Inside The Bills

Watkins happy to be worked back in

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 2:12 pm

Sammy Watkins has been a limited participant in spring practices coming off an offseason hip procedure, but through the first two days of minicamp he’s been sprinkled in for a few team reps in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. It’s not much, but Watkins is happy to take any reps he can get with teammates around him.

“It feels good,” he said. “Just to know I can get on the field and compete and go out there and make a play or two. Just to get back there is a great feeling to me, and just to see coaches confidence in putting me back there and knowing that I’m healthy – it was a great feeling for me.”

Watkins said he will be full go for training camp come late July.

“I’ll be in there the first day of training camp competing,” he said. “It’s all about now getting in shape and coming back ready to compete.”


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Aaron on track for training camp

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 2:07 pm

Aaron Williams, who is coming off of offseason surgery, has not seen any action in the spring and that has carried through to the mandatory minicamp. According to Rex Ryan, Williams will be good to go come training camp at the end of July.

“Aaron should be ready to go,” said Ryan. “He’s sitting in there in the meetings, and it’s tough for some positions. Like Leodis (McKelvin) will come in and play corner like it’s nothing. But playing safety is a more challenging position mentally and the communication part of it and all that. With Aaron not being able to go we’ll see how it goes. He seems to be sharp and I’m looking forward to seeing him on the field.”


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Rex tips hat to season ticket fan base

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 2:02 pm

Naturally Bills head coach Rex Ryan is aware of the record-breaking figure for season tickets this offseason. He’s sensed the excitement in Western New York since he was hired. Having coached on the opposite sideline several times here in Buffalo he wasn’t the least bit surprised by the fan support for the team.

“The commitment from our fan base is tremendous,” said Ryan. “I knew before I ever came here how awesome these fans are. This is just another thing to reinforce it. We’re all excited about the season. And it’s not just our schedule—I get it, there’s a lot of good teams on our schedule that we’re playing here. But our fans aren’t coming to see the opponent, they’re coming to see the Buffalo Bills. They’re seeing their football team.

“That’s what exciting to me because when you come here, you’re not just playing the Bills, you’re playing this fan base, our fans, you’re playing our football team, but you’re playing the community. And our community takes a great deal of pride in our football team. This is about us. Was I excited about that (season ticket record)? Darn right I was, man. C’mon in here and get a piece of this.”


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on June 16, 2015 – 6:01 pm

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

7:10 AM – Nickell Robey on WGR 550

12:37 PM – Charles Clay on Sirius NFL Radio 

4:30 PM – Tyrod Taylor on ESPN Rochester


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QBs not surprised competition is tight

Posted by Chris Brown on June 16, 2015 – 5:54 pm

All three of Buffalo’s quarterbacks in the competition for the starting job had their moments on Tuesday, but head coach Rex Ryan said he’s not expecting true separation until training camp.

“There’s not going to be any separation until the pads come on,” said Ryan. “It’s not going to be won until we get to playing real football. I think the number one thing is to pick the right guy. Is time on our side a little bit? Yes it is. In an ideal world, would you rather have your quarterback named by now? Yeah. That’s an ideal situation. But you know what — we’re not there.  We’re in an ideal situation to have competition at that spot and I welcome it.”

Ryan’s comments that the competition figures to stretch well into training camp is anything but surprising to Buffalo’s signal callers. They figured the offensive staff would wait until real football when more realistic decision making becomes part of the competition.

“I figured that’s what it kind of would be anyway just by the way we’ve been rotating in OTAs and in minicamp,” said EJ Manuel. “It is what it is. I think the way you have to go into this thing is do your best with the reps that you get and at the end of the day they’ll make the decision that’s best for the team.”

When asked if he felt the competition was close Manuel simply sees all three QBs in the competition faring well.

“I think we’re all doing a good job,” he said. “Everybody is being very sharp and picking up the offense like coach Roman wants us to do pretty quickly. When you’re playing against good competition in the league that’s how it is so it’s the little small things that will separate all of us.”


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Rex on addition of DT Fluellen

Posted by Chris Brown on June 16, 2015 – 3:26 pm

The Bills might have one of the deepest defensive line corps in the league, but it didn’t keep them from adding a veteran wave defensive tackle in Andre Fluellen Tuesday.

Head coach Rex Ryan explained the roster move after Tuesday’s minicamp practice.

“You can’t have enough good players,” said Ryan. “When you add to the competition those are real positive things. I just saw him out there, I’m like there’s a young kid who’s played in the league a little bit, and he can run. He’s got some movement skills.”

The only issue Ryan did have is that Fluellen is yet another Florida State product on the Bills roster.

“I don’t like the fact that he’s a Florida State guy like half our roster,” said Ryan. “We need to get more Tigers in there.”

Ryan is partial to Clemson where his son is a receiver.


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Chris Williams & Henderson updates

Posted by Chris Brown on June 16, 2015 – 3:00 pm

The Bills had a couple of players who were not on the field at Buffalo’s mandatory minicamp. Two were players still rehabbing offseason procedures in Chris Williams and Aaron Williams. The third player had trouble traveling back to Buffalo.

That according to head coach Rex Ryan, who explained Seantrel Henderson’s absence Tuesday.

“He had some travel issues and was not in the building,” said Ryan. “You always tell guys, especially when you’re heading north, always try to prepare a little.  I’ll talk to him about that.”

As for Chris Williams, who has not been in attendance for any of the OTA practices, but was in the building Tuesday rehabbing, Ryan made it a point to speak with him at length.

“Chris is here and I know what he looks like. He’s a big dude,” said Ryan. “My conversation with Chris, I’ll just leave it as private.  There are voluntary camps.  Obviously, we knew Chris’ situation with his rehab and things. Nobody looks like him.”

Ryan said he expects to see Henderson back on the practice field Wednesday.


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 10:24 pm

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

7:40 am – Kiss 98.5, Janet and Nick – LeSean McCoy

7:40 am – WCMF, Break room – Fred Jackson

7:50 am – WGR 550, Howard Simon and Jeremy White – LeSean McCoy

4:30 pm – ESPN Rochester, Scott Pitoniak – Fred Jackson


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Club seats & suites in near sold out position

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 11:54 am

The Bills in announcing the organization has set a record for season ticket sales has also shared that their sales across the board of their available game inventory is extremely high.

While team President Russ Brandon did not confirm that the limited availability of regular game tickets has led to an increase in club seat sales or suite sales, he did say that club seats and suites are essentially filled for the 2015 season.

“Suite sales are pretty much in a sold out status as well,” said Brandon. “We were last year. I think that’s something that needs to be focused on. Last year our season tickets sales were 47 (thousand) and change and it was an excellent foundation for us for where we are today. So how this business has evolved in today’s NFL has been an immense project for our staff and our organization and our fan base.

“Right now sideline club seats are really in a sold out pattern. We have some limited availability in individual game tickets within our club seats. Suites are pretty much in the same spot right now.”


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Bills plan to cap season tickets at 60K

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 11:49 am

With the Bills in a record-breaking position right now for season ticket sales, the organization has put measures in place to cap season ticket sales when they reach a pre-determined threshold.

Bills President Russ Brandon in announcing the organization’s record-breaking season ticket figure (57,500) knows it stands a good chance to go higher, and outlined at what point the club intends to cap season tickets.

“We plan on capping season ticket sales at 60 (thousand) if we get there,” said Brandon. “We’re north right now of 57,500. We anticipate that there is an opportunity that we could get there and we will cap season tickets at that point.”

Brandon also mentioned how they thought they had a chance to break the record set back in 1992 leading up to the 2008 season, but they fell just short at 56,011. Knowing the team hasn’t made the playoffs in 15 years the undying loyalty of the Bills fan base has been nothing short of overwhelming.

“We look back and the analysis over the last 17 years and our average season tickets has been 42,994, which is a pretty good foundation with the inventory that we have in the market. The team has not been to the playoffs in the last 15 years and that has been difficult for anyone who is involved in this organization in any department, but it goes back to our fans and the loyalty they’ve shown, and not just this year.”


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Brandon cites fans, Pegulas for season ticket mark

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 11:42 am

The Bills formally announced that they’ve set a record for season ticket sales (57,500) for the 2015 season surpassing the record previously held from 1992 (57,132), in the midst of Buffalo’s unprecedented four-straight AFC title run in the early 90’s. Bills President Russ Brandon pointed to the team’s tremendously loyal fan base and the Pegulas’ purchase of the club as the two principle factors in reaching the historic mark.

“First and foremost it goes to our fans and our ownership, the Pegulas, who have provided stability for this franchise in Western New York,” said Brandon. “As I said at the time of the sale, the collective anvil that had been on the back of all of our shoulders, we were able to put that in Lake Erie and that played a huge role in today’s announcement.

“Right now we’re north of 57,500 season tickets. Obviously it’s an exciting time for the organization. It’s a credit to our fans and their loyalty. We have the best fans in the NFL as proven year in and year out. It’s a credit to our ticket office and customer service staff who work year round to try to make this work and have done an excellent job.”

The number of season tickets is expected to climb knowing fans might not be able to find individual game tickets with the inventory shrinking daily. The team’s group sales opens on Friday, but there is only tickets remaining on a group basis for their home finale against the Jets on Jan. 3rd.

Individual game ticket sales are supposed to take place next month, but that is going to be re-assessed by the ticket office based on where availability goes from the results of group sales and further season ticket sales.

We will go through with our group on sale on Friday and we’re scheduled to have our individual ticket group on sale on July 29th and right now we’re going to evaluate that based on what the inventory looks like.”


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Report: Multiple teams interested in G Mathis

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 10:12 am

It was a late offseason release, but the Eagles in parting ways with veteran G Evan Mathis have opened up what sounds like widespread interest in the former Pro Bowl guard.

Earning Pro Bowl nods in each of the last two years and a 1st-Team All-Pro honor in 2013, up to a half dozen teams are interested in signing Mathis per his agent Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus appeared on WQAM radio in Miami claiming that several teams have already made contact expressing interest.

While the Bills, like most other teams would see Mathis as an upgrade, it’s hard to believe Buffalo would want to get into a bidding war for Mathis’ services. The club is trying to lock up Marcell Dareus long term with what’s expected to be a landmark contract and adding a guard, albeit a pretty good one, doesn’t look like it would fit into the Bills salary cap equation.

Rosenhaus said the approach for Mathis would be a methodical one leading up to NFL training camps opening in late July.


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Hogan making good early impression

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 9:25 am

Bills WR Chris Hogan capably carved out a niche for himself in Buffalo’s offense the past two seasons. Now with a new offensive staff the process repeats itself as Hogan sets out to prove himself again. So far, so good for Hogan this spring.

New receivers coach Sanjay Lal credits Hogan with being among the most adaptable to his new coaching points.

“He is one of the fastest to pick up all of the small technique things we teach and no one works harder than him,” Lal said. “He catches well. He really has a good feel for the game. He understands defenses, spacing… I trust him.”

Lal also believes some sell Hogan’s athleticism short for whatever reason or perception might be out there.

“I don’t shortchange his athletic talent or speed or any of that,” Lal said. “We have all these competitions when we do weight lifting and Hogan always seems to be top three or the top one. So I think he gets shortchanged perception-wise that way. He’s one of the best receivers on the team and nothing less than that.”


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Fan Friday 6-12

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2015 – 1:09 pm

1 – Hey Chris,

I love these Fan Fridays, and thank you if you get to reading and responding to my question. With Michael Buchanan is it a possibility that he plays defensive end like he did in college and I think in his first year, and moving Jerry Hughes back to line backer as he did some coverage as linebacker as he did is his first year of with the Colts, if I’m not mistaken. So to summarize. Is it possible for that exchange to occur with the possibility if this free agent signing?

Thank you Chris,
Christian

CB: Buchanan has lined up exclusively at defensive end since he’s been on the practice field with the Bills. He’s a long and angular player. I think Buchanan will be fortunate to make the 53-man roster knowing the depth Buffalo has on the defensive line. So unseating Jerry Hughes is a pretty big leap to make. That being said I do think Hughes could see some time as a stand-up OLB in some of Buffalo’s defensive looks, where he rushes the passer that way instead of as a traditional end.

 

2 – CB,

Most teams carry 4 offensive tackles. Right now the Bills have 3. Do you see them signing someone? I assume they hope Cyrus can be their swing tackle or push Henderson. How many guards do you expect to make the roster. Rex wants to keep Urbik but they are very high in numbers (Williams, Richardson, others). They can’t keep all these guys. I hope John Miller wins the job. What your idea of the the line/backups will fare out?

CB: The Bills have a fourth OT in Tyson Chandler an undrafted rookie. There isn’t much on the free agent market in terms of proven talent. I do believe the Bills will try to add a fifth tackle at least for training camp. They need numbers there for reps and in the event of an injury. Knowing how thin the veteran free agent market is it’ll probably be a young player if it happens.

As for guards I think they keep three true guards and Kraig Urbik, who is a center and guard.

 

 

3 – Chris,

I appreciate the excellent reporting you provide for all of us Bills fans in Nevada.

How serious was Matt Cassel’s injury and where does he stand in his rehab?

Is there the potential for the tutoring that EJ is receiving from Steve DeBerg to be in conflict with what David Lee will teaching him?

Will coach Ryan or Thurmond be calling the plays on game day?

Thanks again,
Hank from Boulder City, NV
CB: Thanks for the kind words. Cassel’s foot injury was a very serious one last season. He is fully cleared to practice and insists his foot is fine. I think when we get closer to game speed in the preseason it’s something to keep an eye on. I’m not saying that because of anything I’ve seen in OTAs. I’m saying that because we know QBs are untouchable in the training camp setting, so in the preseason if he takes a hit or two on that foot it will bear watching to see how it holds up.

As for EJ’s tutoring from Steve DeBerg they did focus on throwing motion, release point and footwork, so I suppose there is a chance that DeBerg’s teachings could conflict with that of Bills QBs coach David Lee. I don’t anticipate there being any major differences however, between the two coaches where it would set Manuel back because the biggest focus was making his throwing motion more compact. Manuel had a bit of wind-up last year and needed to shorten it up. I’m confident David Lee likely came to a similar conclusion watching Manuel’s 2014 tape.

Finally, as it’s been explained to me, Rex Ryan will call the defensive plays on game day.

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all of the excellent year-round Bills coverage.  Knowing that the Bills have been among the league leaders the last couple of years in having to play teams off a bye week or extra rest, how does the schedule look this year in regards to that? How many games do the Bills face an opponent coming off a bye or three extra days of rest due to a Thursday night game?  Also, do the Bills face any division opponents coming off extra rest?

Thanks,
R.J.  Rome, NY

CB: The situation is a bit better for the Bills facing opponents coming off extra rest, but not by much. Buffalo has three games against opponents who will be coming off extra rest. The unfortunate part is they’re all clumped together in the first five weeks of the season, and yes one is against a division opponent.

In Week 2 the Bills will host the Patriots, who will be coming off an extra three days rest by virtue of their season opening Thursday night game against Pittsburgh.

In Week 4 they host the Giants, who will be coming off a Thursday night game in Week 3 and will also have three extra days of rest before facing the Bills.

In Week 5 Buffalo travels to Tennessee to face the Titans, who will have a full extra week to prepare coming off a Week 4 bye.

In Week 15 Dallas will technically have an extra day of rest going into their game against Buffalo because they play Saturday in Week 14, but that will be somewhat negated by the fact that the Cowboys have to travel to Buffalo. So in essence it’s three games.

Washington leads the league this year with five games against opponents with extra rest.

Buffalo has two games against opponents where they’ll have the extra rest and both are against division opponents (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 11 at New England). Of course in between those two games is a Thursday night road game at the Jets.

Three straight games against division opponents is not a good draw at all, especially when the first two will be played in a four day span (Week 9 vs. Miami, Week 10 at Jets – Thurs. night). Basically the Bills face all three division opponents in a stretch of 15 days with two of them on the road.

That’s probably more of a disadvantage than playing teams off extra rest because of the importance of those games in the AFC East standings. Of course they could be the Packers, who play four division games in a row from Week 10 to Week 13. Ugh.


5 –
Hi Chris,
Just wondering what your thoughts are on one last years late round picks, Randell Johnson, and what his chances are of becoming a contributor? I didn’t hear much about him last year, but his instincts and tackling really stuck out to me last summer in the preseason. Now that a lot people are saying LB is a need I’m wondering if he can possibly fill it.
Thanks,
Dan

CB: I believe the coaching staff is hoping he can provide some valuable depth at linebacker, and they’re giving him every opportunity to prove himself. Through the OTA practice sessions Johnson has largely run with the second unit at outside linebacker. His length (6-4, 245) is perfect for a 3-4 front. Defensive coordinators look for long body types there.

There is a lot to process in this defense and I feel like he’s working his way through it. Right now I don’t see anyone really pushing him for that outside spot on the second unit, but that could change come training camp. Knowing his assignments well enough to just freely run and hit will be beneficial to his game.

 


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TE Clay unaffected by big contract

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2015 – 2:31 pm

Bills TE Charles Clay got a big contract as Buffalo was able to pry him away from division rival Miami this offseason. A former sixth-round pick, Clay is in new territory with a fat contract. However, the versatile tight end maintains that the way he plays will be unaffected by a big money deal.

“It doesn’t register at all,” Clay told Buffalobills.com. “When I step on the field that’s the last thing on my mind. I step out there every day and my main goal is trying to get better at some part of my game every single day. Money isn’t an isuse. I don’t even think about that once I step on the field. I’m going to go out there and lay it on the line and afterwards we’ll see where I’m at.”

Clay insists his motivation stems from wanting to be the best, not a big contract.


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What Rex has learned about QB competitions

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2015 – 12:38 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan may have cut his teeth in the league on the defensive side of the ball, but he’s had more than enough experience dealing with big offensive decisions like who his starting quarterback will be. Having been through quarterback competitions before he knows how to handle his three-man competition with the Bills heading into mandatory minicamp.

Chief in the approach of weighing each of the quarterbacks against the other is not setting a drop dead date to make a decision.

“I don’t think you want to back yourself into it,” said Ryan. “If I give you a date and it comes back around to Week 2 and there’s no starting quarterback, I think I’ve learned you let that thing sit there. I think the appropriate time will be obvious to all of us if that happens.  It may not happen until the week of the Colts game, so we’ll see.”

We assessed the state of the Bills’ quarterback competition in our OTA Observations Wednesday.


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2 Bills assts. seen as head coaches in waiting

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2015 – 11:26 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has said a few times how he has an all-star coaching staff. He’s also mentioned how he has three men on his staff who he thinks will be head coaches soon. Monday Morning Quarterback put together their list of potential future head coaches and a couple of Buffalo assistants made the list.

MMQB had both Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn. Here are the reasons they believe Roman and Lynn could be NFL sideline bosses in the near future.

Greg Roman, Buffalo, offensive coordinator
Age:
42

College: John Carroll
Pro experience: 17 seasons, five as coordinator (San Francisco 2011-14)
Resumé: The fast-rising coordinator has almost two decades of pro experience under his belt (despite having never played in the league) and a monumental test ahead of him. Infamously instructed to “take a hike” by the daughter of Niners general manager Trent Baalke on Twitter, Roman is well-liked in league circles despite a disastrous 2014 season. He takes the Bills job under defensive-minded head coach Rex Ryan, with the challenge of competing in the AFC East, with either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel as his starting quarterback.
M.O.: Arguably the best running game architect in football today. And he knows it. If that confidence and intelligence translates into strong leadership, he could be some team’s diamond in the rough.

Anthony Lynn, Buffalo, running backs, assistant head coach
Age:
46

College: Texas Tech
Pro experience: 15 seasons
Résumé: Forced to retire early due to neck injuries, Lynn began his coaching career in Denver as a special teams assistant. Three teams later, Lynn coached the Jets’ running backs for all six years of Rex Ryan’s tenure. When Ryan was hired in Buffalo, Lynn followed. Ryan preached ground-and-pound, and Lynn was at the heart of its execution.
M.O.: Running backs coaches aren’t typically considered for head-coaching positions, but his job title in Buffalo includes “assistant head coach” for a reason. He’s a teacher of the game who sticks up for his guys.


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Lawson a big help at 2nd level

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2015 – 4:14 pm

As we covered earlier this week on Buffalobills.com, Manny Lawson stands a very good chance of making an impact on defense very similar to the season he had for the Bills in 2013, when he was the club’s third-leading tackler with a fair amount of splash plays. Where Lawson is helping the defense most right now however, is with his pre-snap communication.

“Manny is a huge asset on the field because of what he can do playing-wise and what he can do for our offense collectively as far as communication,” said Kyle Williams. “He knows his job, the job of the guys around him and the reason why we’re disguising that way. He does a lot of things for us that we’re really going to need him for and he’s going to be a big asset for us.”

“Just coming in and knowing not just his assignments but how the defense works and talking it out, making sure he’s pulling defensive linemen over in different fronts, talking to the backers.  He’s been really impressive that way,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “I remember now and it shouldn’t surprise me, I think his test score coming out was the second highest I can remember for a defensive player, next to Eric Smith, who’s one of our coaches now.  He’s really a sharp guy. And obviously he’s got the height and the length you look for. I’ve been really pleased with him.”

 


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Robey ready to be aggressive again

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2015 – 4:08 pm

Bills nickel corner Nickell Robey saw a big change from his role as a rookie in 2013 as the team’s nickel corner to his role in 2014. Though his position on the field was the same, what he was asked to do was not. It left him wanting to do more. With Rex Ryan and DC Dennis Thurman bringing in a defensive scheme similar to the one Robey played in two years ago, the third-year corner will get his wish.

Robey, who was a frequent blitzer in Buffalo’s 2013 scheme, said he’ll get the chance to do that again this fall.

“Just scheme-wise doing a lot more blitzing,” he said. “I’m playing a lot more aggressive coverages, but most of all doing a lot more blitzing. I love it. Coming off of Mario or coming off or Hughes it’s a great switch up because they’re all going to be keyed on them and then I just slide underneath them. It’s like a giveaway. It’s real easy.”

While there may be similarities between Ryan and Thurman’s scheme to that of their former colleague Mike Pettine’s system played by the Bills in 2013, Ryan maintains there’s plenty that’s different too.

“You guys want to paint it as the same scheme, but it’s not,” Ryan said. “Some things are similar but it’s a new defense. There’s a lot of things that we ask. Ours is more of an audible defense than he’s been in in the past. He picks it up well.  He’s going to have a big impact. He’s a little man with a big impact on the game. I’m glad he’s our nickel.”

Robey sees some of those differences.

“It’s a lot more aggressive,” he said. “I feel like the coverage is more aggressive on the back end and the D-line is able to rush more aggressively so it helps out better. Last year I was more just coverage basically and softer coverage too. I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted to do as far as being aggressive and being able to play like I really wanted to play. This year Rex is allowing me to do that.”


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Darby has tutors in Bills vets

Posted by Chris Brown on June 9, 2015 – 4:19 pm

The team concept has been preached from the get-go by Rex Ryan’s coaching staff and the veterans on Buffalo’s roster are holding fast to it. Evidence of it is found in the willingness of veteran players to help the rookies get up to speed on the offensive or defensive scheme depending which side of the ball they’re on.

Bills top pick Ronald Darby has been one of the beneficiaries. When he’s had a question about how to play a call a certain way some of the veteran defensive backs have given him some of the best answers.

“The coaches also help,” Darby told Buffalobills.com. “But all of the vets are great. (Corey) Graham helped me a lot. (Nickell) Robey, (Stephon) Gilmore, (Baccari) Rambo, a lot of them. All of them really, Ron Brooks. Any question I have I can go to any one of them and they’ll give me the right answer.”

The influence of the vets has helped to shorten Darby’s learning curve giving him a better chance of contributing this season as a rookie.


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