BillsZone Training Camp Report 7/28/06

Well, it's finally here! The Buffalo Bills began the 2006 Training Camp at St. John Fisher College with 2 practice sessions. There was one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I was at the afternoon practice.

The tempo was pretty slow as the players were just in their jerseys and shorts, no pads. So there wasn't much hitting. They worked on some individual drills, 7-on-7 drills, and a few 11-on-11 drills. The Quarterbacks split reps evenly for the day.

The day started out with the players running a walk-thru without helmets. Then the players warmed up and split into their individual units. I was watching Takeo Spikes and the linebackers work with LB Coach Matt Sheldon. He was having the players practice getting around the linemen and he used garbage cans as the linemen. He even stood in there a few times and tried to block them. It was nice to see his energy. Coach Sheldon was talking to Takeo a few times and helping him work out so he didn't overdo it. On the other side of the field, the defensive lineman were doing some footwork and agility drills.

Following the individual drills, the players worked on special teams drills, specifically punting. Brian Moorman was booming everything he kicked anywhere from 45-60+ yards. A few of them were kicked out of bounds too. Not much was done with returning though, because they weren't in pads and weren't hitting. However, they still had 5 players practice catching. Roscoe Parrish, Nate Clements, Jim Leonhard, Shaud Williams, and Fast Freddie Smith were the main ones I saw. Every one did a pretty good job hauling them in, except Nate Clements. He dropped one. The special teams drills lasted for about 10 minutes or so and then they were to 7-on-7 drills.

In the 7-on-7 drills, JP Losman did the best. His receivers caught everything he threw and his passes had a lot of zip on them. He can thank Josh Reed and Sam Aiken though. They both made some great catches. Reed had a sweet diving grab, while Aiken made a nice leap in the air and hauled it in. Kelly Holcomb struggled a bit. He threw a bunch of incompletions and got lucky on a pass that should have been intercepted by Keith Ellison, but was dropped. Holcomb also lacks the zip on his passes that both Losman and Nall showed. However, he did thread the needle on a pass to George Wilson, who caught it between two defenders. Craig Nall did a pretty good job in the 7-on-7. He seemed to focus more of the short passes and dumped off a few times too.

Following the 7-on-7 drills, the team worked on some 11-on-11 drills. In the first series of plays, Losman looked the best. He again showed good velocity on the ball and got them out very quickly. He also threw some nice screens and sideline passes, including a nice sideline pass to Robert Royal. Kelly Holcomb started where he left off in the 7-on-7 and struggled some more. This time he had a pass tipped by Ryan Denney and was almost sacked. He did better in the second series of 11-on-11 drills. Craig Nall didn't do much but make a few short passes. However he did much better the next series.

In the final series of 11-on-11 drills, Kelly Holcomb woke up. He was completing everything and rebounded. Josh Reed make a nice leaping grab of a pass from Holcomb. JP Losman seemed to go backwards a bit. He had a horrible series. First there was some miscommunication with the receiver and Losman threw a interception that was right to Wendell Hunter. Then his pass to Jonathan "Fast Freddie" Smith was batted down by Jabari Greer. Finally, the last play was whistled dead as he couldn't find an open receiver. Craig Nall started out by overthrowing Lee Evans. Then he had the play of the day when he found Roscoe Parrish downfield with lots of room to run. Parrish caught the ball and then turned on his jets with only 2 men to beat. It probably would have ended up as a touchdown. Nall also connected on his other short passes.

Here's a couple tidbits that I noticed today:

1. JP Losman has the best arm on this team by far and it shows. He was zipping everything he threw and has a very quick release. He also seems to be a bit more confident out there. His interception threw him off a bit though and he didn't recover. We'll have to see how he does tomorrow.

2. Kelly Holcomb is the weakest quarterback out there and seems to dump it off or throw the short passes too much. I really don't see him in the competition for that long. Losman and Nall both have much stronger arms and that will be needed for this offense.

3. Josh Reed and Sam Aiken made quite a few nice catches. Reed made a sweet diving catch that drew a round of applause and Aiken made a beautiful catch in the middle of traffic. Lee Evans made a few leaping catches too.

4. John McCargo must have done something to tick off DL Coach Bill Kollar, because I heard him get yelled at and then he was running a couple sprints.

5. Ashton Youboty made a couple nice plays today and batted down a few passes. Jabari Greer also covered his receivers nicely. It's going to be an interesting battle for the nickel job. Both players looked pretty good out there and Eric King did well too.

6. Props to JP Losman. He was the last player to stay out on the field and sign autographs at the fence. He was there for almost an hour and signed until he got everybody. Even after he got done signing on one side of the field, he still came by the other side to sign for a family who didn't want to walk all the way around the field.

Overall, I thought it was a slow day. It didn't help that it was very hot outside and all the players were sweating up a storm and were probably tired out. But it still seemed slower than normal. Hopefully they will have the pads on tomorrow. Those are the best practices to watch. I'll be back tomorrow evening with the latest from St. John Fisher College when I check out the afternoon practice

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