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Tyrod Taylor looking sharp as Bills' scrimmage looms

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan has billed the Buffalo Bills' intrasquad scrimmage Saturday evening as an opportunity for a quarterback to separate himself from the still-unsettled competition at the position.

If the scrimmage will be the main course of the week, then the Bills' practice Friday served as an appetizer -- and Tyrod Taylor ate it up.

Taylor continues to stake a claim for the starting job by improving his accuracy and making better decisions under pressure from defenders. In Friday's practice, he didn't miss a pass in an 11-on-11 drill until the final period, a live-tackling portion when fullback Jerome Felton was hit by linebacker Preston Brown as Taylor's pass arrived.

Taylor went 6-for-6 through the first four 11-on-11 periods, including a lofted touchdown pass to receiver Robert Woods over struggling third-team cornerback Rod Sweeting. Most of Taylor's other passes were dump-offs or shorter routes, but he connected with wide receiver Marcus Easley on a laser down the seam for one of the best throws of practice.

There hasn't been any indication to this point that Taylor could be in line for more first-team reps than Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel -- the Bills will give each two first-team possessions in Saturday's scrimmage -- but Taylor's stock is on the rise with his play in practice this week.

Cassel has also cleaned up some of his issues from the spring, although his performance Friday wasn't convincing. The highlight of Cassel's morning was a pitch-and-catch touchdown to tight end Chris Gragg against broken coverage from the Bills' third-team secondary. Otherwise, the veteran found himself hurried and/or scrambling on several of his other drop-backs, and he ended the practice by tossing an interception to Brown in red zone work.

The feeling from this perspective is that, even though his first-team reps haven't been limited, Manuel has fallen behind Cassel and Taylor in the competition. Manuel will stand out with one or two great throws every practice -- on Friday, it was a flea flicker-style play in which Manuel found tight end Nick O'Leary about 25 yards down the sideline -- but otherwise will turn in underwhelming outings.

The race is far from over -- Ryan could wait until the regular-season opener to name a starter -- but the way it's trending, this could soon be a two-man competition between Taylor and Cassel.