5 things to watch for as Bills begin mandatory minicamp

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The Buffalo Bills’ long offseason drudges on, but at least there’s some slight action going down in Orchard Park this week. Starting on Tuesday, the Bills will head to the gridiron for mandatory minicamp practices.

Here are five things to watch for:

Will Poyer practice?

Jordan Poyer #21 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Reportedly safety Jordan Poyer will be attending minicamp. Over the past few weeks, Buffalo’s spring practices were considered OTAs (organized team activities). Such workouts are voluntary and Poyer had decided not to attend.

But there’s still a chance that Poyer is there… but just watching things. A semi-protest, of sorts.

Poyer wants a new contract from the Bills. The report that said he would be there also indicated there have been ongoing talks–a deal might still be a little bit away if Poyer’s not actually practicing, though.

Who is returning kicks?

Isaiah McKenzie #19 of the Buffalo Bills (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, Marquez Stevenson and the recently signed Tavon Austin are all candidates to potentially return kicks and punts for the Bills in 2022.

Whoever wins that job might also have a leg up on the depth wide receiver battle during training camp. Despite being a special teams position, this spot on the roster will be very important to somebody’s future.

Punter battle

Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza (19). (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Another special teams battle: Rookie Matt Araiza vs. Matt Haack for the punting job.

Araiza is the one to watch for. He’s been seen kicking the ball in practice, but not holding for kicker Tyler Bass. His ability to do so is something he needs to work on and thus far we haven’t had any reports that Araiza has done any holding during spring practices at all.

He probably has, just not when media members were around.

Any indications at pass rusher?

Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There are a ton of rules that go along with spring practices. It’s not like training camp where we’ll see much live tackling and actual football.

But do we get any insights into Buffalo’s pass rush and defensive line in general? The two things likely set in stone are Von Miller and Ed Oliver.

Along with Miller, will it be Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham or AJ Epenesa getting more reps? Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier also teased some intel on Miller moving around the scheme. Does any of that pop up?

Then there’s the additions of DaQuan Jones and Tim Settle in the middle–and the returns of edge defender Shaq Lawson and tackle Jordan Phillips.

There are a lot of puzzle pieces in the Bills’ defensive front right now.

Backfield look

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook (28)/ (AP Photo/ Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Similar to the D-line, the backfield on offense has some question marks. Devin Singletary is expected to get the bulk of carries once the season rolls around… but what does “bulk” mean? How many?

Then there the question of where James Cook factors in–Just in the passing game or the rushing attack? And how about Zack Moss?

Reps at minicamp could give us an idea.

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