Thoughts After Bills’ Spring Practice

Buffalo Bills
Olga Bogatyrenko /

It’s vacation time for the Buffalo Bills.  Their final minicamp practice was June 15th.  The 89 players currently on the roster have dispersed to their various summer destinations for the next six weeks.

The team will get back to work at the end of July when it reports to training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford.  During the hiatus, here are some results and thoughts to stew on that came from the spring minicamps.

The backup quarterback, T.J. Yates, will probably head to training camp as No. 2.  However, his performance this spring was not awe-inspiring.  The Bills won’t be in a good place if their starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, gets hurt.  None of the other quarterbacks lower in the lineup seem to be looking particularly good either.  Sadly, Taylor wasn’t playing so well during spring practices either.  If the Bills want a chance at competing for the playoff spot, it will depend on Taylor staying on the field and performing better.

Linebacker Jerry Hughes seemed pretty quick when going up against rookie Dion Dawkins.  Coach Sean McDermott said Hughes was “flying off the football right now.”  He even went on to say, “I stand most of the time on the offensive side of the ball, just to keep myself out of harm’s way because those guys are flying off the football and that’s fun to watch.”  Hughes himself has spoken about how excited he is to return to a base 4-3 scheme, where his main priority will be getting after the quarterback.  If the spring practices are any kind of indication for the future, Hughes seems headed in a good direction to accomplish his goals.

Sammy Watkins seems to be healing from his foot surgery in January and was seen with the team toward the end of the minicamp.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see lighter workloads and his practice time limited during training camp in six weeks, even into the start of preseason.  However, Watkins was unquestionably the No. 1 receiver when he was healthy, so getting him to that point seems to be a top priority for McDermott.

Coach McDermott has made a point of saying that there is an open competition for every position, and it seems that a couple of players have taken this to heart and there is now some competition for right guard.  Earlier in the offseason, the position didn’t seem to be up for grabs. John Miller came off a promising second season but suffered an ankle injury prior to minicamp.  During the last three mandatory practices, Miller was found to be splitting starting reps with Vlad Ducasse.

Two of the Bills’ players seem to be nursing injuries.  Left tackle, Cordy Glenn, ended the spring with an ankle injury to his left foot.  McDermott said the teams expect him to be ready for training camp. However, McDermott did express concern over Charles Clay’s knee injury.  Clay has had issues with his knew for years, but it is imperative that the Bills find a way to keep him on the field if they don’t want to suffer major losses.

The Bills brought in a new kicker and punter to compete with Stephen Hauschka and Colton Schmidt.  Interestingly, Austin Rehkow was an undrafted free agent from Idaho.  Rehkow is versatile, an asset that McDermott values, and plays both kicker and punter.  He also seems on track to handle kickoff duties.  It would be surprising if he took over either of the veteran players’ spots, but based on how much time he got at spring practices, the Bills definitely are giving him a shot to prove himself.

Rookie Tre’Davious White seems to be the spring MVP for the Bills.  McDermott heaped praise onto the LSU cornerback after watching him in minicamp.  White created three turnovers in minicamp practices and seemed to solidify himself as a starter.

Some interesting things definitely happened in the offseason.  Now there’s only a 6-week wait to find out which players will rise to the top and perform for the Bills, and which ones will fall short.