There were a couple of interesting things that were said while Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix addressed the media on a conference call Monday afternoon. For obvious reasons, the conversation revolved around the Bills' crop of quarterbacks and how they might figure in this season.
At one point, Nix was asked why there was a heightened importance to find a competent backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick this season. Perhaps he felt that was a way to back in to the idea of whether or not Fitzpatrick's job was safe all season long. Whatever it was, Nix wasn't having any of it.
"Well, I know what you guys are fishing for. You're not going to get that. So I'll just say exactly how it is and you can either accept that or make up something," Nix said coyly. "We've spent a lot of money in the off-season. We've put a lot of money in this football team and we think we've got good players and a chance to be competitive. I wouldn't want one guy to get hurt and couldn't play and everybody else be helpless to get it done. It's a protection."
Directly after that answer came a rather interesting exchange in regards to how many quarterbacks the Bills may keep on the roster to start the season. The logical thinking behind that consists of the newly acquired Tarvaris Jackson having under two weeks to learn the playbook and be ready for the regular season.
Might the Bills keep four quarterbacks, which includes Fitzpatrick, Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith?
"Well, we don't have four anymore," Nix retorted.
Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, who orginally asked the question, replied that he was counting Brad Smith.
"Yeah, I am too," which baffled some reporters standing around the speaker phone, after weeks of head coach Chan Gailey saying that Smith would be the team's third quarterback this season.
Nix quickly got back to that line of thinking:
"We've got four now, but Brad's working as a wide receiver right now. He will be the third quarterback according to what Chan has said so I'm sure that's right. But, probably you can't carry four."
Although confusing for a couple of seconds, it sounds as though the plan remains the same. That means, at least for now, either Jackson or Thigpen will be sent packing come Friday night (with Jackson much less likely, seeing as how the Bills just traded for him). Don't write that in permanent ink just yet, however.
After practice Chan Gailey spoke with the media, and said a few different things notable to the backup quarterback competition and what they may do with their roster.
After talking about having competition for that backup job, it begs the question as to how informed a decision can be made on a roster spot so vital, with only two practices and one game to work with.
"Well, I think you're going to have to make a decision if you don't keep all three of them," Gailey said. "I don't... I've never been in this situation so I can't tell you how I'm gonna do it. We'll evaluate it and do the best we can, and it won't be easy."
Would the team keep four quarterbacks? Is that even an option at this point? We heard from Buddy Nix on the matter, but Gailey chimed in on Monday as well.
"I'm comfortable with doing what's best for the team, and I don't know what that is today," said the head coach.
The one thing Gailey did commit to is something that he's held consistent throughout training camp, -- that Brad Smith will indeed be the third quarterback when the season starts.
"Oh yeah, yeah," he said. "That part hasn't changed. That hasn't changed at all."
The mystery now is whether or not there will some buffer time for Jackson as he learns the playbook. If the Bills deem it necessary, it's conceivable that you could see Thigpen being the primary backup in the early going, with Jackson on the inactive list.
The writing was on the wall for Buffalo Bills quarterback Vince Young.
His two-interception performance in the Bills' third preseason game on Saturday night seems to have been his last for the organization. On Sunday evening, news broke that Buffalo had agreed on a deal to trade for Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. While nothing has been finalized and formally announced as of yet, one of Young's latest messages on Twitter indicates the Bills are moving on without him.
"I want to thank the Bills organization for the opportunity and wish the organization and my teammates good luck this season"
Young had been battling for the number-two quarterback job with Tyler Thigpen all throughout camp, and struggled with both consistency and the playbook as time passed.
The Buffalo Bills have until Monday, August 27 at 4 pm to get their roster down to 75 players. They didn't wait until the last minute, announcing the ten players that were taken off the active roster on Sunday, August 26.
The Bills announced the release of wide receiver David Clowney, wide receiver Derek Session, tight end Fendi Onobun, offensive lineman Jake Vermiglio, defensive end Sean Ferguson, defensive tackle Jay Ross, linebacker Danny Batten, cornerback Prince Miller and safety Nick Sukay.
That brings the roster from 85 down to 76 players, but one additional move was made to clear the extra spot on the team. The Bills announced they've placed tight end Mike Caussin on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List, which has gotten their roster to the required limit of 75 before Monday.
The Bills and the rest of the NFL will have to get their rosters down to 53 by Friday, August 31 at 9 pm.
One other side note, the team announced they've come to an injury settlement with safety Josh Nesbitt. He is now a free agent after being put on the waived/injured list.
It's been a tumultuous start to say the least for Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Torell Troup. And with the news on Thursday, he'll have to wait even longer to make the impact on the team that he's wanted since being drafted in 2010.
The Bills announced on Thursday that they have placed Troup on injured reserve, effectively ending his season. It is the second straight season that Troup has landed on the IR due to a back injury. In 2011, the defensive tackle had been plagued by it all season long before the team ended his season in November.
He had major back surgery in December, and has been fighting to rehab it and get back in time for the 2012 season. Troup took a step forward on the team's conditioning day, one day ahead of the Bills' first official practice at training camp. When practice came calling, Troup was doing much worse. Since that time, he's been attempting to get back in to practice, trying to work his way in to team drills and riding a stationary bike in between.
In the end however, the Bills decided placing Troup on the injured reserve was the better option for both parties. Chan Gailey said, "I told him when we visited I'm proud if him for the way he fought to get back, but he just couldn't make it and we saw he wasn't going to make it this year so we wanted to not let him worry about it anymore and go get well and we'll give him a run next year."
With roster spots along the defensive line hard to come by this season, this move ensures that Troup will remain a member of the organization for the beginning of 2013. Looking forward, backup defensive tackles Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson are each in the final year of their contract, so cutting a player at that position with many years spent in the organization may not have been the most enticing option.
Instead Troup will be around for his third-straight season, and be able to rehabilitate his back without having to rush a potential return. Bills coaches have always been very complimentary of Troup in his time on the field, especially during 2010's version of training camp.
Back in July, Troup told WGR that trying to get through this back injury was like trying to fight his "own demon."
Troup played in only six games in 2011 before finding his way on injured reserve in late November. He was active for 15 games during his rookie campaign.
The Bills are now down to 85 players on the active roster. They have until August 27 to cut down to 75.
With the regular season just a little over two weeks away, the Buffalo Bills have some big decisions to make for the depth along their roster. With positional battles and a numbers crunch seemingly everywhere, who makes the cut and who doesn't?
Here are my earliest set of projections as to whom I believe will make the roster as of August 23, 2012:
Quarterback (3): Ryan Fitzpatrick, Vince Young, Brad Smith CUT: Tyler Thigpen
- No surprises here. Vince Young has outplayed Tyler Thigpen, and Chan Gailey reaffirmed the team's position that Brad Smith will be the third-string quarterback.
Running Back (3): Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Tashard Choice CUT: Johnny White, Zach Brown
- As of right now, I give the edge to Tashard Choice over Johnny White mostly because the latter has been dealing with an ankle injury for much of camp. Should White come in and outplay Choice in the final two weeks, I could see the former Cowboys runner being the one that gets the pink slip. It's a closer spot on the roster than most are giving credit.
Fullback (2): Corey McIntyre, Dorin Dickerson CUT: None
- Dickerson was number 52 to make it on the 53-man roster, and he makes it for his overall versatility if called in to action. I expect his name to be amongst the inactives early on in the year.
Wide Receiver (5): Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Derek Hagan, T.J. Graham CUT: Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt, David Clowney, Marcus Easley, Kamar Aiken, Derek Session
- There's a chance the Bills keep six, but with Brad Smith on the roster already I'm leaning only towards five. If one of the players listed amongst the cuts would have really stood out, they could have stolen the final spot on the roster. Ruvell Martin is just too inconsistent as a pass-catcher and I find it hard to believe they'll dress six receivers every week just for him to be the gunner in punt coverage. Naaman Roosevelt, while catching everything in his area, does not have the body or physicality to be in on kick or punt coverage. Marcus Easley has been so disappointing that he's been relegated to the scout team. Meanwhile David Clowney, Kamar Aiken and Derek Session have done little to stand out.
Tight End (2): Scott Chandler, Lee Smith CUT: Kevin Brock, Fendi Onobun, Mike Caussin
- This one is pretty cut and dry. I think they do like Kevin Brock, but he's still got some eligibility left for the practice squad.
Offensive Tackle (4): Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears, Chris Hairston, Zebrie Sanders CUT: Sam Young, James Carmon
- Sanders has failed to be consistent against players he should be beating, and also moving before the snap. There are some natural abilities to work with however, but he could very well be relegated to the practice squad. It all depends on if they think they can sneak him on there without getting snatched up by another team. Sam Young still has practice squad eligibility remaining, but has outplayed Sanders in training camp. It's a very tough call in my opinion, and one that I believe could side with the more highly-heralded Sanders. That's solely based on Young having a reputation around the league from his time in Dallas, despite the fact that he's been the better player in the month of August.
Offensive Guard (4): Andy Levitre, Kraig Urbik, Chad Rinehart, Colin Brown CUT: Keith Williams, Jake Vermiglio, David Snow
- Colin Brown was the 53rd and final player to make the squad. The part of his case that wins out is his versatility if the Bills find themselves in a predicament. He likely won't dress every week, but is an insurance policy if Eric Wood has any setbacks and Kraig Urbik has to go in at center.
Center (1): Eric Wood CUT: Mark Asper
- Asper hasn't done much to show he should stick around with the 53-man roster.
Defensive End (5): Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay, Kyle Moore, Jarron Gilbert CUT: Robert Eddins, Sean Ferguson
- Moore's spot on the roster was all but assured with the release of Shawne Merriman. I think the Bills like Jarron Gilbert enough to not risk losing him on waivers when they have to make their cuts. He's been a bit of a revelation since being moved to defensive end, and possesses some natural skills Dave Wannstedt likes from players at that position. Gilbert also offers versatility to play defensive tackle if there are injuries there as well. He was one of the last to make the squad for me.
Defensive Tackle (4): Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson CUT: Torell Troup, Alex Carrington, Kellen Heard, Jay Ross
- It's a farewell to two of the Bills' first three selections in 2010. The early part of that class, outside of C.J. Spiller has been a huge swing and a miss for different reasons. Torell Troup can't get past all of his injuries and Alex Carrington just hasn't shown he has any special abilities to warrant a roster spot. Kellen Heard could have had a shot had he not been injured all throughout training camp. The emergence of Moore and Gilbert are the reasons the trio gets cut. However, I would not rule out the idea of the Bills putting Troup on Injured Reserve with all his back problems, especially with Johnson and Edwards in the final year of their respective contracts. Maybe one last chance for the second round pick in 2013.
Linebacker (7): Nick Barnett, Kelvin Sheppard, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott, Nigel Bradham, Kirk Morrison, Tank Carder CUT: Scott McKillop, Chris White, Danny Batten
- The first man left off the roster is Scott McKillop. The reserve middle linebacker has seen his reps reduced over the past couple of days with Kirk Morrison starting to get some time at that position. Also, the roster spot given to John Potter ideally eliminates the need for some players that specialize in kick coverage -- namely McKillop.
Cornerback (6): Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Terrence McGee, Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers CUT: Prince Miller, Isaiah Green
- I think Prince Miller has had a nice camp, and with one year of practice squad eligibility remaining he seems like an ideal candidate.
Safety (3): Jairus Byrd, George Wilson, Da'Norris Searcy CUT: Delano Howell, Nick Saenz, Nick Sukay
- Delano Howell has really come on strong near the end of training camp and is pushing to make the roster. Unless the Bills have an injury in the later stages of the preseason though, I can't see them keeping Howell outright. He'll be one of the first men asked back to the practice squad, however.
Kicker (2): Rian Lindell, John Potter CUT: None
- John Potter has demonstrated his powerful leg in game situations. He has earned a spot on the roster so far.
Punter (1): Brian Moorman CUT: Shawn Powell
- Shawn Powell has a big leg, but both his net yardage and hang time in training camp have been bested by Brian Moorman.
Long Snapper (1): Garrison Sanborn CUT: None
- It wasn't even necessary to bring in competition for Garrison Sanborn. He's one of the best in the business.
Since the practice squad garners many questions from fans in the preseason, here is a list of the eight players I think are the likeliest to get asked back. They are listed in order that I think the Bills would like to keep them around. It does not account for other players released around the NFL.
Practice Squad (8): T Sam Young, S Delano Howell, CB Prince Miller, G Keith Williams, TE Kevin Brock, T James Carmon, DE Robert Eddins, WR Kamar Aiken
Projected Cuts that are also eligible for the practice squad: Zach Brown, Derek Session, Fendi Onobun, Mike Caussin, Jake Vermiglio, David Snow, Mark Asper, Sean Ferguson, Jay Ross, Isaiah Green, Nick Saenz, Nick Sukay, Shawn Powell.
Projected Cuts not eligible for the practice squad: Tyler Thigpen, Johnny White, Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt, David Clowney, Marcus Easley, Torell Troup, Alex Carrington, Kellen Heard, Scott McKillop, Chris White, Danny Batten.
There you have it. As Jeremy White coined it Thursday morning, there is a look at 'Buscagliatology.' I'll be doing another set as we get closer to the actual cut-down day in September.
Throughout the past couple of days of practice, anytime the Buffalo Bills were going through special teams drills you could find wide receiver Stevie Johnson on the stationary bike staying loose. As it turns out, there was a reason for that.
After Wednesday's practice, Johnson admitted the groin injury that he had surgery on in the off-season has started bugging him the past two days.
"The entire training camp I was good," the wideout said in reference to his groin. "[Wednesday], I don't know if this happened [Tuesday] or what not but I guess it just got a little sore. It's no like pop or injury -- just sore that's all it is."
Although it was his right side that bogged him down for a couple of days at training camp, he confirmed that it was indeed the left side that provided the soreness. The left is the side operated on in a case of a minor off-season procedure.
Johnson didn't miss any reps throughout the practice the past two days, and said he doesn't expect miss any time.
"No issue really, I know I can play a full game with it, but I just felt it," he said. "I went from not feeling it at all to a little soreness coming around. I think that's just from the reps being heightened this week."
With the way it bothered him last season, Johnson believes riding the stationary bike might just be a trend he'll continue to prevent any further problems.
"I'll probably be on that like maybe throughout the season because I don't want any 'what if's' while I'm sitting down not doing anything and then I get out there and do something -- pop, and there you go with another groin injury," the wideout remarked. "So I just try to stay active a little bit, walking around and stretching."
Johnson is one of many players that have been dealing with pain in that area of the body. Both Erik Pears and Mark Anderson, the two players that sat out of practice Wednesday, have groin injuries that has made them both miss some practice time.
The Buffalo Bills have waived two young defensive backs on Wednesday.
Cornerback Cris Hill and safety Josh Nesbitt were designated as waived/injured, and are no longer a part of the roster. The move brings the Bills' roster count down to 86 players. They have until August 27 to get down to 75.
The Buffalo Bills officially announced Tuesday that their game against the Tennessee Titans on October 21 has been sold out.
The Titans game is the third to sell out, meaning the first three home games have all sold out for the 2012 season. The home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 16 and the September 30 game against New England are the other two.
The remaining games at Ralph Wilson Stadium that haven't sold out are:
Thursday, November 15 vs. Miami
Sunday, December 2 vs. Jacksonville
Sunday, December 9 vs. St. Louis
Sunday, December 30 vs. New York Jets
The Bills also announced season ticket sales have increased over 15-percent from 2011. There have been a total of 43,267 season tickets sold thus far.
The Buffalo Bills tried something a bit a different against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.
If you noticed throughout the game, the Bills had their free safeties making the defensive play calls in the huddle. It was something head coach Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt wanted to try to let Jairus Byrd, Da'Norris Searcy and Nick Saenz make the calls throughout the contest.
After the game Gailey was asked how he believed the experiment went, to which he remarked he had to confer with Wannstedt first. Upon further review, it's safe to say that will be the last time you see that from the Bills.
"We did not like that very much, I don't think," Gailey said. "I think we are going to go back to the linebackers. The safeties did a good job of calling it but they just have too far to go after they call it so we are going to let the linebackers do it."
The Bills and their linebackers will get back to making the calls in the defensive huddle Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
On Monday ahead of practice, Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix alluded to two young defensive ends that he felt have really made a nice push in training camp and through two preseason games.
When pressed as to who those two were, both Nix and head coach Chan Gailey curled in to a ball of secrecy.
"I would rather not name them. We have a bunch of them out there working," said Nix.
"We've got a couple young guys," Gailey coyly said.
So with Merriman out the door and a pair of players that are making some waves, what's the harm in naming them?
I've got a guess as to why neither Nix or Gailey will budge on the matter. But first, let's talk about who the secret squad might consist of:
One is most certainly Kyle Moore, the defensive end the Bills picked up from Detroit's practice squad in November of 2011. He has steadily impressed throughout training camp and has even earned some first team repetitions with the Bills from time to time.
The second one is a bit trickier.
Conventional wisdom would say that Robert Eddins would be the other. Eddins was in training camp with the Bills in 2011 and even made the 53-man roster outright before being put on injured reserve a week later. The Bills eventually came to an injury settlement with Eddins, and he wound up on their practice squad by the end of the season.
However, it wasn't Eddins lining up at defensive end with the second team on Monday. Certainly to the surprise of me, and to the surprise of a few others, it was Jarron Gilbert taking reps at LDE.
Gilbert, a former 2009 third-round pick of the Chicago Bears, started off training camp at defensive tackle and was then moved to defensive end one day because of some injuries.
The Bills liked him so much with the pass rushers, they decided to keep him there.
Three players are likely candidates to be the two young players Nix was referring to, so back to the 'what's the harm' question.
Moore, Eddins and Gilbert all may have practice squad eligibility remaining. With one likely to make the roster outright, the second may be on the bubble to make the team. If that player doesn't make the roster, the Bills likely would not want to tip their hand by publicly announcing who they think has made some strides in camp.
I apologize if I'm about to make your brain hurt, because mine does too after thinking about this for far too long. Get ready for some NFL rules lingo!
Here are the basic stipulations regarding the practice squad:
- Players must not have an accrued season in the NFL, which could be a full year on the Injured Reserve.
- Players must not have been active (or "dressing" for the 45-man roster on game days) for more than eight games in any given season they spent on a 53-man roster.
- Players that served two seasons on a practice squad are only eligible for a third year if the team keeps 53 players on their roster throughout the duration of their time on that practice squad. A season on the practice squad is counted for being on it for merely three games in the first two seasons, and only one for the third.
I swear, that's the easiest I can break it down.
Now let's apply them to the players! Easiest one first:
- 2011 was his rookie year. Active for one game with the Bills, then placed on Injured Reserve on September 14, 2011. Came to an injury settlement with Bills on September 20, 2011. Signed on to Buffalo's practice squad on November 30. Conclusion: Definitely eligible for the practice squad Explanation: Doesn't have an accrued NFL season, and only played on the practice squad for one year. Woo! On to the next.
- Drafted in 2009 by Tampa Bay. Dressed for eight games with Tampa Bay in 2009. Dressed for seven games in 2010. Released by Tampa Bay, and signed on to Detroit's practice squad in 2011. Signed by Buffalo off of the Lions practice squad in November 2011. Dressed in four games with Buffalo. Conclusion: Certainly looking like he has practice squad eligibility remaining. Explanation: Doesn't have a single season that he's been active for at least nine games, despite being in the league for three years. Has spent only one year on a practice squad. Alright, now the difficult one.
- Drafted in 2009 by Chicago. Dressed for four games with Chicago in 2009. Released by Chicago in 2010, and claimed off waivers by the New York Jets. The Jets put him on their practice squad, promoting him to the 53-man roster in October 2010, but didn't dress him for a single game. The Jets released him in November 2010, and signed him back to the practice squad the next day. Released by the Jets on final cutdown day in September 2011, and then signed to the Jets practice squad. He was released from the Jets practice squad in November 2011, and re-signed on to it just ten days later. The Bills claimed Gilbert off the Jets practice squad in December of 2011. He did not dress for a game. Conclusion: I'm not 100-percent sure, but I think he just may have practice squad eligibility left. Explanation: Gilbert does not have a technical accrued season in the NFL, having only dressed for four games in 2009. The tricky part is if he qualifies for a third season of practice squad eligibility. The rule only states that the team that employs him must keep 53-men on their active roster at all times, and it's a rarity that any team in the NFL would not keep their roster at the maximum limit. That said, I deduce from the way the rules are written that Gilbert has another year of eligibility left for the scout team. Please, don't take that to the bank just yet.
With all that said, it's fair to say the Bills don't want the other guy that they love to get some publicity in the case that they cut him and want to bring him back for the practice squad. It's a smart and calculated move if that is their reasoning.
Or maybe I'm just wasting valuable moments of my life because they don't want to slight Sean Ferguson by not naming him. Either way, I hope this helped.
Although I think I need to go lay down. I'm getting dizzy.
The Buffalo Bills are one step closer to naming their backup quarterback.
"Vince Young has performed well enough in the last two games to warrant more work," head coach Chan Gailey started off on Monday. "He'll get the majority of the work with the two's this week. He'll get most of the work with the second group when they go in on Saturday night. We need to see how he can handle more gameplan, more gametime, more everything."
Young's performance on Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings -- particularly the four-play drive ending in a touchdown for the Bills -- has given the former Titans and Eagles quarterback the leg up in the backup competition. Gailey urged that Young hasn't been awarded anything yet, but said he certainly has the edge in the matter.
"Oh yeah, he's got the edge or we wouldn't have given him more reps. He's made more things happen. You've got to give him credit for that," the head coach said. "We need to see how much he can handle, to see if he can handle the whole load because once you get to the season he doesn't get many reps. So we've got to find out how he can handle all of this."
Alarms were raised when Young, who had been switching daily with Tyler Thigpen as to who received the second team reps, was manning the second unit for the third straight session. Young was with the two's the practice before the Vikings game, the actual Vikings game and then again during Monday's practice.
Through two games of the preseason, Young has completed 13-of-27 passes for 173 yards, setting up a touchdown on his final drive of the second contest. Whereas Thigpen is only 11-of-23 for 94 yards while throwing two interceptions.
"It's not an indictment on Tyler, it's just Vince has done some good things," Gailey said. "We know where Tyler is. We've got to evaluate Vince more."
With the third preseason game being the usual dress rehearsal for most first-string players across the NFL, Young will likely get the majority of playing time not administered to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the first unit.
The Bills take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
With the close of training camp at St. John Fisher College on Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills packed up and moved back to Orchard Park for the remainder of the season.
In the 16 practice sessions available to the media, players were showing clear trends as to who had a strong training camp as a whole, and who left a lot to be desired.
Let's take a look at who takes home the awards (albeit fake ones) for their time in Pittsford, NY:
Flying up the Depth Chart: LB Arthur Moats
- Not many saw the surge of Arthur Moats as a strongside linebacker coming -- not even head coach Chan Gailey. Moats has taken to his new and permanent role better than anyone could have anticipated. He's been able to not only answer some questions when it comes to depth at linebacker, but he's now considered the slight favorite to win the starting job. A job well done by a guy that has had to switch positions more than any player should.
Sinking like a ship: WR Marcus Easley
- This was a very important training camp for Marcus Easley. Coming off two straight years that landed him on the injured reserve, Easley was healthy and needed a good camp to secure a roster spot. He had his bright spots, but for the most part Easley has let many chances slip away. He's been passed on the depth chart by Derek Hagan, T.J. Graham, Ruvell Martin, David Clowney and Naaman Roosevelt. The former fourth-round pick really needs a strong next few weeks in order to stick around in 2012.
Best Fight: CB Stephon Gilmore vs. WR Derek Hagan
- Unfortunately there were no Aaron Maybin versus the offense moments like there were in 2010. However, the one skirmish that sticks out the most involved first-round pick Stephon Gilmore and rising wide receiver Derek Hagan. The two were engaged in a block attempt by Hagan on a run play. After the play was called dead, the two didn't let go, leading to a few jabs and both players taking each other down to the ground. The two have been chattering back and forth at each other dating back to mini-camp. I liked it because Hagan went with the "Don't pull that with me, rook," ideology, whereas Gilmore endorsed the "Just because I'm a rookie doesn't mean I'm going to take that garbage," approach. I enjoyed the competitive fire by both players.
Best Moment: S Da'Norris Searcy and LB Kirk Morrison flatline HB Tashard Choice
- It happened late in training camp, but Tashard Choice was not happy following one practice in particular. During team drills, Choice took a hand-off and busted left to open field. Da'Norris Searcy read the play the whole way, and rather than giving the two-hand touch appraoch, Searcy lowered his shoulder and dropped Choice cleanly. Choice, a noted trash-talker, elicited reactions from other defenders telling him to get his expletive expletive up. The next play? Another hand-off to Choice, and the same result. This time Kirk Morrison decked Choice in the backfield and the ball was jarred loose. The way the defense on the sideline reacted, you would have thought someone just pulled off a dunk jumping from the three-point line.
Rookie Standout: WR T.J. Graham
- With all due respect to Stephon Gilmore, I wanted to go away from the first-round pick because he's expected to stand out as a first day starter. While Nigel Bradham and Ron Brooks have progressed as players through camp, the award for standout goes to T.J. Graham. Looking shaky at best throughout OTA's and mini-camp, Graham became someone the first-team could start to depend on by making tough catches and showing the burst that made him a second-day pick. He hasn't passed the top four receivers (Johnson, Jones, Nelson and Hagan), but he has certainly played his way in to the rotation.
Rookie Dud: OG/C Mark Asper
- Two offensive linemen were up for this award, with it coming down to Zebrie Sanders and Mark Asper. Sanders struggled to get his false start problem fixed throughout training camp, but did show some signs of life at times. While he may not make the active roster, the practice squad seems likely. In the case of Mark Asper, he has struggled mightily throughout camp. There weren't many bright spots for the former Oregon player, and he's gotten called out during drills by Joe D'Alessandris for his poor play and technique.
Camp LVP Runner-Ups: DT Alex Carrington and WR Marcus Easley
- For reasons stated above, Easley is a clear choice for one of the runner-up spots for least valuable player. The other goes to former third-round pick Alex Carrington. He had plenty of chances throughout camp to show the coaches he could help the team. With both Torell Troup and Kellen Heard sidelined by injuries for much of camp, Carrington could have made a case to the coaches that he should be kept around. Instead, he's looked plain and average against third-string players and has does nothing to warrant a roster spot.
MVP Runner-Ups: DT Kyle Williams and TE Scott Chandler
- When the Bills signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson for the defensive line, the impact they are projected to have is obvious. But the indirect impact they are having is helping Kyle Williams get back to his old ways. Now healthy following successful foot surgery, it's the Williams of old that lines up with the first-team defense. His fire off the snap and overall penetration in to the backfield really stands out each practice. Scott Chandler has also been a strong contributor to camp on a daily basis. Easy catches, tough catches in traffic -- it doesn't matter. Chandler has roped everything in and become one of Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite two targets. He looks primed to have a better season than his last one.
Training Camp LVP: QB Tyler Thigpen
- I don't think it's that much of a surprise that one of the backup quarterback competitors is training camp's least valuable player. Thigpen, who has been the least consistent between he and Vince Young, really did nothing through the early part of camp to help him get the backup job. In fact, his performance may have had the reverse effect if his counterpart had really come out and played well. Thigpen improved a bit as practices went along, but his performance along with the second-team, led to an exasperated Chan Gailey declaring that things couldn't get much worse.
Training Camp MVP: S Jairus Byrd
- I know, I know. I'm a broken record when it comes to Jairus Byrd. However, now that the All-22 film will be available to fans, just take the time to watch everything he does in the secondary if you're a subscriber. Listen to Mark Kelso during game-day broadcasts about what Byrd does. He is a complete free safety -- solid in coverage, play recognition and tackling -- and is on the cusp of becoming one of the best in the NFL. He's a hidden star on the defense because of the position he plays, and he proved it all camp long.
Just like that, training camp is wrapped up with practices available to the fans at St. John Fisher College. Now only one shortened morning session separates the Bills from traversing back to Buffalo for good, signaling the start of the season is closing in.
After a storm full of heavy rains, thunder and lightning passed over the campus in the hours leading up to practice, fans in attendance were greeted by a cool and comfortable temperature with perhaps a pair of very light sprinkles throughout the two-plus hour workout.
The Bills were under the lights one last time in Pittsford in 2012. Here are some of my observations from the final night practice of this year's training camp:
- Practice MVP: S George Wilson. The seventh-year veteran has been solid all throughout training camp, but I thought his last day was his best. He's noted for his communication, but it was his recognition and angle of pursuit that really made him be the standout to me on Tuesday night. He sniffed out the proper hole on the otherwise shifty Brad Smith during his run attempt up the middle. He was also solid in pass coverage, breaking up plays on a few different occasions. He may not be the starting strong safety for the long-long term, but he's rewarded the Bills for a lot of work and coaching they've devoted to him in his career with his present abilities.
- Practice LVP: The injury list. Without anyone being incredibly terrible on Tuesday night, the worst part of the practice for the Bills was seeing three players go down with an injury late in to the session. Kellen Heard, Johnny White and James Carmon all could not finish out the practice. They're added to the list of Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Robert Eddins, Mike Caussin and Kevin Brock as players who missed all or a part of practice Tuesday. Even Nick Barnett got dinged up a little bit, but he got back in to team drills shortly after.
- In only the fourth scuffle of training camp, fans in attendance were treated to the one that lasted the longest before ultimately being broken up. Tight end Lee Smith and defensive end Sean Ferguson were holding on to each other's pads a little bit too long during team drills, and a bit of a tussle ensued. More players got involved, and both Kellen Heard and Sean Ferguson ended up without their helmets on. Dorin Dickerson was also ejected from the scrum early on in to the altercation. Four of those in 15 days of practice isn't that much.
- Vince Young shook off a slow start to the practice to have another solid outing for the Buffalo Bills. He shined especially in the 7-on-7 red zone drill. He found targets Marcus Easley, Fendi Onobun, Ruvell Martin and more to put the ball in the end zone. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is his job to lose. He just has to go out and prove it. That starts in Minnesota against the Vikings on Friday night.
- Mark Anderson is noted for his rather unique way of getting to the passer, but he did something on Tuesday that showed he's more of a versatile defender. During team drills, Anderson played the part of left end with C.J. Spiller in as a running back. Playing a wide-technique, Anderson kept a close eye on Spiller and sniffed out a screen play heading to Spiller right away. It was very good recognition skills on his part. If he continues that, it can keep him and his athleticism on the field for longer rather than having to depend on guesswork with situational defense.
- I saw something I haven't seen at training camp through the first 14 days. I actually witnessed Scott Chandler drop a pass that he should have caught. The tight end has been one of the best players at camp in the three weeks they've been in Pittsford, so I had to do a double-take when I saw it happen. He's made tough catch after tough catch for the first-team offense. I think he deserves a pass for his one mental lapse.
- A lot has been written in these notebooks about Marcus Easley the past two days, and it still holds true. However, Easley made a couple of nice plays early on in to the evening on Tuesday. With Stephon Gilmore draped in coverage, Easley made a nice back shoulder catch 25-yards down the sideline from Tyler Thigpen. He also had a nice catch along the one-yard line from Vince Young in 7-on-7's. In team drills however, Easley saw a potential big-time play heading towards the left sideline hit his hands in stride, only for the football to go right through them and hit the turf. He can't afford plays like that while he's buried on the depth chart. He's got three games to prove himself.
- Already outlined in the LVP category, the only other new item is in regards to Shawne Merriman. Following a rest day on Monday, Merriman was back to work on Tuesday.
The Bills have one final abbreviated practice on Wednesday morning, then head back to Buffalo. The team flies out to Minnesota on Thursday, and take on the Vikings Friday night at 8 pm.
With training camp drawing to a close for the Buffalo Bills, the team got their second-to-last public practice in under the hot sun at St. John Fisher College.
With the completion of two full weeks of workouts, it was the backup quarterbacks that showed a huge sign of improvement. You could even call it a sign of life, basing it on how poorly both combatants have looked during practices.
Solid performances, big hits and trash talking: Monday had all that to offer. Here are some of my observations from the Bills' session:
- Practice MVP: QB Vince Young. It's been 13 long and grueling days waiting for one of Young and Tyler Thigpen to step up and take the reigns as MVP of a practice, and the former won that battle. Young was poised and accurate in the team's two-minute drill that started on their own 30-yard line. Young didn't panic and found his receivers time after time, culminating with a touchdown pass. Young has been labeled the favorite by many to win the backup job, and he certainly went a long way to earn the role with his performance Monday. With a chance to play a lot of minutes as the second-team quarterback on Friday against Minnesota, Young can really put a stranglehold on the job with a solid performance. Thigpen also had a better practice, but still missed on some throws that should have been on target during 7-on-7's.
- Practice LVP: HB Tashard Choice. By now, I'm assuming you've heard about Choice getting knocked on his behind during team drills not once, but two plays in a row. If you haven't, allow me to catch you up to speed. Choice, known by his teammates as one of the biggest trash talkers on the team, received a handoff during team drills. He bounced it outside with a full head of steam, and was promptly flatlined by an approaching Da'Norris Searcy. The next play? Choice gets the handoff and Kirk Morrison fired through the line and hit the runner with a big shot that jarred the football loose. Choice was not pleased after practice, while Searcy laughingly remarked that it was nice to shut Choice up for a few minutes.
- The runner up for MVP of Monday's practice? Wide receiver Ruvell Martin. He gets these honors for a few different reasons. Martin made two huge catches during Vince Young's end-of-practice two-minute drill, including the touchdown reception. Above that, Martin was getting reps with the first team while the receiver group was fully healthy. That's notable because he was getting reps ahead of Marcus Easley, David Clowney and others. Unlike the other receivers buried by the depth chart, Martin is viewed by the Bills as a very good kickoff and punt team defender. On Monday, it was apparent he was the sixth receiver on the depth chart.
- That also means Marcus Easley is dropping down the depth chart. Already passed by both Derek Hagan and T.J. Graham, Easley didn't even see the field during the first and second-team reps in team drills, while Martin, David Clowney and Naaman Roosevelt all got in with the two's. At this point, Easley looks like he's ninth on the depth chart -- ahead of only Kamar Aiken and Derek Session. A lack in the results category on this team will do that to a player, even one with Easley's size and speed. Those thinking he may get a free pass because of his perceived "potential" may need to wake up and smell the coffee. He's in major jeopardy of not making this team, especially since he has little to no value on special teams.
- On Monday, Chris Hairston and Cordy Glenn split time evenly at left tackle. Both have had their moments of brilliance, followed closely by moments each would like to have back. Glenn got beat pretty cleanly by Robert Eddins when going up against the second-team defense. However, he performed rather well against Chris Kelsay. Hairston did much of the same while he was bounced back and forth between left tackle and right tackle. I still get the sense Glenn has the leg up in the competition.
- With Michael Jasper now off the roster never to return, the Bills tried somebody new at left guard with the second-team on Monday. Fifth-round pick and usual tackle Zebrie Sanders got some time at that spot for the first time to my knowledge. I think Sanders is in a roster-wide battle, with about eight players to my count, that are looking to fill three spots. If he offers the versatility to kick inside it could give him a leg up. Once training camp is over and the second preseason game is completed, I'll take a stab at where I think the roster is right now.
- I don't talk about him much in these notebooks because every single day is the same for C.J. Spiller. The running back looks explosive on a daily basis and finds the hole quite succinctly. Rarely have I seen him play poorly during a training camp practice. Often times you'll see him hit a hole and pop out to the other side of it before the defense gets there. He needs game-reps, not practice ones. They're almost too easy for him.
- Shawne Merriman was the notable addition to the non-participant list. Head coach Chan Gailey said after practice that they gave Merriman the day off and expect him to be back on Tuesday night.
- The other players that did not practice stayed the same from Sunday. Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Kevin Brock and Mike Caussin all sat out of the session. Gailey hopes to have Rogers back by Tuesday or Wednesday, but has ruled out the cornerback for the team's game against Minnesota.
The Bills' final practice open to the public is on Tuesday night. It starts at 6:30 pm, but fans will need a (free) ticket to get in.
When the Buffalo Bills selected Michael Jasper with their final pick of the seventh round, many had high hopes for the small-school product. The former 400-plus pound offensive lineman from Bethel College displayed an interesting amount of athleticism for a man his size, which led fans to coin him as the team's newest project.
When it didn't work out for Jasper as a nose tackle after last year's training camp, the Bills moved him to the offensive side of the ball upon being signed to the practice squad. A season full of work culminated for him when he was activated for the final week of the season due to a bevy of injuries.
As it turns out, that was the ceiling for Jasper's career in Buffalo. The team announced Monday afternoon that they had released Jasper. The Bills now have 89 players on their active roster, with an empty roster spot waiting to be filled.
Still a fan favorite for some, head coach Chan Gailey was very down on Jasper leading up to his demise with the Bills.
"He's struggling," the head coach said on Saturday. "At some point, you've got to say 'When is it a project, and when is it not?'"
With the news on Monday paired with a camp full of struggles for the second-year guard, it appears Gailey and the Bills have decided on the latter.
The Buffalo Bills have been relatively lucky throughout training camp in not having to deal with inclement weather. There was one close call when the team had to be moved inside because of lightning. Other than that though, it's been clear skies and sunshine at St. John Fisher College.
That is, until Sunday afternoon.
A little over halfway through the practice, a grey cloud rolled overhead and the Bills were sufficiently soaked as team drills took place.
I say this only because I had an umbrella and stayed dry, but it was good to see the team practice in less than perfect conditions. Who was able to battle through and have a good practice?
Here are some of my observations from Day 13:
- Practice MVP: HB Fred Jackson. Head coach Chan Gailey declared on Saturday night after practice that this week would be dedicated to getting the run game going on offense. As we all know by now, the running backs did not get a carry when the first team offense was on the field. Out of 14 plays that counted, 14 were passes. On Sunday, Jackson took MVP honors during the live drill on the goal line. The first team got three reps, with all three of those being a carry for Fred Jackson. How many of them ended up in the end zone? All three.
- Practice LVP: G/C Mark Asper. It was a tough day for the rookie interior lineman. He hasn't had the best of camps and is likely going to find himself amongst the cut-list. I was lucky enough to be close enough to the offensive linemen being coached up by Joe D'Alessandris, who coincidentally is my favorite coach to listen to during practice. Asper didn't do a drill to D'Alessandris' satisfaction, and the coach showed Asper how he wanted it run. Asper took another rep, and didn't get it straight once again. D'Alessandris dismissed him from the drill, telling Asper that he was wasting his breath on him, and brought Chad Rinehart in to do the same exercise to which he perfected it. D'Alessandris then looked at Asper and asked him why he couldn't do that once out of the five reps that he had. Asper also went on to struggle in the 1-on-1 drills.
- Fourth-round rookie cornerback Ron Brooks continues to make a steady improvement each day at camp. He's come a long way since things started at St. John Fisher College, and is making plays on the ball almost daily. Brooks intercepted a pass on Sunday that he returned for a touchdown, and also had the interception against Washington. Of course, he's done it against the second team offense, but signs of improvement this early on is a welcomed addition to a cornerback group that has a lot of questions.
- The more I watch Marcus Easley struggle in practices, the less shocked I'll be if they elect to cut him when we get to that point of the season. He has not shown the consistency Chan Gailey has looked for, and has been passed on the depth chart by both Derek Hagan and T.J. Graham. For Easley to make this team, he'll have to convince the Bills' coaching staff with solid play that they need to keep six receivers. Don't count out Ruvell Martin or David Clowney for that, either. They're right in that second-tier with Easley. If you had to ask me right now if he makes the team, I'd probably say yes. In no way am I confident in that statement, however. He has much to prove.
- One of the men that has passed Easley is rookie T.J. Graham. He had the play of the day on a post pattern. He got in behind both his defender and the safety, concentrated after the throw was deflected in the pouring rain and brought in the reception. He turned it up field and took it to the end zone. His biggest challenge will be knowing the playbook inside and out, but the raw talent is there.
- A player lost in the shuffle at linebacker is Danny Batten. The third-year pro out of South Dakota State is battling it out with the third team as an outside linebacker, his first time playing the 4-3 linebacker role. Batten is a liability in coverage, and doesn't make up for it with instincts to stop the run. He's one of the players that might be a casualty in switching back from the 3-4. That looks likely at this point.
- Tight end Fendi Onobun has everything you would like from a tight end in terms of size and speed. However, the instincts, recognition, catching ability and blocking leaves a ton to be desired. Prototypical size and speed don't appear to be enough to save Onobun. If it's down to keeping either him or Dorin Dickerson as a third tight end, Dickerson would win that battle in my opinion.
- No changes in the non-participants for the Bills on Sunday. Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Mike Caussin and Kevin Brock were the only four not to suit up. Despite suffering a shoulder injury on Saturday, Spencer Johnson did do individual drills. He sat out of team drills, however.
- Derek Hagan was shaken up on a long pass play that resulted in both an incompletion and him hitting the turf awkwardly. He got up limping and was escorted to the end zone by the trainers. They wrapped up his right knee and he got back in to action. It appeared to be a big cut caused by the fall, because shortly after getting it wrapped there were noticeable blood stains showing through before he even took another rep. He finished out practice.
- On the goal line drill, which happened while it was raining, Eric Wood did not take reps. However, Erik Pears did take part in the set of three plays.
The Bills continue practice on Monday afternoon at St. John Fisher College at 3 pm. The session is open to the general public.
David Nelson knows a thing or two about scary moments during training camp.
Twice in 2010, his first training camp, Nelson thought he had suffered an injury that could have sidelined him for the long-term, only to bounce right back in a relatively quick manner to try and make the team.
Fast forward to one of the first few practices at St. John Fisher College, where a freak collision with Mario Williams caused Nelson to believe his season could be in jeopardy. The wideout believed his knee was blown, due to the way it contorted upon impact.
Just like in 2010, however, Nelson received good news. He was able to get back to work during individual drills a few days ahead of the Bills' first preseason game.
He made another step in the right direction on Saturday night, taking part in team drills for the first time since the injury.
"The advice I got was that it couldn't get any worse -- it's not going to get any worse by pushing through it," Nelson said. "That was all the green-light I needed. When they told me that I just came out here and did all I could."
While the wide receiver admitted that it was hard for him to plant and cut at this point, he said he's going to battle through it -- albeit in an intelligent way.
"It was the trainers, it was Buddy, it was Chan -- all of the above were just telling me to be smart," Nelson remarked. "The competitiveness comes out of you. You come out on this field and you've got these guys and the bodies are flying around. Anytime you get a defense on the field, you want to go 100-percent so it's always hard to kind of turn it down and play under control.
"But at the same time, you wanna compete. This being my first day back, I had the anxiety because I only practiced two days in camp. So I still have those camp jitters going through my stomach. It was hard, but it was good to get out here today and be able to have three more days to really go out there with pads on."
Nelson revealed he had a strained tendon in his knee in late July. He'll be depended on by the Bills to be slot receiver throughout the 2012 season.
On their first day back to practice after a preseason loss, the Buffalo Bills were under the lights at St. John Fisher College.
While the focus was on executing as an offense a bit better, there were some defenders that really stole the show.
Here are some notes from Saturday night's practice:
- Practice MVP: Kyle WIlliams - If Kyle Williams isn't 100-percent healthy yet, he's doing a damn good job at hiding it. Williams looks like the player of old, dominating at times during team drills. The interior offensive linemen were no match for number-95, who was constantly in the backfield trying to break up plays. The most impressive part to his game is his fire off the line of scrimmage and timing of the snap. He looked great in the Bills' first preseason game, and the song remained the same for Saturday's practice.
- Practice LVP: Kraig Urbik - The right guard/center could not get out of his own way on Saturday. He's been effective for a large portion of camp, but during both 1-on-1 and team drills, Urbik was consistently beaten by his man. A solid player will be prone to a bad practice every now and again. Tonight was Urbik's turn.
- If it weren't for Kyle Williams and his performance, the MVP award would have went to Dorin Dickerson. It's been mostly a down camp for him so far, but he really looked poised and comfortable catching the ball on Saturday night. Lined up on the outside, Dickerson streaked toward the end zone down the right side, when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him perfectly in stride for a touchdown. With a defender in close proximity, Dickerson's concentration to bring in the ball and get both feet in for the score was impressive. He needs to build off this practice.
- Those that have been reading the 'Training Camp Notebook' series have come to realize that I think defensive end Kyle Moore is a surprise guy that can end up making this roster. Moore is getting some first-team reps when the Bills start to rotate along the defensive line, and shows some very good ability in rushing the passer. When the team plucked Moore off of Detroit's practice squad in November of 2011, I looked at his playing background and his size, and wondered to myself if he was the first indication that the Bills would be heading back to a 4-3 front on defense. When asked about Moore on Saturday, Chan Gailey said he's got to learn to play every aspect of the game -- meaning the run. But if you have a guy that can get after the passer fairly well, that's a high quality player to keep for depth.
- Following the abysmal performance of both Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young against Washington on Thursday, the pair took to the practice field to try and separate from one another yet again. While they both did some nice things, it was a two-step forward, two-step back kind of evening for each. Vince Young, working with the second-team, delivered some solid strikes over the middle of the field with his receiver in stride. He paired that, however, with continuing his trend of not pulling the trigger and a failure to make up his mind quickly enough as the pressure was collapsing the pocket. In the case of Thigpen, I thought he was very efficient at the back-shoulder throw along the sidelines throughout practice. However, those nice throws were coupled with Thigpen eyeing down his receiver, with it almost leading to an interception in the end zone. Thigpen is up with the two's on Sunday.
- For as much as fifth-round pick and offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders has struggled in training camp, I thought he had his best day so far. Most importantly, he did not accrue any pre-snap penalties for a false start -- a trait that has plagued him throughout camp. He also performed very well in both 1-on-1 and team drills. It's a building block for the former Seminole standout.
- This is less about how he looked on Saturday, and more about the type of opportunity that awaits him. It's sink or swim time for 2010 third-round pick Alex Carrington. The defensive tackle is being rotated through with the first-team, now that Spencer Johnson has a minor shoulder injury that could keep him out for a practice or two. Carrington has done little to separate himself and to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. He was average against third-string players in the team's first preseason game. It's quite the chance to make an impression on Dave Wannstedt and company.
- Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Mike Caussin and Kevin Brock were the only four not to practice on Saturday.
- Kelvin Sheppard did not participate in team drills. He's been dealing with an undisclosed injury that has acted up on him sporadically. His status for Sunday is unknown.
- Spencer Johnson had to leave practice with a shoulder injury. Chan Gailey doesn't suspect it's anything major.
- David Nelson, Erik Pears, Eric Wood, Terrence McGee and Torell Troup all took the most team reps since their respective injuries were suffered. Gailey has said in the past he wants to bring all of them along slowly. The head coach targets the Bills' third preseason game as a potential return for Wood.
The Bills resume practice on Sunday at 3 pm. The session at St. John Fisher College is once again open to the general public.
In the final practice before the Buffalo Bills head to Ralph Wilson Stadium for their first preseason game, head coach Chan Gailey wasn't amused by the effort level given by his team.
"I thought after practice that mentally we were sorta in to it," he said. "It's the first time in quite a while that we have not been in pads and I thought guys thought it was a glorified walk-thru."
Despite the "glorified walk-thru" crack from their head coach, there were still a couple of standouts, a few sub-par performances and even a training camp scuffle to complete the afternoon.
Here are a few notes from practice:
- Practice MVP: S Da'Norris Searcy. It's the second straight day where a safety has taken the honors for top player, and it was for yet another two interception day. Searcy's second of the interceptions was the most impressive, closing on the ball intended for Ruvell Martin and ripping it out of his hands for the turnover. Searcy, along with the rest of the second and third-team players, took the majority of Tuesday's repetitions because that's what will happen in large part during Thursday's preseason game.
- Practice LVP: QB/WR Brad Smith. Not that I was expecting all that much out of the dual-position player while he was taking reps at quarterback, but his throws were all over the place. The Bills inserted him at the end of practice for a 60-second drill, to which Smith missed a pair of passes and scrambled the next two plays without getting out of bounds. The jump ball effort in the end zone on the final play was easily thwarted by the defense, thusly ending the practice. We won't be seeing much of Smith on Thursday unless a two-minute drill arises, that's as much as Gailey said on Tuesday after practice. That means outside of the first two drives, get ready for the Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young show.
- It was nothing like what happened at SUNY Cortland with the ESPN Jets, but the Bills had a minor scuffle, dust-up, or whatever you'd like to label it. The "combatants?" Rookie CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Derek Hagan. Hagan went to block Gilmore on a run play and the two engaged with both their arms fully extended while grabbing a handful of jersey each. The play concluded, but Gilmore gave an extra shove. Then, Hagan gave an extra shove. After that, Gilmore and Hagan aimed to take each other down to the grass. It concluded with Hagan hovering over Gilmore, who was flat on his back, and the receiver giving him a couple of extra shoves. If you really want to score it at home, I'd give the edge to Hagan. Ah, training camp.
- I thought a pair of the receivers lower on the depth chart had a solid practice. The first of which is Buffalo-native Naaman Roosevelt, who catches everything in his area. I can only recall him dropping one pass in training camp so far. He has the consistency factor down, there just isn't anything extraordinary about him that may warrant the Bills wanting to keep him around over a Derek Hagan or a Marcus Easley. Plus, he's not that well-off in terms of special teams contributions. The other player that performed well was Ruvell Martin. He dropped one, but made a couple of tough grabs over the middle of the field throughout the day. He was a favorite target of Tyler Thigpen on Tuesday.
- I found it really interesting to watch assistant defensive line coach William Inge throughout the practice. He and Mario Williams were working together pretty extensively when the defensive end was not busy taking team reps. Inge was just going over inside rip moves, swim moves and everything that entails. He really focused on pressure points of the arm and where to gain an advantage by forcing an offensive lineman to do what you want involuntarily if his arms are out too far. Mark Anderson joined in on the work near the tail end of practice.
- There may be a lot of false start penalties called on the Bills on Thursday with the way that training camp has gone so far. Rookie Zebrie Sanders has been the most frequent offender, but Mark Asper, Michael Jasper and plenty of others have been constantly jumping before the snap of the ball. I don't think the replacement referees can screw that call up.
- It may have been during the least-spirited practice since the start of training camp, but Erik Pears taking part in team drills on Tuesday is a nice step forward. Chris Hairston shows some poise and potential, but Pears is the most polished product they have at right tackle at the present moment. Getting him back will be a huge boost to the offensive line.
- Johnny White, Justin Rogers and Mike Caussin did not practice on Tuesday. White was nowhere to be found during the session.
- Pears, David Nelson and Torell Troup all practiced but on a limited basis. Once again, Nelson did not participate in the 7-on-7's or during team drills. It's unlikely that any of the three play in the team's first preseason game. Nick Barnett also sat out of team drills, instead riding the stationary bike with a view of the line of scrimmage to diagnose plays.
The Bills have a walk-thru that is closed to both the public and media on Wednesday, and then they head back to Buffalo. They'll take on the Washington Redskins at home Thursday night at 7 pm.
You can hear the live play-by-play coverage of the game on WGR Sports Radio 550, the official radio home of the Buffalo Bills.
In the case of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Donald Jones, his first year of starting in the NFL was plagued by drops. He did collect 23 receptions over the course of eight games, but he missed a few opportunities to really stand out early on in the season.
Taking it all to heart, Jones has been trying to fix the football problem that ails him.
Speaking with reporters after Monday night's practice, the wide receiver was inevitably asked about the competition shaping up for the second wide receiver job -- and more importantly, about how he felt he has performed this far in to training camp.
"I feel like I'm doing good," Jones said. "I've definitely caught basically all the passes that have been thrown to me except for the early one today. I'm really pissed about it, but I feel like I'm doing good."
Only the one dropped pass through ten practices, Donald?
"By my count, two drops all camp," he said. "Yeah, it's a good percentage. But I shouldn't have any."
For a player who's biggest problem has been consistency to this point, those sentiments have to be music to the ears for Chan Gailey and the rest of the offensive coaching staff.
Jones is up against Derek Hagan, T.J. Graham and Marcus Easley for the number-two receiver role. Heading in to training camp, Gailey said Jones was ahead of every one else for that job.
Heading in to training camp, some fans of the Buffalo Bills were concerned over seeing Kirk Morrison's name penciled in to the starting lineup as strongside linebacker. As it turns out, the worries may have been a bit premature.
Speaking with The Howard Simon Show Tuesday, Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt said a younger player has played his way up to the starting lineup. That man? Third-year linebacker Arthur Moats.
Here is Wannstedt in his appearance on WGR talking about the strongside job.
You can hear the entire conversation Wednesday morning on The Howard Simon Show.
It's hard to believe it, but after Monday's practice wrapped up at St. John Fisher College, there are only five practices left at training camp for the Buffalo Bills.
As the team approaches their first preseason game, the Bills are starting to get healthier and saw the return on Monday of many different players that get first-team reps.
Who stood out in the session? Here's my breakdown:
- Practice MVP: S Jairus Byrd. The fourth-year player is the first repeat 'Practice MVP' of training camp in the ten days of work. Byrd picked off two Ryan Fitzpatrick passes throughout the afternoon. The first was right in his breadbasket after C.J. Spiller got tangled up and fell to the turf on his route, while the second interception saw Byrd sprawl out and dive for an errant pass during the one-minute drill. He cradled the ball and didn't allow it to hit the turf, resulting in the pick. Byrd just continues to impress here at Bills camp.
- Practice LVP: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. I've already outlined a pair of the quarterback's interceptions, but he also threw two more during team drills on Monday. The first was just a bit ahead of Fred Jackson, allowing the running back to get one hand on it. The ball deflected off his hand and straight in to the hands of George Wilson. His final turnover was a complete misfire that Leodis McKelvin ripped out of the air and returned for a touchdown. He hasn't had many sub-par days in Pittsford, but Monday was one of them.
- Bills wide receiver Donald Jones was a close second for the MVP honors for two catches he made during the session. They were along the same lines, but equally impressive both times. Jones skied in to the air and high pointed the ball to come down with a tough catch on both occasions. The first time he did so, it went for a touchdown. If he can become more consistent with his hands, he could become a viable threat for this Bills offense. After practice, Jones said he's had only two dropped passes this camp, which is two too many in his opinion. That's the attitude you love to hear from a developing player.
- It might be time to worry just a little bit about how far away starting right tackle Erik Pears is at this point. There is still a month before the season begins, but him going from doing individual drills through the last week, to being held out of practice completely today could be bad news. The Bills could have a line of thinking to just sit Pears down for the rest of the week until they get back for practice on Saturday night to try and get him right, but that much is unclear at this point. Either way, the 'minor' off-season surgery to his groin is setting him back.
- The plight of 2010 second-round pick Torell Troup continues. On Saturday, Troup didn't even make it on the field for practice. Today? Troup takes a step forward, dresses for practice and even takes reps during team drills. After a few of those, back to the trainer's room he went. Troup not being on the field is by no means attributed to a lack of effort or want-to. He wants it badly, as evidenced when I spoke with him earlier about his progress during camp. It's all about how much his body lets him be out there, and to this point it isn't a whole heck of a lot. Much like Terrence McGee, this situation is about small gains. Monday seemed like one of those before having to go back to the trainer's room.
- Tyler Thigpen threw his best pass of training camp on Monday. Finding the weak spot in a zone defense, Thigpen put it smack dab in the middle of the converging defenders to Dorin Dickerson on a post route. The ball hit Dickerson right in the hands, and in stride, for a touchdown. Vince Young had a solid day as well, looking really comfortable throwing on the run. I continue to believe that if you allow him to use his natural athleticism, he can really be a nice backup option for the Bills.
- The smooth operating style of Scott Chandler continues during team drills. He makes tough catches with defenders all around him and has done so throughout the entirety of training camp. His best catch of the day came right along the goal line with rookie Ron Brooks in coverage. Chandler was breaking towards the pylon and roped in the catch with Brooks draped all over him and the sideline drawing near. It's been a stellar camp for him ten days in.
- Only three players missed practice on Monday: Justin Rogers, Erik Pears and Mike Caussin. Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Chris Kelsay and Torell Troup all returned in one way or another. Nelson was the most limited of the group. He didn't take part in either 7-on-7's or team drills. Chan Gailey said they were trying to work Nelson back in slowly, which probably makes him a long-shot to play against the Redskins on Thursday.
The Bills have one more practice before their tilt with Washington. Practice resumes Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm on the campus of St. John Fisher College. The session is once again open to the general public.
As training camp has rolled along at St. John Fisher College, the Buffalo Bills have had three main pieces in the defensive backfield that have been a part of the rotation during practice.
At safety, starters Jairus Byrd and George Wilson are both getting their reps with the first team. As is second-year player Da'Norris Searcy, who has impressed the coaching staff so much so that he's getting some time at both free and strong safety during team drills.
"First off, it's a great experience and a great opportunity," Searcy said. "It shows that the coaches trust me a lot to be able to put me in with the one's. So I'm just going in making sure I know all my assignments, communications and just continue to work and get better."
All it takes is a logical understanding to know that the Bills only really have three players on the roster that they'd want to use at safety in a regular season game. While they have the comfort of having both Byrd and Wilson fully healthy, it seems the Bills are aiming to get their second-year safety acclimated with both positions just in case of an injury.
Searcy, taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, watches by as his second-year brethren are being put in starting positions with a lot of responsibilities to perform. As the coaching staff and even the front office have said, the Bills need their draft classes to play a big role in their advancement as a team. Searcy said there's an inner push to be a part of that equation.
"A little bit, because I want to show what I can do as well," he said. "I showed it a little bit last year, but me going in to year two, I want to be able to show more. Just show that I'm accountable and show the coaches that if they need me anywhere, that I can play."
"For year two, I would like to have a bigger role and just be able to compete and help the team any way I can."
If the way the reps have been divied out are any indication, it's likely that Searcy will get his wish in 2012.
On the second straight day in which the Buffalo Bills faced the hottest conditions the weather has had to offer during training camp, the team went live in hitting during a goal line drill to end practice.
With players clamoring for the hitting to begin at training camp, head coach Chan Gailey finally gave them their wish. Eight plays, with the defense getting the better of the offense five times to three.
Who shined in that drill and through the rest of practice? Let's break down Saturday's activities:
- Practice MVP: CB Aaron Williams. Maybe it's because both Stevie Johnson and David Nelson weren't practicing on Saturday, but I thought Williams had his best practice of training camp. He slipped on a couple of occasions, but for the most part he was stuck to the receivers' hip pockets like glue and made some impressive plays on the ball when it was approaching its target. He's had a rough camp to this point, and you have to wonder if Saturday was the kind of breakthrough he needed to get himself back on track for the start of the season.
- Practice LVP: G/C Kraig Urbik. Urbik has been pretty solid for most of training camp, but when the Bills got to the goal line drill at the end of practice, Urbik was no match for one man in particular. Kyle Williams was a man on a mission during the live hitting exercise. He blew through Urbik on a run play, and struggled to deal with him on the other three reps. Williams is very talented, but Urbik has some pop to his run blocking as well. Just a bad four plays for him.
- Speaking of Kyle Williams, it was refreshing to see the switch go on for him. It was the first time the defensive line went really 100-percent it seemed, and Williams was back to his old ways. His quickness off the snap to fire through the neutral zone as it was being hiked in to the quarterbacks' hands is something that really sets him apart. At least for one day, Kyle Williams looked like he was back in a big way.
- It was a bit of a tough day for Da'Norris Searcy in the coverage aspect of his game. In a red zone situation of team drills, twice within three plays he seemed just a step behind of where he needed to be and allowed a pass to get to his man for a big gain. He's done a ton of good so far through camp, but left some to be desired on Saturday. He atoned a bit for it by picking up a Tashard Choice fumble and running it back for a touchdown as he was chased down by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- A two steps forward, two steps back type of afternoon for Bills first round pick and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. At the beginning of practice, Gilmore did a solid job at covering most of his assignments during 1-on-1's. During 7-on-7's, he even picked off a pass after his receiver fell down and ran it back for a score. After that though, Gilmore had a couple of rough patches. Derek Hagan set him up beautifully and beat him clean on a back shoulder throw in the front corner of the end zone for a score. Hagan got in his face a little bit and talked some trash, to which Gilmore just walked away. Then on a team drill with the offense's back to the end zone, Gilmore dropped back to the deep right third on a Cover-3, and just got lost on a play that had Arthur Moats mismatched against C.J. Spiller in coverage. It should have been his job to come up and help. Instead he was lost in space.
- The Bills aren't going to say it, but it sure does seem like they're doing everything in their power to help Cordy Glenn win the job at left tackle. With Erik Pears down, it's given the Bills a bit of an excuse to give Glenn the lion's share of reps at the position for the past few days while his combatant, Chris Hairston, gets some reps over at right tackle. Chan Gailey said they haven't even considered giving Glenn some reps at left tackle. Getting him every rep at left tackle possible sure seems like they may have a favorite as to who they'd like to see win that job. It's just his job to go out and earn it now.
- He's probably an afterthought to most Bills fans anyway, but wide receiver Derek Session just can't seem to hang on to the ball. Drops have plagued him all camp long. He's shows some positive signs every once and again, but for the most part it's been the ball hitting the turf in front of him that's been the tale of the tape. A major, major long-shot to make this team.
- Stevie Johnson sat out of practice Saturday for precautionary reasons. With an off day on Sunday, Gailey said they didn't want to chance anything and just have him back for Monday. The same story goes for Fred Jackson, who dressed for practice but took zero reps in 7-on-7's and in team drills -- he'll likely be back Monday as well.
- Erik Pears continued to not take any reps in team drills. The Bills used both Sam Young and Chris Hairston with the first unit at right tackle in his absence. Defensive end Mark Anderson got back to taking team reps after missing a pair of days. He's been battling through a minor injury.
- Not practicing on Saturday in addition to Johnson were Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Mike Caussin, David Nelson, Chris Kelsay and Torell Troup. Troup didn't even come out for practice, spending the day with the trainers inside. That sounds like a significant step back for the 2010 second round pick.
- Bryan Scott and Kellen Heard both returned to practice on Saturday.
The Bills have Sunday off, and resume practice at St. John Fisher College on Monday afternoon at 3 pm. The practice is open to the general public.
Through the first two years of his career, the Buffalo Bills have changed their mind on what to do with Arthur Moats more than a five-year old looking at all the flavors of ice cream.
At times it's been a need for the Bills to switch Moats' role due to an injury, other times it's just been a desire to fit him in to a specific role based on his measureables. Luckily for the third-year linebacker, the team has finally found a role suitable for him.
"Yeah, definitely enjoying that," said Moats with a smile pasted on his face like usual. "The fact that I was able to come from OTAs and stuff like that and get comfortable and then to stay at that position is definitely helping me a lot."
While Buffalo attempted to run the 3-4 the past two seasons, Moats got switched from an inside linebacker to a pass-rushing outside linebacker and vice versa a handful of times. But now in the 4-3, Moats is a linebacker for Dave Wannstedt.
The helter skelter positional lifestyle Moats had been living in through two seasons was actually beneficial, however. He explained why:
"I think it is because for the simple fact that for the first couple of years I had to know both inside and outside. Well now we're in the inside linebacker room, it's easier for me because I'm hearing everything as we sit there and get through it the first time out," Moats remarked. "[Before" I learned one position, and then I have to go a whole different room and learn something else. So when they bounce me around from Mike, to Will, to Sam, it's like okay, well I've already heard 'em when they've talked about this guy and I took notes from that so I know what to do."
Moats has been getting a bevy of first-team repetitions during his first training camp as a linebacker in the 4-3 defense. The college defensive end, at this point, likely figures to be one of the top substitutions in the linebacker group if an injury occurs.
He'll get his first chance at extending playing time in it during the Bills first preseason game against Washington on August 9.
In the sweltering heat at St. John Fisher College, the Buffalo Bills wore on with another day of work at training camp
After Tyler Thigpen had stepped up his game and had his best practice of camp so far, did Vince Young do the same on Friday?
Let's take a look at some notes from the practice session:
- Practice MVP: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. I don't think I've talked about him a bunch in the wrap-ups, just because there's no competition for his job and he's been doing relatively well throughout training camp. On Friday however, it seemed like he was hitting more tough throws than usual. Clutch back shoulder throws to his receivers, fitting the ball in to the tightest of spots to Scott Chandler and having a command of the offense while putting the players in the spots they should be on a given play… all of these added up to one of Fitzpatrick's better performances.
- Practice LVP: WR Marcus Easley. The wide receivers for the Buffalo Bills had a major case of the drops, to which Chan Gailey confirmed after practice. Gailey called it unacceptable. While Easley isn't the only offender, he earned LVP honors for getting chewed out by the head coach during team drills. The first-team offense was in a red zone situation, and Easley had worked his man to think he was going inside, and would have had a touchdown right at the goal line had he ran the proper route. Easley didn't run the right route. Fitzpatrick saw the play developing, anticipated where Easley would be and placed it perfectly to where the wideout could have caught it for six. Instead of breaking out, he stayed on his path and heard an earful from Gailey as he walked back to the huddle.
- Marcell Dareus might be unblockable in 1-on-1 drills against the offensive linemen. He ate Kraig Urbik for lunch during the exercise, easily snapping past the guard/center to get to the quarterback. If he gets as many one-on-one's in the game as I think he may because of the presence of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson, Dareus could be in line for not just a big year. He could have a huge season.
- During the day of one of his second-team rep practices, Vince Young had his strongest outing yet. He was hitting receivers in stride and making the right reads at a higher rate than he has been. While I wouldn't consider it to be a spectacular practice, Young is certainly moving in the right direction, much like Thigpen did on Thursday.
- I had a premonition ahead of practice to ask Gailey if they might think about using either Cordy Glenn or Chris Hairston at right tackle with Erik Pears continuing to miss team drills. My line of thinking was that Sam Young wasn't exactly who they wanted to be getting all this time with the first team, understanding that he's on the bubble to make the 53-man squad. As it turns out, Gailey beat me to the punch of my question. Hairston started taking reps at right tackle just in case Pears is out for a longer period of time. He looked good while doing it against defensive end Kyle Moore, who has had a strong camp in his own right.
- Backup safety Nick Saenz stood out a bit to me on Friday. He put himself in good positions to make plays for the second team defense against the Vince Young-led squad. He broke up one play and could have had an interception had he played the ball rather than played the man's hands. If the Bills don't sign a veteran safety before the season begins, Saenz is the favorite to make the 53-man roster if they elect to keep four safeties. He's an undrafted free agent out of Houston.
- Heading in to camp, I thought Dorin Dickerson had a real shot to make the team. I no longer feel the same way. As camp has continued, Dickerson has been looking slower, lost and is dropping passes that are hitting him in the hands. When you're trying to unseat a veteran player like Corey McIntyre for a roster spot, you have to earn it. Dickerson hasn't. There is still time, but he's been unimpressive in Pittsford.
- Stevie Johnson missed some team reps due to tightness in his groin. Not the side he had surgery on, but the other one. Kelvin Sheppard returned to team drills in full on Friday. Eric Wood had the most team reps that he's had throughout training camp. Chan Gailey thinks Wood is progressing quite well.
- Justin Rogers, Bryan Scott, Josh Nesbitt, Mike Caussin, David Nelson and Chris Kelsay all did not participate in any capacity. Meanwhile Mark Anderson and Erik Pears went through individual drills, but did not take part in team drills.
- Terrence McGee is coming along slowly… very slowly. Gailey said there haven't been any breakthroughs, only small gains.
- Kamar Aiken returned to practice after missing the last few.
The Bills get back in to action on Saturday at St. John Fisher College. Practice starts at 3 pm and is open to the general public.
It's been a long road for Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler to get to the road he's on now. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2007, Chandler had trouble sticking around there and elsewhere around the NFL.
Appearing on The Howard Simon Show Friday morning, the tight end said he was definitely tested on the mental side of it all.
"I mean, when you get cut four times you do start to doubt your football abilities a little bit," Chandler remarked. "I think that's only natural to do, but you can't lose your confidence. That was something I never did lose. You start to think, 'What am I doing wrong here?' But you just gotta to stick to your guns there, and if an opportunity presents itself you have to take advantage of it. Luckily for me, I was able to stick around long enough for that opportunity to come up."
The olive branch extended to him by the NFL came by way of western New York and the Buffalo Bills in December of 2010 -- just days after Chandler received word he'd been cut for the fourth time.
Following stints with the Chargers, New York Giants and twice the Dallas Cowboys, Chandler got a new lease on life and found a home with Chan Gailey, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills.
"It was a breath of fresh air for sure," he said. "Bouncing around those first four years was a little tough on me. I know it was really tough on my wife. We have two little girls and she was having to chase me around because I was bouncing around all over the place. Yeah, it was really nice last year just to have a home, get a lot of playing time and to re-sign here was a dream."
After a season in which he not only started for the first time, but tied the franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end, the Bills were happy to bring him back on a two-year contract.
Gailey has noted that Chandler is one of the two players that have been most in sync with Fitzpatrick through the early portions of training camp at St. John Fisher College. If that continues, Chandler could figure to have a big season as a part of an offense that started off with a bang in 2011.
You can hear the entire interview with Chandler below:
With their backs against the wall following the comments from Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey on Wednesday night, the second team offense, led by Tyler Thigpen, rose up from the ashes and had a 'Rudy' moment.
Ok, not really.
But they were a lot better, and looked as though they took a step forward. Gailey actually put it best after practice.
"I think they did. It's hard to go the other way."
Comforting. That's probably the confidence they were looking for.
On to the breakdown:
- Practice MVP: DE Shawne Merriman. Yes, we've heard this song and dance before. Merriman looking good in training camp is something that took Bills fans by storm last year, only to be disappointed by yet another injury setback. But here we are again and Merriman is looking the part, mainly over the past two days, of a player that looks like he can help this team immensely. He was a nuisance to Ryan Fitzpatrick the past two nights, even accidentally knocking him in to the back wall of players during team drills on Thursday because he got there so quickly. Temper your enthusiasm, but Merriman is off to a good start.
- Practice LVP(s): The left tackle battle. Both rookie Cordy Glenn and second-year player Chris Hairston struggled mightily on Thursday, with Hairston perhaps having the better day of the two. Merriman really had his way with Glenn on Wednesday, and the left tackle couldn't snap out of it on Thursday. Merriman was once again the thorn in the side of the other left tackle combatant, Hairston. He had trouble dealing with the defensive end's speed, but got the better of Merriman on a pair of reps. I think Thursday was a step back in that position, but there's a long way to go in training camp.
- On to the aforementioned Thigpen. He had, for my money, his best practice yet in the 2012 training camp. He started off strongly in 7-on-7's, making the proper read and delivering a strike to the intended receiver, and he connected on a pair of deep passes perfectly. His first set of team reps weren't exactly awe-inspiring, but on his next set Thigpen came back and delivered a string of solid passes to the likes of Naaman Roosevelt and others on the second unit. He definitely needed a day like that to get him back in to the swing of things.
- On the other hand, Vince Young continues to struggle throwing the ball. One play was particularly head-scratching. Young zeroed in on his receiver that was covered perfectly by the cornerback, drawing safety Delano Howell over to the area as well. Young pump-faked, and instead of going elsewhere (or even tucking it and running), he cocked his arm back and let 'er rip to that very same receiver. It hung in the air, and Howell was a good pair of hands away from picking it off. The times Young has looked his most comfortable? When he's not inside his head. You see his poise when he tucks it and runs, but one play stood out in terms of shutting his mind off. Young was in shotgun, and the snap was delivered low. The quarterback kept his cool, picked up the ball, and delivered his best pass of the day 15 yards down the field to a receiver on a crossing route. You want your quarterback to analyze things, but you don't want him to be swimming in possibilities in his mind to the point where it cripples his natural abilities. There's still time yet for him, though.
- I know he was a bit of an afterthought heading in to training camp, but Derek Hagan isn't going anywhere anytime soon if he continues to practice the way that he has. I've made some notice of him on these before for his ferocity in and out of his breaks, and he's continuing it every single practice. He had the play of the day beating his man clean on a fly route, disguising his hands from the cornerback and going up to make the catch for a long touchdown. He seems to be earning some of that trust Ryan Fitzpatrick was talking about, and he has Gailey raving about his effort. These are all very good signs for the veteran receiver.
- Alex Carrington may make this team by default. Thought to be in some trouble to make the 53-man roster due to a lack of separation in his abilities from others at his position, Carrington now likely has to do something terrible to not make the team. He's got two main competitors for a roster spot: Torell Troup and Kellen Heard. Troup is struggling to overcome all his back problems from last year, sitting out of all the team drills so far. Meanwhile an ankle injury has sidelined Heard since one of the first few days of practice, and he was behind Carrington as it was. With all these reps -- especially without his competition taking them -- the only person he has to blame for not making the team is himself.
- Although the circumstances of injuries to starters aren't ideal, it's a very good thing that some of the Bills young linebackers are getting some valuable reps with the first team. Scott McKillop, Arthur Moats and Nigel Bradham are all getting an extended amount of time with the first team, and they shouldn't take it for granted. Bradham has really stuck out to me as a player that might be able to be a starter down the line. Getting those guys acclimated to the system is essential before the start of the season comes around.
- Kelvin Sheppard left practice early with the same undisclosed injury. Gailey isn't sure if it will be a day or a week before he's back. Chris Kelsay and Mark Anderson both didn't participate in team drills (Kelsay didn't practice at all) because of respective groin injuries. Linebacker Bryan Scott didn't do team drills because of a thigh injury.
- Eric Wood and Terrence McGee both continued to take reps in team drills. McGee put a big ice pack on his knee after his reps. Right tackle Erik Pears still has yet to take any team reps after sitting out a pair of practices a few days back.
- David Nelson, Kellen Heard, Justin Rogers, Kamar Aiken, Josh Nesbitt and Mike Caussin all didn't participate on Thursday.
The Bills resume practice at 3 pm at St. John Fisher College on Friday. The session is open to the general public.
When the Buffalo Bills checked in to St. John Fisher College for the start of training camp, general manager Buddy Nix said the team would like to add a veteran presence for a backup at safety.
It seems as though the Bills may have their eyes on one player in particular, and it's someone that fell through the cracks years ago.
Free agent safety Jim Leonhard, formerly of the Ravens and Jets, was spotted on the sidelines at Bills training camp Thursday during practice. According to the Buffalo News, he's on an official free agent visit, and will remain in Pittsford, NY on Friday.
Leonhard suffered a major knee injury in December as a member of the Jets. He had surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon. That injury happened a year after Leonhard broke his leg and had to rehab that heading in to 2011.
The safety played his first three seasons in Buffalo before the team allowed him to walk, when he then hooked on with the Baltimore Ravens the next season. With the Bills, Leonhard started sparingly and was mostly a special teams contributor. With the Ravens, Leonhard got the chance to start and never looked back.
Spending only one season in Baltimore, Leonhard followed former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to the New York Jets when the coach was put in charge of that franchise. Leonhard has played the last three season with the Jets.
The Bills currently only have three players at safety that look like locks to make the team in Jairus Byrd, George Wilson and Da'Norris Searcy. Currently, undrafted free agent rookie Nick Saenz is getting second-team reps along with Searcy.
Keep it locked to WGR Sports Radio 550 and WGR550.com for any new details.
Each and every year, there is a few "it" players that fans of the Buffalo Bills always want to know about.
They may not necessarily start or have shown much, but something about them or their game has brought on a fever pitch, so much so that there is a constant desire to know how that player is doing throughout training camp.
Bills wide receiver Marcus Easley has been one of those guys now three years running.
It's hard to ignore why fans are really interested in his abilities. At 6-foot-2 and 217-pounds, the former UConn star has all the measurables that draftniks of the NFL Combine-era drool over. It even looked as though Easley turned a corner last pre-season against Detroit. Starting in place of the injured Donald Jones, the wideout looked on the verge of cracking the starting lineup.
But we all know what happened next. Easley received the news that he had a heart ailment, and his season was over before it could even start. This coming on the heels of his rookie year where he missed the entire campaign due to a knee injury.
Even still, the number-two receiver job is still an open competition -- and Easley knows it.
"It's a wonderful opportunity. You couldn't ask for a better situation to be in," he said during his appearance on The Howard Simon Show Thursday. "But there's a lot of work that needs to be done and it's all up for grabs. Whoever it is coming out of camp, he's the guy."
Easley looks to be in a battle with Jones, Derek Hagan and T.J. Graham to be that starting wide receiver opposite Stevie Johnson.
You can hear more from Easley, including how he felt last season when he got the news of his heart ailment and how he stayed ready for another chance, by listening to the player below:
Two days ago undrafted free agent running back Chris Douglas was brought down hard on a tackle by safety Delano Howell. He remained on the ground and limped off with trainers in tow.
Two days later, Douglas is out of a job.
The Buffalo Bills announced Thursday morning that Douglas has been Waived/injured, paving the way for an open roster spot. In the place of Douglas, the team also announced they have signed undrafted free agent running back Zach Brown.
Brown played with the Pitt Panthers last season, and spent the previous three seasons to that one as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers. Through his four-year career, Brown totaled 1,509 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns between the two schools. He was invited to and participated in the Bills' Rookie Mini-Camp in May.
For the second night practice of Buffalo Bills' training camp at St. John Fisher College, the defense dominated the day. It wasn't just any part of the 11 men donning blue practice jerseys. No, it was the secondary that especially stood out.
Here are some observations from Wednesday night's practice session that really stood out.
- Practice MVP: CB Prince Miller. I know, you're asking yourself 'Who?' Well, Miller just so happens to be the player that picked off two passes to steal the show in Growney Stadium. He stuck with his assignment all night, and ran in their hip pocket -- easily within striking distance. A pass thrown a tad behind Ruvell Martin gave Miller an ample chance to make a play on the ball and he brought it in for the interception. While it may be an uphill battle for him to make the team, Miller is likely the 7th cornerback on the depth chart right now. He's a shoe-in for the practice squad if no one else snaps him up on cutdown day.
- Practice LVP: LB Nigel Bradham. I've liked Bradham's camp as a whole thus far, but he did something on Wednesday night that was a tad off-putting. He was in coverage trailing Dorin Dickerson during team drills. With tackling past the point of initial contact generally frowned upon, not only did Bradham go to bring down Dickerson, he threw him to the ground in unnecessary fashion. He's a rookie and he'll learn that he shouldn't do that, but it was the low point of his camp so far.
- I swear I'm not the agent for Jairus Byrd. He's just been really, really good the past few days at practice. On Wednesday, Byrd was all over the place and in on numerous plays. Most notably, he broke up a pass to Derek Hagan on a post-route over the middle with a solid pop on the play. He proved his effectiveness on a blitz that disrupted a C.J. Spiller run play headed outside the left tackle to give his teammates a chance to stop the play before it started. I've used the term about him before, and he's getting closer to it. He could be one of the best safeties in the NFL this year if he matches the interception category with his tackling and instincts.
- I haven't been too impressed with sixth-round pick Mark Asper just yet. The Bills took a late-round flyer on him in hopes that he'd be a big body that can offer some versatility. The only problem is that he hasn't really found a position that suits him best just yet. They've used him at left guard a lot so far, but hasn't looked all that comfortable. He got beat pretty soundly by defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert on Wednesday. He needs to beat out Colin Brown to make this team, and so far he's behind.
- After receiving tons and tons of questions about one player in particular, so this is for all of you asking about Michael Jasper. He hasn't done anything terribly, but he hasn't done anything to make himself stand out. That's the reason why he hasn't been talked about all that much. I think he's a long-shot to make the team, to be honest. Practice squad seems likely again.
- Second round pick Cordy Glenn really does show flashes of brilliance on some plays, then reverts back to rookie mistakes on others. You see him easily engulf a defender when he has his feet under him and able to utilize both his size and reach. However, a speed rush has gotten him in trouble a few times. Shawne Merriman was the man to get past Glenn on Wednesday. As a whole, however, Glenn shows the upside the Bills saw in him when they selected him in the second round. It's all about the consistency factor as to whether or not he'll win the starting job.
- Eric Wood and Terrence McGee are slowly being worked back in to the swing of things. I didn't get the exact count on Wood, but I would estimate he got around 10 reps during team drills on Wednesday night. He only had a pair on Thursday, as he's trying to bounce back from a torn ACL. McGee took seven or eight straight reps with the second-team defense. He's still dealing with the after effects of a patella tendon injury suffered last season. Right tackle Erik Pears, however, took no team reps yet again.
- Kelvin Sheppard sat out Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. Scott McKillop and Chris White took first team reps in his absence. David Nelson, Justin Rogers, Josh Nesbitt, Kamar Aiken, Kellen Heard and Mike Caussin did not practice in any capacity.
The Bills resume practice Thursday at 3 pm. Practice is open to the general public.
If you work on projects with a group of people, more often than not you have some you know you can trust to handle their responsibilities, and others that you're unsure of. Think of it as an inner circle, if you will.
In the NFL, that inner circle between quarterbacks and wide receivers might be one of the most high-profile ones around.
"It's such a big thing in the quarterback-receiver relationship," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told The Howard Simon Show on Wednesday. "I would say that's the most important thing, is me being able to trust a guy."
That trust Fitzpatrick is talking about isn't just handed out to new receivers in an offense like helmets and team gear. It's on them to get to that level.
"I definitely don't start off trusting them. They've got to earn that. There was a play the other day -- [Tuesday], I signaled a route and T.J. [Graham] ran the wrong route. I just talked to him in the locker room about it. 'That's going to hurt the trust level a little bit, you've got to be able to earn it back. You've got to go out there and you gotta make sure you're not messing up. You've got to make sure we're on the same page.'
"It's such a big thing. I don't want to be thinking when I'm out there, 'Is this guy gonna do the right thing, does he know what I'm talking about?' I've got to trust that they're gonna be in the right spot at the right time."
Speaking of Graham specifically, Fitzpatrick said he's starting to get it and getting better, but added the rookie is not quite there yet.
So who is in Fitzpatrick's inner circle? The players you would have guessed: Stevie Johnson, David Nelson and Scott Chandler. The quarterback said Donald Jones is climbing the rungs of trust as well.
It just goes to show you need a whole lot more than a quick time in the 40-yard dash to make an impact in the NFL.
With the exciting off-season that the Buffalo Bills had in both roping in free agents as well as re-signing their own, it's a natural progression for people to look ahead and see who will need to be re-signed before 2013. Of all the names that are on the list for the Bills, one of the most notable is that of former Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd.
Heading in to the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, Byrd is keeping a steady approach on the matter. Some players will let it dominate the discussion throughout the year, but it's doubtful that Byrd will be among that group.
Speaking with The Howard Simon Show on Wednesday, the safety was asked if there have been any negotiations to this point.
"I don't think so," Byrd replied. "I'm just letting my agent handle that."
"Can it be a distraction? Yeah, sure it can be a distraction. But I won't let it be a distraction," Byrd declared. "People always say you want to get an extension but I signed something. Just like they say Buddy [Nix] is a man of his word, I'm gonna be a man of my word. I signed a contract, I'm still under contract for another year, so it works both ways. I think that's something a lot of people don't understand that they want him to be a man of his word and at the same time the player has to, too."