After just over two gruelling weeks training camp is almost over for the Buffalo Bills. This Sunday they play their first preseason game against the Giants. In preparation for that now seems like the right time to round up the key pieces of news from Buffalo's training camp.
EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins
The Bills season and perhaps the future of the franchise rests on EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins fusing an immediately successful working relationship.
The early signs from training camp were that they have done just this. In the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills Manuel threw four completed passes to Watkins in what Buffalo fans will hope is a portent of things to come.
Weak Linebacker Woes
The injury to star linebacker Kiko Alonso has been a huge blow to the Bills going into the new season. It also left a starting spot open on the roster. Rookie Preston Brown and three year veteran Nigel Bradham are competing for the starting spot.
Bradham started off the stronger after being selected for first for first team reps and did well. Defensive Co-ordinator praised Bradham highly saying “He's been very, very good mentally as far as picking the scheme up, he's good in coverage, and he's improving as a run defender also.”
The early enthusiasm over Bradham has been somewhat deflated however, by the news that Bradham has been suspended for one game for violating the NFLs substance abuse policy.
It's seems there aren't going to be any quick and easy solutions to the Bills weak linebacker problem.
Chris Hogan impressing everyone
Rookie first round pick Sammy Watkins may be getting all the press buzz and hype but wide receiver Chris Hogan may be the player that is impressing everyone the most. He showed marked improvement in both minicamp and OTAs and has continued this into training camp.
On the first play of 11 on 11 practice Hogan ran his deep cut in route to perfection bringing the ball with a diving catch. Hogan continued his fine form making five catches throughout the training session.
With Sammy Watkins and Robert Wood already cemented into two of the three wide receiver spots it seems that Hogan is making the third spot his own.
Marcell Dareus Struggles
After being arrested twice during the offseason and facing a possible NFL suspended as a result Marcell Dareus must have been looking forward to getting back to his actual job of playing football. Dareus had no such luck though and after failing his conditioning test was placed on the active/non-football injury list.
After retaking the conditioning test Dareus has been able to rejoin the squad but his training camp was further disrupted by the need to deal with his off the field issues. In the hopes of avoiding a suspension Dareus has agreed to enter an NFL substance abuse program.
Dareus who has been a three year starter for the Bills at defensive tackle and made a
career best 7.5 sacks last season. Even if he does manage to avoid a suspension you can't say Dareus has enjoyed the best preparation for the new season.