LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
Given the circumstances -- being in enemy territory and at the end of their fourth, long week of training camp -- this was probably the best the Bills' offense has looked this summer. The operation in 11-on-11 moved more quickly than Wednesday. Coaches were vocal about players getting in and out of the huddle, and when the ball was snapped, EJ Manuel was quick and accurate as a passer. There was only one penalty -- an apparent false start on tight end Scott Chandler. Very crisp.
While there were several scuffles in Wednesday's practice, especially early, things cooled down Thursday. There was less talking from the Steelers' defense and less extracurricular hitting after plays, at least in 11-on-11s between the Bills' offense and Steelers' defense. On the other practice field, the Bills' defense and Steelers' offense had a sideline-clearing incident at one point, although it was tough to see who was at the center of the action.
All eyes were on Manuel after Doug Marrone was defensive about Manuel's performance Wednesday in his pre-practice news conference. Marrone said he charted Wednesday's practice as Manuel's best to that point in camp, citing a 60 percent completion rate and a 56 percent "accuracy rate." A 60-percent completion rate would have ranked 26th in the NFL last season, so in a sense, it wasn't a glowing endorsement of Manuel's practices prior to Wednesday. In this view, a 60-percent completion rate isn't anything the Bills should celebrate, but Manuel's 77-percent rate Thursday is deserving of praise.
The Bills have been cycling through receivers with their first-team offense. Thursday was no different. Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins were the first pairing, but we also saw Watkins, Robert Woods, and Chris Hogan, as well as T.J. Graham mixing in. Part of that could be tied to the absence of Marquise Goodwin, but perhaps it's too early to count out Graham. He's seen more reps since the start of camp.
Second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio has struggled for much of training camp and by all accounts had a rough afternoon Wednesday in one-on-one pass-rush drills. That changed Thursday when Kouandjio had some quality reps in that same drill. Coming back from his final rep, he got a fist bump and a pat on the back from coach Doug Marrone. It's a sign of progress.
The Bills are off Friday before meeting the Steelers for a preseason game at Heinz Field on Saturday night.