First-units good vs. Browns

Though no score was kept and no official stats were recorded, the Bills' scrimmage with the Browns Saturday morning indicated a few things: The defense is more aggressive and can create turnovers with the addition of Fletcher and Robinson; the offense can move the ball with Bledsoe, Moulds, Price and Henry; and in general, the team is a lot better than last year, when they came into this scrimmage last August and showed many signs of being pretty cruddy.

 

No big mistakes

Drew Bledsoe didn't look like Kurt Warner out there, but he had a steady, no-interception day during his 12 offensive plays operating the first-team offense, plus a three-play goal line series.  Buffalo went from its 35 to inside the 10, but failed to score a touchdown in the initial 12 plays.

Twice Bledsoe found Peerless Price on down-and-in patterns for double-digit gains. He went to Eric Moulds three times for more short-distance catches.

Bledsoe was sacked three times, but none were the result of him holding onto the ball too long as Rob Johnson did. There were simply breakdowns along the line; more on that in the O-line assessment.

"We started off a little rough, the first few plays were three and out," Bledsoe said. "Their defense did a good job, but then we kind of got it going. Peerless made some plays for us and we were able to take it down. But we couldn't put it in the end zone."

Henry mediocre

The Bills' first-team offense was definitely more effective in the air. Travis Henry played the first series and started off with a four-yard loss in the backfield. During the goal-line segment, he fumbled once – recovered by Cleveland – and scored once, behind right tackle Mike Williams and right guard Marques Sullivan. Henry did run for a first down on second and two off a sweep.

Buffalo running back Sammy Morris also fumbled during the goal line segment.

"I thought our running backs played well, but we've got to protect the ball better," Gregg Williams said.

O-line needs more reps

The starting O-line played the first two series. As expected, Michael Early lined up for the injured Ruben Brown at left guard and Marques Sullivan started at right guard. The beginning wasn't too impressive with Browns left end Kenard Lang recording a sack and pressure during the first few plays.

On the sack, rookie tackle Mike Williams said he let Lang get inside him.

"That was just a case where he went one way then came back inside. I should have played more inside," he said.

Once the line settled down, the outcome was OK. Williams said, "We had good communication out there. We had little or no communication errors. We were working together and that's what we need to do."

Overall, Gregg Williams was pleased with his line.

"Trey Teague has exhibited fantastic communication with the rest of the line," Williams said. "There was nothing confusing him with what he was seeing. Mike and Marquis need to echo those things."

New acquisitions a big help

There's little doubt that middle linebacker London Fletcher is going to make a difference in the Bills' lineup. He forced a fumble on the first series, which Keith Newman recovered, and generally, he prevented Tim Couch and the Browns' first unit from moving the football. In fact, the Bills' defense forced two other turnovers on that first series.

The aggressiveness of the Gregg Williams' defense obviously paid off. Antoine Winfield intercepted a poorly thrown Couch pass that was hurried because of a strong rush – one of two interceptions on the day for Buffalo; the other was by rookie corner Ahmad Brooks.

Buffalo did give up a couple double-digit runs, but that's to be expected with the risky strategy Williams wants his defense to employ. It's all designed to wreak havoc and force turnovers at any time.

Strong safety Billy Jenkins came up and made a pretty good hit and stop in the backfield on a James Jackson run off right tackle.

Backup receiver wrap-up

Charles Johnson made a couple excellent catches during two successive plays. He's going to be really good for this team. Rookie Josh Reed saw some action with the first team during three-receiver formations, but did not catch a pass, unlike what he had been doing in camp – catching all kinds of touchdown passes.

The Bills seem to be giving Andre Rone and Rodney Wright every opportunity to make the roster in place of Jeremy McDaniel, who did not see any action, but was in uniform. Rone hurt himself today, dropping a ball and failing to turn around on another long pass. Wright made a touchdown catch on a timing pattern in the left corner of the end zone.

We'll get the story on McDaniel this week. Perhaps he's still healing from hernia surgery. We'll see.

Odds & ends

The Bills defensive front line rotated quite a bit. During the first series, Leif Larsen and rookie Ryan Denney were in there during run downs, holding down the point of attack and really, they didn't do too badly. Larsen could have been playing more because Tyrone Robertson is healing from a left shoulder sprain. Denney could have been in there just to split reps between Bryce Fisher and him for first-team experience's sake …

Mike Williams had his left thumb heavily wrapped in tape. He said he hurt himself blocking a Brown yesterday in drills. The thumb did not seem to bother him … Bryce Fisher started for Kendrick Office, who's still recovering from a bump on his head, and he recorded a sack …

Eddie Robinson and free safety Travares Tillman recorded sacks (simply by reaching out and touching the quarterback) … Left corner Jason Bostic was burned by Browns receiver Dennis Northcutt for a 65-yard touchdown bomb on the final play of the Browns' third-team series. Quarterback Kelly Holcomb made the throw. It looked like Bostic expected help up top, but there was none, leaving him and strong safety Coy Wire to chase Northcutt into the end zone … Alex Van Pelt missed a high shotgun snap from Teague and had to fall on the ball … Rookie center Mike Pucillo also made a bad snap to Travis Brown … Ahmad Brooks was called for pass interference on one long pass play.


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