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Training Camp Off To Fast Start

The rookies reported to training camp early in the week for four practices before the veterans reported on Saturday and hit the field for the first time on Sunday. We take a closer look at all the news and give you our take on the issues:

Camp opened on Wednesday for the rookies and select veterans including Rob Johnson. All the rookies were in camp on time except for Nate Clements who was a holdout until signing a five year deal on Friday night. His deal is expected to be worth close to $7 Million. Travis Henry and Aaron Schobel inked deals early in the week so they reported on time. Both deals were four year deals worth around $2.29 Million. Our Take: It was a good job getting 11 of 12 picks in camp on time and the two days Clements lost shouldn't hurt him much in the long run as Coach Gregg Williams said he needs just minimal catchup.

Also before camp opened the Bills signed six players and cut two. The club cut Punter Pat Pidgeon and Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. They added QB Jack Hawley, Punter Brian Moorman, running back Curtis Alexander, and wide receivers Chris Rosier and Corey Thomas. Junior Robinson signed a day later, he had 101 tackles with Western Illinois last season. Hawley is a rookie free agent out of San Diego State where he suffered a neck injury in the 2000 season. Moorman has played in NFL Europe the past two seasons where he led the league in punting both years. Alexander played in the XFL last year and has been around but never made a final NFL roster. Rosier is a rookie free agent from William & Mary. He was released by the Bengals earlier this month. Thomas has bounced around the Lions practice squad and other NFL camps but hasn't been on a final roster either. Our Take: Moorman is the only player here who has a chance at making the roster. He may be the punter when camp breaks unless the club signs someone the week before the season starts.

The overwhelming feeling during the first few days of camp has the coaches pleased with the players conditioning and crispness. The players showed a lot of athleticism and agility in the first full team workout. Coach Williams is running a much tougher camp complete with running laps for mistakes and a blowhorn to wakeup the players at 6am and a tongue lashing when rookies didn't sign autographs. There is also much more contact than in the past. He eased players into full pad workouts by starting with shorts and then adding pads and helmets. the club has been concentrating on base offensive situations and the defense has been concentrating on stripping the ball from the offense as turnovers are expected to be the key to the offense. The coach was very pleased with the conditioning and the talent at wide receiver. Williams said technique is what needs work the most and that is what camp is for. He expects to keep the players from getting fatigued by spacing repetitions apart. Our Take: The tough camp is definitely what young players need and this is a young team. The receivers are the key to the West Coast Offense so they need to be as good as Williams says they are.

The Bills have had some injuries during the first few days of camp. Brandon Spoon suffered the most serious injury when he sprained his knee. Jonas Jennings pulled a quadricep muscle. Pat Williams missed practice because of an infected tooth. Rob Johnson jammed his finger in Saturday's practice but muddled through it. Corey Moore was placed on the physically unable to perform list as he gets his conditioning back after being shot in the leg during the offseason. He should be activated this week. Travares Tillman pulled a hamstring during Sunday's late practice. For the latest on the injuries go to our constantly updated injury page. Our Take: These are routine bumps and bruises for a training camp, let's hope that the hard hitting doesn't cause serious injuries later in camp.

Rob Johnson is excited about where the team is heading. He says he meshes well with the coaching staff and compares Williams to his father. He feels the coaches have taught him not to take so many hits to keep him healthy this year. Johnson feels he will have a great year and that it is do or die time since after this year he will either be released, traded, or get a contract extension even though he has a year left on his deal, it is a cap killer year. Johnson said he and Eric Moulds never hooked up as expected in California over the past month but it won't effect their timing. Our Take: Johnson is the clear cut man and it seems he had a good relationship with the Coach who continues to praise his quarterback. It is definitely put up or shut up time for Johnson.

Former Bill John Holecek became the latest Bill to sign with the San Diego Chargers. Ralph Wilson called it the toughest cut he ever had to make this week. Gregg Williams called Holecek a warrior and said the move was made because there was more depth at linebacker than the defensive line, cornerback, or running back. In other ex-Bill news, Antowain Smith failed his conditioning program with the Patriots and was held out of practice until he passed a running drill. Our Take: Like we said when he was released, they will miss his leadership and heart but the move did seem to make the most sense. Smith showing up out of shape shows why he wouldn't have made it in Buffalo this year.

Ralph Wilson was honored with a scholarship named after him by St. Johns Fisher. The owner immediately donated $100,000 to kick start the fund that will go to the top two students that play division III sports each year. Our Take: Another class act by a call owner.

Jim Rome took his tour to Buffalo on Saturday and was met by a big crowd at Dunn Tire Park. Rob Johnson was one of a handful of Bills in attendance. In other media news, Empire Sports Network will televise the scrimmage with the Browns on Saturday. Our Take: It's good to see nationally media converge on Western New York. Good job by Empire covering the scrimmage.

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