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4 takeaways from Bills minicamp: Josh Allen fine-tuning mechanics, Kahlil Shakir hobbled

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bills began mandatory minicamp this week with every rostered player in attendance except for cornerback Christian Benford, who was excused for a family matter. Here are four takeaways from Tuesday’s practice session.

Josh Allen is trusting the science

Following one of last week’s organized team activities, Josh Allen and the other Bills quarterbacks took turns throwing inside a huddle of 3D-motion cameras. Allen elaborated on Tuesday on what he hopes to gain from resuming work with the Biometrik program founded by sports scientist Chris Hess.

“Just trying to be as efficient as possible with my throwing motion,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t call it a complete overhaul of my throwing motion, but definitely some things to work on and clean up. Especially, getting long with my arm and a little bit with my stride. So just trying to clean that up.”

Allen first worked with Hess, a former long snapper at Kansas State, prior to his breakout passing season in 2020. Maintaining his Pro Bowl form over the past two seasons while playing through arm injuries, Allen saw the need to refine his mechanics going into his seventh NFL season.

“I think that there’s inefficiencies that every quarterback can find,” Allen said. “You show me the perfect throw, I’ll tell you something wrong with it probably. So just making sure I’m crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s there and going back to last year, obviously a couple little tweaks whether it was in the shoulder, the elbow, whatever it was, it changes how you throw it just a little bit because your body is shielding itself from pain. So making sure that I’m just kind of getting back to how I’m supposed to throw and what my body is capable of doing.”

Allen compared the process to a golfer changing his swing, and acknowledged that it takes time to get comfortable with mechanical changes.

“I wouldn’t say this time I’m changing, I’m just kind of refining or tweaking and just trying to make better,” Allen said. “What happened last year and some pain or discomfort, whatever you want to call it, just kind of changed how I was releasing and delivering the ball. That’s what the video showed, that’s what I was feeling. You could kind of see it on tape, I was getting pretty low and wide with the ball.

“So just getting back to some drills and some work that we do before we get into practice stuff, just subtle reminders of where to hold the ball, how to turn and where to release it. And again, it’s something that we’ll be working on this next month that we have off and just trying to go into training camp, ramping up the right way.”

Refining his techniques while gaining comfort with a number of new receivers, Allen has struggled with accuracy and turnovers at times during spring practices that have been open to reporters.

“Oh, it’s not frustrating at all,” Allen said. “You know, it’s a long time till we get to put on the uniform and play a game. It’s mandatory minicamp I’m glad guys are here, we’re working hard, guys are making plays, offense and defense both sides, so we’re just having fun out here playing and flying around trying to get on the same page. Obviously some new concepts that we got in that it’s good to put that on tape and talk through it right now.”

Khalil Shakir leaves early

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Khalil Shakir (10) runs a drill during NFL football practice in Orchard Park, N.Y., Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The only Bills receiver that Allen has completed a pass to in a game before, Khalil Shakir, was unable to finish Tuesday’s practice because of an apparent lower-body injury. Shakir limped to the sideline and spent time talking with trainers following a 7-on-7 drill.


Matt Milano’s big step in injury return, star LB cleared to practice at Bills minicamp

The Bills got good news on the injury front with All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano being cleared for limited practice reps eight months after sustaining a significant leg injury. Milano moved well during the individual drills he participated in, and barring any setbacks should be able to practice fully when training camp starts in late July, coach Sean McDermott said.

Fellow linebackers Dorian Williams, Nick Morrow, Baylon Spector and Edefuan Ulofoshio did not practice due to injury, along with running backs Ray Davis, Ty Johnson and Reggie Gilliam. Right tackle Spencer Brown and safety Mike Edwards were limited.

“We’ve kind of got hit with the injury bug here,” McDermott said. “And you know that affects availability, which affects some of the development, building trust, especially if you’re a new player, right. And so, we’re just dealing with it. We’ve had to cut back on some of the third group reps over the last week or so.”

Safety measures

With Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde (for now) no longer anchoring the back end of Buffalo’s defense, last season’s reserve safeties Taylor Rapp and Damar Hamlin have been thrust into the spotlight this spring.

Both have shown. Hamlin has shown playmaking ability during OTA sessions open to media, and Rapp has impressed McDermott with his command of the defense in his second season.

“Last week in particular it’s really stood out,” McDermott said. “Last year, when T-Rapp got here, new system, different environment in the room, and he did a great job of understanding his role and excelling at his role and now a new role this year. And I hate to say role because roles aren’t really defined until everyone makes the team, but at this point Taylor’s really stepped into that role and I would say asserted himself from a leadership standpoint, a little bit and a communicator standpoint which is huge in that back end.”

Hamlin has taken advantage of the injury to Edwards, receiving extra practice reps with the starting unit.

“I think the last couple of weeks he’s been playing more consistent, playing at a high level,” McDermott said. “Very focused in getting himself into a really good spot I think with not only knowing the defense, but just getting back to playing detail-oriented and fast.”

Championship visitors

McDermott and about two dozen Bills players visited after practice with the flag football teams from Far West Regional champion Clarence, and state champion Bishop Kearney.

We loved having the Bishop Kearney and @Clar7x7Flag flag football teams out to practice today.

Congrats to the first-ever division 2 champs, Bishop Kearney! pic.twitter.com/gY0vpQGUCN

— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) June 11, 2024

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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