Defense looks for turnovers

Nate Clements

After a day of missed opportunities Friday, the defenders went through extensive interception drills. They still managed to drop quite a few.

The defense finally picked up an interception in 11-on-11 work as Nate Clements, last season's leader in picks, grabbed a tipped pass …

Kevin Thomas, possibly the Bills defensive back most attuned to being around the ball, made one of the day's best defensive plays when he reached over wide receiver Bobby Shaw's shoulder to bat down a pass. Later, Thomas was burned for the day's longest pass play, from quarterback Travis Brown to former CFL wide receiver Antonio Brown (no relation) …

Another Thomas, undrafted free agent tight end Ray Thomas, has looked more like a blocker than a receiver. He hit hand-held dummies hard in position drills, but was among the Bills dropping passes during team work. Thomas did come back to catch a pass down the seam. He was the only Bills undrafted free agent on USA Today Sports Weekly's top 75 undrafted players, ranked 74th.

Even the usually sure-handed Brady McDonnell dropped a pass …

The early part of practice was mostly one-on-one competition.

Wide receivers went against wide receivers playing the role of bump-and-run pass defenders. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride reminded a wideout who was supposed to catch the ball that even if he could escape easily, he should work on the moves he would use to release from a real defender. That way the timing would be similar to what it would be during a game, and wouldn't give the quarterback a false impression of how much time he would have.

They were throwing long passes down the left side, with the ball to be delivered over the receiver's outside shoulder. On one, wideout Rodney Wright pushed off a "defender" to his inside unnecessarily. That movement caused the pass to the outside to go off his fingertips instead of into his hands …

Pass receivers had the upper hand over real defenders one on one. Tight end Mark Campbell beat linebacker Jeff Posey with a reaching catch. Running back Joe Burns beat linebackers Brandon Spoon and Angelo Crowell. Free safety Pierson Prioleau tried to come up to make an interception, but the ball got through to tight end Ryan Neufeld for what would have been a big gain down the right sideline.

Wideout Clarence Coleman and running back Olandis Gary dropped balls, and Wright was open deep but had a pass bounce off his shoulder pad …

In pass-protection drills, Ron Edwards again looked good, but part of the time he was going against 2002 practice squadder Joey Hollenbeck. Fifth-round draft pick Ben Sobieski held off second-year defensive end Grant Irons

Nearly every running play went to the left. Perhaps the Bills haven't put in their righthanded running game yet …

A new arrival was rookie cornerback Ken Hilliard, who missed the first day. Free-agent defensive tackle, who was limping, sat out drills …

New kicker Rian Lindell certainly kicks field goals high, with his shorter attempts nearly clearing the net behind the goalpost at the Fieldhouse's west end. A bit straighter would be helpful …

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