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|The only time Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen ever felt rattled on his first day of practice was shortly after the session ended Friday. That's when coach Sean McDermott escorted the first-round pick to the sideline and introduced him to Jim Kelly in what became a meeting of the team's hopeful future and legendary past.
"I'm still shaking from meeting him Adidas Patrice Bergeron Jersey ," Allen said.
Though Allen grew up in central California and played college at Wyoming, the 21-year-old is very aware of who Kelly is and what he means to Buffalo.
"It's all on the wall," Allen said, pointing the four AFC Championship banners the Kelly-led teams won from 1990-'93.
Allen also knows how tough Kelly is in his ongoing battle with cancer.
"I can't say anything else but he's a special man. He's been through a lot," he said. "And to be in the spirits that he is and to come out here and show support for the Buffalo Bills, that just shows to me how much he means to Buffalo and Buffalo means to him. It's awesome."
Kelly made a surprise visit for the start of two-day rookie minicamp some six weeks after his latest operation to have cancer removed from his jaw.
Kelly walked with a cane and had difficulty speaking. He raised his right thumb while he and Allen posed for pictures. Said Kelly: "It's the best thing I can do: Thumbs up."
The Bills are pinning their hopes on Allen to fill what's been their most unsettled position since Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
Buffalo traded up five spots in the draft order to select him with the No. 7 pick two weeks ago. Allen became just the fourth quarterback selected by Buffalo in the first round, and first chosen in the top 10 of the draft order.
He joins a team once again shuffling starters after Tyrod Taylor was traded to Cleveland in March despite helping Buffalo to a 9-7 finish and end a 17-year playoff drought.
At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Allen is a raw, but strong-armed and athletic quarterback. He was a two-year starter at Wyoming, where he completed 365 of 649 for 5,066 yards with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Allen was knocked for his relatively low completion percentage of 56.2 and mechanics Authentic Nick Nelson Jersey , something he spent working on this offseason.
McDermott isn't providing any guarantees in saying Allen will compete for the starting job with offseason free-agent addition A.J. McCarron and second-year player Nathan Peterman.
"We've got a plan in place for all of our players, and in this case Josh, in terms of bringing them along at the right pace," McDermott said.
Allen threw a few wobbly or high passes to his right. He was far more accurate with passes to his left and over the middle. Allen showed off his strong arm, by completing several deep passes, including one to rookie seventh-round pick Austin Proehl.
He was also intercepted once during one-on-one drills. His hard, high pass over the middle slipped through receiver William Scott's hands and to a defensive back.
"I felt like I've made a lot of strides," Allen said. "I felt like I put the ball where it needed to be most of the time. Obviously, there's some throws that I would like back. But as we progress through this rookie minicamp and through the rookie developmental period, I plan to improve every day."
He was pleased in learning how Kelly was overheard praising a few of his throws.
Allen said Kelly first contacted him by text in welcoming him to Buffalo the day after being drafted.
"Hopefully, in the near future we can keep that relationship going Youth Christian Kirk Jersey ," Allen said. "Any rookie that can develop a mentorship with a former quarterback like Jim Kelly, it's going to be huge."
NOTES: The Bills signed fourth-round pick, Weber State cornerback Taron Johnson. That leaves their top-three selections unsigned, including third-round pick, Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. ... The Bills also signed 12 undrafted free agents including Arizona guard Gerhard De Beer, who is from South Africa. He was a Pac-12 discuss throwing champion and made the switch to football. ... Also signed were defensive linemen Mat Boesen (TCU) and Mike Love (South Florida), linebacker Corey Thompson (LSU), cornerbacks Ryan Carter (Clemson) and Levi Wallace (Alabama), running back Keith Ford (Texas A and M), receivers Robert Foster (Alabama) and Cam Phillips (Virginia Tech), offensive linemen Ike Boettger (Iowa) and Mo Porter (Baylor) Authentic Zach Duke Jersey , and Penn State kicker Tyler Davis.
Jake Arrieta and Gio Gonzalez should be happy to see the calendar flip to July.
They’ll hope to put a rough June behind them when they face off Sunday in the finale of a four-game set between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals. The Phillies will try to win the series in the 1:35 p.m. matinee.
Arrieta (5-6, 3.54 ERA) had a 6.66 ERA in five June starts. Opponents hit .305 with a .907 OPS against him in the month, and the veteran right-hander allowed at least three earned runs in each outing.
In his last start, Arrieta gave up six runs (three earned) in five innings against the New York Yankees on nine hits, two of which were homers.
“The ball is getting hit, that’s it. Making mistakes, too many mistakes,” Arrieta told MLB.com after the start. “I was throwing quality breaking balls early in the count and then when I needed to go back to a similar spot or a little bit lower in the strike zone or out of the strike zone, I just put it too much in the zone and they hit it. It’s a pretty simple explanation.”
Arrieta had a 0.90 ERA in five starts during May, and he gave up just one run and two hits in six innings against the Nationals on May 6. Arrieta is 1-2 with a 5.02 ERA in 10 career starts against the Nationals.
Gonzalez (6-5, 3.68) had an even worse June. The 32-year-old lefty had an 8.44 ERA in five starts during the month. In three of those outings Jake Lamb Jersey , Gonzalez gave up at least four earned runs and failed to pitch more than four innings.
Gonzalez had his worst start of 2018 the last time he took the mound. He gave up six runs and walked five batters in one inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.
“It wasn’t my night. I couldn’t get a strike,” Gonzalez, who missed the strike zone with 33 of his 62 pitches, told reporters after the outing. “Sometimes it happens. It’s part of the game.”
Gonzalez will be facing the Phillies for the 25th time in his 11-year big league career. He is 11-7 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.13 WHIP against the Nationals’ divisional rival. Gonzalez threw five scoreless innings against Philadelphia on May 4.
The Phillies, who are 5-4 against the Nationals this season, have won two of the first three games against their divisional foe in the series. At 44-37, they are two games ahead of Washington for second place in the National League East. The Phillies were 28-53 through 81 games a season ago.
The Phillies hope Odubel Herrera’s bat heats up. The center fielder homered in Saturday’s 3-2 victory after going 2-for-28 in his previous seven games. Herrera is hitting .286 on the season with 14 homers and 46 RBIs.
The Nationals, meanwhile, went 9-16 in June and are 42-39 at the halfway mark of the season.
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