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Camp observations

With Bills night practice looming, McDermott dials down intensity

PITTSFORD – Here are my top takeaways from Day 7 of Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College.

1. Dialing it back. The Bills practiced in shorts and shells Thursday after four consecutive workouts in pads. As such, the intensity level was down a couple of notches. With a night practice looming Friday at New Era Field, coach Sean McDermott went heavy on veteran rest days. Tight end Lee Smith, defensive end Trent Murphy, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle and running back Frank Gore all took the day off from practice.

Running back LeSean McCoy was back at practice after missing Wednesday’s workout for a personal matter.

After a two-hour practice Wednesday that was the longest of training camp, Thursday’s wrapped up in one hour, 45 minutes.

2. Injured list grows. After starting camp healthy, the Bills have seen their injured list steadily get longer through the first week of practices. Safety Micah Hyde (neck), defensive end Jerry Hughes (ankle), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (knee), and guard Quinton Spain (ankle) all sat out practice Thursday. They were joined by center Mitch Morse (concussion) and tight ends Tyler Kroft (foot), Dawson Knox (hamstring) and Jason Croom (hamstring).

The team did get some good news on the injury front with offensive lineman Spencer Long returning to practice. He missed Wednesday’s practice with knee soreness.

3. Roster move. The Bills filled out their 90-man roster Thursday by signing offensive lineman Nico Siragusa. A 6-foot-4, 330-pounder, Siragusa is a former fourth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2017. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve after tearing the ACL, MCL and PCL in his knee during a camp practice with the Ravens exactly two years ago. He was released by Baltimore before the start of the 2018 season and re-signed to the team’s practice squad. He was signed to the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster in December, but did not appear in a game. Siragusa then signed with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, but was released at the start of training camp.

Siragusa played in college at San Diego State. He tied a program record by appearing in 54 games and made 41 consecutive starts to end his career. He was a first-team All-American in 2016 as chosen by USA Today.

Siragusa, no relation to former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, fills the spot vacated when offensive lineman Isaac Asiata retired earlier this week. The Bills actually have 91 players on the roster, with running back Christian Wade given an international exemption.

4. Coming home. The Bills will host their “Return of the Blue & Red” practice Friday night at New Era Field, beginning at 6:15 p.m.

“We always talk about defending our dirt, and it starts tomorrow,” quarterback Josh Allen said Thursday. “I’m assuming there’s going to be quite a large fan base there and we’re excited to get in there and excited to practice and show what we’ve been working on.

“To see all these fans show up in our stadium and to kind of get that pregame feeling, the jitters and nerves were actually there (last year). I think that’s what some football players play for – they love that excitement and that energy that they feel when they step on a field for the first time.”

The practice is free, but a ticket is required. Complimentary mobile tickets are available online at buffalobills.com/training-camp.

5. Snubbed. No Bills were chosen to the NFL Network’s annual list of the league’s top 100 players.

“It is what it is. You can’t really put too much into it,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “At the same time, I know the guys in the locker room. It just builds motivation. It builds that fire inside to want to show who we are and what we’re capable of doing.”

The Bills had two players on the 2018 list – McCoy at No. 30 and safety Micah Hyde at No. 62.

6. Lineup notes. The starting offensive line Thursday, from left to right, looked like this: Dion Dawkins, Long, Russell Bodine, Jon Feliciano and Ty Nsekhe. Rookie second-round draft pick Cody Ford also rotated in with the starters at right tackle, which pushed Nsekhe over to the left side. That could be a sign that the Bills are at least considering Nsekhe as their swing tackle – the top backup to the left and ride sides.

The second-team offensive line consisted of Connor McDermott, Wyatt Teller, Ike Boettger, Vlad Ducasse and Garrett McGhin.

With Hughes, Murphy and Lotulelei all out, the starting defensive line consisted of Shaq Lawson, Harrison Phillips, Jordan Phillips and Mike Love.

At safety, Kurt Coleman took Hyde’s place with the starters.

“That’s why they asked me to come here, to always be ready,” said Coleman, who was signed just before the start of camp. “We have two great starters right now and I want to help them take their game to the next level, but ultimately whatever happens – you can’t help injuries – and whenever they do (happen), it’s my job to come in and play as if nobody got hurt.”

7. Noteworthy. Former Bills linebackers Darryl Talley and Arthur Moats took in practice from the sideline. … Former defensive tackle Kyle Williams was once again on the sideline, as he has been the past few days. Williams has spent a good deal of time working with first-round draft pick Ed Oliver, who once again was getting into the backfield with regularity. … Linebacker Matt Milano intercepted an Allen pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage during red-zone work. Cornerback Levi Wallace dropped what should have been an easy interception of another Allen throw, then hit the ground to do push-ups as punishment for his mistake.

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