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Minicamp's a wrap: Josh Allen's big arm and other Bills observations


The final drive of Buffalo Bills minicamp lasted just one play. It was a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Austin Proehl.

Teammates whooped and hollered in reaction to the big finish, which meant they were on vacation for the next six weeks, until the start of training camp.

The play underscored one main takeaway from the Bills' three-day minicamp: Allen's arm is as impressive as advertised.

"Cam's got a strong arm," said Proehl, referring to Carolina star Cam Newton. "I was a ball boy so I used to always have to catch him. At first I thought nobody could beat Cam. But throwing with Josh and seeing the way that ball comes out of his hand, it's close. I can't. I don't know. It's close."

A heads up for fans who go to training camp: You can pretty much count on three of the four most eye-popping throws each day coming from Allen, the No. 7 overall draft pick.

Will Allen develop the ability to surgically put the ball on target and on time play after play? Who knows?

But he did it for a walk-off TD to close out Thursday's final spring workout.

"It was a post," said Proehl, the Bills seventh-round draft pick. "Josh read it right. Kinda had the deal where we both knew what was happening. It's a read on the safety. The safety came down. Go over the top. It worked out exactly how we wanted it to, a touchdown to end minicamp."

Other observations:

The QB plan is in place: Bills coach Sean McDermott said the QB plan for the early portion of training camp (at the least) is the same as it was in spring workouts. Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron will rotate with the starting unit. Allen will work mostly with the third unit.

"We'll keep it like it's been," McDermott said. "Josh'll be with the threes and the other two will be with the 1s and 2s for the most part. Periodically it will change a little bit."

Peterman arguably looked a tad more impressive than McCarron during minicamp but it's too close to call between them.

New England Upstate: The offense of new coordinator Brian Daboll so far looks a ton like the horizontal, possession-passing scheme of the Patriots, for whom he worked for 11 seasons. A lot of three-receiver and two tight-end sets and the ball is designed to get out of the QB's hand fast.

The Bills have had 13 offensive coordinators in the last 19 seasons, counting this year. The offense looked less dysfunctional compared with past springs in Orchard Park when the team was learning a new offense. The ball was hitting the ground, not nearly as much. Of course, it can't be stated enough: You can't draw too many conclusions from spring football with no pads.

Getaway day: The Bills worked for 80 minutes Thursday but it was a low-key practice. The starting defense and starting offensive line sat out virtually all of the 11-on-11 work.

Good health: The Bills closed out spring practices with just one injury of note. Prospective No. 2 receiver Zay Jones had knee surgery the third week of May. He still was on crutches early this week but McDermott said he "has no reason to believe" Jones will not be able to participate at the start of training camp.

"Really no change at this point," McDermott said. "He's going through the rehab process and attacking it aggressively. From now till we report to training camp in Rochester will be a critical point in time."

Center battle: Russell Bodine and Ryan Groy split snaps evenly at center throughout minicamp. It's a coin toss in the race to replace Eric Wood.

WR free for all: Spring practices did clear up one thing about the depth chart behind No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin: Veteran Jeremy Kerley is the strong favorite at slot receiver. He had a quality spring, showing good hands and separation. After that, it's a wild horse race. Second-year man Brandon Reilly saw snaps as the starting No. 2 in Jones' absence but there was a big rotation taking place.

Veteran Rod Streater, the former Raider, had some good moments. He made a leaping end-zone grab of a McCarron pass for a TD late in Wednesday's session. He also caught the 50-yard wobbling, cannon shot down the middle from Allen Wednesday.

Proehl made the tightrope catch of the spring with a two-toes-down grab in the back of the end zone Wednesday on an impressive cross-body throw from Peterman, who was rolling to his left.

Robert Foster, the rookie from Alabama, had a 45-yard over-the-shoulder grab from McCarron Tuesday but then had a couple drops.

"Each and every day a new player is making a play," McDermott said. "You combine that with Charles Clay and the tight ends, it'll bode for an interesting training camp. We're counting on guys to step up."

More depth at DB: The Bills appear to have better depth in the defensive backfield than at the start of last season. Veteran Philip Gaines saw most of the work as the starting nickel back. Rookie Taron Johnson, the fourth-round pick from Weber State, looked long and pretty comfortable in the slot behind Gaines. Veteran Rafael Bush provides veteran depth at safety. Shout out to undrafted rookie Ryan Carter from Clemson, who had a nice day Tuesday. He raked the ball out of Streater's hands on the sideline for a breakup, had tight coverage on Foster down the seam and smothered Cam Phillips down the sideline, all in a three-minute stretch.

Next: Training camp starts July 26 in Pittsford.

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