- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
We're in the true "dog days" of camp. Players were in full pads for the eighth consecutive practice, crowds were lighter, and some questions about the Bills' preseason opener Sunday worked their way into coach Doug Marrone's news conference. The only thing missing from the typical training camp fare? Blazing heat. The Bills haven't practiced in hot, sunny conditions in about a week.
The Bills continue to get hit by injuries at tight end. Lee Smith missed Thursday's practice with a "lower body" injury and walked onto the field late in the session wearing a sleeve on his right calf. Even with Chris Gragg returning to practice this week, the Bills are still without their top three tight ends. Marrone had no update on when Scott Chandler (groin) might return, while Tony Moeaki (hamstring) isn't expected to practice soon. Barring a late signing, expect to see plenty of Gragg and Dominique Jones in Sunday's game.
Offensive line is another trouble spot. After Chris Hairston (back) left Wednesday's practice, the Bills had starting left guard Chris Williams (toe) depart Thursday's practice. No word on his status for Sunday. If Williams and Hairston can't go, the Bills' competition at right guard is thinned out, leaving Kraig Urbik in a better spot. Otherwise, expect plenty of Cyril Richardson, Antoine McClain, and J.J. Unga. rotating through those guard spots.
After two weeks of camp, this sounds like a broken record, but the highlight of practice was a Sammy Watkins catch. This time, he streaked down the left sideline to beat top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, catching EJ Manuel's lofted pass in stride for a would-be 98-yard touchdown. The rest of Manuel's performance Thursday was up-and-down. He found Chris Hogan for more big gains across the middle, a building trend this camp, but he also had some problems with pressure on third-down drills. Manuel's worst pass came when cornerback Bobby Felder intercepted an underthrown pass to Marquise Goodwin along the sideline.
After going 4-for-5 on touchdowns in the red zone 7-on-7 drill Wednesday, Manuel was less successful Thursday. His only touchdown came on a lofted pass to Robert Woods, with cornerback Corey Graham called for defensive pass interference on the play. Graham stayed on the field when Thad Lewis took over at quarterback and was beaten for another touchdown by T.J. Graham, leading one Bills offensive player to shout, "keep No. 20 on the field." On the next play, linebacker Ty Powell leaped to pick off Lewis in the end zone, quieting the offense down.
The Bills will be back on the practice field Friday evening at 6 p.m. ET before heading to Canton for the Hall of Fame game.