All eyes on Allen as media gets first look at Bills' OTAs

The Bills end their first week of OTAs on Thursday

Sal Capaccio
May 23, 2018 - 9:39 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

Although Buffalo Bills players and coaches have been on the field for their first round of organized team activities for a couple of days already, Thursday will be the first chance we get to see the team in action. The voluntary session will be the third of 10 OTA sessions allowed throughout a four week period under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Most eyes will be on quarterback Josh Allen and his progress since rookie minicamp a couple weeks ago. While it won’t be easy to tell if Allen is making the right reads or how how much of the playbook offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is giving him based purely on sideline observations, it will be interesting to note how many reps he receives with the first, second, or third team offense compared to quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman.

Most of what we saw from Allen in that one rookie practice were short throws to tights ends and running backs, with an occasional down field toss, almost all coming from basic formations with little or no motion. After almost every throw made that day, Daboll made it a point to talk with Allen about his footwork or what he saw with the defense. Of course, there was also no contact allowed during those practices, as there won’t in these, either. However, since they have now entered Phase 3 of the league’s offseason workout rules, 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Article 22 of the CBA stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players during Phase 3. For the Bills, that will take place June 12-14. In the meantime, while OTAs are conducted, all workouts are voluntary. Players cannot be disciplined by the team or league for not attending any of the sessions.

In front of those quarterbacks will be a revamped offensive line with plenty of questions. Center Eric Wood has retired. Guard Richie Incognito retired then was released. Left tackle Cordy Glenn was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals. The team signed tackle Marshall Newhouse and center Russell Bodine in free agency and drafted guard Wyatt Teller. All are expected to compete for starting spots along the line.

Also, who will Allen, McCarron, and Peterman be throwing to? Wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Andre Holmes are all coming off injuries last year or offseason surgeries. Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater were signed as free agents, while the coaching staff likes what Brandon Reilly and Malachi Dupre showed them while on the practice squad last year. Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl were the team’s last two draft picks in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.

On the defensive side of the ball, most of the early focus will be on linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who was drafted 16th overall. Can the just-turned-20-year-old start Day 1 in the middle of Sean McDermott’s defense and take over for veteran Preston Brown, who signed with the Bengals in free agency? Will he be able to call plays and get others set before the snap and play all three downs as a run-stopper and coverage linebacker? All questions that won’t need to be answered yet, but will be on the minds of fans as training camp gets closer. These OTA sessions will, at least, give us some clues to what the answers might be in a couple months.

Head coach Sean McDermott is scheduled to address the media at 10:30 a.m., while players will be made available after the session.

Here is the Bills' full schedule of their 2018 OTAs and mandatory minicamp:

May 22-24
May 29-31
June 4-5
June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp:
June 12-14


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