With the first eight training camp practices under their belt, the Buffalo Bills move back to St. John Fisher College on Sunday to resume practice sessions at 2:15 p.m. ET in preparation for their first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, Aug. 10.
So… how do the Bills look at the midway point through training camp? Here are a few observations as we look forward to the ‘second half’ of Buffalo’s intriguing training camp under head coach Sean McDermott.
- Bills may be better prepared to withstand injuries along both front lines than previously assumed. On offense, OG Ryan Groy provides high quality depth along all three interior OL positions. Despite questions surrounding OT Cordy Glenn, OT Seantrel Henderson (still yet to serve five games into this season) made a big leap forward in his recovery from Crohn’s disease and has benefitted from coaching by newly-minted offensive line coach Juan Castillo. However, Henderson has five games left to serve under a suspension last season. On defense, UDFA DE Eddie Yarbrough has emerged unexpectedly as a sleeper who is making a strong case for a roster spot, providing depth behind DEs Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes.
- Tyrod Taylor’s up and down performance during training camp correlates with in-season variability. While mesmerizing us all with his feet and a truly spectacular long ball, Taylor must show more day-to-day consistency in performance in the second half of training camp. Of course this is a challenge when practices are not scripted as they are during games, but Taylor would likely be the first to admit that overall consistency in performance is something he still needs to work on. Along with refining a short/intermediate passing game, his comfort level in the pocket needs improvement.
- Interesting depth behind RB LeSean McCoy. RBs Johnathan Williams and Mike Tolbert are obviously different types of running backs than McCoy, or each other for that matter. Tolbert is an interesting and versatile player who can also play at the fullback position as well if necessary. Johnathan Williams is developing nicely in offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s scheme. Both Tolbert and Williams can also expect to be involved in the short passing game behind McCoy as well. Now if Tyrod Taylor can get that short/intermediate passing game sorted out…
- Reality setting in that depth behind QB Tyrod Taylor is marginal at this point. TJ Yates and Nathan Peterman are struggling at times as expected, so if Taylor must miss time during the regular season, the drop off in performance would be significant at the team’s most important position. Hopefully Peterman’s learning curve is steep, and maybe more importantly (at least this season)… that Tyrod Taylor stays healthy.
- The tight-end position may not be as dire as previously advertised. The emergence of a ‘sleeper’ and a rebooted one at that (changed to new position), TE Logan Thomas is lighting it up at training camp. Much bigger than TE Nick O’Leary, who is having a decent camp as well. Coach McDermott is also wisely sprinkling TE Charles Clay into practices to preserve his chronic knee problem and early reports indicate he looks sharp. A position on offense that appeared in dire straits may make it through the season reasonably well if all remain healthy. Bodes well for Buffalo’s offensive production in a scheme under Dennison that employs the use of tight-ends much more so than many have in the recent past.
- WR depth behind Sammy Watkins may not be as bad as previously feared. Zay Jones appears to have a steep learning curve for a rookie wide receiver. Dennison has moved him around in training camp and he just keeps putting on a show. Rod Streater has emerged as a capable receiver and Andre Holmes (despite a few drops) both appear to be solid improvements over the revolving door of receivers at the position last season.
My general impression of the first half of Bills training camp is that all hope is not lost for this season. If a few things go Buffalo’s way… like being lucky to remain reasonably healthy for starters… the Bills just may pleasantly surprise a rightfully skeptical fan base.
Editor’s babble: If you can’t follow training camp practice on Sunday, stay tuned to the blog and we’ll publish our Bills Camp Tweet Sweep right after practice. If you plan to attend practice, please contact @RobynMundyWYO on twitter so we can include your tweets in our Tweet Sweep. Thanks and have a great day!