The third week of OTAs closed Friday with improvement on both ends of the ball.
This year's have been the most highly attended OTAs in head coach Dick Jauron’s career.
“The players understand that it’s not an easy thing to play in this league,” said Jauron. “Once you earn the right to be in the NFL, it’s a privilege and it’s a great opportunity; and they want to take advantage of it. Most of them are smart enough to do that to take advantage of it.
They're very competitive people and they want to win and they know if they don’t do this our chances of winning are not very good.”
The Bills practiced outside for the first time during OTAs in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The coaching staff played loud music through the stadium speakers to work on the offenses ability to communicate.
Buffalo’s defensive linemen continue to put pressure on the quarterbacks testing their decision making outside of the pocket.
This week included the use of taekwondo techniques as defensive line coach Bob Sanders brought in instructor Joe Kim, who has worked with NFL teams since 1991. The focus on hand techniques has been beneficial in pass rush situations for the lineman.
“Ninety percent of the sacks in the league are off counter moves,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “So it’s really helped us to stay busy and taught us how to counter off an initial move.”
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell has been focusing on things that burned the defense last year and several formations they may face this year. Made popular last season by Miami, the Bills have seen the "Wildcat" formation before.
They expect to see more of it this year, perhaps even from other teams.
Donte Whitner said that the more formations they see will be great in an effort to not get caught off guard come September.
“We know that this is a copycat league, and we know that Miami got off to a fast start last year with the 'Wildcat' catching some teams off guard, and it got the momentum rolling for their season,” said Whitner.
"Obviously they drafted Pat White, and it doesn’t take to a rocket scientist to know that they’re going to use him in the 'Wildcat' and they’re going to add a lot more wrinkles to the 'Wildcat'. He’s a dangerous guy, and that formation is dangerous if you don’t stop it early."
Roscoe Parrish had an excellent week after expressing his frustration about not playing a more pivotal role on offense. He made some impressive would-be long touchdown catches while filling in for the absent Josh Reed.
“He’s one of best slot receivers we have,” said quarterback Trent Edwards. “It’s just a matter of putting him in a position to win and putting him in a position where he’s comfortable and he understands what he’s supposed to do. And that comes with getting him his reps in practice, and then actually performing in the game.
He’s one of the most exciting guys on our team, so we need to find a way to get the ball in his hands, and I’m working with Turk (Schonert), I’m working with Alex (Van Pelt) to try to come up with ways we can do that. That’s definitely a weapon we need to take advantage of.”
Receivers Lee Evans and Terrell Owens continue to put in extra time with Edwards working on passing routes. They want to be sure that they are on the same page with regards to how hard the ball is thrown in certain situations and how much arc to put on the ball.
Steve Johnson joined the group this week hoping that some of the skills that made the two receivers great will rub off on him this season.
"It's about doing the same things and being consistent and that's what I've been talking to Lee about is his consistency," said Johnson. "That's how you build confidence in all your quarterbacks."
Ashton Youboty participated in individual position drills and is close to returning to the lineup after suffering plantar fasciitis in both feet in Week Five of last season.
“Right now, they’re both going good,” said Youboty. “One is still getting treatment, but once that’s done, I’m ready to go.”
Youboty got his opportunity working with the first unit as the nickel corner as Jauron cautiously inserted him in the lineup.
Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin are also on their way back as they participated in individual position drills.
James Hardy is five months removed from ACL surgery and was working with trainers on the sidelines doing light route running.
Rookie sixth-round pick Cary Harris returned to practice from a minor injury, as did Derek Schouman and Kyle Ward.
Aaron Schobel has still not been in attendance for this year’s OTAs but is expected to return next week for mandatory minicamp, which begins Tuesday.
Several key players have not participated in OTAs, mostly due to injuries, including John DiGiorgio, James Hardy, C.J. Hawthorne, and P.K. Sam.
OTAs will continue Monday before the mandatory minicamp begins.