Buffalo Training Camp Preview

by Thom Cunningham

The Buffalo Bills begin training camp on July 20th at St. John Fisher College located in Pittsford, New York. There, the Bills will determine which players make their 53-man roster to kick off the 2014-15 NFL regular season.

For fans though, training camp is a time to witness their teams before the season starts. The Bills have two sets of practices heading into training camp, day practices as well as night practices. All the day practices for Buffalo require no ticket for fans who want to go.

Day Practice Schedule:

  • Monday, July 21 - 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 22 - 8 a.m.
  • Wednesday, July 23 - 8 a.m.
  • Sunday, July 27 - 2 p.m.
  • Monday, July 28 - 8 a.m.
  • Wednesday, July 30 - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 31 - 8 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 6 - 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 10 - 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 12 - 8 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 19 - 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 20 - 8 a.m.
  • Thursday, August 21 - 2 p.m.

The night practices for Buffalo do require a ticket for entry. There are not nearly as many night practices as there are day practices, but if fans want to watch a night practice a purchased ticket is required. Facilities all open one hour prior to the scheduled practice time.

Night Practice Schedule:

  • Sunday, July 20 - 6 p.m.
  • Friday, July 25 - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 26 - 6 p.m.
  • Friday, August 1 - 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 5 - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 9 - 6 p.m.
  • Monday, August 18 - 6 p.m.

The Bills will have other fun activities for fans, other than watching the Buffalo Bills practice. There is a "Bills Experience" area which is perfect for kids. The area includes various types of games including obstacle courses. There is also a kids autograph zone where selected Bills players will sign autographs after practices. Merchandise vendors will also be on location for fans to purchase Bills' apparel.

There are four designated parking lots for the 2014 Bills' training camp. The parking lot hours and shuttle times varies each day with no cost. There is on August 9 however, where shuttle rides will charge $1 for anyone between the ages of 12 and 62.

Parking Lots:

  • Mendon High School - 472 Mendon Road Pittsford, NY 14534

  • Sutherland High School - 55 Sutherland Street Pittsford, NY 14534

  • Barker Road Middle School (OVERFLOW) - 75 Barker Road Pittsford, NY 14534

  • Calkins Road Middle School (OVERFLOW only for Aug. 9) - 1899 Calkins Road Pittsford, NY 14534

The Barker Road middle school parking lot will only be accessible if there is an overflow situation between the Mendon and Sutherland high school parking lots. Calkins Road middle school will open their parking lot in the event of an overflow only on August 9.

Although nothing is definite, the Bills may have a joint training camp practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Head coach Doug Marrone would like the scrimmage to go through, and if it does it would then be located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. If the Bills and Steelers do practice in Latrobe, then the Steelers would travel to St. John Fisher in 2015.


Follow the Bills Through Training Camp on TWCNews.com

Position Battles

The Bills have many questions heading into training camp, including quite a few position battles. The Buffalo backfield is stacked with the acquisition of former Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown. The current Buffalo Bills backfield currently looks like…

  • Fred Jackson
  • C.J. Spiller
  • Bryce Brown
  • Anthony Dixon
  • Ronnie Wingo

Jackson and Spiller have split carries the past few years, and now with Brown and Dixon, the workload may be even more spread out. This battle will be interesting to see which running backs the Bills decide to keep. It will be difficult for Wingo to make the final roster, and Dixon's security is up in the air. With the amount of injuries both Spiller and Jackson have suffered lately, it's not crazy to think Buffalo might keep four running backs on their roster.

The Bills are also loaded at the wide receiver position since acquiring Sammy Watkins in the draft and Mike Williams from Tampa Bay. The acquisition of those two will ultimately bump Robert Woods and T.J. Graham in the depth chart. Buffalo also signed former Kansas City Chief tight end Tony Moeaki, who seemed primed to be a top tight end until an injury set him back. Current starter Scott Chandler may find himself in a position battle with Moeaki, who is a better blocker despite Chandler's better receiving skills. Two sleepers to watch during the receiving position battle are Marquise Goodwin and rookie Caleb Holley. Holley recorded nine touchdowns in his final year at East Central while Goodwin is the touchdown leader for current Bills receivers who were on the team last season. Goodwin had three touchdowns while only recording 17 catches, the fewest amount from the four starters last season.

Currently, rookie Macky MacPherson is the only player listed as a center, which will more than likely change. The coaching staff may still be trying to figure out which players they want to leave at offensive guard, and which player they want to helm the center position. If Buffalo decides to let MacPherson start at center, then it will probably be Eric Wood and Kraig Ubrik seeing starting guard duties. Buffalo also has Doug Legursky, so it's possible the Bills decide to move he or Wood to center with the other one playing guard with Ubrik. It is also possible that Buffalo decides to move any of the four to offensive tackle.

Another interesting decision Buffalo must make is what to do with defensive lineman Alan Branch. The Bills currently have two quality defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, so moving Branch to defensive end may be possible. The Bills defensive ends currently look like…

  • Mario Williams
  • Jerry Hughes
  • Jarius Wynn
  • Ikponmwosa Igbinosun
  • Colby Way (rookie)
  • Damien Jacobs (rookie)

If Branch is moved to defensive end than he will more than likely take Hughes' starting position. That will be tough to do however, as Hughes tallied 10 total sacks last season including a pair of forced fumbles. Despite being listed at different positions, it is very possible that Hughes and Branch will be battling for the same position opposite of Wiliiams.

The defensive backfield is interesting with the acquisition of former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham. Graham has spent the past two seasons in Baltimore, winning one Super Bowl ring. He joins Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin and rookie Darius Robinson in what seems to be a pretty depth heavy secondary. The starting battle here should be a solid one between all the players mentioned above, including a dark horse in Nickell Robey. Robey led the Buffalo corners last season in sacks with 3. He also added a forced fumble, a recovery and an interception to his sophomore season resume.

Perhaps the biggest question for Buffalo is whether or not E.J. Manuel can lead this offense to a consistent approach. Manuel only played in 10 games last year due to an injury, which also resulted in a very spastic offense throughout the season. Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel played decent in Manuel's absence, so expect coach Doug Marrone to critique and asses all four quarterbacks carefully. Manuel's starting job seems likely, but it wouldn't be a surprise to hear the Bills announce Lewis (or someone else) instead.

Overall, the Bills seem to have more depth across their roster than what they had a year ago. The offensive line, which has struggled over the past few seasons, has seemed to bulk up a bit along with the secondary after losing safety Jarius Byrd. The Bills success should derive heavily on the quarterback's play. On paper Buffalo has plenty of skill players on both sides of the football to be considered successful for the 2014-15 NFL season.

BATTLES 2 WATCH

Quarterbacks:

  • Starter: E.J. Manuel vs. Thad Lewis
  • Backup: Jeff Tuel vs. Dennis Dixon

Running Backs:

  • Starter: Fred Jackson vs. C.J. Spiller
  • Backup: Bryce Brown
  • 3rd String: Anthony Dixon vs. Ronnie Wingo

Fullbacks:

  • Starter: Frank Summers vs. Evan Rodriguez

Wide Receivers:

  • Starter(s): Sammy Watkins (rookie); Mike Williams
  • Backups: Robert Woods vs. T.J. Graham vs. Marquise Goodwin vs. Chris Hogan
  • 3rd String: Ramses Barden vs. Kevin Elliot vs. Marcus Easley vs. Chris Summers vs. Cordell Roberson vs. Brandon Kaufman (rookie) vs. Caleb Holley (rookie)

Tight Ends:

  • Starter: Scott Chandler vs. Tony Moeaki
  • Backup: Lee Smith vs. Chris Gragg vs. Mike Caussin

Offensive Line:

  • Starter(s): Macky MacPherson (rookie); Eric Wood; Kraig Ubrik; Doug Legursky
  • Backup: Erik Pears vs. Cordy Glenn
  • 3rd String: Antoine McClain vs. Mark Asper vs. Cyril Richardson (rookie)

Offensive Tackles:

  • Starter(s): Chris Williams; J.J. Unga vs. Cyrus Kouandijo (rookie) vs. Seantrel Henderson (rookie)
  • Backup: Chris Hairston vs. Edawn Coughman

Defensive Ends:

  • Starter(s): Mario Williams; Jerry Hughes
  • Backup: Jarius Wynn vs. Ikponmwosa Igbinosun vs. Colby Way (rookie) vs. Damien Jacobs (rookie)

Defensive Tackles:

  • Starter(s): Kyle Williams; Marcell Dareus
  • Backup: Alan Branch
  • 3rd String: Corbin Bryant vs. Stefan Charles

Linebackers:

  • Starter(s): Brandon Spikes; Kiko Alonso vs. Keith Rivers vs. Manny Lawson vs. Nigel Bradham
  • Backup: Ty Powell vs. Jacquies Smith vs. Nathan Williams (rookie) vs. Bryan Johnson (rookie) vs. Preston Brown (rookie) vs. Jimmy Gaines (rookie) vs. Randell Johnson (rookie) vs. Darrin Kitchens (rookie)

Cornerbacks:

  • Starter(s): Corey Graham vs. Stephon Gilmore vs. Leodis McKelvin
  • Backup: Darius Robinson (rookie) vs. Nickell Robey
  • 3rd String: Mario Butler vs. Ron Brooks vs. Ross Cockrell (rookie) vs. Michael Carter (rookie) vs. Derek Brim (rookie) vs. Brandon Smith

Safeties:

  • Starter(s): Aaron Williams
  • Backup: Da'Norris Searcy vs. Duke Williams vs. Kenny Ladler (rookie)
  • 3rd String: Jonathan Meeks vs. Deon Broomfield (rookie) vs. Jajuan Harley (rookie)

Kickers:

  • Starter: Dan Carpenter vs. Dustin Hokpins

Punters:

  • Starter: Brian Moorman vs. Jacob Dombrowski (rookie)