PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Entering his third season as the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor’s performance in training camp, preseason and the regular season will be under a microscope.
The Bills are committed financially to Taylor only through this upcoming season. They have the option to pay Taylor a $6 million roster bonus next March and keep him for the 2018 season at an $18.08 million cap number — or they can release him and save $14 million. Taylor’s contract, restructured this past offseason, expires after the 2018 season.
If the Bills are to make a long-term commitment to Taylor, he likely will need to take a step forward this season. Taylor’s first five practices of training camp left something to be desired, especially Tuesday’s session, where he was generally not accurate. Taylor, who is adjusting to his third offensive coordinator since joining the Bills in 2015, turned in a better practice Wednesday.
Here is a look at Thursday’s session:
Wow moment: Taylor’s most valuable asset remains his athleticism, and he demonstrated it on a scramble during red zone 11-on-11 work. Taylor darted away from defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, who was not allowed to contact Taylor during practice because he is a quarterback. Taylor then showed a burst, squeezing through the line and hopping into the end zone. Because the defense cannot hit Taylor, it was hard to tell if he would have been stopped short of the goal line had he been in a real game-time situation. Either way, it was the sort of athletic play that Taylor has proven he’s capable of making in his two years as the Bills’ starter. As Taylor noted after practices, coaches want him to remain in the pocket during practice because his abilities as a scrambler are already well established.
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Whoa moment: Practice concluded with an 11-on-11, move-the-ball drill in which the offense started from its own 35-yard line. Taylor advanced to the defense’s 39-yard line on three first-down completions — two to tight end Nick O’Leary, and one to receiver Sammy Watkins — before the first-team offense stalled badly. On first down, Taylor and Watkins weren’t on the same page on a “read” route. Watkins turned back to Taylor, but the pass was targeted deep downfield. Taylor likely would have been sacked by defensive end Jerry Hughes on the play. On second down, Taylor’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. On third down, center Eric Wood and Taylor couldn’t connect on the snap, leaving the ball on the ground to end the drill.