What We Learned from Buffalo Bills Training Camp This Week
Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
The Bills haven't received nearly the media attention that the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots have, but they like it that way. Still, it makes it tough for fans who don't get out to camp to find out what's going on in Western New York.
So here are some of the more noteworthy developments at camp over the past week.
Marcus Easley Could Be Cut
The Bills have been looking for the No. 2 wide receiver in their offense and were hoping that third-year wide receiver Marcus Easley would make an impact at that spot.
If training camp is any indication, that will not be the case. According to Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Sportsradio, the following is true of Easley's camp:
- He has not been consistent and has not been productive in practices.
- Wide receivers Ruvell Martin, David Clowney and Naaman Roosevelt were getting reps ahead of Easley.
- Easley didn't see the field in first- or second-team drills, having dipped to sixth at best and ninth at worst on the Bills depth chart.
Should the Bills take a chance on Marcus Easley?
Buscaglia adds, "Those thinking he may get a free pass because of his perceived 'potential' may need to wake up and smell the coffee. He's in major jeopardy of not making this team, especially since he has little to no value on special teams."
After missing the first two years of his career to injury, it was believed that Easley could use this offseason to vindicate himself and prove that he still has the speed and athleticism that helped him reel in 48 passes for 893 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior at Connecticut.
Thus far in the NFL? No catches to his name. And if Easley doesn't step his game up soon, it could remain that way.
No Man is Too Big to Be Cut
Not even Michael Jasper, the 375-pound offensive guard.
Jasper has always been considered a project on the offensive line, but for now, that project remains unfinished. The reason for that, according to head coach Chan Gailey, is clear: a lack of toughness and an inability to learn his assignments.
"He's struggling," Gailey said after Saturday night's practice, according to The Buffalo News. "Michael's got to learn his assignments, got to learn to play physical every snap. Big strong guy that's got a lot of talent, as we all know. But he's got to be more physical, and he's got to continue to push through on assignments."
Just like Jasper, you could have seen this coming a mile away.
The Bills aren't losing much by cutting Jasper. They spent only a seventh-round pick on him, and he didn't even see the field until the fourth quarter of the Bills' first preseason game.
Depth and Top-End Talent on Offensive Line Shaping Up
The Bills have taken to the NFL draft to address needs at tackle, having added Chris Hairston in the fifth round last year, along with Cordy Glenn and Zebrie Sanders this year in the second and fourth rounds, respectively.
Buscaglia reports that Hairston and Glenn split time at left tackle. Sanders has struggled but had one of his best practices to date on Saturday, in a session where he avoided the pre-snap penalties that have plagued his camp thus far.
Getting back to the news of Jasper's release, Sanders even got some playing time at left guard, which Buscaglia notes is a rare occurrence.
"I think Sanders is in a roster-wide battle, with about eight players to my count, that are looking to fill three spots," writes Buscaglia. "If he offers the versatility to kick inside it could give him a leg up."
Mark Anderson's Pass Rush Should Be Enough to Earn Starting Job
There's little question that Bills defensive end Mark Anderson will provide a spark to the pass rush alongside Mario Williams. Anderson registered 10 sacks as a situational pass-rusher in New England's defense last year, playing 47.3 percent of the snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
But the Bills are hoping that he will become more of a three-down player than he was last year.
"Today, he's competing to play every snap,'' said Gailey back in April (per The Boston Globe). "That's the way we watched him and looked at him. You don't pay that kind of money to specialty players. You pay that kind of money to a guy that you think can be out there 50, 60 plays. In our mind, it wasn't situational.''
Buscaglia notes that Anderson flashed some top-notch athleticism in staying with running back C.J. Spiller on a screen play, which Anderson promptly sniffed out and brought to a halt in the backfield.
Should Mark Anderson be a starter for the Bills defense?
"It was very good recognition skills on his part," writes Buscaglia. "If he continues that, it can keep him and his athleticism on the field for longer rather than having to depend on guesswork with situational defense."
We have heard a lot about Anderson's well-renowned pass-rush skills, but not a word has been said about how he has looked against the run. With NFL offenses now so heavily geared toward the passing game, it shouldn't come as a shock if Anderson wins the starting job based on his ability to get after the quarterback alone.
Whether teams elect to take advantage of his deficiencies against the run and whether they are successful will determine whether naming him the starter is a wise decision.
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