Training Camp Weekend update: Holy Injuries!!

Marcell recently passed his physical along with Alan Branch - Photo via www.rantsports.com

After initally failing their physicals, Marcell  and Alan Branch passed a few days later – Photo via http://www.rantsports.com

Well it looks like I might have jinxed the Bills with my Article Last Thursday when I said there were no major injuries to report. Friday Started out well when we heard that both Marcell Dareus and Alan Branch passed their physicals they snuck in on Thursday while everyone had the day off. They appeared in practice on Friday. But then all heck broke loose! The injury bug started when Tony Moeocki went down with a hamstring injury and Marone said he will miss substantial time this training camp. Chris Gragg suffered heat exhaustion earlier in the week and is out for at least a week as they are monitoring him. Scott Chandler went down Sunday with a groin injury leaving only Lee Smith and newly signed Dominique Jones, who was an undrafted FA in 2012 and spent time with the Colts and the Chiefs. Jones is 6-3 270 pounds and is 26 years old. To make room for Jones the Bills released Mark Asper who was a promising Offensive Lineman prospect when he was drafted in 2012 (He’s 6-7 325 lbs) but he hasn’t quite materialized as they hoped. The Giants quickly picked him up on waivers ironically so he may have the chance to earn a spot playing against the Bills on Sunday for the HOF game. Marone was interviewed after practice Saturday saying they had no intentions on bringing in any other TE’s despite the fact they were down to 1 pair of true TE’s. The plan moving forward was to rotate some Offensive lineman in at TE until the other guys were back on the field. Fred Jackson also went down Friday night with an undisclosed lower body injury (He did return Monday) but the Bills are stocked with talent this year with Spiller, Bryce Brown and Anthony (Booby) Dixon incase injury hits that position again this year.

For the Bills to have any chance this year, EJ has to step up for them - Photo via AP Photo/Bill Wippert

For the Bills to have any chance this year, EJ has to step up for them – Photo via AP Photo/Bill Wippert

The big news so far in camp is the struggling Offense. Robert Woods and EJ Manuel don’t seem to be on the same page and the only bright spot has been Sammy Watkins. The Bills practiced the entire weekend in full pads and starting Saturday full contact with tackling to the ground. Sunday the Offense finally showed some life and had probably the best practice of all training camp. The Red Zone drills included tackling to the ground for the first time and the Offense and Defense battled to a draw during the session. Craig Urbik even got into the action with a nice Goal Line TD. The most improved Offensive player it seems so far is Chris Hogan. Mr. 7-11 is making a strong case for the 3rd or 4th receiver position. Mike Williams also looked impressive all weekend making several nice catches in traffic. Robert Woods and EJ Manuel finally seemed to start finding a groove as they connected on several completions. With EJ missing so much time last year and having to really learn under fire when he did play, building chemistry with his receivers is going to be a key to their success this year (as well as staying healthy obviously). Monday EJ was the best QB on the field by far and things seemed to be getting a little more heated between the Offense and Defense. Hits were harder, play was faster but the Offense may have gotten the better of the battle especially at the RB position. Let’s hope the additional intensity leads to better performance moving forward.

Jim Schwartz is a fiery guy! We could use a little bit of that here! -Photo Via theclassical.org

Jim Schwartz is a fiery guy! We could use a little bit of that here! -Photo Via theclassical.org

The Defense has been consistently stingy all camp and looks to build on last year’s successes. We found out that the defense might not be so vanilla after all with just a basic 4 man rush. DC Jim Schwartz revealed there will be plenty of packages and blitzing to keep offenses on their toes. My concern in my 5 positions to watch article prior to training camp was the DE position in which Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson will rotate opposite Mario Williams. Hughes is picking up right where he left off last year and playing with his hand on the ground hasn’t seemed to be much of an obstacle after all. Manny Lawson is also transitioning very well. Their speed and length is providing a difficult matchup for the tackles. Nigel Bradham seems to have a strangle hold on the available LB spot made available with Kiko Alonso’s injury. The 3rd year pro has shown impressive improvement thus far in these OTA’s. However you can’t count out Preston Brown, he’s looking like a 2 down LB that can really thump in there but because of that he seems poised to be more of an inside backer than and outside backer. Still keep your eye on Brown, the Bills may have found a diamond in the 3rd round of this year’s draft.

The first official Depth Chart has been released as well Check it out here http://www.buffalobills.com/team/depth-chart.html . There are some good position battles to watch for and we made need that extra pre-season game in order to figure out who wins.

Stay tuned as I’ll wrap up the rest of this week’s training camp and provide a preview of the hall of fame game and a re-cap of Andre Reeds amazing NFL career as he finally takes his place where he belongs alongside the rest of the great Bills and other NFL players of all time.

 

By: Jason Sinsabaugh

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