Young winning Bills backup QB job?

Vince Young drops back into the pocket during Buffalo Bills pre-camp workouts on Friday. (John...

Vince Young drops back into the pocket during Buffalo Bills pre-camp workouts on Friday. (John Kryk, QMI Agency)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -  It won’t be a surprise if Vince Young quickly pulls away in the battle to be the Buffalo Bills’ backup quarterback.

He might already be doing so.

Although head coach Chan Gailey said Friday that the team’s pre-season training camp doesn’t really begin until Saturday, when the first practice in full pads takes place, Young already has looked much better than Tyler Thigpen, who last year backed up starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

If that’s only because Thigpen is stinking up the St. John Fisher College practice fields, so be it.

After struggling with second-team reps on Thursday, Thigpen tossed two ugly interceptions with the third-teamers in 11-on-11 drills on Friday afternoon. On one, he locked on to a thoroughly covered receiver on a short route and threw it to him anyway.

Thigpen and Young flip-flopped between the second and third teams by design in the first two days of camp, and might continue to do so until a clear No. 2 emerges.

If current trends continue, that won’t take long.

Young is the former Tennessee Titans star now in his seventh year in the NFL, and second as a bench-warmer after backing up Michael Vick last year in Philadelphia.

The Bills signed the unwanted free agent in May, just before OTAs began. It’s a one-year deal. The Bills will pay the former University of Texas superstar a $2-million base salary, with up to an additional $1 million in incentives.

Young understandably struggled during May and June workouts in Buffalo.

“It’s a tough offence to get,” Fitzpatrick said Friday of Gailey’s complex passing plays. “It’s a completely new system for (Young), and new terminology.”

Young did seem more comfortable in the pocket on Friday than he did last month during OTAs, finding receivers faster — if not always getting it there as accurately as he or his coaches wants.

Gailey’s offence requires split-second decision-making, and Young himself said he has a ways to go.

“I’m just now getting into a rhythm, starting to understand what’s going on — the different plays that coach Chan was calling and who he was trying to get open,” Young told QMI Agency following the afternoon practice. “I’m just taking my time with it, taking it one day at a time. It’s all I can do.”

And like with Fitzpatrick, new Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee is fine-tuning the 6-foot-5, 232-pounder’s throwing motion. Whereas Lee detected Fitzpatrick was less accurate throwing to the right last year because of a footwork flaw, with Young, Lee has identified why he sometimes throws slightly behind and low on crossing patterns.

“I’m getting it to them in the back hip sometimes,” Young said. “Good DBs and linebackers can undercut that and intercept that, so you want to make sure you keep the ball in front. So the biggest thing is keeping your front foot forward and straight, so you can make an accurate throw.

“It’s footwork. You’ve got coach Chan, the guy with the brains. He’s going to call what he wants us to do, and then when you’ve got coach Lee — I’ve been wanting to work with him a long time. Since college.”

Bills GM Buddy Nix raved to QMI Agency on Friday about Young’s talent.

“This guy is a tremendous athlete,” Nix said. “He’s got great speed and size. And another nice thing with him, if you get your starting quarterback hurt, and the second guy has to go in — he’s a guy that has experience and has won in this league.”

While Young came to Buffalo with a reputation of having not always been the most dedicated player with the best team attitude, let’s say, Nix said he has seen nothing of the kind since Young’s arrival.

“He has done more than asked,” Nix said. “He comes early, he stays late. We’ve got no complaints.

“One of my close friends is (University of Texas head coach) Mack Brown. We coached together twice. Mack is like Vince’s godfather. Mack recommended highly and told me what kind of kid he was, and it’s all proven out to be true.”

Doesn’t sound like Young is going to be a third-stringer, does it?

 


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