Orchard Park, NY – When Von Miller first walked out of the tunnel at Highmark Stadium on Friday night in front of nearly 36,000 Buffalo Bills fans, as the sun shone on his face in the middle of a sea of red and blue, he said he felt like he was at home.
Fans have packed Miller’s new home for the Return of the Blue & Red in hopes of getting their first glimpse of Miller in a Bills uniform. The 33-year-old had the evening off, but he felt the love as fans showered the team with cheers all night long.
“I’ve been to some special places, but Buffalo is different”, Miller said after training. “All the children here, everyone supports. I’ve seen so many 40 sweaters, it’s an incredible man. We are looking forward to a great year. This is a fun and incredible fan base and I’m excited to really get it going. … It’s easy to fall in love with this place.”
Here are some takeaways from the night where the Bills scrambled for most of the two-hour workout.
Gabe Davis unattended
Gabe Davis gave a show for the Bills Mafia at Highmark Stadium. Once the team started their 11-on-11 session, Davis was virtually unguarded. He opened with a touchdown reception from Josh Allen. During the second set of the first team attack, Allen went to Davis on back-to-back play, including one big winner. Davis added a second touchdown later in practice, with Dane Jackson trying to cover the receiver. Davis would find the end zone one more time on a two-point conversion from Allen with Kaiir Elam in cover.
It didn’t matter who the Bills put on Davis, the receiver seemed to come out on top. -Talbot
Rousseau becomes a problem
Miller was unavailable, so that meant Rousseau crawled to the top of the waiting list on Friday night. The sophomore year pass rusher was fired early when he worked against tackle David Quessenberry, who remains in proper tackle as Spencer Brown continues to make his way back to a back injury.
Rousseau spent most of his time trying to brake as he raced against Allen. Tonight he was rewarded with a whistle from the crew on duty. Rousseau’s possible breakout could be the kind of jump that takes Buffalo’s defense to another level.
With the injuries in the offensive line, there are legitimate concerns that the offense early in the season may need some help from the defense with the run of games they are starting with. Rousseau providing consistent play behavior will help especially if Jordan Poyer isn’t ready in week 1. – Parrino
A few members of the Bills’ rookie class played some notable plays on Friday night, but Khalil Shakir probably had the best night of the draft picks.
Early on in practice, Shakir worked with the third team attack. After a big game by Matt Barkley against Tanner Gentry, Buffalo’s No. 3 quarterback Shakir looked up in the end zone. Matching cornerback Tim Harris, Shakir was able to pull in the back shoulder pass for a touchdown after a nice adjustment. In addition to the third team foul celebrated around Shakir, Josh Allen made a point of running into the end zone to celebrate with the rookie receiver.
Shakir would work with the second team’s attack and connect on a pass from Case Keenum before pulling in another long catch from Barkley.
Shakir has already received praise from Allen at training camp. After Friday’s Return of the Blue & Red, left tackle Dion Dawkins had a lot of credit for the rookie receiver.
“Sure. I mean 10 (is a) special kid,” Dawkins said. “(Brandon) Beane knows what he’s doing. Beane’s got the right guys here. 10 is 10 and 10 is 10 and 10 will appear multiple times in a row , after another, after another. That’s a promise.”
Buffalo won’t have to rush to get Shakir on the pitch this season, but he could push through as long as he continues to play for the attack. -Talbot
Josh Allen just gets it
Allen stormed onto the field in a red jersey and a matching red helmet that looked a lot like Bills’ famous helmet from the 1990s. Fans exploded, especially since it was Allen, but the look certainly caught everyone’s attention. The photos of the helmet went viral. On the field, Allen was called in and threw a few touchdowns to Davis and Dawson Knox. Knox’s second came against safety Jaquan Johnson, who reacted too late to Knox’s breaking open. Allen aligned a laser to Knox, who made the big game. – Parrino
Who is in charge of the walk back?
All three Bills running backs looked good on Friday. Devin Singletary started with a big run early in the scrimmage that lasted about 30 yards. The run stood out for how quickly Singletary found the gap and accelerated through it. Zack Moss got most of the work in the red zone on the first drive of the offense. He sometimes found it difficult to operate, but ran fast. The best game of his night came on a short pass from Allen. He took it one step at a time and turned it up a notch to get to the second level. Moss looked explosive again and remains healthy. James Cook did most of his work in the second team, but he had his moments. Singletary still seems to have a lock on the runway, but Moss is after him. There will likely be a short leash for one of the backs that prove ineffective with the talent that has accumulated in the room. – Parrino
Bates doesn’t miss the beat
Buffalo’s offensive line has been busted in training camp, but the unit is starting to get some faces in the lineup again as the regular season approaches.
On Friday, Ryan Bates worked with the first team offense at Highmark Stadium. Bates is expected to start as right guard for the Bills this season, having taken over from the left hat last season. One person happy to see Bates return on The Return of the Blue & Red was left to Dion Dawkins.
“Every time we can have familiar faces, everyone is on the same page,” Dawkins said. “And as I always explain, the o-line with new guys and older guys, it’s all just going to speak in a bucket of the same language. Now that Bates is back, everyone is just a little bit more on the same language base because we’re familiar with what he’s doing. But it is a blessing. As long as he’s healthy, he can be there with his pads and helmet on. He’s doing the right thing. The Buffalo Bills signed him to play with the ball, so as long as he’s on the field, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do fairly.”
Buffalo is still working to get Rodger Saffold and Spencer Brown back on the field, but Bates’ return was an encouraging sign for the offensive line. –Talbot
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