Inside The Bills

Jonathan Williams soaking it up in the RBs room

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 1:43 pm

Bills fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams was the latest draft choice to sign his rookie contract on Friday. After going through rookie minicamp and this week’s set of offseason conditioning workouts and classroom work, the rookie is impressed with Bills running backs coach and Assistant head coach Anthony Lynn.

“He’s a great teacher,” Williams told Buffalobills.com. “He’s somebody who has actually played the game and his communication is really good. I’m excited to be able to work with him and learn from him.”

Having sat in the running backs room with the rest of the players at his position on the roster, Williams likes the mix of talent they have at the position.

“It’s a really good group,” he said. “I’ve been watching film and seeing LeSean out there and his leadership. Seeing how he goes about his day definitely helps me out as a rookie. There are several guys in there who are older and showing me the ropes and how to be a professional. It’s definitely a good room to be in.”

 


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Fan Friday 5-13

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 12:42 pm

It’s a special Friday the 13th edition of Fan Friday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills bring in a 4th QB to compete for backup position?

Ace Jay Legend @BillsBacker77

CB: I am not anticipating a fourth quarterback coming in to compete. The main reason why is Cardale Jones needs as many reps as he can possibly get to develop consistent mechanics. From his drop backs to his throwing mechanics, Jones needs all the work he can get in the practice setting. If there’s a fourth quarterback here, every rep he takes is a rep that Jones doesn’t get.

With Jones being a long-term investment I can’t see the Bills bringing in a fourth QB, who is a long shot to make the roster anyway, taking reps away from Jones on the back end of the quarterback rotation in the practice setting.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the Bills taking listenbee in the draft how are the chances Goodwin makes the team?

Jared Bailey @JaredBailey23

CB: I think that’s a very valid question. There’s no denying that Listenbee’s speed rivals that of Goodwin. Listenbee also offers superior size and in watching his game tape is really good at tracking the deep ball. He’s coming off sports hernia surgery and also has inflammation of the pelvis, which will take time to heal.

Listenbee may not be getting physical reps in the practice setting until training camp, so unseating Goodwin for a roster spot might take longer than some might anticipate.

Goodwin has been given the freedom to pursue a spot on the 2016 Olympic team to try to compete in the long jump in Rio. If he makes the Olympic team it will cost him time in training camp with the Olympics taking place in August. I believe that will pose the biggest risk for Goodwin losing a roster spot than Listenbee’s presence on the roster.

There are no ‘seat saves’ in the NFL. That’s a crucial part of the NFL calendar to be missing time.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think the drafting of Washington means anything regarding Kyle Williams future with the team?

JBills32 @JLasher10

CB: If you’re asking whether Kyle’s roster spot could be in jeopardy because Washington is on the roster my answer is no. The plan right now is for Washington to be the team’s left defensive end, with Dareus at nose tackle and Kyle starting at right defensive end.

I don’t think it’s any secret that Kyle is on the back side of his career, but I think the Bills would like to get two more seasons out of him (2016 & 2017) as long as he’s interested in doing so.

The hidden additional value with Kyle is his leadership, which was sorely missed in the locker room last season when he went out in Week 6 with his knee injury (see: Mario Williams).

The addition of Washington should be seen as a complement to the games of Dareus and Williams, not a threat.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you see the Bills making any FA/Trade moves along the right side of the offensive line?

Kevin @KevinMassare

CB: I don’t think you can ever rule out a possible move with Doug Whaley as GM. If it makes sense and improves the team he’s shown he’s willing to do it. I know Peter King reported last month that the 49ers would be interested in trading former first-round pick OT Anthony Davis, who chose to take a one-year sabbatical from football, and now wants to resume his NFL career.

A proven player who is just 26-years old would probably come at a high price, even after taking off a year. It would be interesting to see what the 49ers would be looking for in return, even though San Francisco GM Trent Baalke has told Davis that he is not interested in trading him.

His cap hit, if his old contract was re-instated, would be just over $5M for 2016, a bargain by most standards for a player of his caliber. But that’s where things could get sticky too. If he is going to be traded, must that team negotiate a new contract with him? A lot of potential hurdles there.

Besides him there are some veteran guard options out there, but I believe the Bills might play the wait and see game. I don’t believe there’s any sense of panic there. I think they feel good about what they have to work with.
5 – Chris,

How do you feel about the Bills 1st round pick considering who was available? Nkemdiche for example. I feel like it was a bit of a homer pick considering Rex wore a Clemson helmet to a press conference. Do you think he was on the top of our board or was Rex being Rex?

Great work as always Chris!  Thanks!

CB: As you saw in our Inside the Draft Room feature and video, the Bills never even thought Shaq Lawson would be available to them there at 19. They had him off the board by the 12th pick in their final stack of the board based on how they thought the first round would fall.

For them Lawson was a tremendous value there at 19. As for Nkemdiche, it was evident that his off the field concerns and on the field concerns were too much for a number of teams besides the Bills. Buffalo just parted ways with a player who did not give his best on the field for the last 10 weeks of last season in Mario Williams. Did you really think they would bring in another player with a history of similar play, especially with their first-round pick?

There was no way that was going to happen.


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Trust between Sammy & Tyrod set in London

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 9:33 am

The second half of the 2015 season was when the connection between Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins was not only established, but completely exploded. Taylor hit Watkins for seven touchdowns over the last nine games of the season, after just two in the first seven outings. Watkins also rolled up 900 of his 1,047 receiving yards in those final nine games, a total that was third-best in the league over that span with only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones ahead of him. So why did it take half the season for Taylor and Watkins to get in sync?

Taylor, who made an in studio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, explained why it was difficult to get acclimated to one another on the field early in the season.

“If people remember Sammy was injured throughout the preseason so I really didn’t get a chance to work with him then,” said Taylor. “Through the last OTA period he was rehabbing (hip surgery) as well so I didn’t get a chance to work with him. Early in the season we connected on some things. Then he got injured early in the season in Week 3 at Miami and then I got injured a couple of weeks after that against Tennessee.”

Though injured both players made the trip with the team to London for the Week 7 game against Jacksonville. It was there that they spent a lot of time outlining what they had to get accomplished on the field when they were healthy.

“We spent some time talking a lot in London when we were getting treatment together,” said Taylor. “So we got on the same page, and when it was time to come back on the field for both of us we had talked through a lot of things.

“I remember throwing some with him after the bye week and trying to understand how to work off each other. He’s one of the top receivers in this league and I have to get him the ball. He can be very dynamic once the ball is in his hands. We got on the same page and trusted each other and that continued to build. He is one of the best receivers in the league at tracking the ball. I love playing with him and I like what we have going on and we’re going to continue to keep building.”

Perhaps the best example of their quarterback-receiver relationship reaching critical mass was in Kansas City when Taylor let Watkins dominate the first half, scoring on a pair of passes, even when he wasn’t completely open.

“It’s a trust factor and that’s something we talk about. Just giving him a chance,” said Taylor. “If your best guy is one-on-one with the safety or one-on-one with the corner and the safety is coming, but not in the picture, then you feel like he’s open. Like he told me, ‘Just give me a chance and I can either catch it or knock it down.’ And we’ll take those chances.”


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NFL QB spending: high for Eagles, low for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 4:17 pm

The salary cap gurus at Spotrac.com have put together a list of the NFL’s team by team cash spending for 2016 on quarterbacks. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia Eagles top the list at more than $43.5M. It represents more than 21 percent of their total team cash spending for 2016. In contrast the Bills rank significantly lower on the list.

Buffalo is 31st in 2016 cash dollar spending at just over $4M. That’s due to the presence of two quarterbacks on the roster, who are still on their rookie contracts (EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones) and a starting quarterback in the final year of what was a modest free agent contract (Tyrod Taylor). The only team with lesser spending than the Bills are the Jets, who have three quarterbacks still on their rookie deals in Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

Here’s a look at the full list.

Quarterback Team Cash Allocation

RANK
TEAM
PLAYERS
2016 CASH DOLLARS
2016 CASH %
1 4 $43,650,973 21.05%
2 3 $30,950,000 19.50%
3 3 $29,736,718 19.25%
4 4 $23,965,000 16.33%
5 3 $23,540,335 13.46%
6 3 $23,337,500 16.27%
7 3 $22,410,000 19.44%
8 3 $22,089,573 14.79%
9 4 $19,915,000 15.29%
10 4 $19,050,000 13.36%
11 4 $18,880,000 12.56%
12 4 $18,775,000 12.65%
13 2 $18,675,000 10.76%
14 3 $18,648,738 13.06%
15 4 $18,160,000 11.91%
16 4 $17,622,539 12.91%
17 4 $16,106,216 9.46%
18 4 $14,025,000 9.88%
19 5 $13,221,875 11.91%
20 3 $12,807,000 0.56%
21 5 $12,777,881 8.49%
22 5 $12,417,285 8.74%
23 4 $12,280,000 8.35%
24 4 $10,302,383 6.05%
25 4 $9,710,000 6.77%
26 4 $8,321,984 5.49%
27 5 $5,717,682 3.76%
28 3 $5,025,000 3.33%
29 4 $4,981,236 3.13%
30 4 $4,660,635 3.28%
31 3 $4,616,632 2.98%
32 4 $2,064,491 1.36%

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Listenbee on being more than just a speed WR

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 1:33 pm

Bills sixth-round pick Kolby Listenbee, who signed his rookie contract today, is known as a speed receiver and understandably so with 40 times consistently in the 4.3s. But when you have that label you often want to show you can be more than that. Listenbee however, had no choice but to fill that role at TCU.

“At TCU I was labeled as a good speed receiver because we had Josh Doctson and he was a possession receiver and a playmaker. So we had to complement each other. We couldn’t have two idential receivers. I don’t like it sometimes getting labeled as a receiver because I know I can catch the ball and coach Sanjay is going to help me get my routes right.”

Listenbee is credited with improving his route running in his final collegiate season, but he’s excited to work with Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who breaks it down to the finest details to get precise routes and timing on game days.

“I want to be an all-around receiver and working with coach Sanjay you can see he’s there coaching everybody up,” said Listenbee. “I’m glad to have somebody who will definitely work with me. Just watching all the veterans I’m taking mental reps right now, but it’s cool to see.”

 


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Bruce: Sack record will stand for some time

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 9:43 am

Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, whose number will be retired at the home opener this fall, is the league’s all-time sack leader with 200 in his career. Even though the NFL has become much more of a passing league, with many quarterbacks now getting rid of the ball in about 2.5 seconds Smith’s record is likely to hold up for the foreseeable future.

Smith agreed with that assessment in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.

“I think that record will stand for quite some time, but we are in a different age of football. This has become a passing league now. It was a much more balanced attack when I was in the league,” said Smith. “They pass first and run second. They’re passing the ball about 20-30 percent more, so it’s giving guys more of an opportunity to get more sacks. We’ll just have to see guys have the longevity and stay healthy enough to have a long, productive and fruitful career to get far enough to come close to 200 sacks.”


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Bills experience by position

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 9:35 am

As we broke down the roster a number of different ways today on Buffalobills.com following the draft and undrafted rookie signings, to examine how it was reconstructed, we also took the time to look at player experience at each position. We uncovered some interesting facts in terms of which positions carry the most veteran savvy.

Going off of the year each player is entering in 2016 in terms of seasons in the league we’ve compiled a position-by-position look at NFL experience.

Safety led the way with just over five and a half years of average experience. It’s one of the only positions on the roster that does not have a rookie among the ranks. Here’s the full list.

Bills average NFL experience by position
Safety – 5.57 years
Fullback – 4.5 years
Specialists – 3.83 years
Linebacker – 3.75 years
Tight end – 3.6 years
Offensive line – 3.53 years
Quarterback – 3.33 years
Defensive line – 3.2 years
Wide receiver – 3.15 years
Cornerback – 2.8 years
Running back – 2.8 years


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Bruce: No real significance of No. 78 for me

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 3:09 pm

With the news of Bruce Smith’s No. 78 to be retired at the team’s home opener on Sept. 15th, Smith was asked if he chose to wear 78 for any special reason.

Smith explained there wasn’t any significant tie to the number and that he came to wear more on happenstance than anything else.

“Well it wasn’t any really, I would say headline stories about how I picked out 78,” Smith said. “I know I wore number 70 in high school and then when I got to Virginia Tech I decided to go with the No. 78 and from that point I just fell in love with and I wanted to make that number special. Obviously with hard work, dedication, and commitment, and overcoming adversity, and a number of other factors obviously if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it.”


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The 2 people who whipped Bruce into shape

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 3:04 pm

As a rookie, Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith was a doughy defensive end, who thought his ability was good enough to get away with it. That is until a Bills teammate got on his case about his fitness level, along with someone from his alma mater at Virginia Tech.

Bills Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy relayed a story about the two people who helped to change Smith’s approach to the game.

“In his early years even though he was a number one pick in the draft and so much was expected. He was overweight, self-indulgent, didn’t have great practice habits, all of those things,” said Levy. “Two people had quite an impact on turning him around.

“One was his coveted teammate Darryl Talley, who really sort of gave him that proverbial kick in the butt to get going. But the other in the offseason I understand he went back to Virginia Tech to finish his degree, which was good. There he met a woman counselor who put him on the right track in every respect. Boy he dropped weight with the urgings of her and Darryl. Shaped up and got ready, his principles changed.

“He not only turned out to be the greatest player, he married that woman, what a wife she was, his wife Carmen. So those people had great impact on him. What a change in his practice habits, his excitement about playing the game, all of those things occurred.”


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Whaley: Physicality is Ragland’s best asset

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 2:49 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley made an appearance on NFL Network’s All Access program and was asked about a comment made by Bills Wall of Famer Darryl Talley.

Talley claimed that Reggie Ragland is the best linebacker drafted by the Bills since Cornelius Bennett. Now in an effort to be accurate, Bennett was acquired by the Bills via trade on Halloween in 1987 in a blockbuster deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Biscuit was also an Alabama product. Either way it’s high praise from Talley. So what did Whaley think of that opinion?

“Time will tell but we’re excited about what he brings to our team,” Whaley said. “As coach has always said, what we want to be is a physical team. We want anybody that comes in to play the Buffalo Bills know that they’re going to have to strap that chinstrap up a little tighter and they’re going to know they’re going to be in a fight. That’s what he brings, physicality.

“And then you add to the fact that the defense he ran in college is very, very similar to the defense we’re going to be running this year. So all of that and then the combination of him coming from a winning program. All of those qualities just made us feel like this is the type of guy we want on our team. To tell you the truth, we thought he would be our pick at 19 so we never dreamed we would be able to get him and Shaq Lawson with our first two picks.”


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Darby on NFL.com’s All-Under 25 team

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 1:45 pm

NFL.com took a look at who they believe will be the next generation of stars in the NFL, and put together a list of such players who are under the age of 25. One Bills player is on that list.

Cornerback Ronald Darby made the All-Under 25 team put together by NFL.com. Here is what was written about Darby’s future.

Cornerback: Ronald Darby, Buffalo Bills

The 2015 campaign was a down year for the Bills’ defense, but not because of Darby. Marcus Peters deservedly took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year hardware, but when you dive into the numbers, Darby is right there. He allowed fewer receptions, yards and touchdowns than Peters, while posting more tackles. What a second-round find.


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Seymour: Expectations for OTAs

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 1:35 pm

Bills sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour, who signed his rookie contract today (Wednesday), got his feet wet at rookie minicamp last weekend. He’s met the veterans on the roster through the sessions of the offseason conditioning program this week. So what are his expectations for OTA practices in a couple of weeks? He’s worried about one thing and one thing only at this point.

“First of all knowing the playbook is big,” Seymour told Buffalobills.com. “Knowing what I have to do so I can play fast. Once I know the playbook and my assignments inside and out I’ll be able to play fast and make plays.”

Bills OTAs begin on May 23rd.


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Brandon on Thurman’s 34: Stay tuned

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2016 – 9:06 am

With today’s announcement by Bills team President Russ Brandon that the club will be retiring Bruce Smith’s No. 78 in a halftime ceremony at the Bills home opener, he was naturally asked about whether Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 could be next in line.

“Stay tuned,” said Brandon in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Today we’re celebrating Bruce, but obviously everyone knows Thurman’s place and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that number down the road, but you can read between the lines.”

Right now only Jim Kelly’s No. 12 is retired. Smith’s 78 will follow in September. Thomas sounds likely to follow soon after.

 


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2 of Bills rookies among undrafteds to watch

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 11:01 am

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper put together a list of top 30 undrafted players to watch in 2016. Two of the Bills 14 undrafted players made the list.

Kiper listed Bills FB Glenn Gronkowski and LB Eric Striker as two of his 30 undrafteds to keep an eye on. Here’s what he wrote on them.

Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Buffalo Bills
He’s not the second coming, but he’s one of the two best fullbacks in the draft and has a chance to make the Bills’ roster.

Eric Striker, OLB, Buffalo Bills
Undersized but productive, Striker can flat out rush the passer. The question is if he can help beyond that.

 


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Bills draft class draws from top football states

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 10:34 am

NFL.com put together a list of the states that produced the most draft choices in the 2016 NFL draft. Not surprisingly, Texas, Florida and California topped the list. Buffalo’s draft class reflected the top end of the list of traditional football producing states.

Buffalo’s seven-player draft class had a pair of players from Texas (J. Williams, Listenbee) and a pair from Ohio (Washington, Jones). The other three hailed from Alabama (Ragland), California (Seymour) and South Carolina (Lawson).

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of 2016 draft picks:

32 – Texas
30 – Florida
26 – California
15 – Georgia
14 – Ohio
10 – Illinois
9 – Pennsylvania
8 – North Carolina
7 – Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and South Carolina
6 – Alabama, Arizona and Indiana
5 – Louisiana and Tennessee
4 – Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Washington
3 – Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Wisconsin
2 – Connecticut, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah
1 – Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota and Nebraska

 


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Jones establishes early trust with coach Lee

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 9:06 am

As we profiled in our feature story on QB Cardale Jones, Buffalo’s fourth-round pick knows he has a lot of work in front of him if he’s to maximize his potential as an NFL caliber quarterback. Set to work most closely with him in that effort is Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee, a coach he met a few times before rookie minicamp last weekend.

“I met him there (at One Bills Drive on my pre-draft visit) and met him at my pro day and at the combine as well,” said Jones.

Jones is ready to work with Lee, offensive assistant Chris Palmer and offensive coordinator Greg Roman right away. Jones also has an additional connection to coach Lee.

“Me and coach Lee are represented by the same agency,” said Jones in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.


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Which is Bills’ game to circle in 2016?

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 8:32 am

SI.com took a look at the regular season schedule for each of the NFL’s 32 clubs to see which was that team’s game to circle. Essentially SI’s Don Banks looks at the toughest game on each team’s schedule that could potentially alter the course of that club’s season. The one game he picked for the Bills should come as little surprise.

He hedged a bit as he picked either of Buffalo’s two games against division nemesis New England, partly because it’s up in the air as to whether Tom Brady will be available for the Week 4 matchup, since that would be the last week of his upheld suspension for Deflategate. Here was his assessment.

Buffalo (Week 4 or 8 vs. New England): It almost goes without saying that for Rex Ryan and his long-suffering Bills, the white whale they both have long pursued hails from Foxborough, Mass. Beating the Patriots is where the story starts and ends for Buffalo, which is still working on that mind-boggling 16-year playoff drought. The Bills were 0–2 against Belichick and Brady last season, finishing 8–8 and in third place in the AFC East. This year, Week 4 brings the first test, with the Bills trying to win for the only second time ever at Gillette Stadium (and that 2014 Week 17 upset came when Brady was yanked early with the playoffs looming). If Brady’s suspension is in effect on Oct. 2, the focus will shift to the Week 8 rematch in Buffalo, with even more on the line in terms of the Bills’ quest to return to division relevancy.

Do you agree? I admit it’s hard to argue. If the Bills want to contend for the division title to ensure an end to the playoff drought they have to at least split with the Patriots this season.

For what it’s worth Banks had the Jets toughest game being their Week 2 matchup in Buffalo with the Bills. He even called it the Rex hex for the Jets after the Bills swept New York last season.


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LB Ragland eager to dive in with the Ryans

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 1:47 pm

Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland played in a defensive scheme at Alabama, that GM Doug Whaley claims will have a lot of carry over to Rex Ryan’s scheme in Buffalo. That will hopefully translate into a shorter learning curve for the physical linebacker. Either way Ragland is altogether anxious to get to work on the scheme with both head coach Rex Ryan and Assistant head coach Defense Rob Ryan.

“They’re great coaches,” said Ragland of the Ryans. “They love to joke around off the field. They love on you and do what they can for you and then once you get on the field it’s all business. I’m glad I’ve got a coach like that because I always wanted to play for coach Ryan, the Ryans actually, both of them. I’m getting an opportunity to do that so I’m really thankful and happy. Anytime you have the both of them together you know you’re going to have great schemes drawn up.”


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Starting job lured Slauson to San Diego

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 10:46 am

As I suspected in my Fan Friday column last week (answer No. 5), free agent guard Matt Slauson would only be given the opportunity to compete for a starting role here in Buffalo, and with the team’s three interior starters on the line pretty entrenched it was likely that Slauson would be a backup for the Bills in 2016 were he to sign here. With the strong likelihood of being the Chargers starting center, reports were already circulating over the weekend that he would sign a two-year deal with San Diego as early as today (Monday).

ESPN’s Adam Caplan had it first on Saturday that Slauson had agreed to terms with San Diego.

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So as attractive as playing for Rex Ryan and Aaron Kromer again may have been, most free agents prefer the better opportunity at playing time and he’ll have that with the Chargers.


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Phase 2 of offseason conditioning begins today

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 10:33 am

Bills players have been on site for the last few weeks doing weight training and conditioning work on the field without coaches, and classroom work with coaches. But today (Monday) begins phase two of the offseason program.

Under CBA rules, over the next three weeks of the program players can participate in on-field workouts that may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.

Buffalo’s OTA practices begin in two weeks on Monday May 23rd.


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