Buffalo Bills open training camp

The Buffalo Bills reported to training camp yesterday and began practicing today. Only C.J. Spiller remains unsigned after Terrell Troup reached an agreement yesterday.

Fred Jackson (22), Marshawn Lynch (23) and CJ Spiller (not pictured) will all be fighting for reps this season in the Bills backfield. Photo courtesy of buffalobills.com

In addition to Spiller, Jon Corto, Nic Harris and Aaron Schobel did not practice today. Schobel continues his thinking process of retirement while Harris and Corto are rehabbing injuries. Both Harris and Corto were placed on the PUP list and can rejoin the team as soon as they are healthy. However, Harris’ demotion to this list doesn’t bode well for a guy who has a serious uphill battle to earn a roster spot in the new 3-4 defense.

I’m not here just to report news, rather to give my view on where the Bills are possibly going. I wanted to start with the defense and move to the offense tomorrow, but the QB battle made my decision for me.

Quarterback

Trent Edwards entered camp as the “starter”. That is, he is taking the first-team reps to begin training camp, Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick are rotating with the second-team offense. We will see if that changes next week or on a day-to-day basis.

In my opinion, Trent Edwards has reached the highest limits he ever will in the NFL. I think his confidence was shot under the horribly managed offense that Dick Jauron ran and the former third-round pick won’t regain the form that we see on occasion wearing the number five uniform.

As for Brian Brohm, he is my favorite to earn the starting job this year. I loved him in college, I was excited when he fell in the draft, but I was shocked to see him do so poorly with Green Bay. Now, he probably isn’t the answer for the future, but I think he is the answer for now. He excelled with a scary offensive arsenal at Louisville and he could do well here under an offense-first coach in Chan Gailey. However, he is probably second string if the Bills win the Jake Locker/Ryan Mallett sweeps this season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, for me, is an afterthought. He is a phenomenal back-up, much like Alex Van Pelt was, and should remain in that role. I would keep him on no matter what and ship out whoever doesn’t win the starting role. You can keep this guy as a security blanket for as long as you like, jsut don’t expect him to carry you to the playoffs.

Levi Brown is a likely third QB option or practice squad signee. I would keep him as my emergency QB. He can dress on Sundays and not count towards your roster, plus, you don’t risk having him signed away off your practice squad.

My depth chart: Brohm – Fitzpatrick – Brown — Edwards is out the door after losing the QB battle.

Running Back

This is rather cut and dry. Fred Jackson will get the lions share of the carries, Spiller will bob and weave his way to 15-20 carries a game and Marshawn Lynch will whine on the sidelines. Although, I feel Fred Jackson could fetch something in the trade market, while his value is up, and the Lynch-Spiller combo could be frightening (in theory).

Corey McIntyre will be the team’s fullback while the other three will battle for playing time. I don’t see Lynch getting traded at this point, not too much more to look into. I like Joique Bell for the practice squad.

Depth chart: Jackson – Spiller – Lynch (PS-Bell) FB – McIntyre

Wide Receivers

Lee Evans is your number one guy. Roscoe Parrish will be solid in the slot, he provides you with an interesting gimmick play option as well. No one on the team is better in the open field than Parrish, well, maybe Spiller.

As for the number two spot, I see Steve Johnson, James Hardy and Marcus Easley as the three best options. I think Chad Jackson was an intriguing signee, but by drafting Easley they sealed the fate of the former Florida standout. I, for one, am a big James Hardy fan. I think if he’s healthy he will be out best bet as a physical possession receiver. Johnson makes for a great third option, while Easley can take his time learning the ropes of the NFL in the fifth slot.

I think Naaman Roosevelt could be a good choice to start on the practice squad. If they decide to keep six wide-outs, then Chad Jackson will have a roster spot.

Depth chart: Evans, Hardy, Johnson, Parrish, Easley (PS-Roosevelt)

Tight End

Another cut and dry position from my point of view.

Shawn Nelson is a specimen in the passing game and his blocking is improving. He will be the starter, no doubt.

Derek Schoman proved his worth last season and, if he stays healthy, he will see plenty of playing time.

I think Michael Matthews has two last names. Oh yeah, and his outstanding in-line blocking ability makes him indispensable in short yardage packages. Sorry Jonathon Stupar, you’re the odd man out.

Depth chart: Nelson, Schoman, Matthews

Offensive line (yikes)

Well, everyone knows what the weak point of the Bills team was in 2009. Everyone knows what the team didn’t address in the draft. Everyone knows the biggest question mark going into the season.

I hope you were thinking “special teams”, because that is what I was talking about.

Just kidding. Aside from the interior line, the Bills had a rough go in 2009.

I love Eric Wood, Andy Levitre and Geoff Hangartner. They are strong and get the job done. The two youngsters remind me of some of the former Bills linemen from the 1990s. These kids are alright. Their backups will likely be Kirk Chambers and maybe Chester Pitts, if they sign him.

As for the tackles. You have Jamon Meredith, Demitrius Bell, Cornell Green and Ed Wang. You also have a few other guys battling for reserve spots. As I see it now, the four I listed above will be our go-to guys during the year. I think Kyle Calloway has tremendous potential and Sean Allen might be worth keeping around. I think Allen is a probable practice squad guy on the interior, while Calloway could crack the active roster, unless Pitts is signed. For now, I will go without Mr. Pitts.

Depth Chart: C: Hangartner G: Wood, Levirte — Chambers T: Bell, Green — Meredith, Wang, Calloway (PS-Allen)

I will hit the defense and specialists tomorrow in addition to touching on my thoughts for the up coming season (they aren’t pretty). Stay tuned.

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