PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
The Bills held Fred Jackson out of Saturday night's practice as he recovers from a lower leg injury. It's not considered serious and he isn't expected to miss much time. On the other hand, tight end Tony Moeaki is expected to miss "significant" time with a hamstring injury, according to coach Doug Marrone. It shouldn't keep Moeaki out for all of training camp, but the feeling is that his return might take a few weeks. With Chris Gragg still working his way back -- he was hospitalized for heat-related symptoms earlier this week -- the Bills signed tight end Dominique Jones on Saturday. The Bills waived offensive lineman Mark Asper to make room. Jones is a hefty 270 pounds and is built like a fullback. He's a different style player than Moeaki or Gragg.
We documented the offensive line's struggles in Saturday night's third-down drill earlier, but the issues weren't relegated to that portion of practice. When the offense reconvened for 11-on-11 work later, the results weren't much better. EJ Manuel's first series included a handoff to Anthony Dixon, a sack, a scramble, a pass batted down and an option run that ended in Manuel being stopped in the backfield by safety Da'Norris Searcy. His next set of reps started with a sack, then continued with a handoff, a completion to Marquise Goodwin, another handoff, and a throwaway on a rollout. It wasn't pretty, and all the blame can't go on the offensive line. There were a few plays in which I believed Manuel could have gotten rid of the ball and driven it downfield instead of waiting, tucking and running.
Saturday night featured the first live tackling drill of training camp. The 11-on-11 session featured a heavy dose of the running game, with Ronnie Wingo and Bryce Brown taking the majority of the carries. Wingo ran hard Saturday night. He has an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster but could get a heavy dose of touches in the preseason. Meanwhile, cornerback Ron Brooks and wide receiver Robert Woods collided on a pass route in the live tackling drill, with Brooks staying down on the field for several moments. He later returned to practice.
Undrafted rookie linebacker Jimmy Gaines received some first-team reps in team drills in place of Nigel Bradham, who stepped in with the second team for some parts of the drill. Gaines made his presence known on one play, diving to break up a Manuel pass to Brown in the flat. The Bills are trying to piece things together after losing Alonso for the season, and Gaines is the latest player in the mix. The favorite, and the most experienced of the bunch, remains Bradham.
For the second consecutive night, the Bills pushed practice a little longer -- to about 2 hours and 45 minutes -- and added a 7-on-7 red-zone drill at the end. Manuel received four reps, with the following results: a touchdown catch by Sammy Watkins (first down), a scramble to the pylon (second down), a catch by Woods out of bounds (third down), and scramble to the pylon with a defensive penalty (first down). Thad Lewis then stepped in for another four snaps, missing Kevin Elliott on two passes before connecting with Marcus Easley and Brown for back-to-back touchdowns. Given the Bills' struggles in the red zone last season, that phase of the game seems to appropriately be a point of emphasis this training camp.