|National Football League|
Questions raised about depth of Bills WR group
By JOHN WAWROW
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) Injuries and inconsistency have raised questions about the Buffalo Bills' depth at receiver 10 days into training camp.
"I think we've got a lot of work to do to get them up to speed," Gailey said. "If we get injuries here or there, they've got to do it. Somebody's got to step up and be able to fit into those spots."
The good news is the injuries to Nelson and Johnson are minor, and both could return to practice Monday, after the team takes a day off.
Nelson began running on his own Saturday for the first time since he was hurt last weekend, and plans to do so again Sunday. Johnson was held out Saturday as a precaution.
What's become a concern is that the Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) find themselves not much further along since camp opened in determining which receivers - Donald Jones, rookie T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley or Derek Hagan - can fill secondary roles.
Gailey didn't anticipate that to be a question two months ago, when the coach was so confident in his receivers that he questioned why they were being criticized.
"Everyone else has a lot more negative things to say about our receiving corps than I do," Gailey had said. "I have a lot of confidence in our receiving corps and what we'll be able to do."
That certainly wasn't the case Friday after he watched his receivers drop one pass after another.
"It wasn't a little case, it was a huge case of the drops," Gailey said. "The quarterbacks, they would never say it but I'll say it for them: `That's unacceptable. We can't have that.' If we drop the ball that much, we won't win any games."
The session Saturday didn't go much better.
Jones, who's being counted on to fill the No. 2 spot opposite Johnson, bobbled a quick out to the right, and was stopped in the backfield. A few plays later, Jones failed to turn around on a route over the middle and had Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass bounce off the back of his helmet.
Graham, a rookie third-round draft pick, has taken a step back after getting off to a solid start in camp, when he displayed his blazing speed by making two impressive deep catches on consecutive days.
And Derek Hagan has suddenly looked inconsistent after enjoying a good first week.
Hagan's up-and-down moments could be measured in Gailey's comments.
On Thursday, Gailey praised Hagan.
"He's working his rear end off out there. It's a great thing to see," Gailey said. "He's making a real bid to be a near lock."
On Friday, the coach backed off after Hagan was among several receivers who struggled.
"I saw flashes yesterday, but not as much today," Gailey said of Hagan. "So we've got to get some consistency going there."
The Bills most consistent receiver so far in camp has been tight end Scott Chandler, who is building on the chemistry he developed with Fitzpatrick last season. Johnson, when healthy, and Fitzpatrick have been clicking on a variety of short and deep routes.
The passing attack plays a key role in the offense designed by Gailey. The Bills have liked to spread four receivers across the line in a formation that gives them the option to hit deep or short passes, and even run the ball to keep defense's guessing.
Johnson doesn't share Gailey's concerns, and is confident the group will come together.
"He's just putting a little bit of pressure on the guys, and I'm pretty sure they're up to the challenge," Johnson said. "I have a lot of confidence in these guys."
Gailey seemed less convinced, which was evident Saturday when he was asked about how receiver Naaman Roosevelt had fared so far.
"He's got some good things he's doing," Gailey said. "But there's a consistency factor with them all."
NOTES: DT Kyle Williams didn't let a minor groin injury stop him from finishing practice. Williams returned and completed the session after getting his upper right leg wrapped. ... RB Fred Jackson was held out for precautionary reasons after he hurt his ankle a day earlier. ... Backup DT Torell Troup had a setback in his bid to recover from back surgery. After being able to practice on a limited basis through much of camp, he spent Saturday in the training room.
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated August 4, 2012