PITTSFORD – A possible concussion is nothing to trivialize, but in the context of Aaron Williams’ medical history, it actually qualified as the best possible news after his collision with Dezmin Lewis during the Buffalo Bills’ practice Thursday night.
Lewis, a second-year receiver, was running a slant route and when Williams, a veteran safety coming back from neck surgery, ran over to cover him, they collided. The loud clatter of plastic on plastic and the sight of Williams and Lewis each going down in a heap caused the crowd at St. John Fisher College to let out a collective gasp before going mostly quiet.
Williams stayed on the ground for several minutes before getting to his feet to applause and walking into the locker room with Bills head athletic trainer Bud Carpenter, who held the back of the player’s jersey. Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold later said that Williams was “brought in for evaluation of a possible concussion.”
A few minutes earlier, Lewis also drew an ovation as he got to his feet and headed to the locker room with what looked like an injury to his right shoulder. He was later seen exiting the locker room with an ice bag on the shoulder.
“We can’t buy (an injury-free) practice,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said with disgust afterwards. Since the start of training camp, the Bills have suffered a rash of injuries, including a torn ACL that ended the rookie season of second-round draft pick Reggie Ragland before it could even begin.
“You hear it, because we’re practicing and we’re kind of in the scrum of all of those guys (at the line),” defensive lineman Kyle Williams said of the Williams-Lewis collision. “And you hear the crowd and you look over and you can see it’s him, immediately your thoughts go to his neck and all those kind of things. As somebody that’s been around him a long time, you get concerned for him. You saw a prayer for him, you hope that that’s not what’s going on. And I think Rex, luckily, said some kind of concussion, so as happy as you can be to see that. I think that’s as happy as it gets.”
Here are some other observations from the Bills’ 11th practice of camp:
Cutting it short: Not long after the scary collision and a fight broke out between players, Ryan pulled the plug on the session, ending it about 25 minutes earlier than scheduled. That seemed fine for a crowd that didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about. Exciting moments were few and far between as the Bills mostly went through the motions with their first preseason game set for Saturday night against Indianapolis at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Receiver competition gets suddenly thinner: With Lewis’ injury and the hamstring injury suffered by Greg Salas, the Bills are now without two of the leading candidates to fill backup spots behind their top two receivers, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. Salas probably is out for a week, according to Ryan. Lewis’ status has yet to be determined, but it’s fair to say that Marquise Goodwin, Greg Little, Walter Powell, and Leonard Hankerson should get some fairly decent chances to show what they can do.
IK at it again: The skirmish was between outside linebacker IK Enemkpali -- he of the punch that ended Geno Smith’s days as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback -- and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. There was a pile of bodies, with Kyle Williams acting as chief peacemaker. And that seemed like risky duty and would have been a pretty silly way for yet another injury to occur.
Batted balls: Tyrod Taylor has had his share of passes that he has attempted to throw over the middle knocked down at the line, and Thursday night as no exception. He had two that were swatted down. The good news is he is definitely making a concerted effort to work the middle of the field, and has done so with decent success through most of camp. The bad news is that, given his relatively lack of height, he doesn’t always get the ball over the forest of long arms in front of him.
Wilder Jr., makes dad proud: You have to be impressed with how free agent James Wilder Jr., runs. He is remarkably fast for someone who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 232 pounds. He has good explosiveness and body lean through the hole. On two long runs up the sideline, he showed the high-stepping form that his father did while starring for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The younger Wilder is a long-shot to make the roster, but he will be fun to watch in the preseason. Get ready to see plenty of him in the next four weeks.
Providing a quick glimpse: Ryan said LeSean McCoy would play little, if at all, Saturday night and Reggie Bush, his other veteran back, would be held out of the game. Bush had a nice run up the middle that, like the one he had in his first practice the day after signing with the Bills, reminded everyone of the exceptional wheels he still has at 31.