Practice Report: Watkins fun to watch, Manuel middling, run game gets work
PITTSFORD -- Rookie receiver Sammy Watkins shined again, quarterback EJ Manuel was better than Tuesday but only average, and the Buffalo Bills got some good work on the running game in today's fourth training camp practice at St. John Fisher College.
It's easier for receivers to stand out to observers at camp, and Watkins continues to do so. The Clemson product had a nifty catch in pass-route drills - with no defense - early in the practice. He stumbled out of his break on a short post pattern, almost fell, then regained his balance enough to reach up and make a one-handed catch in the middle of the end zone.
In 11-on-11 drills, he had a leaping end-zone grab of a pass of about 25 yards from Manuel. He went up over safety Aaron Williams and cornerback Leodis McKelvin to make the catch. ... However, the play probably would have been aborted by a Jerry Hughes sack. Hughes blew around left tackle Seantrel Henderson on the play.
After a poor outing Tuesday, the offense was a little better but still not great in the passing game. The four quarterbacks combined to go just 7 of 15 in a 7-on-7 drill early in the practice. (Manuel was 4 of 6 in that portion.)
Manuel had some good moments. He hit C.J. Spiller in good stride on a pass up the left sideline for a touchdown in 7 on 7. On the next play, he hit Watkins in perfect stride on a short slant but the receiver dropped it - the first one we've seen by the rookie. Manuel hit Robert Woods on a pretty TD up the right sideline for a 25-yard play.
But shortly after he had two red zone plays in which his first read wasn't open, he did not react quickly, and took sacks. One was by Stefan Charles. Later in 11-on-11 work, safety Kenny Ladler broke free into Manuel's face, there was pressure up the middle, and the ball somehow popped into the hands of Xavius Boyd for what would have been a defensive TD.
Coach Doug Marrone on the offense:
"Well, I’m not going to get into a daily performance, whether it was good or bad, but obviously there’s some things execution wise we did better today, but at the same time, we still have a long way to go."
Other plays of note: The Bills practiced in pads for a second straight day, and running backs C.J. Spiller, Anthony Dixon and Ronnie Wingo all ran pretty hard. The team got a lot of work in on the run game. Chris Hogan had a rare drop of a deep post ball from Thad Lewis. Jeff Tuel, who rotated with Lewis at No. 2 QB, did a good job scanning across the field and finding Hogan on a red-zone completion. Lewis scored on a keeper near the goal line.
Lineup items: Erik Pears continues to get all the work with the starters at right tackle. He held of Jerry Hughes in one-on-one drills. Rookie Cyrus Kouandjio is running with the second team. Left tackle Cordy Glenn was on the field watching most of the practice after doing conditioning work on the side. Henderson took all the snaps at left tackle. Kraig Urbik and Chris Hairston continued to share snaps with the starters at right guard. ... The second OL, left to right, was: Edawn Coughman, Antoine McClain, Doug Legursky, Hairston/Urbik, and Kouandjio. The third OL: Coughman, Cyril Richardson, Macky MacPherson, J.J. 'Unga and Mark Asper.