Exclusives: Vince Young update + Wannstedt on Merriman, rookies

“But today is the first day I felt like, hey, he may be getting the grasp of what we’re doing, which is really exciting to me. Because if he knows it, and he’s got it, then he’s got the chance to go execute it at full speed, instead of being up there under centre thinking, ‘Now where am I going? What are they doing?’”Lee in his seventh season as an NFL assistant. He helped to develop Tony Romo into a starter in Dallas, and was with the Dolphins from 2008-10.Lee said the Bills offence is “totally different from any system” Young has previously played in — as a college superstar with the University of Texas, as a starter with the Tennessee Titans or, last year, as a backup to Michel Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles.”He’s been studying (our playbook) — a great credit to him,” Lee said. “He has studied and I’m really pleased with what the results have been.”The mechanical part of Young’s game that lets him down on occasion, Lee said, is he drops his arm — from an overhead delivery to a sidearm release of sorts.”I stay on him about keeping (his elbow) up. He’s 6-foot-5. I hate seeing him drop his elbow and sidearming the ball. All of a sudden that 6-5 went to 6-1, like me, and I don’t want him looking like me.”Lee raved about Young’s athleticism, especially on a zone-read play he ran at Friday’s closed OTA, in which Young faked a handoff, fooled the hard-crashing defensive end, and took off on a long TD run.”It was exciting,” Lee said of the play. “We didn’t have it scripted. (Head coach) Chan (Gailey) said, ‘Vince, read this end.’ I said, ‘Like you did at Texas!’ He said, ‘OK!’ And he jumped in there and took off.”He can do that … He can beat you running and throwing. He’s a tough kid, too.”Young is battling Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith to be starter Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup. Thigpen this week is nursing a pulled rib-cage muscle and is sitting out practices, Gailey said. That will give Young a lot more practice reps. By unofficial count, he had 15 snaps on Tuesday compared to Fitzpatrick’s 17 and Smith’s nine.

WANNSTEDT ON MERRIMAN:

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Oft-injured Bills pass rusher Shawne Merriman appeared fully recovered Tuesday from the left Achilles tendon injury that prematurely ended his 2011 season.
The defensive end got the go-ahead just last week to take part in voluntary off-season practices, which continue this week and next. He worked with second- and third-stringers on Tuesday.
“I tell you what, I don’t want to say I’ve been surprised. But he hasn’t missed a beat,” new Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt said of Merriman in an exclusive post-practice interview.
“He’s playing fast, and playing with a lot of energy, and that’s all good.”
Head coach Chan Gailey agreed.
“He’s coming off the edge with that same speed and quickness that I remember. It looks good right now. The best thing about it is he says he feels good.”
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams, meanwhile, continues to surprise with his recovery from November bone-spur surgery on his left ankle. He took part in some 11-on-11 drills.
“It’s a slow process and we want to be extremely cautious,” Gailey said. “But, yes, we’re trying to be smart in letting him play when he can.”

ROOKIES IMPRESSING WANNSTEDT:

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — First-round cornerback Stephon Gilmore isn’t the only rookie defender on the Bills who has turned heads at OTAs.
Two linebackers, Tank Carder and Nigel Bradham, made good plays Tuesday in 11-on-11 drills.
On one, Bradham showed off his speed and cover-skills on a swing pass to running back Johnny White. Bradham was all over it, snuffing out the play for what probably would have been no gain if players were in pads and tackling allowed. A few plays later, Bradham stripped the ball from wideout Ruvell Martin after a completion.
“Nigel has got a lot of ability — both rookie linebackers have ability,” new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt said in an exclusive post-practice interview.
Veteran linebacker Nick Barnett afterward said “Carder looks like he can be a great player,” and that Bradham “can run like a deer. He’s very athletic.”
But Barnett cautioned that one of the hardest positions to pick up in Year 1 in the NFL is linebacker.
As for the rookie defensive backs, Gilmore continued to display solid cover skills, often times playing press-man as he rotated between the first and second teams. On the last play of the practice, in 7-on-7s, Gilmore picked off Vince Young when the former Titans star overthrew a wide receiver on a slant.
“Stephon is getting better every day,” Wannstedt said. “I couldn’t be happier with him at corner.”
The other corner the Bills drafted, Ron Brooks from LSU, might be only 5-foot-10 but the “little guy” stood out at times, too, Wannstedt said.
“I tell you what — Brooks, we’re working him at corner and nickel. He’s as quick as any defensive back we’ve got on our team,” Wannstedt said. “He just doesn’t have the playing experience, because he was the fourth corner, third corner, nickel guy at LSU. But he’s got the ability to help us, on special teams as well as on defence.”

 

WANNSTEDT’S PAIN IN THE NECK:

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt was still sporting a neck brace on Tuesday.
But he said it’s coming off in a matter of days.
“I flipped on a bike last summer and busted my elbow and my hand,” the former head coach of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins said in an exclusive post-practice interview.
“I don’t know if it happened then, but I had a herniated disc in my neck and had a little surgery. I get this (brace) off this week, and then I’m fine.”

 

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