Winners, losers from first week of Bills training camp


The Buffalo Bills’ first few practices of this weird preseason is finally in the books. It looks like we’re going to get football after all since things went relatively smoothly across the NFL landscape during the opening portion of training camps despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The real test will come when teams travel, though. But let’s keep this one light. On Saturday, the Bills won’t practice, and even though reporting on workouts this offseason has been constrained by the team and league, we still saw a few interesting nuggets of information squeak out of Orchard Park which can help up peg some good and bad from Week 1 of camp.

With that, here are some winners and losers from the first week of Bills camp:

Winners

Bills offensive Linemen Cody Ford. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

OL Cody Ford

Early in training camp, Cody Ford is certainly is getting his run of play. Bills head coach Sean McDermott previously had wanted to keep Ford at right tackle, but on at least two occasions, we’ve seen him getting reps at right guard. Regardless, its appears Ford’s going to be on the team’s offensive line, we’ll just figure out where later.

DE AJ Epenesa

A second-round pick is usually an exciting prospect, but you’re even more under the spotlight when the team selecting you doesn’t have a first rounder at the draft. Rookie AJ Epenesa is taking that in stride. There was video of him beating guard Brian Winters with power, but The Athletic also mentioned Epenesa’s speed when  facing “weaker opponents.” Furthermore, Epenesa isn’t just playing at defensive end, the rookie and McDermott both discussed this week that Epenesa is being used on all four spot on the D-line early in camp. Sounds like he could have a big role.

WR Duke Williams

No wide receiver has stood out more this week than Duke Williams. He’s had such good performances that the team has felt obligated to event tweet out videos of two of his catches this week. In fact, Williams made such good grabs that Bills Wire was fooled. We dubbed the first early in the week the “catch of training camp,” only for Williams to… have a better one later in the week.

The big question with Williams is special teams, though. If he can find a way to contribute there, it seems like he’s certainly going to find a roster spot.

Bills wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. (James P. McCoy/Pool Photo via AP)

WR Isaiah Hodgins

Like Williams, rookie wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins has saw his skills put on display by the team as well this week as the team posted a video of his catch on social media. Cornerback Levi Wallace was all over Hodgins, but the receiver came up with the contested grab with the team’s incumbent No. 2 cornerback on him.

Fourth-round rookie Gabriel Davis also showed off during camp making a nice catch against Tre’Davious White and scoring with his speed, but as a sixth rounder, Hodgins is much less of a roster lock and seeing such plays from him certainly turned some heads. His overall size at 6-foot-4 also garnered plenty of attention.

Story continues

WR Stefon Diggs

The first day of training camp was certainly the Stefon Diggs show. Everyone was watching him, and he delivered throughout the week. On one occasion, he did bring in a very contested catch during live drills and what really stood out was just how quick Diggs is with his movements. You can just tell he’s on another level.

Also worth saying, remember how he was a “bad teammate,” or so some said? When Josh Norman intercepted Josh Allen this week, Diggs, even in practice, went in for the tackle. Sounds like an effort guy to me.

K Tyler Bass

Rookie draft pick Tyler Bass still needs to show some more consistency at training camp if he wants to lock up the team’s kicking job, but he cemented one thing this week over Stephen Hauschka: Bass has the stronger leg. Multiple outlets this week, including WGR-550 radio, made note that Hauschka missed consecutive kicks from 50-plus yards, and they were short. On the other hand, Bass drilled almost everything from that distance. That’s why Bass was brought in and that’s why he has the… leg up.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (James P. McCoy/The Buffalo News via AP, Pool)

RB Zack Moss

A lot of notes this week from various outlets just had nothing but positive things to say about rookie running back Zack Moss. This doesn’t mean we won’t see Devin Singletary this season because we certainly will, but Moss showed he isn’t just a guy that’s going to be used in between the tackles like Frank Gore was last year. One thing in particular that stood out was a video of Moss making an over-the-shoulder grab on a wheel route. He’s a well-rounded back.

LosersOL Brian Winters

Newly-signed offensive lineman Brian Winters had many thinking from his years with the Jets that he would walk right into Jon Feliciano’s starting spot. Instead, as mentioned, we’ve seen plenty of  Ford in there instead. It appears Winters has some ground to make up. And while it was only one rep and he might’ve been tripped a little, Epenesa blowing him up wasn’t the best look, either. Quinton Spain also lost big in the same manner per The Athletic this week, but Spain’s job is much more locked in.

DT Ed Oliver

A simple one: Health reasons. Ed Oliver might finally be turning a corner in terms of being healthy as he took part in some light work on Friday, but he had not practiced prior to that. The Bills should have big plans for Oliver with Jordan Phillips skipping town via free agency this offseason, and starting those plans on the sideline is not ideal for the former first-round pick. Plenty of time to fix that, though.

Bills cornerback Josh Norman. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News via AP, Pool)

CB Josh Norman

Norman still appears to have the edge on the No. 2 cornerback battle against Wallace. But it’s worth noting that it’s been a slow week for Norman. Via The Athletic‘s notes this week, Norman had a bad start. But on the plus side, he started to turn it around. He jumped that pass from Allen to Diggs for that prior mentioned interception. That bad news? OK it’s good that Diggs hustled for a tackle but Norman getting hurt on the play was not part of the plan. At 32, a hamstring injury seems like something that could linger.

WR Robert Foster

Again, health. Duke Williams and Isaiah Hodgins have thrived and Robert Foster, unfortunately, suffered a concussion and has barely got out there. This upcoming week Foster needs to get out there.

QB Jake Fromm

Heading into a normal training camp, there could have been a chance for Jake Fromm to earn the No. 2 role. With no preseason action, that goes out the window and just because of experience, Matt Barkley will be Buffalo’s No. 2 QB. But if you held onto and glimmer of hope for a rookie standout this week? It wasn’t really anywhere to be found. No signs of consistency and a reported fumble on a handoff by Fromm via Syracuse.com. Fifth-round QBs might have a thing against the Bills…

Push: Josh Allen

Entering the third year of his career, we should start seeing the full Allen now. Well, it wasn’t a consistent week for him, and that’s been the issue with him in his career. Because of some good things like some throws to Diggs, John Brown, and he’s starting to throw with some more anticipation, we’ll give Allen a thumbs up there. Because of interceptions to Norman and Micah Hyde, we’ll get a thumbs down. Let’s just wait until next week for a better handle on Allen… fair? He is going against one of the NFL’s best defenses, too.

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