …like college. Zay gets the next play as well, on a nice end-around. Kerley is in the slot on the next play, and it was such a rare sighting tht I missed what the play was.
Peterman’s in, and hands off to Shady, and he looks fully recovered running right up the gut (is our training/med staff that good?). We haven’t seen Proehl in awhile; I wonder if he’s going to …whoop, there he is! motioning in and slanting for a TD from I Won’t Be Defeat-erman. We see a similar play on the other side, this time from Robert Foster. Zay’s in the slot for Nathan’s last shot, and he runs a post route with a nice catch. The Offense has arrived.
Allen shows great footwork without the clown shoes. He doesn’t have to throw long (somebody told him). He shows command by changing at the line, and throws complete to Holmes, then to Croom, and then to McCloud. What’s been missing in Allen’s game is done on three successive completions.
McCarron has a rare overthrow on a pass to Holmes, but compensates on the next play with a beautiful pass to Shady with Tre White guarding him well. The ball was so well-placed, we’ll make it another Play of the Day. Faced with a blitz on the next play, McCarron shows vet presence and dumps it off to Travares Cadet. He throws a nice out ball to the far side for a completion.
Peterman comes in and has a handoff for a long gain to Shady, a completion before a neutral-zone call on Washington, and a nice ball to Dupre broken up by Taron Johnson. Best throw/best catch was Peterman’s final throw, to Rod Streater, who walks off with that “I can do this” look.
My final 11 on 11 of Josh Allen’s. Allen hooks up with Foster. Robyn says they really have chemistry, and it’s palpable. NCB Breon Borders steps in front of Allen’s next pass to Proehl, and we have depth. A sack and a short-armed hurried throw completed to RayRay ends this broadcast, because it’s too blessed hot. See you Tuesday.