Bills Beat Blog



By Joe Buscaglia
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Orton, Bills believe backup will be up to speed for Week 1

Just moments before the initial 53-man roster was due into the National Football League offices, the Buffalo Bills announced the signing of quarterback Kyle Orton. The move paved the way for the Bills to release second-year quarterback Jeff Tuel and to entrust Orton with all the responsibilities of being EJ Manuel's backup.

The big question, though, is will he be ready to step in at a moment's notice? Both he and Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone seem to think so.

"This week, and I think I'll be ready to go. I've really put a lot of work in the last 48-72 hours mentally," Orton said. "Physically it went really good today and I'll be ready to go on Sunday."

"I think you'd be surprised of what he can do, and I think we'll just go work during the week and just see how much he feels comfortable with handling," Marrone remarked. "Probably more than what most people think because of his experience."

It's not the first rodeo for Orton in having to get ready in a short amount of time. He was waived by the Denver Broncos in the second half of the 2011 season, only to be claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs on November 24.

Less than a month later — December 18, 2011 to be exact — Orton made his first start for the Chiefs.

The Bills are certainly hoping Orton won't have to step into action nearly that quickly, given the belief that they've placed in Manuel, their second-year starter. It does give them the comfortability that if Manuel does get injured, they now have a competent backup with plenty of starting experience on their roster.

Orton has a total of 70 starts in the NFL, a whopping 64 more than the three men that vied for the backup job behind Manuel all summer long. With Tuel, Thad Lewis and Dennis Dixon now off the active roster, it's all on the former Bears, Broncos and Chiefs starter to take over in case of injury or otherwise.

"Kyle is much better for us," Marrone said of his current situation at backup quarterback. "Experienced veteran. He was what we were looking for and we were fortunate enough to get him."

Given his reported salary — $5 million for 2014 according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport — some will, and have, jumped to the conclusion that the signing puts Manuel on alert in case he struggles. While it's on the minds of some, it's not being considered by one of the newest Bills.

"My role on the team is a backup and to be ready to play whenever I need to be, but, probably job number one is to help EJ, and that's what I plan to do," Orton said.

The Bills have three more days of practice for the week and will then take on the Chicago Bears for the first game of the regular season on Sunday.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Watkins practices, Bills mum on Sunday status

The Buffalo Bills viewed quite a welcomed sight on the practice field Monday. Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins was back on the practice field just five days removed from re-injuring his ribs in the team's preseason finale.

The Bills gave no indication after practice on just how much Watkins was able to do during practice, nor did they reveal his playing status for Sunday. When asked if he believed he would play, the first-round pick initially responded in the affirmative: "Of course."

Watkins had to leave the team's final exhibition contest against Detroit on Thursday after Lions linebacker Ashlee Palmer hit the wideout in the midsection with his forearm. He missed the game against Tampa Bay after the initial injury occurred against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The wideout was joined on the field by a few other players returning from injury. Guard Chris Williams, tight end Scott Chandler and cornerback Stephon Gilmore all were able to participate during positional drills Monday.

The Bills were only without tight end Lee Smith (toe) and linebacker Randell Johnson (ankle) during the session. Smith was not on the field in any capacity, but Johnson was at least able to work to the side with members of the training staff.

The team has shifted back into regular season mode and will resume getting Tuesdays off for practice starting this week. The Bills will return back to practice on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the regular season opener against the Chicago Bears.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills practice squad brought up to 9, 1 spot remaining

The Buffalo Bills are taking advantage of the new practice squad allotment rules in the National Football League.

The league announced this summer that each team will be allowed to have 10 practice squad players on their roster at any given time, up from eight for many years before. Following the weekend of final cuts, the Bills announced the signing of nine players to their practice squad.

Buffalo elected to bring back seven of their own that didn't make the initial 53-man roster of the season. Quarterback Jeff Tuel, safety Kenny Ladler, linebacker Jimmy Gaines, safety Deon Broomfield, defensive end Bryan Johnson, wide receiver Caleb Holley and defensive lineman Ikponmwosa Igbinosun were all kept in house by the Bills over the weekend as members of their scout team.

The Bills also added two more players from out-of-house shortly before practice on Monday. The team announced the signing of guard D.J. Morrell and fullback Lonnie Pryor, which leaves only one empty spot on their practice squad.

Morrell entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of Old Dominion and spent the summer with the St. Louis Rams before the team cut him. Prior to landing in St. Louis, he was originally signed by the Detroit Lions following the NFL Draft.

Pryor is in his second NFL season out of Florida State University, having spent 2013 and the 2014 preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following the 2013 NFL Draft, the fullback originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars out of college.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Moeaki experiment over for Bills: TE released

The Buffalo Bills had high hopes for tight end Tony Moeaki if he could stay healthy. As they, like teams before them found out, Moeaki just could not keep himself on the field.

The Bills relinquished Moeaki from their official roster on Monday with the announcement that the two parties had come to an injury settlement. The tight end was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve on Friday, which led the team to release him outright to start the practice week.

Moeaki missed four of the team's five preseason games with a hamstring injury and also missed the majority of practice time during training camp at St. John Fisher College as well. After coming to a settlement, Moeaki will be free to sign with any team he chooses as an unrestricted free agent.

The Bills originally signed the tight end in December of 2013.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills name 6 captains, Manuel not among them

At the start of the regular season, teams around the National Football League will vote players in the locker room to serve as their captains for the year. When put up for a team vote the Buffalo Bills selected six players to be their captains, and quarterback EJ Manuel wasn't one of them.

The team announced that running back Fred Jackson, center Eric Wood, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, defensive end Mario Williams, linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Corey Graham were voted by their peers as a leader of the team. Jackson, Wood and Kyle Williams all served as captains in 2013, while it's the first as a captain with the Bills for Mario Williams, Spikes and Graham.

This will be the fourth season that both Kyle Williams and Jackson have been a captain for the Bills. Each of the six players will have the letter 'C' sewn on to their jerseys for game day.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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Bills' Spiller announces selection of agent

As if the Buffalo Bills weren't busy enough on Saturday, the deadline for rosters to be brought down to 53 players, one of the men firmly on their roster announced some news of his very own. Former first-round pick and running back C.J. Spiller tweeted that he has finally joined forces with an agent to represent him.
Spiller has signed with Chad Speck of Allegiant Athletic Agency, ending a period of over three years in which he did not have an agent. The person he had originally signed with, Gary Wichard, passed away in March of 2011.

The team's top running back is entering the final year of his contract, and previously expressed that he aimed to have an agent in place ahead of the start of the regular season. Spiller, 27, has rushed for 3,021 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the NFL.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills unveil initial 53-man roster

At 4 pm on Saturday, August 30, the deadline for teams in the National Football League to pare their rosters down to 53 players had passed. The Buffalo Bills got all of their moves in just under the wire, releasing 20 players and placing three others on Injured Reserve.

So who made the cut? Here is the updated depth chart:

Quarterback (2)
EJ Manuel, Kyle Orton

Running Back (4)
C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon

Fullback (1)
Frank Summers

Wide Receiver (6)
Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan

Tight End (3)
Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg

Offensive Tackle (4)
Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Chris Hairston

Offensive Guard (4)
Chris Williams, Erik Pears, Cyril Richardson, Kraig Urbik

Center (1)
Eric Wood

Defensive End (5)
Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn, Jacquies Smith

Defensive Tackle (4)
Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles

**Linebacker (5)
Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers, Preston Brown, Ty Powell, Randell Johnson
**Nigel Bradham does not count against the active roster in Week 1 due to his suspension

Cornerback (6)
Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Corey Graham, Ross Cockrell, Ron Brooks

Safety (4)
Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks

Kicker (1)
Dan Carpenter

Punter (1)
Colton Schmidt

Kickoff Specialist (1)
Jordan Gay

Long Snapper (1)
Garrison Sanborn

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills sign new punter

The Buffalo Bills moved on from longtime punter Brian Moorman on Friday and on Saturday, they signed his first replacement.

The Bills have officially signed  punter Colton Schmidt to an undisclosed contract. Schmidt originally signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie out of UC Davis. He was then released by the 49ers and had a brief (less than a week) stint with the Cleveland Browns before his release. The 49ers re-signed Schmidt in January of 2014 before releasing him this summer as part of one of their cuts.

Schmidt, 23, participated in the first three preseason games with the 49ers before his eventual release. He had seven opportunities in those three games and posted a net average of 46.1 yards per punt.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
 
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Bills sign QB Kyle Orton

The Buffalo Bills have found themselves a new backup quarterback, and this one is likely going to stick.

The Bills have officially signed former Chicago, Denver, Kansas City and Dallas quarterback Kyle Orton to serve as the backup to starter EJ Manuel. Orton has 70 career starts to his name and has won exactly half of them. Over his eight years of experience, the quarterback has thrown for 15,019 yards, 83 touchdowns and 59 interceptions with a 58.5 completion percentage.

Orton was thought to be the top backup in Dallas when the offseason began in 2014, but chose not to report to offseason workouts and instead mulled retirement from the NFL. In the final year of his three-year contract with the Cowboys, Orton was officially released by the team in mid-July.

His contract with the Bills will have a choice for the quarterback. According to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, the one-year deal also includes a player option for a second season with the team.

Financial terms of the contract have yet to be disclosed, but a league source tells WGR Sports Radio 550 that it's for "top backup money." Orton will take over for Jeff Tuel as the main backup quarterback to Manuel. The Bills’ efforts with both Thad Lewis and Jordan Palmer as a potential second-string quarterback failed this summer, leading to the release of both players over the past four days. The team later released Tuel on Saturday.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Urbik, Graham on the trade block?

Time is running out for the Buffalo Bills to make a decision on their 53-man roster. Just because it's under 24 hours to go until their decision needs to be in though, doesn't mean they're in a rush to finalize things just yet.

Two starters from the Bills in 2013 have been rumored to be on the bubble throughout training camp. That speculation has gathered a bit more steam in the past two days.

According to two separate reports, guard Kraig Urbik and wide receiver T.J. Graham are being shopped by the Bills: The Bills have until 4 pm on Saturday to either trade, cut or keep both Urbik and Graham.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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