Astro-Notes: Bills’ Practice 8-7-18

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It’s a grey, rainy day at Fisher, but outfitted with a Bills umbrella and sheet protectors over my roster, which now has #19 as Corey Coleman, I took one for the #BillsMafia. My notes are sopping wet, just short of papier-mache, but legible. Here goes.

Breon Borders is out early, throwing the ball back and forth with a secondary coach. The QBs are already on the field, as is perennially-early Nick O’Leary, throwing the pigskin around with Malachi Dupre. A bunch of players are kicking a soccer ball around, keeping it aloft, but nobody would mistake any for Ronaldo. Trent Murphy, Cam Phillips, Vontae Davis, and Corey Thompson are doing stretching with trainers. Travares Cadet is jumping up onto the 2-foot-high black plyometric boxes, while Andre Holmes and Kelvin Benjamin take passes from the JUGS machine. Punt catchers Jeremy Kerley, RayRay McCloud, and Austin Proehl get some work with Camp Leg Tyler Davis. Corey Coleman, wearing Quan Bray’s #19 for now, does some side straddles for warmups, then, with videocam taping his every move, walks out onto the field to cautious applause, including mine. He smiles and waves, then trots to the other side of the field. Other Brushes with Dignitaries: I applauded Sean McDermott and he smiled, and got a “hi” back when I greeted John Murphy on his way up into the press box.

Charles Clay is catching lasers thrown to him by TE Coach Bob Boras. It’s nice to see Clay healthy, as he could be a big part of the Bills’ success this year should he play 16+ games.

Calisthenics Stars go to Marquavius Lewis, Josh Allen, Harrison Phillips, Mo Porter, Tre White, and Jason Croom, to the tune of “Mambo Number Five” (Subwoofer is back to 90 dB this week). Don’t read too much into these stars, as Blake Annen was the superstar last year. He’s now a high school coach.

Positionals were done to Devo’s “Whip It”. I watched the WRs as Benjamin models each route, and Coleman goes last in each drill, but fully participating. Zay Jones is running full go-routes with his teammates, although he still wears the red jersey. Best catch in positionals was by Austin Proehl, whose long arms and great hands snatch a solid catch in the end zone. Kerley rounded off a route that the others didn’t. Kaelin Clay dropped the only pass on his go route. TEs worked on perfecting their blocking vs outside pass rushes with proper hand placement on a jarring push. OLs practiced hand-fighting. Gerhard de Beer got de most instruction. Bodine, Ike Boettger (Iowa OT), and Groy took turns hiking and immediately fending off the invisible pass rush. RBs ran forward, suddenly stopped, backed up a couple steps, then ran forward again.

The next session was boring (but very necessary), as they were working on situational substitution, with players running on and off the field. Tremaine was busy counting to make sure he had 11 players. This exercise I hadn’t seen before in 15 years of camp, but the 5 minutes may reduce “too many men on the field” penalties.

After Kickoff drill with Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet getting work there, 11 on 11s began.

McCarron hands off to McCoy, and yesterday’s hard landing on his hip showed no sign of persisting. The dude can fly. Interesting that Keith Ford went before Marcus Murphy today, but Ford’s deserved it. Ford, the youngest RB, has had a checkered past. He transferred out of Oklahoma to Texas A&M, having been suspended indefinitely for both academic and team rules violations. He’s lost 3 murdered friends. I was frankly surprised when the Bills signed him, as he had 3.9 ypc as a senior. He’s brought it this camp, though.

Allen got second ups, and had Corey Coleman line up as the X receiver on this side next to Ray Ray, who occupied the slot. Coleman went long every time, but the plays were hand-offs to Cadet then Taiwan Jones.

McCarron went again, curiously skipping Peterman this round. McCarron hands off to McCoy, who runs it out further than most backs (except Murphy, who always does). McCarron has diMarco in motion first out, then in, and diMarco gets the handoff, which has to be a thrill for him; he had 2 attempts in 2017. Murphy goes next, and starts to bounce the carry outside, then jukes it back inward for a nice gain.

Peterman has Kaelin Clay in motion, but Murphy gets another carry, running it out 30 or so yards, as usual. With Kaelin Clay in the slot, Peterman throws it deep to Coleman on a Go route, and he hauls it in, just as easy as pie. A 2020 7th round pick…

McCarron’s back in, and the Play of the Day goes to fan-favorite Brandon Reilly, who makes a marvelous hands catch away from his body. A.J. follows up with a sweet swing pass to Travaris Cadet, who had faked a block and immediately swung out for the pass.

Peterman didn’t get what he wanted on the first play of the next series, and he threw it way out of bounds (not “EJ Way Out”, but over the heads of most players on the sidelines). Now in 21 personnel (diMarco’s in), Marcus Murphy bursts through the hole you or I could run through. And that was with the second-string OL.

Allen comes out with a trips formation left, with Dupre, Kaelin Clay, and Logan Thomas, who’s out the widest (I love Daboll’s wrinkles). Allen zings it to Supre-Dupre on a crosser. Some spectators leave, confusing Allen’s pass with lightning. Not done yet, Allen throws and connects with Coleman deep. 2020 seventh-rounder looking good.

McCarron returns, handing off to McCoy, who again runs it out. McCarron fakes to Murphy and throws it in O’Leary’s direction, but the coverage is so good that it’s intercepted by Tre White.

Peterman’s pass is incomplete to Croom. His line has Bodine at C, Teller and DeOndre Wesley as Guards, and Newhouse as one of the OTs. I didn’t get the name of the other OT.

Allen’s back in, and throws a completion to Proehl and a nice one to Malachi Dupre. Both of those WRs are still in the picture.

The rain is coming down in bucket hats at this point. I can see why Robyn Mundy isn’t here.

McCarron has Corey Coleman crossing over the middle and McCoy receiving the benefit of the attention on Coleman. O’Leary catches  the next one on a similar route that was intercepted last time. Dawkins and Ducasse form the LT LG combo block that shoots Marcus Murphy out of a cannon.

Peterman throws a nice completion to Brandon Reilly (who’d like to remind y’all that he is still on the team) out in the flat, and the rain begins to subside. From his DE position, Eddie Yarbrough puts major pressure on Peterman, which likely caused the incompletion to Dupre, who obviously seems to be getting more work. I have him as the #2 on my BillsMafia Depth Chart. I think Coleman works into that role as the season wears on –unless Dupre has something to say about it.

[My power went out for 3 hours, so now I’ll finish my writing]

Josh Allen has Harvard’s own Adam Redmond at Center, and he’s doing strong work in there. Coleman flies deep down the left side, leaving space behind for Allen’s screen to Marcus Murphy. It’s nice having someone stretch the field for all that it opens up. Allen has them in 4-wide, no RB on the next play. Allen leads Robert Foster with an accurate pass that would have made 15+ yards. LJ McCray is dancing on the sidelines, but Tre White says, “Hold my beer.”

McCarron puts Charles Clay in motion onto the same side as Benjamin. That’s a lot of height on one side. A.J. flips the ball to Andre Holmes on the other side. This is excellent offensive scheming. McCarron hits Micah Hyde in the back, likely forgetting the laws of physics. Instead of continuing through Hyde to Rod Streater, the ball drops to the ground. The Front Four, which I call The Cold Front, consists of Star Lotulelei at one-tech, Horrible Harry at 3-tech, Shaq Lawson next to Horrible, and LDE Jerry Hughes, who is getting off in record time. Hughes is in on McCarron in a flash, but the veteran lobs it to Chris Ivory in that vacated space for a nice gain.

Peterman takes command, motions a WR in a little bit, and passes to Taiwan Jones for a completion. Daboll again impresses with O’Leary split out wide. Peterman throws to an underneath route run by Keith Ford, who’s had a great stretch of three practices. The rain is coming down in bucket hats. Peterman, undeterred, throws deep to Malachi Dupre, who’s having his best practice today.

McCarron’s next series includes a run by McCoy, then Cadet (with a nice block downfield by Kerley), with our first-string OL providing some very nice blocking.

Odds And Ends:

  • The second team OL today was RT-Conor McDermott, RG-Ike Boettger, C-Adam Redmond, LG-Wyatt Teller, and LT-Marshall Newhouse.
  • Allen got to use the same OL when he came in.
  • Mo Porter also got some work at Tackle.
  • Allen threw the first pass to Coco Coleman that was not a go route. IT was a crossing route.
  • Towbridge looks good when they use him in motion.
  • Jason Croom looks good when they put him inline, although he’s running pass routes out of the inline position.
  • Travaris Cadet was the first one to slip on the grass.
  • Breon Borders did a pretty nice job out there, but might have been flagged for DPI as he was all over Malachi Dupre on Allen’s 2nd throw.






12 Replies to “Astro-Notes: Bills’ Practice 8-7-18”

  1. Do we actually have TOO MUCH depth at wide receiver AND tight end? Will they keep 6 receivers and 3 tight ends this year?

    Great update Dean…..thank u!

  2. “Do we actually have TOO MUCH depth at wide receiver ”

    I think that’s the problem…too much ‘depth’ but not enough starters.

    • My nerd math teacher would call it a negatively-skewed leptokurtic distribution. Then he would try to explain it: “Leptokurtic distributions are statistical distributions where there are extreme points along the X axis, more concentrated about the mean”.

      A negatively-skewed leptokurtic distribution of, say, thirteen WRs would have one Pro Bowl-level WR on the far right, and a cluster of average receivers back to the left. That’s what we have right now.

      • I wish it were so. I see the distribution as being a pro bowl player to the far right, a couple average receivers grouped in the middle and a big cluster of below average receivers back to the left.
        Once you look at it in detail it is alarming unfortunately.

        • It’s only alarming for you because you’re seeing it that way. Here’s some info from an article I’m writing now.
          By adding Corey Coleman and maintaining their trust in Zay Jones, the Bills have 2016 and 2017’s leaders in receptions in college football. In fact, Coleman also led the 2015 college crowd in touchdowns.
          I’ve been to five practices, and one newbie has caught almost everything thrown his way, scored two touchdowns, nearly caught a third, and is not named Brandon Reilly. With his 2.89 yards per route run, Cam Phillips was the 2nd-most-productive route runner in the ACC. Cam dropped only 2 of his 73 catchable passes in 2017, and forced 40 missed tackles on 235 career catches. In 2016, Phillips’s best year, (he had a new HC and a freshman QB in 2017), Phillips’s catch rate was 80%.

          • Not disagreeing, but far from sold on Jones or Coleman. At this point each remains below average IMHO despite what they did in college. Potential yes but below average because they haven’t demonstrated anything in the NFL.

  3. Okay peeps, name the pro bowl receivers NOT named Gronk on the five (5) Patriots winning super bowl teams AND if anyone can name more than one then Astro is buying you a beer.

    Oh and by the way, I don’t remember Jim Kelly having an abundance of big name/pro bowl receivers at his disposal during the super bowl seasons or am I wrong?

    I really like both Cam Phillips and Brandon Reilly whether they make it or not, this team’s overall affect is both intoxicating and addicting!