Buffalo Bills Rookie minicamp 2022 notes: Kaiir Elam in closing position in first practice

ORCHARD PARK, NY – Before Khalil Shaker and Ker Elam were Buffalo Bills teammates, they trained together at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. At XPE Sports in preparation for the NFL Draft.

They didn’t talk much. Shaker wide receiver and Elam corner back. The two future teammates were busy getting their bodies right in an effort to perform during the draft season and get into the NFL ready from the jump.

Shakir and Elam hit the Bells training ground for the first time on Friday as the junior rookie. The cameras were rolling, and the two matched up multiple times during team practice. Shakir said it was a fun day and he got to know Elam a little better since they both went to camp.

Shakir said it was already impossible to miss Elam’s work ethic.

“To see how (Cair), one of the most hardworking men I’ve ever seen, works,” Shakir said. “He’s in the training room 24/7 to get his body right, so to get out here and see him work on the court, you elite dude. So just all of these guys, it was fun to get out here and see them all working.”

Here are some notes from Friday’s practice.

1. Elam shuts down the starter receptors

Whenever Shakir and Elam met each other during training, everyone would watch this side of the stadium. In one particular match during 11-on-11, demo quarterback Brellen Smith rolled to his right and immediately made a search for the match. Shaker turned on the planes and found himself locked up one-on-one with Elam, who was unrelenting. The two were tied up all the way up and Smith eventually had to scramble to his right as Shaker couldn’t separate.

2. Shaker opens up and performs plays

Shakir was the most active receiver that day. He had a bunch of different looks and did some holding hands during practice. His best plays came over the middle when he beat his leg giving Smith enough space to fire one between two defenders. Shaker’s first move was remarkably difficult to handle and in this play he was pressing the back side of the cover almost immediately. Smith recognized, rolled Smage to his left, and fired a powerful pass. Shaker seized it and went up to the field.

After the rehearsal, Shaker said he was talking to Gabriel Davis about what it’s like to play in the Buffalo and in the Bills offense. He said he didn’t want to stand up front and act like he’s still not surprised that he’s going to play alongside Stefon Diggs.

3. James Cook’s Burst is Impossible to Miss

Cook took a lot of reps during individual passing drills, but the running back rookie was able to tackle the rock off the field once the team practice started. In a recent play, Cook cut once to his left and exploded into a crowd on the line of melee. Before linebackers Terrell Bernard and Paylon Spector knew what had happened, Cook was by the side of the group of defenders in the area and on his way to the finish line. Cook’s speed was visible all over the field. It was just training but he showed some patience and vision in his runs. He had another one he cut earlier.

4. Don’t forget Olaijah Griffin

Griffin was one of three “veterans” who participated in the rookie camp along with Quentin Morris and bodyguard Jacob Capra. Griffin was active on the court and showed some of his junior teammates how it goes between the line. His best plays correspond to Malik Williams. Griffin had sticky coverage on Williams as Smith tried to wait for an opening that never came. Smith’s eyes were completely glued to Williams and when he finally pulled the trigger, Griffin slashed in front of the pass and knocked it to the ground. Griffin spent last season on the Bills coaching staff and is a wildcard name to behold during training camp.

5. Neil Bao vs Christian Benford a fun fight

Pau’u and Benford had a few fights that day but the most memorable were during the 11-on-11. Benford had full coverage as Pau’u was running his own way and trying to get the break up. When he wasn’t getting any, Smith decided to allow the 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver a shot at a 50/50 ball. Benford played on the ball as it was thrown but couldn’t hit it and his attempt to tear the ball out failed as Pau’u exited the ball exchange on his way to the end zone.

6. Good day to try QB

Smith had some nice throws that day. The former Arkansas quarterback needs some solid experience over the next few weeks to get invited to training camp. The Bills only have three players on the roster (Josh Allen, Kees Keenum, and Matt Barkley), and if Smith can understand the offense and show that he can consistently throw throws, he could get a chance to play a bit in the summer. He decided to drop out of school early and went without drafting in April.

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