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Training camp observations: Gabe Davis fires up fantasy hype, Josh Allen is an Iron Bill

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Buffalo Bills Training Camp

Buffalo Bills players Gabriel Davis and Josh Allen greet each other during day four of training camp on Wednesday.

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PITTSFORD – Gabe Davis was in regular-season form during Wednesday’s training camp practice at St. John Fisher University.

Here were the top observations from the fourth day of camp:

1. Fantasy alert on No. 13

Davis is a popular target among fantasy football players this summer due to his big finish last year and the fact he’s stepping into a bigger role as the No. 2 wide receiver.

The 23-year-old had back-to-back touchdown catches of about 12 yards from Josh Allen during red-zone work. He was wide open on the first one. He got behind linebacker Matt Milano on the second.

Davis also went low to make a nifty sliding reception of about 15 yards early in 11-on-11 work, then he got good separation on rookie Kaiir Elam for a 15-yard sideline reception late in the practice.

Davis looks explosive and is off to a good start at camp.

“We had a bad day, not a bad day, we were just kind of off yesterday,” Davis said. “So being able to come out here and compete, make a lot of big plays, as you guys saw. That's what we need. Whenever we're down, we got to be able to come back and push forward, and that's what we did.”

2. The name is Gabe

Davis said his preference is to be called Gabe, not Gabriel, although he’s not fanatical about it.

“My branding people said, 'Oh, it would be easier to be Gabe.' And I'm like, `Whatever.' Do whatever you want,” Davis said with a chuckle. “I don't care. It’s whatever. ... I'd rather have most people call me Gabe. My mom calls me Gabriel.”

3. Allen shines

Allen has faced a fair amount of pressure behind a rotating cast of linemen the first week. The Bills’ quarterback had his best day so far Wednesday.

Allen closed practice with two superb completions. The first was a laser into a tight window to Isaiah McKenzie in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard score. The second was a lofted throw on the move with perfect touch to tight end Dawson Knox, who got a step on linebacker Tyrel Dodson. Knox also scored a red-zone TD early on a coverage mix-up by the defense.

Allen hit Stefon Diggs five times. The best was a 15-yard dart on which Diggs put a great move on cornerback Dane Jackson.

“You're going to see Josh have great days, and you're gonna have days where you're like, 'Well, Josh missed a couple of passes,' " tackle Dion Dawkins said. “So what? That’s why we practice. It's almost like taking free throws, like we're just attempting shot after shot after shot, so we can get our repetition to almost be perfect, close to perfect.”

4. Iron Josh

Allen scored his first “W” of the summer when the team he captained won the “Iron Bills Games,” the offseason contest run by the team’s strength and conditioning staff.

Allen drafted and captained a team of players and coaches who accumulated the most points in the event. It incorporates weigh-ins, body fat percentage, various strength metrics and a bunch of fun activities that are separate from football-specific drills, such as dodgeball. The team Allen drafted included McKenzie, Dodson, Tyler Bass, Brandin Bryant, Jacob Capra, and assistant coaches Mike Shula and Joe Brady. (We may be missing a guy.)

McKenzie said the coaches were not key to the win.

“They didn’t do squat,” McKenzie said. “They were healthy scratches for most of the events, but they were part of our team.”

“The winning team got a shirt,” McKenzie said. “We get front-row parking at the facility for the whole season, and we didn’t have to do the conditioning test at the start of camp. We got to watch everyone else run laps.”

Allen won the “farmer’s walk,” which involved carrying 45-pound weights in each hand across the field. McKenzie won the obstacle course competition and was second in the “hang bar” (hanging in the air from a bar with two hands).

“I hung for 3:15 and I came in second,” McKenzie said. “Jake Kumerow came in first in that.”

Strength and conditioning coach Eric Ciano has been running the games since he arrived in 2010.

5. Call-it plays

A lot of the plays run in practice by the offense and defense are scripted. But there are segments in which the coordinators make calls in the moment off their call sheet. It’s a way for a new play-caller, like Ken Dorsey, to get his own practice repetitions.

“We try and make our practices game-like in certain ways, and one of those ways, is having coordinators in these call-it periods,” coach Sean McDermott said. “We’re going to do as much of that as we can because we have new coordinators, two of the three are new coordinators. Same with (Matthew) Smiley a little bit on special teams. It’s a little bit harder to do that, to simulate that on special teams. We’re going to do as much of that as we can through training camp. As a coordinator, I found – and I know Leslie (Frazier) feels this way, as well – that’s good. It helps even an experienced coordinator knock the rust off, get your mind right and then when you go back and watch the film, it’s not only evaluating the scheme piece, it’s evaluating, ‘Hey, was that the right call? Did I like that call that I made?’ ”

“I’m pleased with how guys have answered in those call-it periods,” Dorsey said. “We’re playing against a great defense every day, and it’s not always going to be perfect, and that’s good in training camp. You don’t want one side of the ball dominating, you want a back and forth and great competition, I think that’s important. I think that’s all part of it. It’s great the way Sean has made a concerted effort to include those in a practice as much as he can.”

But Dorsey stressed camp isn’t about always getting into the ideal play.

“You're going to put plays in that might not necessarily be great against the defenses you're playing, but big picture moving forward, you want to get those things in,” he said.

6. Highlights

Devin Singletary had some good runs in the early, run-oriented portion of team work. He also bounced a run wide in the red zone for a likely TD. ... Rookie linebacker Terrel Bernard broke up a short pass over the middle. ... Siran Neal had a pass breakup on a deep ball for Diggs in one-on-one work and leveraged Diggs out of bounds in the red zone to create an incompletion in team work. ... A.J. Epenesa got around Luke Tenuta for a would-be sack. ... Von Miller set the edge to stuff a third-and-3 run by James Cook. Ed Oliver showed off his speed in chasing Allen for a would-be sack out of the pocket. ... Ryan Bates was watching practice from the sidelines with an apparent minor injury, so in 11-on-11 work, the offensive line was down three starters, including Rodger Saffold (ribs) and Spencer Brown, a limited participant. Greg Mancz stepped up into the left guard spot with the first team. David Quessenberry was at right guard, and Tommy Doyle was at right tackle.

7. No down time

On any NFL team, most injured players don’t get a day off when they don’t practice. Tre’Davious White worked up a soaking sweat doing conditioning with trainers on the side. For a while, he was swinging a heavy sledgehammer against a giant truck tire.


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Bills/NFL writer

Gaughan's insight is featured in the "PlayAction" video series, providing analysis to get Bills fans ready for the next game. He is past president of the Pro Football Writers of America and served as a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector for 12 years.

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