Three quick Bills thoughts to start the morning...
Rookie camp begins. The Buffalo Bills’ rookie camp begins today at 10:30 a.m. We’ll have all the updates on the BN Blog and Twitter. It’ll be the first time Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Adolphus Washington play together, three rookies Rex Ryan is counting on to turn his defense around. Quarterback Cardale Jones will be steering the pseudo first-team offense, too. But one player worth tracking closely? Joe Licata. The former Williamsville South and UB star is in camp on a tryout basis. These next few days could determine his NFL fate. The Bills will be watching to see if he’s a potential practice-squad arm, if they think he's worth a spot on the training camp roster.
One thing’s for certain: he’ll be prepared.
Licata isn’t the biggest, the most mobile, nor does he have a cannon arm — but he wins with his mind. This is a player who sincerely believes in his abilities, who loves the underdog story of Kurt Warner and worked with Chad Pennington. Be it on the field or the meeting rooms, he’ll need to make a strong first impression at One Bills Drive. As he detailed, Licata is “certain” in his abilities.
This weekend means as much to him as anyone. Every rep counts.
Listenbee Time? He’ll have an opportunity. Sixth-round pick Kolby Listenbee landed in the right spot, on a team that’ll stage a wide-open competition at wide receiver behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. While the front office made the position a high priority early in the off-season, it ended up signing a handful of vets cast off by other teams. Possibly Jarrett Boykin, Leonard Hankerson, Greg Salas or Greg Little sticks. And if Listenbee’s “freaky” speed — as his TCU track coach called it — can translate to the NFL, the Bills may have exactly what they need opposite Watkins. Count on defenses dropping a safety into the box to stop the Bills’ No. 1-ranked rushing attack and that other safety leaning toward Watkins, too. That could create many one-on-one chances for Listenbee.
A match-up he covets.
“Yeah, that’s what’s pretty cool,” he said. “You get that one-on-one match-up with, probably, the No. 2 cornerback. I just have to go out there, refine my craft and sharpen it up a little bit so I make sure 10 out 10 times I can win that one-on-one battle.”
Listenbee and others spoke at length about the origins of his speed in The News today.
He wasn’t always this fast — track success fueled his sky-high confidence to beat any corner deep.
“With a defense in the way, they don’t want me to get over the top,” Listenbee said. “So it puts a little bit of fear in their heart to not get beat. That was great for that reason.”
Shaq Lawson vs. Paxton Lynch? We won’t know for, say, three or four years which player would’ve been the better choice. But no doubt the Bills’ brass wrestled with this choice, as discussed on this week’s podcast. Lawson gives the Bills a better a chance to win now — likely what Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan prefer. He starts Day 1 opposite Jerry Hughes and possibly gives the Bills a Denver-like 1-2 pass-rushing punch.
Lynch? He could be a franchise quarterback down the line and Buffalo’s offensive coaches certainly liked him.
The Memphis quarterback's combination of size, arm strength and mobility might’ve been worth the patience, the investment.
Still, I like the Bills’ decision. Lawson is a player to re-ignite the pass rush and bring confusion back to Ryan’s scheme. That's critical. And everything this front office has done the last two off-seasons — trading for LeSean McCoy, signing Charles Clay, re-signing Jerry Hughes, giving Richie Incognito a second chance, fortifying the offensive line — has been driven by a win-now state of mind. Drafting a quarterback who’s likely to sit for a year or two might've been counterproductive.
This is Tyrod Taylor's team. He gets his chance to prove he's the long-term answer.
Lynch? He'll be in Denver.