ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills wrapped up their three-day rookie minicamp Monday.
Given that players aren't in pads, there isn't contact, and that this is a teaching camp, it's tough to draw conclusions about players' performances in the camp. With that said, here are a few thoughts to pass along from the practice sessions:
Watkins shines: First-round pick Sammy Watkins looked the part each day of the minicamp. He has long arms and sure hands, making for a catch radius unmatched by any of the other receivers participating -- all of whom were non-roster tryout players. The Bills held Watkins out of special teams drills and instead had offensive coordinator Nate Hackett and receivers coach Rob Moore giving him personal instruction. There were a few times Saturday and especially Sunday when Watkins looked like he was walking with a bit of a limp, but he was moving better Monday and didn't sit out of any drills. I'm sure Bills coaches are looking forward to watching Watkins in one-on-one's against top cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin during organized team activities later this month.
Cockrell learning: Since this camp doesn't involve contact, assessing the performance of offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (second round) and linebacker Preston Brown (third round) is more difficult. However, defensive backs like fourth-round cornerback Ross Cockrell were heavily involved in the drills over the three-day period. I kept a close eye on defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson's drills Monday and Cockrell's footwork was an issue at times. It doesn't seem to be a matter of talent with Cockrell, just adjustments he will need to make to his technique. Henderson was pushing Cockrell hard at times during the practice and the Duke product told reporters afterwards that he needed to adjust to longer and deeper routes shown during the minicamp.
Bills to sign tryout player? The Bills have one open spot on their 90-man roster and coach Doug Marrone hinted Monday that the team could fill it with one of their tryout players from this weekend. "I talked to [general manager] Doug [Whaley] about that and I'm sure there'll be an announcement coming," Marrone said. Of the three tryout receivers who participated, East Central's Caleb Holley appeared to have the best camp. Buffalo's Fred Lee and West Virginia's Ivan McCartney both struggled with dropped passes. Former Ohio State quarterback Kenny Guiton was the fourth and final tryout player, but he had problems with accuracy and consistency during the three-day camp.
New coaching staff: This was the first time that Bills coaches were together in a practice setting since last December and, looking around, there were plenty of new faces. The most noticeable difference from last season was the addition of quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, who worked one-on-one with Guiton during the passing drills. That was Hackett's role last season but during the three-day minicamp, Hackett took a step back and was more of an observer than an active participant in most drills. The Bills also have another set of eyes on the offensive side in Jim Hostler, a former offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. There will be more chefs in the kitchen, so to speak, when EJ Manuel takes the field for OTAs, but the addition of Downing and Hostler cold have a positive influence on the second-year quarterback's development.
Remember this name: Outside of the Bills' seven draft picks, there were 21 players competing in this weekend's camp. It's early in the process, but if I had to pick one player of that bunch who was most likely to crack the 53-man roster, I would choose punter Jake Dombrowski. He last played at Harvard in 2012 and the Bills signed him back in April as competition for 38-year old Brian Moorman, who statistically didn't fare well last season. Dombrowski boomed some punts Monday and could present legitimate competition for Moorman during training camp. Two years ago, Moorman was replaced mid-season by an undrafted rookie, Shawn Powell. There are few players with deeper roots with the organization than Moorman, but his job could again be on the line this summer.