Inside The Bills

Rex: The best EJ Manuel I’ve seen

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2016 – 2:19 am

Lost in the news about ACL knee injuries for Chris Gragg and Jonathan Dowling, and Rex Ryan’s decision to sit a lot of his starters in what is typically the last dress rehearsal for a team’s first unit on both sides of the ball, was another solid outing by EJ Manuel.

Manuel’s numbers don’t look great in the end, but he was the victim of spotty pass protection and some dropped passes as he played almost the entire game Friday against Washington.

He finished the game 21-39 passing for 221 yards with an interception on the last play of the game that was forced into coverage to try to get a game-winning touchdown pass to Walt Powell.

Overall Ryan has been impressed with the growth he’s witnessed in his backup quarterback.

“I thought he played really well and if we can protect him we would be in business,” said Ryan of Manuel’s performance. “That’s unfortunate. We’ve got to do a better job in protection. But I thought he played really well and he’s done that. I told you guys I feel really good about our quarterback situation including EJ.”

Manuel’s ball location on the whole was good, despite being under duress much of the game. He was also decisive when it came to where he was going with the football and though he was sacked twice his internal clock seemed to be in sync with Washington’s pass rush.

“I think every time we put him out there he’s done a great job. He threw the touchdown at the end, but sure enough, it’s OPI (offensive pass interference) so the touchdown is called back.”

Ryan was referring to Manuel’s touchdown pass to Powell two plays prior to Manuel’s final throw that was picked off. Powell was flagged for offensive pass interference.

“But I really liked the way he played. I love the way he competes. He’s got a great look in his face. He loves competing. You know what? Sometimes quarterbacks take a little longer to develop. I think this is the best EJ Manuel I’ve seen.”


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Fan Friday 8-26

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2016 – 11:38 am

Preseason game number three tonight against Washington. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills who will be our tight ends 2 and 3?

JR Mauro @mrsju007

CB: Right now it’s Chris Gragg and Jim Dray. Dray is strictly a blocking TE, who is serviceable in the short area pass game. Gragg has done the most to this point in camp and the preseason. The only other tight end that has flashed is Nick O’Leary. Blake Annen and Jimmay Mundine have had a tough time making plays on a consistent basis.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is it almost a guarantee we grab a roster cut for OL Depth?

Gabriel Erlichman @Gabezababe

@ChrisBrownBills
Think there could be any vet receivers signed before the season starts up?

Paulie Fricano @PaulieFric

CB: Since these questions were similar I decided to group them together. Buffalo’s pro personnel department keeps a close eye on the waiver wire and player cuts as do the other 31 teams. The answer to both of these questions is dependent upon the caliber of player released.

If the front office sees a player waived or released and deems it an upgrade they will have interest. At this point I would put adding depth at offensive line ahead of depth at receiver.

The Bills have a good starting five. If Seantrel Henderson’s return is successful that would be a huge addition for line depth with him and Kouandjio at tackle. On the interior beyond Ryan Groy and vet Fernando Velasco it’s a bit thin.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris, how much of an offensive role do you expect from Reggie bush

ryan marx@rmarx188

CB: I think of Bush as an offensive specialist. He’ll be the team’s top return man. His role on offense I expect to be extremely varied. I foresee OC Greg Roman putting together a package of plays for Bush every week. Based on the opponent he could line up out wide as a receiver. He could line up in a split backfield with LeSean McCoy. I don’t expect him to steal many carries away from LeSean McCoy. He’ll have a specialty role that I think will have him on the field for 10-15 plays a game depending on how much they feel his talents can take advantage of that week’s opponent.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills where is Corey Graham on the depth chart? Also hearing a lot about the db outta southern cal, are you as impressed?

kevin dammeyer@dammeyer12

CB: Graham is the starting SS and has performed well throughout camp. Duke Williams has been paired with him the last couple of weeks with Aaron Williams sidelined with his concussion. As for Kevon Seymour, yes he has been impressive. At 6-0 185 he’s got good size for the position and his movement skills are strong.

He’s been running mainly as a second team cornerback with veteran Corey White behind Gilmore and Darby. But he was also used as the first team nickel corner in the slot when Nickell Robey-Coleman went out with injury. Seymour has performed admirably and is threatening to be the third corner on this team behind Pro Bowl caliber players in Darby and Gilmore.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills How much of an uptick in passing volume do you think is coming from Tyrod?

Adam Pfeifer@APfeifer24

CB: I asked this exact question of Greg Roman and his answer was understandably vague since he doesn’t want Buffalo’s opponents getting any idea as to what their plans are for this fall.

Last season the Bills were 31st in the league in pass attempts per game at 27.1. They also led the league in rush attempts. I think there will be a slight shift, but Buffalo is not going to abandon what worked extraordinarily well last year.

So the answer is yes, but not to a great degree. Maybe Buffalo averages 30-32 pass attempts per game. If God forbid LeSean McCoy is injured and out for a few games then I think the pass attempts could jump higher.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex looking for WRs to make plays

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2016 – 4:55 pm

Knowing how tight things have been at the receiver position, head coach Rex Ryan put the onus on a few receivers in particular to perform heading into the team’s third preseason game at Washington.

Ryan was asked for an assessment of the play in camp of a few wideouts and did not mince words.

On Dez Lewis
“I haven’t seen that big of an improvement from him,” Ryan said. “He’ll get some opportunities and he’s got to stand up if he wants to make this team. He’s got to earn it, nobody’s going to give you anything. I love having a big-size guy that should be a red-zone threat but eventually you got to come down with some plays.”

On Greg Salas
“I think he’s proven that he’s a reliable target. The thing that he hasn’t proved over his career is that he can stay healthy,” Ryan said. “And again this year, he has the hamstring, so that’s a concern. But when he’s out there, we know he’s a fine receiver.”

On Walt Powell
“I would say he’s probably not as consistent as we’d like, but you know you’re going to get great effort from Walt,” said Ryan. “He’s a courageous kid but that’s kind of what we’re trying to focus on, is him being more consistent and I’m talking about with everything. Alignment, assignment—all that type of stuff, his technique. Those are the types of things we keep harping on and I think if he can do those things, he’s got good skills, so we just keep working with him and I know he’s a hard-working kid so hopefully he’ll get even better.”

Finally Ryan confirmed that neither Kolby Listenbee nor Marcus Easley are close to returning to practice field anytime soon. When asked if either could be designated for the Reserve/PUP list Ryan gave indication that it was premature to consider it.


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Training on side continues for Shaq

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2016 – 2:55 pm

He’s been doing a lot of rehab work away from the field, but toward the end of training camp, top pick Shaq Lawson was doing more on the side with the strength and conditioning staff while his teammates were practicing at training camp.

Head coach Rex Ryan had no formal update regarding a timetable for his return to football related activity, but he did confirm that Lawson has been training hard.

“I know he’s been training—I think behind closed doors, this guy works his tail off in there,” said Ryan. “So I think they’ll probably just progress him with more running and stuff but he’s been working hard.”

No word on when a decision might be made concerning his roster status. Reserve/PUP would seem to be a viable option for the outside linebacker when the time comes to make a decision.


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A look at Bills third down defensive success

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2016 – 8:42 am

Buffalo’s third down defense, as pointed out in our game coverage of Saturday’s shutout win over the Giants, was dominant. It was rooted in two main factors, execution and their effectiveness on first and second down.

The Bills defense had solid execution on third down as they looked very much in sync across the board. Helping was the fact that they did a great job of creating long down and distance situations on third down for the Giants offense. By keeping New York’s gains on first and second down to a minimum, nine of New York’s third down situations were 3rd-and-8 or more.

“(The Giants) were one-for-11 on third down, which was the first of the game because we weren’t on the same page,” said Rex Ryan. “The rest of the time we were, so I’m really happy with that. I’m really happy with the way the ‘D’ played.”

Ryan is referring to New York’s only conversion, which came on a 3rd-and-12, when Odell Beckham Jr. was able to slide underneath Stephon Gilmore on a slant. It appeared that Gilmore thought he had inside help, but it wasn’t there, which could explain Ryan’s comment of not being on the same page. Either way it was an impressive night of third down defense. Here’s a look at how each of the Giants third down plays ended in futility aside from their first conversion of the game.

Giants third down situations
3rd-and-12 – first down reception by Odell Beckham Jr.
3rd-and-11 – nine-yard completion (Manning to TE Will Tye)
3rd-and-19- Rashad Jennings 11-yard carry
3rd-and-16 – Manning sacked by Lorenzo Alexander
3rd-and-2 – incomplete
3rd-and-10 – incomplete
3rd-and-8 – Ryan Nassib three-yard scramble
3rd-and-9 – incomplete
3rd-and-13 – incomplete
3rd-and-14 – Nassib sacked by Lavar Edwards and Kroy Biermann
3rd-and-7 – incomplete


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Bills game a historic one for women

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2016 – 8:24 am

It was only a preseason game for some, but for women Saturday marked a historic game in the NFL. Saturday’s game between the Bills and Giants marked the first ever that had a female official and a female coach.

Line judge Sarah Thomas and Bills special teams quality control coach Kathryn Smith were the reason for the league first. Thomas is entering her second NFL season as an official, while Smith is entering her first as a member of Rex Ryan’s coaching staff.

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Bills inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2016 – 3:08 pm

Here is the list of Bills inactive players for tonight’s game against the Giants. 

WR Greg Salas

WR Sammy Watkins

WR Kolby Listenbee

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

S Aaron Williams

LB Reggie Ragland

OL Richie Incognito

OL Seantrel Henderson

DL Alameda Ta’Amu

OT Cordy Glenn 

WR Marcus Easley

DL Shaq Lawson

OLB Manny Lawson

DT Kyle Williams


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Handful of Giants don’t travel to Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on August 19, 2016 – 11:18 pm

The Giants have a handful of players who didn’t make the trip up to Buffalo due to injury. Here’s a look at who will be watching from back in New Jersey.

WR Geremy Davis (hamstring)
TE Will Johnson (stinger)
CB Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg)
LB J.T. Thomas III (PUP, hamstring)
DE Kerry Wynn (groin)


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Gilmore unaffected by rematch with OBJ

Posted by Chris Brown on August 19, 2016 – 10:25 am

Last season Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. had his share of run-ins with defensive backs. Most notably Josh Norman as the two came to blows. There were also issues between Beckham Jr. and the Bills last season. After an interception in the game by Stephon Gilmore last season Beckham could be seen throwing a punch at Duke Williams during Gilmore’s return. He also was accused by Preston Brown of striking him when Brown was trying to defend one of his teammates. So will emotions come bubbling to the surface Saturday afternoon?

Gilmore doesn’t believe there’s a score to settle, especially in a preseason game, but he does promise to play at his best.

“I mean anytime I step in between the lines, I’m going to play hard no matter what,” Gilmore said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason, regular season I’m going to play as hard as I can. I’m just going out and like anybody else not try to let him catch the ball, you know. That’s my goal to try to play physical as I can.”

 

Gilmore, who though intensely competitive, is a pretty cool, collected player. He got in an Instagram image battle with Beckham Jr. last spring from their matchup in 2015 when Gilmore and Darby held Beckham Jr. to five catches for just 38 yards and no touchdowns.

Beckham Jr., who sat out the Giants preseason opener, is expected to play Saturday at New Era Field against Buffalo.

 


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Another sign of Taylor’s leadership

Posted by Chris Brown on August 19, 2016 – 8:53 am

Tyrod Taylor and a few other vets decided to hold player only meetings at training camp where they go over a couple of plays that weren’t run particularly well in practice that day. More on how they work things here. Taylor’s initiative is just another example of his natural leadership skills, and the players recognize and respect it.

“It’s just good to see it from the starting quarterback,” said veteran TE Jim Dray. “I’ve been around a lot of quarterbacks and you can trust your starting quarterback who knows the ins and outs of every play. He communicates what he wants everybody to do it just makes for a much smoother operation of the playbook.”

Dray says Taylor’s leadership also demonstrates to the younger players the dedication needed to be a true professional.

“Tyrod is a pro through and through so you’ve got to take ownership of your job and ownership of the offense as players,” Dray told Buffalobills.com. “So they see that rather than just some sort of a dictatorship of a coach telling you what to do you can see how a professional does it, which is what Tyrod instills in a lot of the young guys.”


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Bills comment on Manny Lawson reports

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2016 – 1:01 pm

The Bills issued a statement Thursday regarding reports of OLB Manny Lawson being under investigation by the league for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. It read as follows. 

“We are aware of an investigation by the NFL under the Personal Conduct Policy but we have not heard from the league regarding the results.”

Lawson told the media yesterday that he was unaware of any violations on his part. 

We’ll provide more information as it becomes available here on Buffalobills.com. 


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With Taylor signed, focus shifts to Gilmore

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2016 – 3:47 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley was very pleased last Friday to announce that Tyrod Taylor had agreed to a multi-year contract agreement. He’s hoping he’ll get another opportunity to make such an announcement with another talented player on Buffalo’s roster.

With Taylor now under contract, Whaley, in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, said the club can focus squarely on 2017 free agent to be Stephon Gilmore.

“It allows us to put all of our focus on Stephon Gilmore,” said Whaley. “It gives us a chance to say we have one piece of the puzzle done. Let’s try to get another piece of the puzzle done. Let’s not forget the fact that we have high profile players and they’re going to command top dollars. So we’re going to have to try our best to get them done. Will we get it done? We hope so, but it’s going to be process just like Tyrod’s contract.”


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Whaley weighs in on Dareus

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2016 – 8:56 am

In the wake of the strongly worded team statement from the Bills organization regarding the league-imposed four-game suspension of Marcell Dareus Tuesday, Bills GM Doug Whaley in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, weighed in on where he and the club stands with Dareus moving forward.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed in my time in Buffalo is the sense of family. Our organization from the Pegulas down preaches a strong sense of family,” Whaley said. “This is a family member who obviously made some bad decisions. He’s got to make better choices in his life. The easy thing is to discard him. So we’re going to stand by him, but again I have to stress, he’s got to start holding up his end of the bargain. We’re going to stand by this guy and support him and hopefully steer him in the right direction.”

When asked how they can convince Dareus to change and stay on the straight and narrow, Whaley said you have to put the ball in his court. 

“It’s simple. This is your livelihood and you have to play by the books,” said Whaley in how he’d try to convince Dareus to change. “Do I agree with a 65 mile per hour speed limit? In Pennsylvania it’s 70, but it’s 65 in New York. You have to abide by the rules if you want to make this your livelihood so you obviously throw it in his lap. What is your end game? Do you want to be a guy that violates the rules and is out of the league in a couple of years? Or do you want to be a guy who ends up having his jersey retired like Bruce Smith?

“Until they change the rules we have to abide by them. Our players have to know that no matter what they feel on this issue, the rules are the rules. It’s a privilege, not a right to play in the NFL. If you want to play in the NFL you have to play by their rules.”


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Biermann believes Bills are a fit

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2016 – 5:46 pm

After playing his entire NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, OLB Kroy Biermann is with a new team in Buffalo. He made a free agent visit this past March early in the free agency period, but things didn’t materialize enough to talk contract at that time. But Biermann did come away with a good feeling about the coaching staff and locker room, should there be an opportunity down the line. That opportunity came on Monday.

“I feel like coaches here will shoot you straight,” Biermann said. “I think they’ll tell you how it is. I feel comfortable in this sort of system. I played a little bit, like I said. And I feel like I can be an athlete out there versus being a robot like I’ve kind of done in the past. It’s a very fun defense and it’s fast paced and athletic.”

Biermann said his former defensive coordinator in Atlanta, Mike Nolan, ran a similar system to that of Rex Ryan with a lot of similar concepts.


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Seymour’s knowledge base helping his game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2016 – 4:55 pm

Bills sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour has been on the fast track since spring practices. That didn’t slow down on Tuesday as he was the replacement for the injured Nickell Robey-Coleman in the slot in the first team nickel package.

Seymour didn’t see a ton of action on Tuesday, but he was out there with the starters defending the red zone during team work and also saw time in 11-on-11 in the slot. The USC product played most of his college career on raw ability, but secondary coach Tim McDonald and assistant secondary coach Ed Reed are schooling him on the defensive concepts as a whole. It’s given Seymour the knowledge of how to play an opponent based on where his help in the defense lies.

“I’m doing a better job of knowing where my help is, like that helped a lot,” he said. “In college, I knew how to read splits and routes and things like that, but I just really wasn’t aware of where my help was. So now I’m getting better at that and I’m doing much better so it’s helping me play faster and better.”


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Don’t look for Lawson to play Saturday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2016 – 3:52 pm

The Bills are slowly getting some healthy bodies back. Veteran OLB Manny Lawson practiced on a limited basis Tuesday, but he’s still not all the way back. That’s why head coach Rex Ryan does not believe Lawson will be suiting up for Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants.

“I don’t think he’ll play this week. I think it’s probably a little too early, you know, for him playing this week,” Ryan said. “What the future holds after that? I guess that’s a possibility. I’m encouraged by the fact that he’s out there right now.”

Lawson suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle just before training camp during a personal workout.


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Karlos hoping to get a shot Saturday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2016 – 3:57 pm

He was just activated on Monday off the Non-Football Illness list, and he’s had just one practice, but Karlos Williams is hoping he can get some carries in Buffalo’s next preseason game Saturday.

“Oh yeah. Most definitely. I want to play and that’s the goal for me,” said Williams of Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants. “It’s to prove to the coaches that I’m in shape and that I’m ready to play, I know the plays, I can line up, line assignment technique and I can perform at a high level, the way they want me to.”

Head coach Rex Ryan said he’s not ruling Williams out for Saturday’s preseason game, but likely wants to see how he makes it through the week first.


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WR snap counts from preseason opener

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2016 – 9:39 am

The wide receiver position is one of the few that is being hotly contested on Buffalo’s roster. This isn’t a tell all by any means, but here’s a look at the snap counts for the receivers who are battling behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, for the last three or four spots on the 53-man roster.

The offensive staff clearly wanted to get a long look at Greg Little, Leonard Hankerson and Jarrett Boykin. These three players would all bring size to Buffalo’s receiving corps. Whether they decide to keep one or two from that group is the question. Walt Powell turned in a strong game at wideout and on special teams, so the next couple of preseason games for all these players will obviously be critical.

Greg Little – 40 snaps
Leonard Hankerson – 38 snaps
Jarrett Boykin – 32 snaps
Walt Powell – 30 snaps
Kain Colter – 22 snaps
Marquise Goodwin – 13 snaps
Robert Woods – 13 snaps

Sammy Watkins and Dez Lewis were inactive.


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Rex encouraged by QB performances

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2016 – 2:00 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan was quick to praise not only the performance of his three quarterbacks, but the state of their quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones.

“I loved the way our quarterbacks played,” said Ryan. “It might not be reflected in our quarterback rating because we had four or five drops. The quarterbacks can’t throw it and catch it. We protect our quarterbacks, we can throw it.

“We have a great quarterback situation. We have a proven starter, a proven backup and (Cardale Jones) is a young man who just keeps getting better and better. I liked the way EJ played also. If you take away the drops he’s probably still on the field rolling.

“We almost have an ideal situation. We know we’re not forced to play a rookie quarterback, but you’re giving him opportunities to get better and if his game grows then maybe you can give him more.”


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Inactives for Bills-Colts

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2016 – 6:54 pm

Here’s a look at the long list of inactive players for tonight’s preseason opener.

Buffalo – WR Greg Salas, WR Dez Lewis, WR Sammy Watkins, S Aaron Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore, RB Karlos Williams, LB Reggie Ragland, G Richie Incognito, OL Seantrel Henderson, OT Cordy Glenn, TE Jim Dray, OLB Shaq Lawson, OLB Manny Lawson, DT Kyle Williams.

Indianapolis – WR Marcus Leak, QB Andrew Luck, RB Frank Gore, S Clayton Geathers, S Winston Guy, CB D’Joun Smith, CB Jalil Brown, CB Tevin Mitchell, G Hugh Thornton, DE Kendall Langford, DL Henry Anderson, DL Arthur Jones, OLB Robert Mathis.


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