Newcomers and familiar faces make camp debuts for Bills
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Kyle Williams was so eager to practice for the first time in 10 months, the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle jumped offside on his third play from scrimmage.
“I think being out there and being excited to be back definitely played a role in that,” Williams said Monday, before playfully blaming offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “I think Roman did it on purpose with a hard count on first down being a jerk.”
Clearly joking, the 11-year veteran had reason to be upbeat following his first time back on the field since sustaining a season-ending left knee injury last October.
“The most uncomfortable thing was putting on my shoulder pads this morning,” said Williams, who was cleared for practice after passing his physical.
And then there was linebacker Brandon Spikes, who sat out last season and is getting a second chance at resuming his career after signing with the Bills on Sunday.
“I had to re-evaluate my life, get my priorities in order,” said Spikes, who was sentenced to a year of probation in July 2015 after pleading guilty in a hit-and-run crash in which three people suffered minor injuries. The crash led to Spikes being released by New England after spending the 2014 season in Buffalo.
“I think I became a little complacent, and I’ve never been that type of guy,” said Spikes, who acknowledged that he perhaps should have re-signed with the Bills last year.
“That’s in the past. I’m moving forward,” he said. “I’m here to help this team, these younger guys and me personally get better.”
Newcomers and the return of familiar faces highlighted the day for the Bills, who resumed training camp in suburban Rochester following a day off.
Also passing their physicals were starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins.
Dareus missed the first 10 days of camp because of an undisclosed illness. Watkins was cleared four months after having surgery to repair a broken left foot.
And Spikes wasn’t the only newcomer to hit the field. The Bills on Sunday also signed linebacker David Hawthorne and tight end Jimmy Mundane.
The defensive additions were prompted after rookie second-round draft pick Reggie Ragland injured his left knee on Friday.
Coach Rex Ryan was still unable to provide a definitive update on the severity of the injury because he said the swelling in Ragland’s knee has not yet subsided.
General manager Doug Whaley told The Associated Press that Ragland was scheduled to have follow-up tests within the next two days.
The Bills were counting on Ragland and first-round pick, outside linebacker Shaq Lawson, to start this season.
Lawson, however, had shoulder surgery in May and is projected to miss at least the first month of the season. Lawson’s backup, Manny Lawson, isn’t practicing either, and expected to miss the entire preseason with a torn pectoral muscle.
As a result of injuries, the Bills haven’t had their projected starting 11 defenders on the field at the same time once this offseason.
That’s a concern especially for a unit that was rebuilt this offseason to better suit Ryan’s philosophy after the defense underperformed last season. In Ryan’s first year as coach, Buffalo ranked 20th in the NFL in yards allowed and managed 21 sacks, a franchise low for a 16-game season.
Ryan isn’t worried.
“We’ll be where we want to go,” Ryan said. “I think by the time we kick it off for real, we should be in good shape.”
Williams expressed concern, wondering how the lack of practice time might hinder the younger players’ development.
“I don’t think there’s any denying it’s tough, because they’re young guys, they’re rookies,” Williams said. “They need as many reps as they can get.”
NOTES: LT Cordy Glenn didn’t practice after hurting his left ankle on Saturday. ... RG Richie Incognito left practice with bruised ribs.
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