Bills risers from OTA practices

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
10:00
AM ET
With the Buffalo Bills' ninth and final organized team activity in the books, the team will turn its attention to a three-day mandatory minicamp next week.

In the meantime, let's recap OTAs first by highlighting some risers from the three weeks of practices:

Woods
WR Robert Woods: After being limited during the first week of practice as he recovered from ankle surgery, Woods upped his workload in the second week and didn't look back. The Bills' offense was at its best during OTAs when EJ Manuel was throwing to Woods. That is not entirely unexpected; with Stevie Johnson gone, Woods was Manuel's top returning receiver from last season. Woods was credited with zero drops last season and he kept that streak going, to the best of our memory, during OTAs. Woods and Manuel have a chemistry that has yet to develop between Manuel and Sammy Watkins, but that is to be expected at this point.

LB Preston Brown: You can sense that the Bills already have a comfort level with Brown running their defense. Brown, a third-round pick from Louisville, began OTAs as the third 'Mike' on the field, behind Brandon Spikes and Ty Powell. Yet when Spikes missed two practices, it was Brown who stepped in with the first team. He didn't look out of place. Asked last week to point out strengths and weaknesses of his defense, coordinator Jim Schwartz named Brown, without prompting, as a "really good young player" who has "done a really nice job through this." By the end of OTAs, Brown saw more reps with the first-team nickel defense, which is where he could make the biggest impact in his rookie season.

WR Chris Hogan: Soon after the Bills began their offseason program, coach Doug Marrone mentioned Hogan as someone who caught his eye. "[Hogan] has really looked good since we’ve come back," Marrone said on May 10. "He’s another player I feel really good about in the slot." Not surprisingly, Hogan lined up in the slot with the first-team offense throughout OTAs. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Hogan is a tad bigger than the prototypical slot receiver and doesn't have the same short-area quickness that some teams might expect from the position. Yet if he can hold down that spot, he stands a strong chance of making the final roster. Having Hogan on the inside would keep Woods on the outside and push Mike Williams and T.J. Graham down the depth chart, but it could be in the best interest of the offense. We'll see.

CB Ron Brooks: Limited by foot injuries in each of his first two seasons, Brooks was afterthought at cornerback entering OTAs. With Corey Graham and Ross Cockrell added to a group that already included Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, and Nickell Robey, where would Brooks fit? That perception changed when Brooks lined up with the first-team defense and held down that role throughout OTAs. With Gilmore and McKelvin both recovering from offseason surgeries, Brooks' reps in practice should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's clear he is very much in the discussion at cornerback. If he is able to carve out a role on special teams, the Bills might go an extra spot deeper at the position on their final roster to accommodate him.

Later Friday, we will highlight some fallers from OTAs. Stay tuned.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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