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PITTSFORD, NY – The first day of full pads is always an exciting one for both the team and spectators at training camp. More physical play out on the practice field allows for more accurate evaluations of the players than when they’re just running around in shorts. We’re one step closer to the real thing.

Here’s 5 observations from Saturday’s practice.

1) The injury bug has made it’s way to St. John Fisher College

Day 3 started with some disapointing news, as Sean McDermott announcced that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus had tweaked his hamstring late during Friday’s practice and that his status for Saturday’s session was in question. Lo and behold when the team took the field, there was Dareus off on the side in just a jersey and shorts. He absence was followed by early exits from practice by cornerback Ronald Darby (left ankle), wide receiver Brandon Tate (calf) and defensive end Ian Seau (left foot). Darby and Tate are listed as day-to-day, while Seau was seen in a walking boot after practice.

2) Andre Holmes height is a problem (in a good way)

The first day of full pads made for some very physical and entertaining one-on-one drills between the corners and receivers. There were plenty of impressive plays made during the drill, especially from the receivers, but one in particular that stood out came on a deep ball to Andre Holmes. Holmes was matched up with rookie Marcus Sayles, who actually did a terrific job shadowing him, stride-for-stride down the left sideline. Once the ball was thrown though, he didn’t stand a chance, by no fault of his own. At 6-foot-4, Holmes was able to make an adjustment to Sayles on his inside shoulder and make a terrific catch for a touchdown. Those are the types of plays the Bills brought Holmes in to make. His height could be a real problem for opposing defenses, something Sayles learned first hand.

3) Adolphus Washington with the ones

Three weeks ago a large contingent of Bills fans wanted McDermott to flex his muscle and cut Washington after he was arrested for failing to conceal a licensed pistol. Today, not only is he still part of the team, he’s taking reps with the first team defense. Not exactly a sign he’s in McDermott’s doghouse, but if he is, it looks like he’s earning plenty of opportunities to get himself out of it, with the ones nonetheless.

4) No one has claimed the starting right tackle job

It’s been a steady rotation of Jordan Mills and rookie Dion Dawkins at right tackle thus far, and to be frank, neither has really stood out. Both have had a difficult time keeping Shaq Lawson out of the backfield during 11-on-11 drills and that trend certainly didn’t change on the first day of full pads. Dawkins was also guilty of a false start on Saturday. We’re still waiting for someone to really stand out and fill what’s presumably the only vacancy along the offensive line.

5) A big day for Lorenzo Alexander

The Bills leader in sacks last season was all over the place on Saturday. Not only did he register his first sack of training camp during 11-on-11s, but he nearly picked off Tyrod Taylor late in practice, covering fullback Patrick DiMarco along the left sideline. Alexander has raved about being able to play fast in McDermott’s defense because of it’s simplicity. On the first day of full pads that showed.

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