ORCHARD PARK, NY – With OTAs behind them the Bills continue their march towards training camp at the end of next month with day one of their mandatory minicamp. The three-day session got started on Tuesday and there was plenty to see as the depth chart continues to take shape. Here’s five notes from day one of minicamp…
Injury Report: RB LeSean McCoy was absent due to a stomach bug…T Cordy Glenn was present in a walking boot and DNP (week-to-week)…DT Kyle Williams was present but DNP with a neck injury…WR Sammy Watkins was limited as he continues to rehab from foot surgery
1) Sammy Watkins’ workload gradually increasing
Sean McDermott declared Watkins as limited ahead of practice, as he was last week for the conclusion of OTAs, but his workload did increase slightly. While Watkins has recently only participated in individual drills at the start of practice, today he did take several reps during team drills. That’s a step in the right direction for the three-year veteran. McDermott also noted that they want to be smart with his recovery in hopes of having him fully ready for the start of training camp.
2) Leonard Johnson as Nickel CB
Despite receiving high praise from McDermott ahead of practice as a player who has stood out this offseason, second-year man Kevon Seymour was running with the twos at nickel CB. Holding down that spot with the top defensive unit was 27-year-old Leonard Johnson, who was Carolina’s nickel CB last season for 10 games under McDermott. Now, we’re still too far out from the start of the season to know if the job is his permanently, but his familiarity with the scheme certainly helps his cause. Either way, the battle for the nickel CB spot will be an intriguing one to keep an eye on at training camp, especially considering how often McDermott deploys that unit during games.
3) Reggie Ragland not a starter?
Bills fans were certainly happy to hear that Ragland was finally a full participant during OTAs last week, after tearing his ACL last August. However, right now it appears he’s still working his way up the depth chart as he gets his legs back underneath him. While the first group of linebackers consisted of Ramon Humber at the WILL, Preston Brown at the MIKE and Lorenzo Alexander at the SAM, Ragland spent day one as the middle linebacker for the second-team. Considering how much McDermott has talked about Ragland’s versatility and athleticism, my guess is it’s probably a temporary role for him and that by the time training camp wraps up he’ll either be a starter alongside Brown or at the very least rotating in with Alexander, Humber, Brown and others at multiple LB positions.
4) Good day for Shaq Lawson
This is technically Lawson’s first minicamp considering that this time last year he was in full healing mode following shoulder surgery, and he looked very comfortable on day one. He was elusive and quick off the left edge of the defenisve line, recording what would have likely been two sacks during the team portion of practice. It’s obviously only minicamp, so no overreacting just yet, but it’s a solid start for the first-round pick. Hopefully he continues to shine throughout the rest of the week and well into training camp.
5) Early stages of Cardale Jones vs. Nathan Peterman
The quarterback depth chart is sort of obvious at this point with Tyrod Taylor as the starter and free-agent addition T.J. Yates as the primary backup. That leaves Cardale Jones and rookie Nate Peterman. On the first day of minicamp, both Jones and Peterman were splitting reps with the third-team, setting the tone for a highly touted third-string quarterback competition come training camp. It’s likely only one of the two will survive roster cuts when it’s all said and done. For what it’s worth, Jones had the better day today.
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