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Bills training camp observations Day 7: Dion Dawkins return gives OL needed boost

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The Buffalo Bills’ hobbled offensive line got a welcome return Monday.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins was back after missing practice Friday and Saturday for personal reasons. It made a difference.

Here are observations from the seventh day of training camp at St. John Fisher University.

1. No. 73 looks stout

The Bills’ pass protection has been leaky the first week, with a cast of backups trying to contain the team’s deep cast of veterans on the defensive line.

Dawkins’ return gave the Bills two of their regular starters on the front five, along with center Mitch Morse.

Dawkins had a couple of good snaps in one-on-one pass blocking. First, he steered Von Miller wide of the pocket. Then, he handled second-year defensive end Greg Rousseau.

In 11-on-11 team work, there still was plenty of pressure on quarterback Josh Allen.

Defensive tackle Ed Oliver had another dominant day, with repeated hurries. However, the left edge was handled well by Dawkins.

The 28-year-old left tackle also made the fun highlight of the practice. He caught a deflection on a short pass to the flat and rumbled 50 yards for a touchdown, capped by a “barrel-roll somersault” into the end zone, to the delight of about 3,000 fans in the stands.

The Bills continued to rotate linemen, with starting guards Rodger Saffold and Ryan Bates out and right tackle Spencer Brown limited.

Bobby Hart stepped in with the first unit at left guard, while Greg Van Roten worked at right guard. Hart played in parts of three games for the Titans last year and was active for one game with Buffalo. He has played almost exclusively at tackle throughout his career. It’s standard procedure for NFL teams to work prospective backup linemen at multiple positions in camp.

Coach Sean McDermott was asked about 6-foot-8 Tommy Doyle getting some snaps at guard and using others in alternating positions.

“All the linemen that have been outside and inside both, it says a lot about who they are as competitors, what they’re willing to do for the team,” McDermott said. “And again, sometimes when you do that, you uncover something maybe that you didn’t think you’d uncover, right? Whether it’s with the team in terms of what we found, or a player saying ‘I’ve never done this before, but I kind of like it’ either going inside outside or outside inside.

2. Injury report

Doyle, the second-year tackle, went down with an injury midway through practice. He appeared to get a blow to the midsection. He walked off the field under his own power and went to the locker room.

Safety Micah Hyde returned to practice on a limited basis. Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson alternated at his safety spot with the first unit in team drills. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder was back on a limited basis after missing most of last week. Defensive tackle Tim Settle sat out, working with trainers on the side. Wide receiver Jake Kumerow still is out.

3. Matt vs. Matt

The punters went head to head again in a session between Matt Haack and Matt Araiza, the rookie who had a slight edge Saturday. It was about even. Araiza might have had a tiny advantage. Araiza’s two best punts were better than Haack’s two best punts. Those two by Araiza went for a 4.59-second hang time and 50 yards and a 4.81 hang time and 58 yards. The latter was batted down by Siran Neal at the 2-yard line. Haack’s last punt, an Aussie-style, end-over-end kick, went for 45 yards and was downed at the 8.

It was Araiza’s turn to hold for Tyler Bass, and the rookie was perfect on six place-kicks. The longest by Bass was easily good from 51 yards.

4. First-round watch

Top pick Kaiir Elam has been under a baptism by fire against starting wideouts Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. However, Elam had a pretty good session Monday. He ended practice by sticking with tight end Dawson Knox and breaking up an on-target pass from Josh Allen for the tight end.

“I'm just trying to do more of that,” Elam said. “I don’t try to live in the past, man. I’m trying to just keep it going. Make more plays, be more physical and just be a heck of a teammate.”

Elam on Allen: “He’s getting me so much better because, like I said, I can't afford a false step or bad eyes or bad leverage because he's going to take advantage of it. He's the best quarterback I've ever seen in my life.”

5. Highlights

The defense had a good day, but also had the advantage because the offense was working on a lot of long-yardage situations.

Johnson had an interception off Allen on a play in which Diggs slipped and fell as he made a cut. Allen was picked off by linebacker Tremaine Edmunds late on a turnover.

Allen and the offense did look good on a two-minute drill situation, driving 60 yards to a touchdown. Allen hit Isaiah McKenzie in stride for a gain of about 25 yards. After a sack by Oliver, Allen hit Diggs for 6 yards. Then Allen threw a pretty strike over the middle to Knox for 27 yards to the 3-yard line. On first-and-goal from the 3, Allen hit Diggs over the middle for a TD.

Allen ended the practice with a TD drive, too. Tight end O.J. Howard made a good route adjustment and caught a pass of about 25 yards from Allen. An Allen scramble for 10 yards converted a third down and got the ball to the 2. Then James Cook ran in for a touchdown.

There were two scrums during 11-on-11 work. The first almost developed into a fight. The helmet of linebacker Tyrel Dodson popped off during a run play, tempers flared and Boogie Basham threw a punch at tackle Alec Anderson. Srian Neal and Tavon Austin squared off, too. Teammates then got it under control. The second scrum was more of a shoving match among linemen after Basham made a stop of runner Duke Johnson.

Cook had a good run after the catch on a short throw from Case Keenum. ... Tackle Tanner Owen had a tough time in pass protection against Basham and defensive end Mike Love. ... Rookie cornerback Christian Benford made an interception off a rebound of a Keenum pass. It was a tad behind Kalil Shakir, but bounced off the receiver’s arms and should have been caught. ... Rookie Ja’Marcus Ingram, the University at Buffalo product, intercepted an ill-advised throw by Matt Barkley late in the practice, intended for Neil Pau’u.

6. Schedule

The Bills practice at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. Wednesday’s practice is closed to the public. Practice is at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. No more tickets for practices at St. John Fisher are available. All tickets already are gone for Friday’s practice at Highmark Stadium.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”


Twitter: @HKTheResistance


HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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