It’s only the second day of OTAs for the Buffalo Bills, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about.
Here are some of the early headlines out of Bills camp.
David Lee Working Magic with Fitz’s Mechanics
New quarterbacks coach David Lee has been working with Ryan Fitzpatrick on his mechanics. And according to Bills lead journalist Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, Fitz is “already improving.”
After the first day of practice, head coach Chan Gailey had this to say in his press conference regarding Lee working with Fitzpatrick:
Fitz was throwing some balls across his body and [Lee’s] been able to help him technically get a little sounder, working on some little things about getting the ball up and over linebackers. Things like that that we just didn’t get the opportunity to do as much with because we had no offseason last year. So it’s good to get some of those things worked on and work on the technical aspects of the game.
If Fitz can work out some of the kinks that have been affecting his throwing mechanics, he could finally put it all together next season. In fact, Chris Brown relayed a report from ESPN insider K.C. Joyner, in which Joyner has Fitz as one of his breakout quarterbacks of 2012.
Chris Kelsay Running with First Team
Should Chris Kelsay be a starter in 2012?
Veteran defensive end Chris Kelsay was reportedly lining up with the first-string defense, according to the official Twitter account of the Buffalo Bills.
It’s no secret that Kelsay fits much better as a 4-3 defensive end than a 3-4 outside linebacker. That experiment last season was kind of scary. But the veteran will be working at his natural position, which is good news for both the Bills and Kelsay. Further, he finally has a lot of excellent talent around him.
Via the Bills’ Twitter account, Kelsay praised the new and improved defensive line and noted that a healthy rotation is a common theme among successful lines.
This is all notable for three reasons. First, the Bills also have Mark Anderson and Shawne Merriman behind Mario Williams and Kelsay. That’s some great depth. Second, Kelsay should be more comfortable playing end in the 4-3, which should translate to better production. Third, there are finally other players on the line that should free up Kelsay to make plays—something he’s never really had with the Bills.
If everyone stays healthy, Kelsay could have a rejuvenated 2012 campaign and surprise in his 10th season with the team.
Is Leodis McKelvin Being Used as Trade Bait?
Weird news out of Minnesota today as 24-year-old cornerback Asher Allen has declared he will retire from the NFL, according to Pioneer Press on Twitter. This sudden move leaves the Vikings a bit thin at corner.
Which CB will start opposite Aaron Williams?
Meanwhile, former first-round pick Leodis McKelvin, who has received a ton of criticism over the last year for his declining productivity, has been lining up as the starting right cornerback at OTAs, as reported on BuffaloBills.com.
In a detailed article, Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Buffalo suggests the Bills could actually be giving the former first-rounder a legitimate shot to win the job. For a player like McKelvin, who has struggled, to get that kind of opportunity in his contract year, it’s a great opportunity. The competition will also only make rookie Stephon Gilmore even better.
On the other hand, what if the Bills are sneakily showcasing McKelvin for a potential trade? Asher Allen’s retirement did come a day after the Bills’ first practice, so clearly there is no direct correlation. But the move could be a way for Buffalo to garner interest around the league in general.
Kelvin Sheppard Primed for Monster Year
Not much of a surprise here, but the news continues to be good regarding second-year linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. Rotoworld.com had this to say:
The Bills have identified last year's third-rounder as a "nucleus" player on defense, after Sheppard racked up 61 tackles in the final nine games. He's quite likely to be an every-down player and impact IDP contributor. The Bills' starting weak-side backer is Nick Barnett, with Kirk Morrison currently at SAM.
How many tackles will Kelvin Sheppard finish with in 2012?
New defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt is particularly high on Sheppard, viewing him as an ideal fit in the middle.
Sheppard was a leader at LSU and is already contributing as an NFL starter in just his second season. The coaching staff—and Bills fans everywhere—expects big things out of the middle linebacker in 2012 and beyond.
Alex Carrington Running with Third Team
The news isn’t so good for backup defensive tackle Alex Carrington, who has reportedly been working out with the third team on defense so far, according to the Buffalo News.
Carrington is 6’5” and 305 pounds. As noted on Rotoworld.com, he was drafted to fit the Bills’ 3-4 scheme in 2010, which may lead to a declining role in the 4-3.
This is unfortunate because Carrington is a big, young, athletic lineman. With former second-rounder Torell Troup finally primed for a healthy season, the competition for snaps will be stiff behind Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus.
It’ll be an uphill climb for Carrington, but the 24-year-old will be up to the challenge.