PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills training camp resumed Thursday following a day off on Wednesday. Has the middle linebacker starting job been trimmed down to two players? Who took the snaps at cornerback 2 with the starters? Here are my 4 observations from Thursday’s practice:
Middle linebacker race down to two
The Bills started training camp rotating Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector daily at the starting middle linebacker spot. If the last week or so is any indication, Spector has been bumped from the rotation. Bernard worked with the first team on Thursday and Dodson was with the starters the previous practice. Meanwhile, Spector was with the third team Thursday and hasn’t worked with the starters since the third practice of camp. It sure seems like the race to replace Tremaine Edmunds is down to Dodson and Bernard.
Elam impresses as first-team reps rise
Kaiir Elam spent most of the day with the first-team defense and has seen his time with the starters increase as camp has moved forward. Thursday was the second straight practice that he took the majority of the reps on the opposite side of Tre’Davious White. I don’t think the battle for the starting job with Dane Jackson and Christian Benford is even close to being decided but Elam seems to have the coaches’ attention and if the competition is close the former first-round draft pick is sure to get the nod. Elam had several nice plays during one-on-one drills near the goal line. He was lined up on the line of scrimmage, his strength, and was able to manipulate the receivers routes. He forced incompletions to Stefon Diggs, Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty. After practice, Josh Allen praised Elam and said he sees a player who wants to be great.
Von Miller continues ACL rehab
I stood by for 15 minutes and watched Von Miller go through a rigorous rehab workout during practice. His straight-line speed and burst seem to be just fine but with an ACL recovery it’s more about the lateral movement. I didn’t see much of that but wasn’t there for his entire workout. Wednesday morning, he posted “I’m close” on Instagram. Von and the Bills have not ruled the possibility of him returning for week 1 at the Jets. I try to remind myself not to be overly optimistic because this feel a lot like Tre’Davious White rehabbing at camp last year. He looked good and everything being said was positive, but he didn’t return until deep into the season. I’m not saying it will take Von that long, but Tre’s situation is a not-so distant reminder of what it takes to come back from an ACL.
Rapp it up
Taylor Rapp seems like the ultimate chess piece in Sean McDermott’s defense. Since the start of training camp we’ve seen Rapp line up all over the defense. He filled in for Jordan Poyer, vet rest day, on Tuesday with the starters. On Thursday, he lined up at the nickel spot in place of Taron Johnson. After practice, Josh Allen referred to his spot at the “rover,” spot that can move all over the formation. Allen also said he has to be extra cautious when Rapp is on the field. For the most part, Rapp has worked with the second team during camp but his ability to play several spots at a high level is something the Bills secondary lacked late in the 2022 season.
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