Mother Nature must be a Bills fan.
The apocalyptic storm forecast for Western New York on Friday night didn't prove to be as fierce as expected in Orchard Park, allowing the Buffalo Bills to hold their scheduled open practice at New Era Field after a delay of about 30 minutes.
"It helps us work on our adaptability," coach Sean McDermott said of dealing with the weather issues. "I'm sure this won't be the only time we go through something like this during the season, so this will be a good dry run for us. There's always things that come up through the season, that again aren't in the little head coaches notebook that they give out from the league, right? So that's an important part of a good football team, and a good team in general, that we can be adaptable to whatever situation is in front of us. This one's no different. It's a good opportunity for us to check in on that end of things and make sure that we can handle, sometimes, the challenges that come up along the way."
Here are the top observations from Day Eight:
1. Live tackling is held for the first time. As promised, the Bills "went live" for the first time during training camp, allowing defensive players to tackle runners to the ground. Some 11-on-11 drills featured full tackling, while others were blown dead when the offensive player was "held up" by a defender.
2. Shaq Lawson headlines the list of injured players. Lawson suffered a groin injury, but declared after practice that it was "nothing serious" and that the team elected to shut him down. Defensive end Ryan Davis suffered a concussion, while tight end Keith Towbridge left practice to get an X-ray on his right ankle.
Safety Micah Hyde (hip), left tackle Cordy Glenn (foot), defensive end Ian Sean (foot), and wide receiver Philly Brown (illness) missed practice, while defensive tackle Kyle Williams was given a veteran's day off.
3. Nathan Peterman ends practice on a sour note. The day after the rookie quarterback led a touchdown drive to end practice at St. John Fisher College, he led another one Friday – except this time it was for the defense. Peterman was intercepted by safety Joe Powell, who returned it for a pick-six on the final play. The first-, second- and and third-team offenses each got a chance at a drive that started at the 2-yard line.
Running back Jordan Johnson was stopped for no gain on the first play, then caught a 6-yard pass from Peterman on second down. Powell came up with his interception on a third-and-4 play.
Starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor marched the offense 73 yards in 11 plays, but the offense came up empty when kicker Stephen Hauschka missed a 43-yard field goal wide left. An 11-yard completion to Andre Holmes on a third-and-4 play followed by a 14-yard completion to tight end Charles Clay helped get the offense in scoring position.
The second team, led by quarterback T.J. Yates, got to the 43-yard line, but two straight incompletions intended for Brandon Tate, the second of which was a drop, stalled things. Yates was sacked by Lorenzo Alexander on third down, forcing a punt and ending the drive.
4. Goal-line drill gets off to a slow start. Running back Mike Tolbert was stuffed on the offense's first attempt to score on a goal-line drill. On the next play, running back Jonathan Williams' elbow appeared to touch the turf before he broke into the end zone. Then on the third play, Yates was intercepted by linebacker Gerald Hodges on an ill-advised throw intended for tight end Logan Thomas.
Finally, Williams broke through for a touchdown on the next play.
5. Eddie Yarbrough shows up. Again. Before practice, McDermott said wide receiver Rod Streater has been one of the "highlights" of training camp. The same would be true of defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. With Lawson, Yarbrough once again got reps with the first team. He made them count with a would-be sack of Taylor during the final 11-on-11 session.
6. Joe Banyard making a roster push. The top two running backs are clearly LeSean McCoy and Williams. If the Bills decide to keep a third -- not counting Mike Tolbert -- it could be Banyard, who got second-team reps Friday night. The fifth-year pro out of UTEP plays multiple special teams roles and is getting a good opportunity on offense.
7. Practice starts off on a special note. The Bills signed running back Garett Rumfola to a one-day contract before practice. Rumfola participates in the Stone's Buddies program, which is designed to provide support for chronically ill patients at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo.
Rumfola addressed the team before practice as an honorary captain, and then on the first play took a handoff from Taylor in for a touchdown as the team swarmed him in congratulations.
8. The Bills will take Saturday off. They return to St. John Fisher on Sunday for a practice that begins at 2:15 p.m. A ticket is required for entry.