1 – Chris,
Are we assuming Kyle Williams will be his old self? Most players don’t return to form until 2nd yr after major injury…what say u?
CB: Williams’ surprise participation in OTAs and minicamp can only be taken as an encouraging sign. I think a lot of fans forget that Williams (and Shawne Merriman for that matter) did not rupture his Achilles. He only had to have it repaired. The rehab on such a surgery is 4-5 months. By camp he and Merriman will be 8-9 months removed from surgery.
After seeing Williams in action in the team setting the past month, though his reps were only 5-10 a day, I’m encouraged that you’ll get the old Kyle Williams come training camp, the preseason and the regular season. The sudden burst off the ball was there and knifing through gaps was evident. Get ready.
2 - Hey Chris,
Thanks so much for your daily updates on Bills mobile, one of my favorite things to wake up to! Anyways, I need to ask about the running back situation. Fred recently signed a contract extension, I know this, but when will Spiller be the official starter and get his chance? Even though Fred had a breakout year, I think people tend to forget Spiller was a top ten pick, and I feel as if were completely wasting away his talent.
CB: Chan Gailey has been asked this question in one form or another often. Spiller certainly showed he’s ready for primetime with his performance over the last six games in place of an injured Fred Jackson. As good as C.J. was I think you’re forgetting that prior to the game that Fred got hurt he was first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league, third in the NFL in yards per carry average (5.5), had the second-longest TD run of the season at the time (80 yds) and was 5th in the league in receiving yards for running backs with the second-highest yards after catch average among RBs in the NFL (12.8).
In terms of total scrimmage yards he was second only to Matt Forte, who had him by 15 yards at the time (1,391 to 1,376).
You don’t toss that production aside because you have a top 10 draft choice on your roster. Chan Gailey and his offensive staff know they have to get both players on the field a lot and get them both involved in their attack. This is where having a veteran offensive play caller and designer is an advantage.
I think you’ll see a good number of split backfields with both Jackson and Spiller out there simultaneously. I think there will be a good amount of pre-snap motion with either Fred or C.J. motioning out of the backfield and lining up somewhere else. And while game to game the amount of work each of them get might not be in perfect balance I believe come season’s end, barring any injuries, that both will be integral components in the offensive production.
Coach Gailey has told me it’s impossible to keep everyone happy with the amount of touches they get, but his focus is doing what’s best for the team to win games. What that translates into could change week to week based on the opponent and based on player performance. Just know as a fan you’ve got a good situation no matter which one of them has the ball in their hands.
3 - Chris,
With the drafting of TJ Graham, do you expect Marcus Easley to be a factor in the Bills passing game?
And what are his chances of securing the position of the Bills No. 2 receiver?
CB: I think Easley’s situation certainly wasn’t made any easier by the addition of Graham. Graham is clearly the fastest wideout on the field. It’s not even close by my eye. He’s very, very explosive. That being said he’s still trying to master the base concepts of the offense.
He was however, given a ton of reps with the first unit through the spring workouts for a reason. They want him out there to stretch the field vertically. I just think when the pads go on it may prove to be harder for Graham to make plays consistently because he may get knocked around a bit.
I still believe that Easley has the best physical skill set of the entire receiving corps for the outside receiver role they’re trying to fill opposite Stevie Johnson. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are other players on this roster that are capable of holding down that job (see: Donald Jones). I just believe if Easley can put it all together he’s the clear choice out there at 6’4” 225 pounds and running a 4.4 40-time.
He clearly impressed the coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp because in minicamp Easley was given more reps with the first unit.
He plucks the ball out of the air, rarely body catches, can make plays with DBs hanging on him or in traffic. Really the only thing that has stopped him is his body (injury, medical condition). Having three years of exposure in this offense will be an asset, but he’s got to get through camp healthy and not miss time.
I’m confident if he does that he’ll be right in the mix for that outside job opposite Stevie.
4 - Chris,
Shawne Merriman says he has never felt better coming of surgery for his Achilles injury. Considering how he was a force with San Diego when he was healthy, could he be a sleeper factor in the Bills’ newly revamped pass rushing attack?
Mike in Rochester
CB: After what we saw in OTAs and minicamp I think you can be encouraged that Merriman is as close as he has ever been to his former self when he was terrorizing quarterbacks all over the league and a three-time Pro Bowl talent.
Now there’s still another bridge to cross in training camp when the pads go on, but nothing in the spring workouts gave any indication that he could have a setback. His first step burst has been impressive and his power game looks to be back as well. We’ll know more when the pads are on and the football gets far more physical, but the arrow is pointing up right now on Merriman’s outlook for the first time in a long time.
5 - Hey Chris,
First off thank you very much for all the great Bills coverage you provide us loyal Bills fans every day. My question to you sir is about the QB position and how you think it might pan out. With the signing of Vince Young do you think that Brad Smith will stay listed as a QB?
I would think that Vince Young having the same kind of running QB wildcat potential, and if he wins the QB 2 job I can see it making sense to have him run the packages that were originally designed for Brad Smith allowing Brad to focus on WR/KR and be listed there on the depth chart, relegating Thigpen to the QB 3 roster spot, it’s an intriguing situation and was hoping to get your thoughts, thanks again.
Las Vegas, NV
CB: Appreciate the sentiments. Chan Gailey made it clear that Brad Smith is his third quarterback and will run their Wildcat package. So Vince Young is essentially in a quarterback competition with Tyler Thigpen for the #2 job going into camp.
Through the last week of OTAs and minicamp Young and Thigpen rotated in and out with the second unit and I anticipate that to be the case when we all get to training camp as well. So although Young is athletic Smith is the better option for that Wildcat package.
Tags: Brad Smith, C.J. Spiller, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams, Marcus Easley, Shawne Merriman, T.J. Graham, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young
Posted in Inside the Bills