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Friday Morning Mailbag: Training Camp 2

8:23 AM, Aug 9, 2013   |    comments
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Odds are you're doing nothing at work. So, here's the Friday Morning Mailbag. You're welcome.

The Bills play their first preseason game against the Colts on Sunday. Some game preview questions included below.

Q: Who is starting at QB? - @TylerGregs

A: EJ Manuel. At the time of this Mailbag, Kevin Kolb has missed four straight practices including Monday's scrimmage. He's been out of town the last few days and is expected back at camp on Thursday. Assuming he's 100%, which I don't think he is, Manuel has taken the majority of first team reps this week. Expect him to start under center against the Colts.

Q: Possibly with no [Kevin Kolb], can we expect EJ [Manuel] & [Jeff] Tuel splitting halves? - @MichaelZink

A: I would think so. Can't see Bills coach Doug Marrone using Manuel beyond the first half. Get him some reps against a first team defense. Get him to halftime. And get him out. No sense risking injury against third string scrubs.

Q: Mario Williams/Stevie Johnson going to play? #BillsMafia - @nate_dunc

A: Stevie, no. He's going to be out awhile. Earliest I'd expect to see him in preseason action is August 24 at Washington. Strained hamstrings don't go away and no sense in rushing him back.

Mario is the question mark. He sat out Monday's scrimmage and he's slowly getting more and more reps in practice. I can't see the coaches putting him out there if he's still not 100%. My guess is no. But, he may play a series or two. Doubt it, though.

Q: CAN WE STAY HEALTHY ONE YEAR? - @stambreezy

A: Mario. Stevie. Kolb. All dinged up within first week of Training Camp. Not a good start. C.J. Spiller's health is the most important of any player on the field. The team will go as far as C.J. takes it.

But, to answer your question: no.

Q: When is Byrd reporting to #BillsCamp? What is taking so long for a 1-year deal, so franchise tender can get signed? - ?@crazyBILLfanLA

A: He's not. Since he hasn't signed his tender, he is not penalized for not showing up. So, Jairus can enjoy the rest of his offseason before returning to the team prior to Week 1 vs. the Patriots (Sept. 8). I think the framework for a 1-year deal is in place, but Byrd's taking his time to sign it.

Frankly, Byrd's only hurting himself at this point. Sure, he's miffed at getting franchise tagged and not getting the long term, top-dollar contract he wants, so he's punishing the team by not showing up to camp. But, if Byrd's performance drops this season, which can happen in a new defensive scheme, he will not get the contracts he wants next offseason. New defensive systems take time to learn. Each day Byrd doesn't show up to camp is another step backward.

Q: How will the defense look without Byrd in the lineup at Safety? - @Chucklesworth

A: From the looks of it in camp, Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy are the starting safeties for the time being. Williams moved from cornerback to safety in the offseason and Searcy moves up to the starting role without Byrd on the field.

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine says the Nickel formation (5 players in the secondary) will likely be the base defense because of the pass-happy NFL. If that's the case, the Bills pass rush has to be on point this year. Linebacker Jerry Hughes on one side and Mario Williams on the other must get pressure on the quarterback, otherwise the secondary is donezo.

Q: I am concerned about our secondary. How will our DBs stack up? - @beachcat71

A: That makes two of us. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is in line for the starting job opposite Stephon Gilmore. Yikes. 1) McKelvin is coming off a groin injury, 2) He has a habit of getting burned. After signing a new contract this offseason, expectations for the 2008 1st round pick should be high. McKelvin is a great punt return man, but he needs to pay dividends on defense, too. I'm skeptical.

Ron Brooks will likely play the slot corner. He's not big, so his speed and instincts are crucial. I liked what I saw from him at LSU, but he had injury issues last year and he hasn't stood out in camp.

Point is, if the DBs aren't great, the pass rush needs to help them out. The less time the quarterback has to survey the field, the less time the DBs have to defend.

Q: Any weird habits/routines that you've noticed from players during #BillsCamp? - @McBpj

A: Surprisingly, no. I'll keep a closer eye next week.

Not many weird questions this week. Congratulations on being normal, you guys. Zzzzzz.

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