PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of training camp:
EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins made their debut in front of fans Sunday evening and didn't disappoint. We tracked Manuel as 4-for-4 on passes intended for Watkins during team drills (7-on-7 and 11-on-11), which is a significant improvement from organized team activities and minicamp when the two weren't always on the same page. One of Watkins' catches came on a sideline pattern where we felt Manuel's throw came in late -- Watkins had to slow up on his route -- but overall Manuel looked sharp when throwing to his new top target. The Bills stuck to first and second downs in their team drills Sunday, so we'll have to see how Manuel fares when third-down situations are added to the mix in upcoming practices.
With Cordy Glenn sidelined by an undisclosed illness, rookie Seantrel Henderson was set to receive first-team reps at left tackle in his place. That changed early in practice when Henderson left the field with a hip injury. Chris Hairston, who spent all of last season on the non-football illness list, stepped in at left tackle. The play that sticks with Hairston came in 11-on-11 drills when he was beaten by defensive end Jerry Hughes for a would-be sack. Both Henderson's and Glenn's statuses are unclear, so we wouldn't be surprised if Hairston continued in that role in Monday's practice.
At right tackle, veteran Erik Pears continues to hold onto his starting job despite competition from rookie Cyrus Kouandjio. The Alabama product ran with the second team Sunday. Coach Doug Marrone said at the beginning of OTAs that he'd like to throw Kounandjio in with the first team to see what he could do. That lasted only a few practices and we haven't seen much, if any, of Kouandjio with the top unit since. It's too early to sound the alarm with the second-round pick, though.
In a slight surprise, third-year linebacker Nigel Bradham received first-team reps over rookie Preston Brown in team drills. We felt like Brown would have the edge, at least in base packages, but Sunday night it was Bradham stepping in for Kiko Alonso. He's more athletic than Brown and could be a better fit in the weak-side linebacker role. Brown, however, joined Bradham when the Bills turned to their defensive sub package. That's one area to watch as camp moves forward, as the Bills don't have ideal speed at linebacker to match up against offenses that decide to spread the field.
Like in OTAs, the Bills are thin at defensive tackle. With Marcell Dareus (failed conditioning test) and Alan Branch (non-football illness) both sidelined, Corbin Bryant took first-team reps over Stefan Charles. Beyond that, the Bills have only two other players at the position and both are undrafted rookies. If Dareus and Branch remain out when the team switches to full pads Tuesday, the run defense will be an area to watch. Bryant is undersized and not having Alonso in the second level will have an effect against opposing rushers.