Just one draft choice left to sign for the Bills in WR T.J. Graham. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net for the latest installment.
1 - Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled about the Mario Williams signing. I think if he can stay healthy, we get the Fitzpatrick from the first half of the season, and the rest of the team stays reasonably healthy (which, however, has unfortunately been a problem in recent years), this team can win 9-11 games next year and challenge for a Wild Card spot (I still think they’ve got a ways to go to catch the Patriots for the division crown). Especially since their schedule doesn’t appear to be especially challenging. However, I am worried about Williams’ health. He of course missed almost all of last year after landing on injured reserve in Week 5 after he tore his pec on a play where I’ve watched it a million times and I’m still not quite sure how he hurt himself, and he also missed the last few games of the previous season. Although I don’t believe he missed any time before that in his career, from what I’ve heard it sounds like he was still often playing through injuries, and sometimes it would effect his play negatively. Is he starting to wear down? How concerned should we be about the injury risk of our prized free agent signing?
CB: For those that don’t know Williams tore his pec while sacking Jason Campbell. The injury required surgery to repair the damage and as a defensive lineman playing with a torn pectoral muscle is pretty much impossible. Aside from missing 11 games in 2011, Williams has missed a grand total of three others in his six-year career. So he’s been available on game day for 82 out of 96 games.
Perhaps what’s most important to note is the guy is more than willing to play hurt. That was made obvious in 2010. He had a hernia injury that he played with from the start of the season and didn’t shut it down until Week 15, missing the final three games of the season. Oh and by the way he still had 8.5 sacks playing with a hernia.
At age 27 Williams is entering his prime. His body is not breaking down.
2 - CB,
What is the outlook for Mike Jasper? Will the big man see the field or remain on practice squad? He is certainly an interesting/intriguing player.
CB: For Jasper there is more competition on hand. Already behind vets like Kraig Urbik, Chad Rinehart and Andy Levitre on the depth chart, Buffalo also draft C/G prospect Mark Asper and have Colin Brown, Jake Vermiglio and Keith Williams, who are on par with Jasper at the guard spot.
In addition Jasper has to work harder than most to keep his weight in check, so he’s battling competition and his own weight. We’ll see how he looks in OTAs coming up, but it’s going to be an uphill battle considering who is in front of him on the depth chart.
3 - Chris,
How does Aaron Williams figure into the competition? Can he be a starter? Is Gilmore going to play opposite of him eventually? Thanks!
Chris in Binghamton
CB: Yes, Aaron Williams can be a starter. In fact I envision him taking over the starting left cornerback role. I talked to him about it just this week, which I touched on in my Friday story on Buffalobills.com. That partly due to the fact that Terrence McGee coming off a patella tendon injury is still working his way back.
As for Gilmore he’s the odds on favorite to land the right cornerback job. Top 10 picks are expected to be on the field early and play a lot.
4 - Hi Chris,
With a complete off-season this year what type of impact does the team expect from Brad Smith? I believe Coach had stated it would take him some time to integrate Brad Smith into the offense. Will the Wildcat still have an impact in the NFL or has it’s time passed?
CB: You’re right Coach Gailey did feel with a full offseason that he would be able to incorporate more plays into the offense to take advantage of Smith’s talent. I think the Wildcat package will represent a good part of that, especially with QBs coach David Lee on board now. He was the assistant that brought the Wildcat from college to the pros as an assistant in Miami.
So if there are variations to implement off the straight Wildcat the Bills coaches will have them drawn up for Smith. The only question is how much of a presence will Brad Smith plays have in the game plan week to week?
A lot of that could depend on the opponent more than anything else.
5 - Hi Chris,
Thanks for all the off-season updates. I was wondering if the Bills have pursued Marcus McNeill as a candidate to fill the hole at LT. He’s definitely a proven LT in this league and his size fits the Buddy Nix prototypical offensive lineman, plus I think he drafted McNeill. At this point I was wondering if it is problem with the cap space or if the staff thinks Hairston can step in and protect Fitz for a whole season.
John in Fredonia
CB: I wouldn’t be surprised if Bills GM Buddy Nix, who did have a hand in drafting Marcus McNeill, was monitoring McNeill’s health this offseason. He’s had back and knee problems and missed half the season last year with a neck injury. That’s giving teams pause in pursuing him because coming out of college he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal column.
His agent claimed that McNeill was cleared by a back and spine specialist in mid-March, but teams will want to use their own doctors to make their own assessment.
If Chris Hairston and Cordy Glenn struggle mightily at left tackle in the preseason, I suppose McNeill could surface as an option if he was still on the market. But it’s hard to pin down whether he is too great an injury risk to sign.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Brad Smith, Fan Friday, Marcus McNeill, Mario Williams, Mike Jasper
Posted in Inside the Bills