The first day of spring practice for the Buffalo Bills doesn't really resemble football. Instead, it looks like gym class.
The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players association puts heavy restrictions on what exactly can be done in "Phase One" of a team's voluntary offseason workouts.
Those restrictions were laid out by nfl.com. The Bills and Chargers started their offseason program Monday, two weeks before most of the rest of the league – a head start provided by the league because they hired new head coaches earlier this offseason. Sean McDermott, however, was not allowed on the field Monday for the Bills. The league restricts that access to strength-and-conditioning coaches only. Additionally, players can be on the field for only 90 minutes a day, a maximum of four times a week.
Any type of "live" workouts, like blocking, tackling, or bump-and-run coverage, is also forbidden. Still, there was life amongst the Bills inside the AdPro Sports Training Center for the first time since players cleaned their lockers out in early January. With the Bills back to work, here are five questions the team needs to answer this spring:
1. Who is that No. 2 wide receiver? Coach Sean McDermott indicated during the NFL owners' meeting last week that he thought that player may already be on the team's roster. Given the relative lack of production from the players behind Sammy Watkins, however, that seems like a reach. It's possible that the Bills address the need for a starter opposite Watkins through the draft – possibly with the 10th overall pick in the first round – but if they don't, it's imperative someone steps up from a group that includes Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, Walt Powell and Kolby Listenbee, among others.
2. Is Kevon Seymour ready for a starting role? With Stephon Gilmore gone to New England, Seymour is tentatively penciled into the starting lineup opposite Ronald Darby at cornerback. Seymour, a sixth-round draft pick in 2016, made three starts as a rookie, finishing with 20 tackles and three passes defensed. Like at receiver, the Bills could opt to fill Gilmore's spot through the draft, especially given that it's perceived to be a deep class of defensive backs. If they don't, though, Seymour's development will be especially important to track.
3. Is Cardale Jones ready to be the backup quarterback? With EJ Manuel off to Oakland, the Bills do not have a veteran option behind Tyrod Taylor other than Jones, the second-year man from Ohio State. With only one quarter of playing time as a rookie, in a meaningless season finale against the New York Jets, there's not much to go on when determining whether Jones is ready for the job. There are available veteran quarterbacks on the open market still, although the Bills don't have much room under the salary cap, so it's possible the team is waiting for their prices to go down. Until that happens, Jones will have to prepare like he's the guy.
4. Are the Bills set at linebacker? That's pretty much impossible to imagine. As it stands, there are only five players at the position on the roster, so clearly they'll need to add numbers in the likely form of undrafted free agents. Given how unlikely it is that more than one or two of them will make the roster, however, the Bills will likely be deciding between Lorenzo Alexander, Preston Brown, Reggie Ragland and Ramon Humber to start.
5. Will the team's injured players be ready for training camp? Watkins, Ragland and center Eric Wood are the biggest players to watch in that regard. Ragland missed all of last season with a torn ACL, while Watkins had foot surgery and Wood is coming back from a broken leg. All signs point to them being ready to go in late July, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team ease them back into action this spring.