Buffalo Bills Training Camp Bingo

We’re one practice into the 2015 edition of Buffalo Bills Training Camp and we’ve already had a few lowlights from the QB competition and a juicy quote from the team’s new running back.

Since Shady McCoy dropped the orgy bomb on us all I thought it would be fun to toss together a few Bingo boards for us all to play along with through camp. This is going to pretty much be for fun but should someone either cover their board or something maybe I’ll grab a prize or two to send your way.

The rules are simple. Any and all of the squares must be covered based on something that occurred at camp starting on August 1 and beyond. The one caveat to this is the Orgy quote, consider that a bonus free space. But from this point forward keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything interesting coming out of camp.

A couple of the squares are sort of left up to your discretion. For example, the Rodak, #OneBuffalo and #BillsMafia squares can kind of be covered by anything of your choosing. Since we’re having fun with this, try to choose something really ridiculous for the choose your own adventure squares.

That being said, grab one of the three boards below and have a little fun this year at camp. Continue reading

QB competition closed and then reopened after Friday’s win

Much like in their first preseason triumph, Buffalo’s second and third stringers controlled the games as the Bills rolled to a 20-16 victory over Minnesota at home on Friday.

It was a victory marred with regret as EJ Manuel was forced to go through a minor procedure on his left knee, knocking the rookie out for at least two weeks. Manuel didn’t show any signs of injury during his time against the Vikings, putting together another nice outing and taking another step towards Buffalo’s starting job.

Manuel’s play, like against the Colts, was less about the tangible results and more about his presence on the field, for me. Racking up yards against second and third teamers doesn’t hold as much water for me as the operating efficiency that Manuel has shown on his two long touchdown drives. He appears to have a strong grasp of the offense and manages the game well. Obviously a 225 yard, two touchdown half would yield numbers that indicate Manuel’s play was beyond impressive; but in these shorter cameo’s the substance is less about the final stat line for me.

Kevin Kolb’s numbers serve as a good example of this. He finished the evening with a couple of quality drives which bolstered his box score a bit. However, his play within the first half left plenty to be desired. Manuel’s knee injury will keep Kolb afloat for now, but it seems like a safe bet that the rookie will lock down the top spot on the depth chart. Continue reading

Taking a stab at the Bills 53-man roster

With the Bills set to significantly trim their roster tomorrow, I thought I would take my first run at the 53-man roster. I have a few positions that I had struggled with, but managed to come to a final conclusion. This week’s preseason game and practice reports pointed towards a few of the decisions I went with, although there is always a chance for a surprise veteran to get the gas at this time of the year.

For the first time in a few years, the Bills entered preseason with a roster that was a little more stable that in recent seasons. There were fewer position battles, especially for starting jobs and there was far less attention paid to the contributions of late picks and undrafted free agents. I had a fairly strong sense of what the roster would eventually look like heading into this first round of cuts. Hopefully my picks don’t turn out to be totally foolish. (* indicates rookies) Continue reading

Field goals: Receivers battle down to two spots

The Buffalo Bills have assembled a receiving corps worthy of a cameo in Major League. It is a rag-tag group of former misfit toys that have come together to become a rather formidable group.

Looking at their draft status and pedigree, it would be easy to say “They’re shitty” or “Who the hell are these guys?”, but the group led by Stevie Johnson turned out to be one of the most consistent groups for the Bills last year.

However, while most of the cream has risen to the top, there are a few spots open and a number of players vying for the roster spot. The battle to round out the Bills’ receiving corps is as open of a race as you could find at most NFL camps.

Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J. Graham and Donald Jones are all but assured a spot on the opening day roster. The remaining seven players – Kamar Aiken, David Clowney, Marcus Easley, Derek Hagan, Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Session – are all clawing for a precious roster spot.

An assumed roster breakdown would have the Bills keeping six receivers on the 53-man roster, with Brad Smith filling a versatile WR/QB spot. Continue reading

Field Goals: Linebackers shaping up

Now that Bills training camp is truly up and running – it is closer to the end than the beginning, actually – it seems like a safe time to look into a few more position battles.

One of the most intriguing positions on the roster is linebacker. While the Bills re-vamped defensive line has fans and media drooling over the potential they may hold this season, the linebacking corps leave something to be desired.

Entering camp, the Bills base defense would start Kelvin Sheppard at mike with Nick Barnett on the weakside and Kirk Morrison on the strong side. However, as Joe Buscaglia reported today, it seems as if Arthur Moats has the inside track on the starting strong side position.

Moats, who also received some complimentary press last week, appears to have finally settled into a position that suits his skillset as a somewhat undersized pass rusher. After originally being slated as an inside backer in the 3-4 after his draft year, Moats floated to the outside and gained instant fandom for his hit on Brett Favre. However, he still struggled to see playing time since his 6’0” frame is not ideal for and outside linebacker position in a 3-4.

For than matter, his size isn’t ideal as a defensive end in a 4-3 either. Although he does have the pass rushing skillset that is desired from a rush linebacker in an even set.

However, Moats’ promotion shouldn’t be welcomed with sunshine and lollypops. It is not much different than if a late round pick or undrafted free agent managed to earn regular playing time. Simply put, it isn’t necessarily an ideal situation. Continue reading

Field Goals: Backup quaterback battle

Field Goals will be a feature on different Bills topics leading up to and through training camp. If all goes well, I’ll break down the topic before offering three points to the focal point of what I’ve written. Get it? Three points…field goal…

It is the position battle everyone is going to be watching. Ironically, the position battle between Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young could boil down to who ends up holding the clipboard in 2012.

There was no secret that Young was brought in to provide better competition for Thigpen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He also represents a more viable option as a potential back up. Unlike Thigpen, Young has proven he is capable of winning at the NFL level. In fact, his play could eventually incite a quarterback controversy; that is a fact most came to accept once he was signed.

Considering that the entire team has only been playing in shorts and helmets to this point of the offseason, there isn’t much to be gleaned from how each performed during OTAs and mini-camps. The real battle will begin once the pads are on and the Bills are fully into their preseason schedule.

I’m anticipating that each will see significant time with the first, second and third-team units during the exhibition schedule. Each should get a fair shake with the second unit during practices with that performance having an impact on who has the edge entering preseason games. However, preseason games one, two and four should allow the pair to rotate through with each unit as the coaching staff makes their decision.

Young has to have the slight edge entering camp for a number of reasons. His resume all but speaks for itself , despite his struggles over the past few years. He is capable of winning games and has a versatile skillset that Thigpen just doesn’t possess.

One thing that should give Thigpen an edge is his familiarity with the offense. While Young is still learning most of the offense, this is year number two for Thigpen. While he isn’t as mobile as Young, Thigpen’s been a pupil of Chan Gailey for some time now which favors his ability to perform in this offense. Continue reading

Few positions up for grabs as Bills prep for camp

Training camp is just around the corner for the Buffalo Bills and this marks a camp that should provide a whole different look at the upcoming season.

Until this offseason, the past few years have been quite lean for Bills fans. Offseason signings were a bit more prudent and balanced rather than the type that were geared towards making strides in the win column. With so many names already inked into the starting lineup for 2012 (see: Williams, Mario), camp should serve as a tool to dig up quality depth players for the Bills. With depth being one of the main culprits for last year’s collapse; having the ability to dig up quality back-ups could go a long way for Buffalo’s success.

Training camp is a tool used to find sleepers and back-ups. No matter how strong or weak a team is expected to be, your starters are usually set by the time camp is set to open. What is different for the Bills this year is their starters are truly starters.

There is potential for a few starting spots to be taken away from the incumbent starter but, for the most part, the real battles will be for second-team roles.

Cornerback and wide receiver are the two positions with the most competition and the most room for movement. Figuring out who falls where with the linebacking corps will be an interesting competition to follow along with, along with left tackle.

The rest of the positions are going to see more competition for the second unit, with the ultimate goal of finding some diamonds in the rough for the upcoming season.

Thanks to the acquisition of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills have the ability to keep an extremely talented group of players on the first and second team. Even the third men through on the defensive line are going to be capable of being contributors for the Bills, this is not a bad problem to have.

The interior offensive line and offensive backfield fall under the same umbrella as the defensive line. There are set starters and talented back-ups who will be vying for playing time. I expect that the players the Bills have brought in to compete to provide the Bills with plenty of options as training camp moves along. Continue reading