Who to Watch Heading into the Second Weekend at Bills Camp

The QB Battle Continues After switching on and off with Nathan Peterman for the first team reps, it was A.J. McCarron who logged two straight days of practicing with the first team. McCarron looked sharp in the opening days of camp but has struggled a bit since. On Wednesday, McCarron was picked off by LB Tremaine Edmunds, took five sacks,  and followed up that performance with a pair of picks on Thursday (one off a deflection). It seems as though McCarron has shied away from riskier throws, unlike his fellow QBs Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen. McCarron is the most experienced of the bunch and needs to show the accuracy that he did in the beginning of camp if he wants to win the job. Nathan Peterman Peterman praticed with the second team on Thursday and looked solid, especially in the red zone. He connected on two touchdowns in 11 on 11s early in practice, one to TE Nick O’Leary and the other to WR Brandon Reilly. Later on he threw two more TDs in 7 on 7s including a perfectly thrown back-shoulder fade to Logan Thomas. It will be interesting to see if Peterman gets first team reps on Friday’s practice at New Era field.  If he can string a few days together like the day he had on Thursday, he might get the nod for the first preseason game against Carolina. Allen has had a roller coaster of a training camp thus far, mostly practicing with the third unit. The first couple days were his worst, as he was missing easy throws typically leading receivers a bit too far. His decision making has also been suspect, but Allen has not been afraid fire passes into tight spots. Although he had been inconsistent with his accuracy, Allen’s arm strength is no joke. He connected with rookie wideout Cam Phillips on a beautiful 30-yard pass on Wednesday and put some heat on the ball to connect with Phillips again Thursday, this time on a slant TD to end practice. The biggest differentiator for Allen is his legs. Allen has shown that he is the most mobile of the three quarterbacks, even scoring on a read-option in 11 on 11s in Thursday’s practice. He has not been afraid to step up in the pocket and use his 4.75 speed to evade defenders outside the pocket. This QB competition is definitely worth monitoring through training camp and beyond. Cam Phillips Perhaps the biggest young standout at wide-out receiver thus far has been Virginia Tech rookie Cam Phillips. Phillips is coming off sports-hernia surgery last year and went undrafted after a sub-par pro day. However, he has looked good in camp, especially on Wednesday and Thursday showing great rapport with Josh Allen. On Wednesday, Phillips caught a beautiful 30-yard pass from Allen and on Thursday caught two touchdowns in 11 on 11s also from the rookie QB. He looks healthy and has shown better speed than the underwhelming 4.87 forty he ran at pro day. Keep your eyes on Phillips as he will fight the rest of camp to make the Bills roster. Cam Phillips The O-Line The Bills were a run-heavy team in 2017 behind a solid O-line that included Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, and Jordan Mills. With Glenn, Incognito, and Wood now gone, there is tremendous pressure for guys to step up to open run lanes and protect whoever is at quarterback. If run lanes aren’t opened up for LeSean McCoy, teams are going to stack the box more, and the quarterback is going to throw often—which is not something the Bills want. Expect Miller and Mills to start again and likely a variety of Dion Dawkins, Russell Bodine, Vladimir Ducasse, Ryan Groy and Marshall Newhouse to fill in the gaps. The O-line in 2018 has low expectations from many but it is something the Bills will need to improve if they want to repeat their playoff season from last year.

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