It’s a perfect day, with highs in the upper 70s, a cool breeze and wisps of cirrus clouds. On the way over to my seat, I catch the names of past Bills players on fans’ jerseys. Kelly. Jackson. Lynch, Dareus. Watkins. Evans. Tyrod. Kyle. Stevie. EJ. . There’s a Talley. No wait; that’s really Talley, here to lend a hand.
Then there are jerseys with some creativity: “Amendment”, with the number 19 on the back and Rochesterian Susan B. Anthony’s face on the front. An orange Lawson 90 Clemson jersey is worn by a guy down below us in the Entitled Area, and he gets hugs from some of the players. I wonder who he is (if you know, write it in the comments below). There’s a guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt with pink flamingos (WHY?), and a jersey someone actually paid for that says “F*@k AB”. A man holding hands with a four-year-old has a jersey that reads “World’s #1 Dad.” In case you thought it was you.
On my way up from where Mrs. Astro drops me off, my Dick Tracy watch (ask your father) lets me know of the Nico Siragusa signing, a Guard who can mind the store while Bodine and Long sub for Morse at Center. It’s still not an ideal solution, and I’ve altered my DraftTek Needs at Center accordingly. Biadasz, McCoy, and Williams are now on the radar for Day 1 and Day 2, if they weren’t already. Morse had never played 16 games in a season.
With me today are Joe Reagan, Tom Nowak (HS football coach), Vito Perricelli, Mike McDonough, his sons Connor and Patrick, and his buddy Tim. Connor left early to get his Tre White jersey signed. They were all helpful in spotting. Thank you!
Dawson Knox told Mike McDonough he’s “getting better”, and that’s a relief. There were only 4 TEs out there with Bob Boras today. Tyree makes it six days in a row of being the first player out, and Daboll is the first coach. Dabes walks the circumference of the practice field three times today. The DJ, who I must personally thank for playing the music extra loud today (You know, I’m all about that bass), always has two raspberry smoothies and a white plastic deli bowl full of something. My guess is ear plugs.
RayRay’s hair is up today with a black headband. The coaches really like this kid. He’s now on Ourlads Bills Depth Chart as the RWR behind Zay Jones. Their top 6 are Brown, Jones, Beasley, Foster, McCloud, Roberts. He fist-bumps a cop on the way in to the field (“Thanks, officer, for looking the other way at Pittsford Pub last night”).
Darryl Johnson again walks to the third field alone, tugging at his glove –anything– so as not to remind himself that this isn’t North Carolina A&T. It’s awkward when you’re at a new place, or a new team. Maybe this experience will help him with his next place. His best hope is Practice Squad, but he’d better find someone to walk with him. And fast.
Conversely, Bodine has a lilt in his step. He knows his job is a bit more secure with Morse in Concussion Protocol and Sirles rehabbing in Lincoln Nebraska. We see him dragging the blocking sleds out to the OL area, so he’s become really useful.
Josh Allen is next in the Parade. He signs no autographs today, but gives a peace sign to the Entitled. Coach Skipper is next, and he always smiles and waves when we yell his name. We are big fans of the RB Coach.
I’ve said that Ed Oliver walks like a duck. That’s not exactly right. His right foot is “out-toeing”. This may be caused by heredity (rarely), poor habits, or, more commonly, imbalances in the way various muscles hold, stabilize, and rotate your hips. Oliver’s left foot is straighter. Somebody get him to The Good Feet Store.
LorAx, Foster, and Siragusa (#71, anyway) are at the JUGS machine, while Sills, Vosean Joseph, and Jaquan Johnson are over by the Plyo Boxes.
Sills has his short shorts on. Nothing wrong with them (they looked good on Larry Bird), but something must’ve caused 32 teams to pass on him in the draft 7 times, because we at DraftTek had him as the 14th-best WR, going #130 on our Big Board. The shorts explain it. At best, David Sills will be on the practice squad, learning about apparel length.
At the JUGS now are Abraham Wallace, Toimmy Sweeney, Christian Wade, and Jordan Poyer. The punters join the parade, but they shouldn’t be buying real estate in metro Buffalo just yet. Consistency isn’t there. Only Reid Ferguson can rest easy when the Turk comes down the hall.
Mike McDonough played golf with Sal Capaccio recently. He yells down to Sal, who’s toting his Dunkin coffee, “Hey Sal, are you sore from golf? I’m a little sore.” Without missing a beat, Sal yells up, “Nah, I only had to swing 84 times!”
Foster and McKenzie trot out onto the field together. Reid Ferguson and the punters and Chase McLaughlin all stand in a diamond, keeping a soccer ball aloft. They’re all athletic enough to look pretty adept.
The long litany of players with rest days is too long to publish here. I ran out of ink after 11 players.
The O-Line is already working, pushing sleds, doing duck walks through cones (where’s Ed Oliver when you need him?), and practicing blocking techniques.
The O-Line is with Josh Allen doing a scramble drill (likely for Cover-1, who was just talking about the lack of practice on scramble drills). The line began with Dawkins, Long, Bodine, Feliciano, and Ford, with Nsehke rotating in at RT. They quickly proceed to a red zone repetition, likely to practice something they’d seen on film from the day before.
In calisthenics, my Astro-Stars were Conor McDermott, Towbridge, Marcus Murphy, Denzel Rice, Tre White, Victor Bolden, Frank Gore, Bodine, Ford, and Easley.
The early success of this team is going to come as a direct result of what Bobby Johnson can do with the O-Line. I share my notes on what I’m seeing: Teller comes out low and gets excellent leverage with strong arms. Nico Siragusa fires out low too, and he keeps his head still and eyes moving. There’s no sign of lingering injury issues, which was his deal last year. De’Ondre Wesley is too upright; he’ll be abused by bull rushers who hit high. Ford is getting better and better at keeping his feet under his hips, and he uses his posture to full advantage. He can be a mauler, but feet were an issue when we considered him as a OT at DraftTek. Those feet are improving day by day with BobbyJohnson’s supervision. Ike Boettger takes an extra “readying step” before getting into his block, and quicker DTs eat that for breakfast. He’s better than some of these guys, though. Spencer Long is keeping low and keeps his head still, and isn’t as strong as Teller, who’s younger. McGhin is over-relying on bulk to get the job done. He’s quick on the uptake, though, so he’s excellent PS material. Feliciano could use his (ahem) ample lower body more, as he over-uses his arms to move people.
The Bills aren’t working too hard today. These are the Dog Days you read about. The two kick return coverage lines are each 15 players deep, and you have to wait your turn.Sean McD is right there, hands on knees, crouched, watching everything, as the roster fleshes out by choosing the right 10 guys for special teams.
The TEs practice toe-drag catches at the sidelines. It’s so effortless for Tommy Sweeney that somebody is going to give him a shot. I’d like it to be us. Towbridge drops one, and you see the difference. Nate Becker has pretty good hands, and you can tell that Kyle Carter has been well-coached along the way, ecause you the automatic behaviors: “catch, secure, turn upfield”.
The QBs and the RBs are practicing toss sweeps. A boring necessity.
The special teams are in twos on either side approaching a kick returner, with the inner player trying to steer the gunner away from the kick returner. David Sills has likely never played teams before. He is pushing on the gunner’s shoulder blades rather than getting around in front. That’s a penalty waiting to happen. He was better the second time around.
The WR routes emphasized who had the best hands catches. RayRay, Beasley, and Cam Phillips stood out.
Josh Allen did worse than Matt Barkley on some red zone work, although fades take a whole summer of work between QB and WR. It’ll take time. Catches were made by Sills, Brown, Foster, McKenzie, Easley, Zay, D’haquille, and Andre Roberts, who had a Catch of the Day in the left back corner of the end zone. Note: I haven’t seen Josh’s first fade pass ever be on target. Sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger.
The next session was one on ones. Poyer beat Sweeney, DiMarco beat Milano, Keith Towbridge made a sensational one-hand catch and got the crowd clapping. The throw by Allen to Nate Becker was over his head. Singletary had the Juke of the Day against Dean Marlowe that got cheers. TJ Yeldon made a butter-smooth catch against Corey Thompson. Kyle Carter high-pointed a Josh throw that was caught, then knocked out of his hands on the way down (Jaquan Johnson?). Towbridge had a ball knocked out of his hands, as well. Christian Wade got open for a catch against Lorenzo, which impressed me.
Tyree Jackson threw an absolute bomb TD to D’haquille Williams which got the crowd excited. His throw to Tommy Sweeney wasn’t as good, but might have been another TD completion. I’m interested to watch Jackson in preseason games to see how he’s coming on reading defenses.
Josh returns, throwing an out route to TE Kyle Carter with pretty tight coverage by Kurt Coleman. Carter catches the ball. Same deal, with Marcus Murphy the receiver and Lacey in coverage. Josh is 2 for 2. Singletary shows his speed and hands against Julian Stanford, and that one would have been a long pass play on the stat sheets. Josh is 3 for 3. Josh’s throw to Nate Becker is too long, then Milano has the last laugh on Sweeney. Josh finishes the drill at 3 for 5.
The ball is placed on the 12 for the next session, 11 on 11. It’s L to R: Dawkins, Long, Bodine, Feliciano, Nsehke, with Ford subbing in periodically. Feliciano was too upright on one play, and was pushed back too far. On another play, Feliciano had a “one jab and that’s my plan” approach, but it didn’t stop the rush from coming from Jordan Phillips for a would-be sack.
A new set of downs for Josh. He throws a perfect laser to RayRay for a touchdown, and that could be my 2nd Catch of the Day, but Barkley’s throw to Nate Becker on the ensuing play definitely was. Becker was well-schooled to put the ball away quick to avoid any fumbles. Sills couldn’t get out of the traffic on the next throw from Bark. Bark calls time before the next play. BArkley’s next throw impressed, a connection with Senorise Perry for the touchdown. Barkley on a keeper scores on the next play, as well. Tyree’s limited work includes a laser behind Kyle Carter, then a laser caught by D’haquille Williams for a touchdown. Josh returns and fires to Beasley on a shallow cross for a touchdown, and Zay Jones dives for an errant Josh pass, and comes down with it, but he’s outside the lines of the end zone.
In the 11 on 11 that ensues after positional drills, Wyatt Teller is getting plenty of LG work, likely to allow Feliciano to play Center at some point. Teller deserves it. He’s a gym rat, is bull-strong, and gets low and square coming off the snap. McCoy (you might remember the name) is getting work as the RB, and Nsehke gets some time with the 1’s at RT. A touchdown to Shady and a touchdown to Andre Roberts make the crowd feel better. A total whiff on his block by Feliciano on the ensuing play again drops the crowd back into its 20-year ennui.
Cam Phillips’ Catch of the Day, my third, was a slick catch in the far back corner of the end zone. HE gets chest bumps from several of the WRs. This is a guy who isn’t the fastest we have, but he grinds, he’s a locker room favorite, he makes tacklers miss, and he’s due for a breakout preseason game.
Other thoughts before I transplant hostas:
Conor McDermott got some work with the threes at LT. Marcus Murphy caught a TD pass on a swing pass from Tyree, and Tyree put his hands up for “TD” as soon as he let it go. Maybe he read the defense. Tyree even directed players when they were lining up; maybe there’s hope for this Bull. We’re using DiMarco too often to cut our only fullback. Shaq Lawson got a tipped ball, which was INTed by Matt Milano, who ran it all the way down the field to the end zone. Josh connected with John Brown for another touchdown, with Teller throwing a nice block. Josh had to run one in for a touchdown, as well. Josh was almost intercepted by Levi Wallace in this series, and Levi immediately went down and did 10 pushups. Tyree scored on a QB keeper to end the series.
I’m indisposed for the Friday 6:15 practice at New Era, but I’ll see you for Sunday’s practice at 2:45 back here at Fisher, and for Tuesday Aug. 6 practice at 9:45.
Stay thirsty, my BillsMafia friends.
Editor’s babble: Thanks, as always, to Dean Kindig for sharing his observations with us. You can find Dean planting hostas and on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.