Here are observations from the Buffalo Bills’ organized team activity practice Wednesday inside Highmark Stadium:
1. Mitch Trubisky made some on-target rhythm throws and looks like he’s picking up the Bills’ offense early in the offseason process.
The new Bills’ No. 2 quarterback, signed as a free agent from Chicago to upgrade the spot behind Josh Allen, enjoyed an accurate day. He looked sharp in the practice open to media last week, as well.
Trubisky hit tight end Dawson Knox in perfect stride on a crossing route during the 7-on-7 portion of the practice. Then he led receiver Duke Williams perfectly on a deep cross. His next pass was on target in a tight window on the sideline for Knox, but linebacker Tyrell Adams got a hand in the way to force the ball out of Knox’s grasp.
In 11-on-11 work, Trubisky hit tight end Nate Becker against tight coverage, and then he placed an intermediate pass into the arms of Williams, who did well to shield his body to get free of tight coverage.
Trubisky upped his completion rate for the Bears from 63.2% in 2019 to 67% last season.
2. Stefon Diggs was at practice looking in midseason form. Diggs caught a deep ball from Allen in perfect stride early in individual work.
Diggs, who restructured his contract Tuesday to provide the Bills’ cap relief, was not in attendance at last week’s practice open to media. Also on the field was prospective starting receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the free-agent signee from New Orleans.
Sanders showed good hands on a hitch route in hanging onto a pass from Allen that was just a tad behind.
3. Nine were not in attendance. They were: defensive linemen Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Star Lotulelei and Vernon Butler, tackles Daryl Williams and Bobby Hart, center Mitch Morse, running back Taiwan Jones and cornerback Siran Neal.
Receiver Cole Beasley didn’t participate in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 sessions and didn’t have a helmet on. However, he did run routes and catch passes in individual drills and looked quick as ever. Beasley was active in coaching up and talking up teammates who ran routes from the slot. He was particularly excited about Sanders’ sure-handed grab from the slot.
Not participating were running back Zack Moss and right end Reggie Gilliam.
Three players were practicing in noncontact jerseys – guard Cody Ford, receiver Isaiah Hodgins and safety Josh Thomas.
4. Cornerback Dane Jackson was ready on the first play of 7-on-7 work. He stayed in the hop pocket of Diggs on an underneath route and broke up an on-target throw from Allen.
Safety Tariq Thompson was in position on the back end to intercept an overthrown pass by Jake Fromm. ... Rookie tight end Quintin Morris, an undrafted free agent from Bowling Green, showed good hands all practice. Running back Christian Wade made a nice end-zone catch and stayed in bounds on a fade pass from Fromm. ... Tyler Bass was 5 for 5 on field-goal attempts to the tunnel end, with the longest from 47 yards.
5. The Bills are steadfast so far in their stance to not discuss who has been vaccinated for Covid-19. Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds respectfully declined last week.
Safety Jordan Poyer opened his media call by stating: “Real quick, before we start, I'm not going to be answering questions about vaccines. So if you guys can direct your questions all to football, I would love to answer them. All respect. I appreciate it.”
Asked how Covid protocols might affect training camp if it is held in Rochester, Poyer said: “I'm just not answering any questions that have anything to do with vaccines. And I understand. ... I like camp at St. John Fisher. I like camp here. They're two totally different places. Camp here, you get all the facility. Camp there, you obviously get the camaraderie with the guys staying. But at the end of the day, that's not my decision to make.”
6. The tempo of the practice was at a spring level, not training-camp level. Contact is prohibited at organized team activity workouts. The Bills were in helmets but no pads. There has been much discussion among the NFL Players Association this spring about the need to scale back on intensity of OTAs to lower the risk of injury.
The Bills’ session was up-tempo from the perspective the team was quick in getting to the line of scrimmage, running plays and not needing extra time to get people lined up or to get on the same page. It looked efficient.
While receivers were running full speed in individual drills, the full team sessions were more or less half speed, with the focus on technique and assignments.
Poyer on the fact 78 players were present:
“At the end of the day, it's all voluntary, so the guys that decided to show up here, it's voluntary. Nobody's forcing anybody to be here. Obviously, we respect everybody's decision. But at the end of the day, we're here, we're working. And even the guys I know that are not here, they're still working and continuing to keep contact with the guys that are here.”