Inside The Bills

Rex on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 6:09 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be on the WNY airwaves Tuesday morning. Here’s where you can find him and when. 

7 am – WCMF

7:15 am – WGR 550

7:30 am – 103.3 The Edge

 

 


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Report: LB Spikes signs with Patriots

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 10:35 am

Bills free agent LB Brandon Spikes has chosen to sign with the team that drafted him.

According to ESPN Patriots reporter Field Yates, Spikes has signed a one-year deal with New England.

Spikes made a free agent visit with the Patriots last week. Buffalo was interested in bringing Spikes back at the right price, but GM Doug Whaley made it clear it would not be as a starter. Spikes is not likely to be a starter in New England either, but with the two starters in front of him coming off of injuries (Jerod Mayo – patellar tendon, Dont’a Hightower – labrum) Spikes stands a better chance of being on the field in New England.

Spikes was a second-round pick of the Patriots back in 2010.


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Henderson: Miller looks the part

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 2:03 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan volunteered the information earlier this week. During their on the field walk through sessions the offensive staff lined up rookie John Miller at one of the starting guard positions. Though it was far from real football Ryan said Miller didn’t miss anything and look like he belonged. His teammate Seantrel Henderson felt the same way.

“He’s ready,” said Henderson of Miller. “I feel like he’s a little more ready than I was last year and he’s been picking up on things ASAP. I’m excited to see him play.”

Out of Buffalo’s draft class Miller likely has the best chance to compete for a starting role.


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Fan Friday 5-15

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 11:41 am

Sorry for the one week hiatus. A lot of news going down last week. OTAs are less than two weeks away. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills

just curious why Bills have Felton and Conner?

nschirra8

CB: Doug Whaley has stated many times that any time they have a chance to make an upgrade they’re going to do so. The John Conner signing this week is an example of that. While I don’t deny that it’s unusual to have two proven fullbacks on one roster, I think Whaley and Rex Ryan subscribe to the philosophy of creating as much competition as possible in the training camp setting.

Conner will push Jerome Felton and that makes both players better. Ultimately Felton is going to be this team’s starting fullback, but if there’s an injury Conner is a fantastic fall back option. Can Conner convince the coaches to make an exception and keep two fullbacks? With the depth of this roster that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t fault a team for trying to get better everywhere and driving up the level of competition.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your continued pursuit of giving a small market team, big time exposure.

I know the McCoy/Alonso deal has been discussed ad nauseum and much like most Bills fans, I found myself conflicted and constantly flip-flopping on how to feel.  At the end of the day, the organization is making an aggressive play to enhance the offense, which is definitely something I support.  Having said that, seeing that the Bills were willing to commit heavy resources to a running back I’m uncertain of what to feel hypothesizing that we could have signed Demarco Murray for less money and still retained Kiko (whether to keep or to use as a potential trade asset).  Both backs are elite and I don’t wish to jibber-jabber over which one is better, but how can a cogent argument be made that McCoy > Demarco + Kiko?

Keep up the great work.
Best,
Robert F.

CB: While I think most would acknowledge that DeMarco Murray + Kiko Alonso is better than just LeSean McCoy, you’re operating under the assumption that Murray would be interested in signing with Buffalo.

It’s possible he may have been willing to sign with the Bills. We’ll probably never know, but Murray is a year older than McCoy. Unlike McCoy, who avoids the kill shots of defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties, Murray takes big hits. I think one could argue that the cumulative wear and tear on Murray is greater than on McCoy.

Now that doesn’t dismiss your argument that Murray + Alonso would be better than just McCoy, but I’m not convinced Murray would’ve signed here.

 

3 – Hi Chris, thank you to you and your team for all the off season coverage.
I have to think Suh signing this contract hurts us in two ways. 1, he bolsters the Dolphins defense and we have to go up against him twice a year. 2, did he set the market for Marcell Dareus as a free agent? Dareus was considered the best tackle against the run last year, and had more tackles and sacks than Suh. If Marcell doesn’t drop off this year wouldn’t he command the same contract as Suh? We saw what happens without Marcell in the lineup, just look at the Oakland game before and after his injury.  Do you think the Bills can afford to re-sign him, and if so, is that at the expense of asking Mario Williams to restructure his contract or full on releasing him?
Thanks
Paddy

CB: The Bills maintain that their cap structure will allow for a long term contract extension for Dareus. He’s the linchpin of the defensive interior for the long term future.

You’re right the Suh deal did set the market. I think in an ideal world the Bills have Dareus signed to a long term deal before the 2015 season commences. The more he performs on the field the more his price goes up, so it would behoove the Bills to seal a deal before September. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

 

4 – Hi Chris
Do the Bills have any definite plans for Marcus Thigpen? Is he still on the roster? Percy Harvin is arguably a better all-around player, but in all the mentions of Buffalo “weapons” I’ve not once heard Thigpen’s name.

Just curious
@GregTheBillsFan

CB: Thigpen is still on the roster yes. Harvin is clearly a better all-around player. Thigpen was a punt return specialist on this team last season after Leodis McKelvin broke his ankle. And while he did do a good job this roster became even harder for him to make with the offseason additions, Harvin chief among them. With McKelvin expected to be ready by training camp, the team’s primary punt returner will be back in the fold. So Thigpen, though very capable, may get caught up in a numbers game at the receiver position.

 

5 – Chris,
With the addition of Harvin, how do you expected the formations to look like? How does it change the role of Robert Woods, who had a great 2nd half of the season. Harvin might cut into Watkin’s targets, I like to see Watkin’s used more creatively.

Is Goodwin on the bubble to make the roster? I’d like to see a coach that will throw him the ball.

Sean

CB: I think the Greg Roman offense is going to be as multiple as possible with a myriad of pre-snap formations and shifts. So to give you an answer about formations would be like trying to hit a moving target. I expect Harvin to line up outside opposite Watkins, with Woods working more in the slot in this offense. Hogan would work the other slot in four-wide looks.

Based on Rex Ryan’s comments it sounds like Goodwin will get a far better opportunity to prove that he belongs on this roster than he did from the previous staff. I wouldn’t call him a bubble player, but from a pure numbers standpoint he’s going to have a challenge on his hands.


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Join Eric Wood and his linemates

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 8:44 am

Bills C Eric Wood has a charity event coming up that looks like it would be an evening of fun for any Bills fan. Here are the details.

Wood, who announced the official launch of the Eric Wood Foundation, is kicking things off with a Dinner for a Difference fundraiser that he’s hosting June 8 at Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo.

For one evening only, Wood and teammates will trade uniforms and helmets for aprons as they help serve guests three courses of favorites with fine wine and spirits. The night will also feature an exciting live and silent auction. Proceeds will benefit the foundation.

General admission tickets are $200. Guests can choose to purchase a $300 ticket to include a signature series football for autographs by celebrities. No outside memorabilia will be allowed at the event, but additional signature series footballs will be for sale for $150. Tickets and sponsorship packages are available at ericwoodfoundation.org.

Wood dinner

The primary focus of The Eric Wood Foundation is to provide seriously ill, special needs and physically challenged children throughout Greater Buffalo, NY with daily encouragement and life-changing experiences.

The Eric Wood Foundation hopes to impact the lives of more than 150,000 children by the end of 2017.

“Eric has a very compelling story,” says Mr. Yohana Hill, executive director of the foundation. “He’s had personal experience with the struggles that chronic and critical illness of a child can present a family. This is something he’s personally passionate about, and that’s why it will succeed.”


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WR group has stiffest competition in a while

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2015 – 1:12 pm

The first OTA practice for the Bills is just under two weeks away, but it’s readily apparent that the competition at wide receiver might be the stiffest that’s been seen at One Bills Drive since the early 90’s clubs. Head coach Rex Ryan was asked to assess how he and his offensive assistants will whittle the candidate list from its current number of 13 down to five or six.

“We have a deep group of talented guys,” said Ryan. “Percy Harvin, I’m not willing to say there’s something that he can’t do that someone else can. I’m not so sure that’s possible.

“Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins those guys are pretty decent. (Chris) Hogan, he’s a talented guy, good athlete, catches the football, smart, productive, so it is going to be tough to make this team, there is no question about it.”

When asked if he will try to mix and match skill sets to cover all possible needs at the receiver position, Ryan maintained that keeping the best players is the best way to go.

“Different roles for things, yeah possibly, but I don’t want to limit anybody and say this guy is strictly a slot receiver,” he said. “Let’s have it work out and in the end if that’s the case then so be it. I just want to see it with open eyes and believe what I see.”


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Seantrel lining up at left and right tackle

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 3:35 pm

Bills new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said he was going to be experimenting big time with his offensive linemen this time of year and into the OTAs and mandatory minicamp. He’s been true to his word as even in the walk through sessions on the field, and Seantrel Henderson has been working both edges each day.

Henderson said Kromer has lined him up at both tackle spots quite frequently.

“I’ve been playing right tackle this day, left tackle this day,” Henderson said. “That’s fine with me. I need more reps on both sides anyways just so I can get comfortable again.”

Henderson was almost exclusively a right tackle in college at Miami, which is where he wound up for the Bills as a rookie last season. But not before he lined up at left tackle in place of Cordy Glenn, who was not medically cleared to practice in training camp and part of the preseason last summer.

Henderson believes he can play left tackle.

“(You’re) just kicking with that opposite leg,” he said. “I’m more comfortable kicking with my right leg just because I’ve been playing right tackle since my freshman year in college. The more reps I take on the left side the more comfortable I’ll get playing both sides.”

Like just about every other offensive lineman on the roster, Henderson has taken quickly to coach Kromer. He along with several other linemen on the roster like Kromer as a teacher.

“He’s just good at teaching techniques as far as staying low and getting your hands on guys as soon as possible,” said Henderson. “As far as just how to kick and what angles to take you know he’s been teaching us all of that right now so we are going to be well-prepared.”


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How Rex wins players over

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 3:29 pm

Boobie Dixon might be one of the easiest sells for head coach Rex Ryan when it comes to winning a player over. Dixon’s approach to the game is much the same as Ryan’s. Do everything you can to win, but have fun doing it. Both also like to joke, which is perhaps why Ryan felt comfortable poking fun at the big back in one of the team meetings.

First, Ryan praised Dixon’s game both on offense and special teams. Remember it was Dixon that blocked a punt against Ryan’s Jets last season that Manny Lawson recovered for a touchdown in a 38-3 blowout win. Then he cracked on Dixon.

“He was just saying that he liked me and that I’ve got a nice style,” said Dixon. “He was telling all the guys that I might not be the prettiest guy in the room, but I get the job done. I’m not a super model so I was cool with that. We were just having some fun man and that’s what it’s about, having fun, winning games and building chemistry with your team. I have no problem with that.”

It’s how Ryan wins the locker room. Even when he’s cracking on a player he’s giving them credit in the same breath.


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Rex won’t rule out having 2 FBs on final roster

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 2:38 pm

With the signing of free agent FB John Conner Wednesday, Buffalo now has two of the better fullbacks in the league. But will there be enough work for both to be on their 53-man roster. Head coach Rex Ryan isn’t ruling it out as a possibility.

“Doug Whaley and I talk about it all the time—keep the best players,” said Ryan. “If that means two fullbacks, then so be it. Both Felton and John (Conner) can contribute on special teams as well. Clearly we brought Felton in to be the guy (at fullback), but it just so happens John Conner is still sitting out there. I know John, he’s a heck of a football player, he’s an excellent teammate, so let’s bring him in and let him compete. I would not be surprised if John makes our team.”

With the running back talent on the roster that you’d anticipate Buffalo keeping on their 53-man squad it is difficult to see both fullbacks sticking, but numbers could be sacrificed at perhaps another position if the coaching staff feels an exception is warranted.

Either way both fullbacks will be putting their best out on the field in training camp and the preseason and should make for one heck of a physical display.


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Manuel calls Bills offense “sweet”

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 9:38 am

It’s understandable when a quarterback openly accepts a new offensive scheme that comes in the door with a new coaching staff, but in an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, you could hear EJ Manuel’s enthusiasm for offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s scheme.

“I just think the dynamics that we have and the personnel that we have, you look at the receivers, running backs and the tight ends we have at the skill positions and the O-linemen getting better, getting stronger, getting nastier,” said Manuel. “But with the shifts and motions and the things we’ll do to mix it up for a defense is going to be really good. Instead of just being vanilla we’ll have a whole lot of different looks for opponents to prepare for.”

Manuel did not elaborate as to whether his vanilla comment was in reference to the team’s previous offensive system, but Roman’s is known to be diametrically opposed to the offensive system the team ran in the past. That plus the big play weapons that litter Buffalo’s offensive roster have Manuel encouraged about the possibilities this season.

“I think all these guys add big play ability,” Manuel said of the skill position personnel. “Charles (Clay) is one of the guys who every time we played the Dolphins he was making big plays. Shady McCoy is if not the best running back in the league he adds a great dimension running the ball and we’ve still got Fred (Jackson) and Boobie (Dixon) and you add Karlos Williams to the mix and then Bryce. The receiver room just looks crazy. Those guys as far as the speed we have on the outside, the reverse game, the vertical game is going to be great.”

Of course Manuel has to win the starting QB job this offseason if he is to be a weekly part of the Bills seemingly high-powered attack.

 

 


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Bills will provide single voice for EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 9:15 am

It was widely believed that last season there were too many coaches in EJ Manuel’s ear giving instructions and coaching points that were not consistent leading to mixed messages. It proved to play a factor in Manuel’s performance last season, though Manuel himself has faulted his throwing motion for accuracy problems last season. Accuracy problems he has since corrected through offseason work with Steve DeBerg. The good news is Buffalo’s new coaching staff sounds committed to providing Manuel with a singular voice from the coaches.

In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Manuel said Rex Ryan’s offensive staff will not subscribe to group instruction when it comes to the quarterback position.

“I know (offensive coordinator) (Greg) Roman allows (quarterbacks) coach (David) Lee to coach,” said Manuel. “That’s the cool part about ‘G-Ro’ is he is going to let his position coaches coach. I’ve even heard him say that. We were critiquing a thing with the receivers where we were wondering, ‘Hey, maybe the receiver should’ve broken that route here.’ And he said, ‘No, don’t worry about that, (receivers coach) Sanjay (Lal) will take care of that.’

“It’s obviously communication, but that’s something I’ve noticed about coach Roman. He’ll let his position guys coach.”

When Manuel was asked if his conservative play last season was a byproduct of the wishes of the former coaching staff, Buffalo’s third-year QB indicated that was indeed the case.

“I think I was doing what I was coached to do,” said Manuel. “Obviously decision making is something that’s extremely important. The main thing is you don’t want to turn the ball over, but now I’m more willing to take chances just because of the confidence I have in my throwing motion and my arm. So more of those vertical passes will definitely be shown.”


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EJ: Mastering QB an obsession now

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 9:05 am

Bills QB EJ Manuel has always been a diligent worker when it’s come to being an NFL quarterback, but he reached a different level of commitment this offseason.

In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Manuel said his commitment to the quarterback position has reached a point of singular fixation, and attributes it to the adversity he faced last season when he was benched after just four starts.

“I think what I went through that’s just what made me grow up. That was true adversity in my playing career,” Manuel said. “As far as the competitive edge I have now, it’s crazy. It’s almost an obsession now as far as mastering this position and mastering this offense and mainly the fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Why not spend all my time doing that? There’s really nothing else to do right now. The main thing is just being all in and investing in yourself.”

Manuel insists his throwing accuracy is much improved after working for four months this offseason with former NFL QB Steve DeBerg. He credits DeBerg with eliminating the wind up in his throwing motion that compromised his accuracy. His throwing motion is much more compact now and he feels his accuracy is much improved.


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EJ on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2015 – 5:28 pm

Here’s where you can find Bills players on the local radio airwaves Wednesday morning.

Featured on the Bills Radio Network will be EJ Manuel.

7:15 am – Kiss 98.5, Janet and Nick
–          EJ Manuel

7:30 am – WGR 550, Howard Simon and Jeremy White
–          EJ Manuel

 


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Tom Brady to miss 1st game vs. Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2015 – 5:56 pm

The NFL has handed down its sentence for New England QB Tom Brady in the wake of the Wells report which investigated the Deflate-Gate controversy. 

Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, which means he’ll miss the Patriots Week 2 game against the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

The Bills have not faced the Patriots without Tom Brady since the 2008 season when Brady missed 15 games with a torn ACL. 

His replacement for that game was Matt Cassel, who is on Buffalo’s roster now after an offseason trade with Minnesota. 


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Draft class jersey numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2015 – 2:49 pm

They wore them all weekend, but in case anyone missed it here are the jersey number assignments for Buffalo’s six draft choices.

Ronald Darby – 28
John Miller – 76
Karlos Williams – 40
Tony Steward – 50
Nick O’Leary – 84
Dezmin Lewis – 13

 


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Stretching the boundaries of Bills Nation

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2015 – 10:34 am

As many of you know Bills fans are everywhere, with all the Buffalo transplants. We often run into several on road trips for the team’s away games during the regular season. A good number of times I’ve run into fans when I’m away on vacation, usually south Florida. On a recent trip out of the country however, I ran into the self-proclaimed “biggest Mexican Bills fan.”

On a recent trip to Cancun, Mexico, I was approached by Nep Grande, a Bills fan who got hooked on the early 90’s teams and stayed true as a fan through a lot of the recent lean years. He works at the resort where my wife and I were vacationing. Wearing a Bills shirt kind of gave me away, but he recognized me from Buffalobills.com.

After showing me some of his photos with Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who he met a few years ago, he asked for a photo with me. I asked him if he had been to a Bills game before, perhaps at Arizona or Dallas. His answer?

“No, I have not been to a game,” Grande said. “And when I do see a game I want it to be at ‘the Ralph.'”

Sounds like a legit fan to me. Fortunately he’s got a friend who is a Bills fan in Buffalo, so he’s hoping to make it to a game in the next year or two. Here’s a shot of Nep and I in Cancun. Bills Nation alive and well south of the border!

Mexican Bills fan


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RB Williams eager to face older NFL brother

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2015 – 10:33 am

Right now Bills rookie RB Karlos Williams is focused on Buffalo’s offensive and special teams playbook with rookie minicamp wrapping up today. In his down time however, it’s hard for him not to think about squaring off against his older brother who also plays in the NFL.

Williams older brother Vince Williams is a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Williams has leaned on his older brother for advice on navigating a rookie season in the NFL.

“He gave me a lot of good advice,” said Williams. “He’s my big brother and is going to help me out as much as he can. But then again we play them in Week 3 of the preseason and he might not want to give me too much help.”

Williams already has Buffalo’s third preseason game against Pittsburgh (Aug. 29th) marked on his calendar, knowing with him as a running back and his brother Vince a linebacker that there’s a good chance the two will meet in the hole on a running play.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I look forward that moment. Me and my brother have always had that sibling rivalry, but when it comes down to it that’s my brother. I love him to death and I can’t wait to see him across the field.”

 


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WR Lewis: Goal is to be a solid route runner

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2015 – 4:35 pm

Bills seventh-round pick Dezmin Lewis has never had a problem picking up a new playbook. He has felt comfortable this weekend in rookie minicamp with all the play installs on offense for team work. Where he’s trying to nail down details is with his route running.

“I go up and get the ball at its highest point. I catch everything with my hands. I’m not much of a body catcher. The main thing now is just working on my route running and continue to become a better route runner so I can upgrade my game to something more than just a go getter.”

Lewis caught a lot of deep balls at Central Arkansas, but he knows he has to diversify his game if he’s to stick at the NFL level. He’s been working closely with receivers coach Sanjay Lal to make his game more well rounded. Job number one for a tall receiver like Lewis is to work on effectively dropping his weight to get him in and out of cuts and stems on his routes.

Coach Lal has been in his ear about one detail in particular.

“Staying low,” Lewis told Buffalobills.com. “I’m a tall receiver and as soon as I take off I pop straight up so he’s been coaching me. He said to act like there’s a string that’s tied to my chest and he’s pulling me. So my objective is to stay low throughout my entire route. That’s the main thing I’ve been working on.”

Lewis knows it’s just about body control, but it’s easier said than done for a receiver that stands 6-4. But coach Lal has given him some ways to perfect dropping his weight when he has to change direction and to help him keep his weight over his toes.

“It’s just body control,” he said. “He tells me to practice leaning as far as I can and balance myself on one foot. And wherever I’m comfortable that’s the base that I have to work off of. So it’s body control and torqueing my body into different positions so I can become a better route runner.”

Coach Lal also has his receivers review their own work in practice.

“The good thing about that is coach Lal goes over the routes and he tells us to critique ourselves,” said Lewis. “We’ll do that and tell him what we think we’re doing wrong and then correct us from there.”


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RB Williams balancing special teams duties

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2015 – 1:24 pm

Rookie RB Karlos Williams is pulling a lot of double duty this weekend in Bills rookie minicamp as both a running back on offense and on special teams. For Buffalo’s fifth-round pick however, handling both of those responsibilities is old hat.

Williams was an accomplished special teams player at Florida State, so handling multiple roles isn’t a big deal.

“Definitely used to that,” he said. “Played a lot of special teams at Florida State and took great pride in playing special teams at Florida State. With the special teams coaches we’ve had there at Florida State we’ve always been top 10 in the country in each category of special teams. It’ll be no problem. I’ve played in every scheme possible. So being here and being a part of special teams is going be a big part of me playing here. That’ll be no worries at all.”

What Williams is trying to master are the multitude of responsibilities a running back has in Greg Roman’s offense.

“(I’m) trying to get as much as I can,” he said. “It’s very hard in the NFL. You’ve got to be able to pass protect, see things quickly and react fast. There’s no time to think in the game of football in the NFL. There’s a lot to process.”

At the same time Williams likes coach Roman as a teaching coach.

“Great teacher. I can learn a lot from him,” he said. “A lot of stuff that we sat down and worked on one-on-one when I came to visit before and a lot of stuff when I went back home and still have to work on being here. It’s all a process and he’s a great teacher. Slows things down. He doesn’t want you to go full speed unless you’re doing it properly. I’m expecting to learn a lot from him.”

 


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Darby has no issue with speed of NFL game

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2015 – 1:19 pm

Bills top draft choice, CB Ron Darby, is facing the same transition as every other rookie on Buffalo’s roster. There are a lot of new things at the NFL level. Often times rookies talk about adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. In Buffalo’s rookie minicamp however, Darby is the fastest player on the field, so speed is of no concern.

“I’m blessed with speed myself, so it’s not an issue for me,” Darby said. “I’m just focused on a lot more technical stuff—the way routes break down, the way receivers cut, things like that. It’s more technical. The more film you watch the easier everything will be.”

Darby has been working a lot the past two days to get his head around to locate the ball, as the quarterbacks, perhaps by the coaching staff’s design, have been testing Darby deep a good deal.

The rookie cornerback has had no problem going stride for stride with any receiver he faces, but his technique is a bit inconsistent when it comes to exactly what secondary coach Donnie Henderson is looking for. As Darby himself said it’s all part of the process.


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