PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
Sammy Watkins did not participate in team drills for most, if not all, of Monday night's practice. A team official said that Watkins wasn't injured, but that it wasn't a "rest day," either. He took part in one-on-one passing drills and also got some work in with the quarterbacks after practice.
Safety Aaron Williams missed practice with an illness. He had been in and out of practice for the last several days and at one point last week had his shoulder examined by a team doctor. Williams had shoulder surgery this offseason and was eased back into action during organized team activties. He wore a large black pad on his arm in a practice this weekend and, besides his illness, appears to be a little banged up.
Tight end Scott Chandler (groin) remained out of practice after leaving Sunday's session early. In addition to Chandler, the Bills were also without tight ends Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Chris Gragg (heat-related symptoms). The trio watched practice from the sideline. In their place, the Bills used plenty of Lee Smith, but also turned to other position groups for help. At one point, guard Kraig Urbik and fullback Evan Rodriguez were lined up at tight end. Urbik, who caught a touchdown in goal line work Sunday, committed a false start penalty.
The Bills tried their first two-minute drill of training camp Monday night. Against the second-team defense, EJ Manuel found Fred Jackson on two crossing patterns to push the ball past midfield. But on a second down throw from the plus-45, he tried to push a pass to Robert Woods near the sideline and was intercepted by cornerback Ron Brooks. The second-team offense didn't fare much better. Thad Lewis was sacked twice on his first three plays, which should have ended the drill, but the Bills went back to a first-and-10 and kept playing. An apparent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Mario Williams moved the ball 15 yards into plus-territory, where Lewis found T.J. Graham on a deep ball to cap the drill.
Speaking of Graham, he's had an inconsistent camp and may be hard pressed to make the roster. He hasn't shown to be a more reliable pass-catcher, one of his bigger problems in his first two seasons in Buffalo. He had two more drops Monday on well-targeted passes. The Bills are getting another good training camp from Chris Hogan, who has run with the first team at points. Hogan was Graham's main competition but it isn't a contest right now.
In addition to his interception to Brooks, Manuel was also picked off by linebacker Brandon Spikes on his first play of a 7-on-7 third down drill. But otherwise it was a good practice for Manuel. The best play, in our view, came when he faced double A-gap blitzes from linebackers. He took a quick drop and got rid of the ball quickly, but accurately, lofting a pass directly into Mike Williams' hands along the sideline. Williams saw increased playing time in Watkins' absence and performed well.