Inside The Bills

CB Graham to host football camp in Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on April 9, 2015 – 9:00 am

Bills cornerback and Buffalo native Corey Graham will be giving back to his hometown this summer. Graham will be hosting a free youth football camp in Buffalo this summer.

The free camp will take place on Sunday June 20th, with fifth to eighth graders participating from 9 am – 12 pm and ninth to 12th graders participating from 1 pm – 4 pm.

The camp will take place at All-High stadium at Bennett high school at 2885 Main street in Buffalo with prizes and giveaways including a signed jersey. More information can be found here about the camp.

Corey Graham camp

 


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2015 – 7:57 pm

Here’s where Bills players will be appearing on local and nationa radio Thursday.  

7:30 am – WGR 550, Howard Simon Show

– Robert Woods

 

7:40 am – WCMF, The Break room

– Charles Clay

 

12:20 pm – Rich Eisen Show

– EJ Manuel 


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QB Cassel on the new parts blending

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2015 – 3:56 pm

Bills QB Matt Cassel was one of the many veteran players participating in the voluntary offseason conditioning program this week. He’s also one of the many new parts on the offensive side of the ball. Having been a new face in a new place before Cassel outlined how he expects the chemistry to develop with the new players on his side of the ball.

“I think you start to build a foundation,” he said. “You build that rapport, you build those relationships and you start to understand what guys do well and what I do well.  As you get closer to the season you start to refine that and get better as you go.  But I think you take huge steps and make huge strides in OTAs and minicamps of doing that.”

Cassel is seen as one of the top two competitors for the starting quarterback job with EJ Manuel.

 


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Do the doubters fuel EJ?

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2015 – 12:58 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel knows the magnitude of this his third NFL season and is all in when it comes to his efforts to win the starting quarterback job this summer in training camp. Manuel has had his share of doubters since he was made a first-round pick of the Bills back in 2013, but do the doubters fuel him all the more?

That was a question posed by NFL Network’s Kim Jones to Manuel, and though he didn’t directly say they do, he gave indication that was the case.

“I fuel myself as well,” said Manuel indicating doubters do fuel him. “But I think just moving forward and being excited about a new opportunity and obviously having coach [Rex] Ryan come in and give you that confidence as a head coach coming from him means a lot to us as his players. I’m just really excited and happy to be back in Buffalo.”

Manuel is never one to seek out criticism for motivation, which is probably why he didn’t give a direct response. His self-motivation is usually more than enough.


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2015 – 5:24 pm

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

7 am – Kiss 98.5, Janet and Nick

– QB Matt Cassel

 

9:50 am – Sirius NFL Radio, Ross Tucker and David Diehl

– RB LeSean McCoy

 

12:15 pm – Pro Football Talk Live, Mike Florio

-RB LeSean McCoy

 

1:15 pm – Fan 590, Greg Brady and Andrew Walker

– TE Charles Clay

 

3:25 pm – ESPN Rochester, Scott Pitoniak

-RB  Fred Jackson


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McCoy transitioning to Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2015 – 12:45 pm

LeSean McCoy is very happy to be a Buffalo Bill now almost a month removed from the trade that surprised many in NFL circles. But there’s still the logistics of getting adjusted to a new city, new teammates and new coaches while leaving your previous destination behind. 

In an appearance on NFL Network, McCoy shared his thoughts on how that transition is coming along for him.

“It’s continuing. I just got here. It makes it a lot easier just the teammates, the coaches embracing me with open arms and making me feel welcome. That makes a difference. And that’s somewhere I wanted to be, somewhere that wants me. That makes a big difference,” said McCoy. “It’ll definitely get better as time goes on. The hard part is I have to go back and forth to Philadelphia to get my belongings, try to sell my house. I still go back and see all of the fans and all of your old friends there. But as time goes on, everything will get better.”

McCoy is a Pennsylvania native who has never played for a team outside his home state. 


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 9:59 pm

Heres where you can find Bills players on the radio on Tuesday with the players back in town for voluntary offseason conditioning workouts. 

7:20 am – WGR 550, Howard Simon show –  FB Jerome Felton

7:30 am – Kiss 98.5 — QB Matt Cassel


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Kyle: additions are matchup nightmares

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 3:13 pm

Bills DT Kyle Williams got an extension on his contract to help create some cap room for some of the club’s free agent signings this offseason. With some of the players coming from division rivals Williams knows the matchup problems they can present to a defense.

“I think all of the guys that we added are guys that we’ve broken down in our game plans,” said Willims. “Every time we’ve played against those guys, those are guys that we earmarked and said that we have to have an eye on them, that we have to account for them on every play. So, I’m excited about, you can’t ever have too many good players, especially on our team. And I’m excited I get to play with them and not prepare for them.”


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10 players had offseason procedures

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 3:03 pm

As the players returned for the first day of the voluntary offseason conditioning program there were some who were not yet cleared for participation due to offseason procedures. 

Head coach Rex Ryan listed those players. 

“Dan Carpenter, Anthony Dixon, Stephon Gilmore, Chris Gragg, Chris Hogan, Fred Jackson, Leodis McKelvin, Sammy Watkins, Aaron Williams, and Chris Williams,” said Ryan. 

“I will say this about everyone’s injury: we expect every one of our players to be ready to roll at training camp. So, nothing that we see injury-wise, in our opinion right now, will prevent these guys from being full-go at training camp.”


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Rex: players must take advantage of this time

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 10:30 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has the utmost respect for the fact that the team’s offseason conditioning program is voluntary, but with new offensive and defensive schemes to implement in classroom sessions there’s a valuable opportunity for his players to take advantage of being at One Bills Drive.

“I think the big thing is the players have to take it upon themselves to take advantage of our strength coaches with Eric (Ciano) and Hal (Luther) and everybody down there,” Ryan told Buffalobills.com. “Take advantage of them. We’ve got to be in shape. That way when you get a chance to get on that field you can show a good account of yourself.

“The mental part of it is huge as well in the classroom. But the physical part and being with our strength coaches and getting themselves ready to play, where you’re not worried about your conditioning to get through the practice, so you can implement what you’re learning in the classroom.”

Players have been reporting on a voluntary basis this morning as today starts the team’s offseason conditioning program.


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Ryan: My new roster will be ready

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 10:00 am

For the first time in six years Rex Ryan inherits an entirely new roster of players. Back in 2009 when he was named head coach of the Jets, the offseason practice rules were far different from what they are now. There is far less contact in offseason practices and fewer practices overall. So how much does Ryan and his staff have to tweak and change to have the team properly prepared going into training camp with far less time on the field under the new CBA?

“We feel pretty good about the structure we have in place,” Ryan told Buffalobills.com. “Obviously we have great teachers and being able to implement your systems is important. I was kidding Greg (Roman) that I had to bring a cart with our offensive playbook. But we are going to have extensive playbooks on both sides of the ball, but it’s the way we teach the fundamental part of it and getting the foundation is something that we talk about because that’s the critical part. Once you get the foundation set then it just broadens from there.

“We’re confident we’ll get everything done. We’ll have everything going in there and use whatever it takes to win each particular week.”


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Thurman: D will marry 2013 & 2014 schemes

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 8:45 am

When Rex Ryan was named head coach of the Bills and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman soon followed most outside observers assumed that Ryan’s defense as it’s been previously drawn up would be implemented. After watching how effective Buffalo’s players were in a different scheme in 2014, finishing fourth in the league overall, Thurman is going to marry elements of the two schemes together.

“Our way of thinking is we’ll tweak some things,” Thurman told Buffalobills.com. “We have a talented group of guys on defense that played really well last year so we’re going to incorporate some of the things that they were doing along with some of the things we were doing and make the transition a little bit easier for them.”

While Thurman has a good number of players on the defensive side of the ball, who played well in Ryan’s scheme under former coordinator Mike Pettine in 2013, their consistency in former 2014 coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme convinced him to carry over parts of that defense to this season as well.

“We definitely took a look at what they did when Mike (Pettine) came in and installed the system,” said Thurman. “We looked at how the guys performed within it. Looking at that along with 2014 tape and how well they played you have to look at everything as a whole. We did that as well and we’re going to incorporate some of the things they did in 2014 as well because they played very sound fundamental defense.”


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Roman has worked with TE Gray before

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2015 – 2:00 pm

Bills TE Marqueis Gray is an athletic player who could offer some versatility at the position, which is music to the ears of offensive coordinator Greg Roman. But when the players report next week, Gray won’t be meeting Roman for the first time.

Gray was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013 and went into camp where Roman was the offensive coordinator. In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, Gray explained how he was used in San Francisco in Roman’s offense.

“I was kind of that hybrid fullback and tight end like they had used Delanie Walker the year before,” said Gray. “I was that type of guy.”

Having played quarterback and wide receiver in college at Minnesota, the duties of the hybrid role were largely foreign to Gray who admitted he struggled most in the blocking department.

“They knew it was my first year playing tight end and they knew it would be difficult, especially with blocking because I was lacking in the strength department having been a quarterback my whole life. Coming into the NFL and blocking the best players in the world is not easy when you’re learning on the fly. But as far as running and catching the ball that was pretty natural for me in terms of what I can do.”

Gray didn’t make the 49ers roster that summer, but was picked up by the Browns and spent the 2013 season there where he was used as an H-back and emergency QB. After not making the squad the following summer in training camp Gray was claimed off waivers by the Vikings and released just after midseason when they had to make room on the roster at RB for Ben Tate.

That’s when Buffalo picked him up off waivers last November. Now with a couple of seasons of NFL training Gray has filled out and added lean muscle mass to his frame. That’s what he was focused on again this offseason.

“Every offseason I’m trying to bulk up and get some strength in my upper body because it’s key with blocking and having a strong lower base,” Gray told the John Murphy Show. “I just want to get my strength up with these other guy so I don’t get thrown around like a rag doll.”

Gray’s skill set caters well to what Roman wants out of his tight ends. Now two years removed from his first go-round with Greg Roman, Gray could prove to be a valuable complement to the roster behind Charles Clay if he can convince Roman he’s improved a good deal from his time with him in San Francisco as a rookie.

 


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Fan Friday 4-3

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2015 – 11:45 am

The team’s offseason conditioning program begins on Monday. Prep for 2015 begins. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all you do to keep Bills fans informed.

The perception in Tennessee seems to be that Andy Levitre has not lived up to his contract.  If he gets released, do you see any chance of him coming back to Buffalo?  Do you think that would be a good move at this point for the Bills?

Thanks.
Jason T
Philadelphia, PA
Go Bills!

CB: I wouldn’t rule it out, but I believe it’s unlikely. Levitre is still young enough to command a pretty sizable contract so were he to be released I think he’d still cost a hefty amount. And with Buffalo’s limited cap space now I don’t know that he’d fit from a fiscal standpoint.

 

2 – Hey Chris ,

WOW !  I can see this McCoy trade blowing up in the Bills face! Personally I think Whaley has made a HUGE mistake! He GAVE away a star in the making not to mention with the contracts of Hughes this year, Dareus & Gilmore next year & others he has screwed up the amount of the cap that he will have to work with & who he will be able to keep beyond next year.

Not to mention that if CJ had any thoughts of working with the team by seeing what he was worth as a FA & coming to the Bills & asking what kind of deal they could give that is gone because they instead of doing what they said trying to bring back their draft picks totally alienated CJ!

It was once said that they meaning the Bills were going to build through the draft & wanted to keep their own. Building through the draft is much more cost effective! If there was any chance of them picking up say Gurley that is probably gone to with the Shady deal. If they would have offers CJ $8 Mil a year he probably would have taken the deal & saved them cap space .

I really hope this pans out but I think it will back fire & make us look like what the rest of the league already thinks of us, a laughing stock
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. Yes, there is no question the Bills gave up a good, young player in Kiko Alonso, but when you have the opportunity to land one of the top three running backs in the league who is just entering his prime and you’re coming off a season in which you finished 25th in the league in rushing you pull the trigger.

Buffalo had the fourth-best defense in the league last year without Kiko Alonso on the field. Alonso is coming off his second career ACL and also had shoulder surgery last year. I’m not saying he can’t come back from that, but that’s a lot of wear and tear on a 25-year old body.

To compare McCoy and Spiller is apples and oranges. McCoy can run inside and outside and handle a heavy workload. As much as I respect C.J.’s game history tells us a heavy workload more likely leads to injury for him.

The cap concerns you have were alleviated with McCoy re-doing his deal, which contained an extension to spread his money out more.

Concerning your comment on building through the draft, the Bills aren’t deviating from the philosophy. This was an offer that was presented to them out of the blue. When you have an opportunity like the Bills did to land McCoy you take it no matter what your philosophy is as to how to build your team.

With all due respect I think you need to put a little more faith in Doug Whaley as a GM.
3 – Chris,

With Kiko gone, who fills his spot inside? I think he would have been valuable and isn’t easily replaceable as people think due to the fact that he is a 3 down linebacker who can drop into coverage. Will they bring back Spikes?

CB: Spikes does remain an available option, but I think the Bills are only willing to re-sign him at their price. Buffalo has two capable three down linebackers in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. I expect the Bills to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds to build their depth and would expect them to look for an athletic backer. Manny Lawson probably moves back to more of a SAM linebacker role in Dennis Thurman’s defense so that brings another veteran to the LB corps.
4 – Chris,
How do compensatory picks work?  I know generally that if a team loses more free agents than it signs, they get awarded pick(s).  But how do you have a team if you’ve lost more players than you have received?  I don’t get it.

As a follow up, this has been an interesting offseason so far.  Do you see the Bills optimizing to try to acquire compensatory picks?

 

Thanks!

Len in NYC
CB: The basics of determining compensatory picks begins with a net loss of free agents as you mentioned, but there is a myriad of particulars as to what free agent signings count and what ones do not. For example if a free agent is signed after June 1st (now May 12th per reports) it doesn’t count toward your plus-minus free agent total. There are several other stipulations that govern the final total that’s too much to get into here.

Baltimore is one of those clubs that has turned acquiring compensatory picks into an art form. Very often they wait to sign free agents until after June 1st (now May 12th) so they don’t count toward their total and they’re routinely among the clubs getting the most compensatory picks the next year for their free agent losses.

As for the Bills, the acquisition of Clay (who from what I’ve been told will count), Harvin and Felton have Buffalo ahead of the game with Pears, Spiller, Searcy and Lee Smith signing elsewhere. So I’ve got the Bills at minus one. We’ll see how it all shakes out next March.

 

5 – Chris,

A question on free agency. If an agent is dealing with team “A” and team “B” and say one team comes in  higher than another, but the player prefers playing for the team with lower bid who has the final say. Does the agent have the right to say I’m working for you to get the highest salary possible? Is the player bound to sign the best offer?  With Josh McCown signing with the Browns, was the three-year deal probably the factor? It seems in the past for a veteran type backup two-year deals were the going rate .

Thanks for keeping us fans in the know, your the best.

Wally James
Fredericksburg ,Va

CB: Thanks for the kind words. Per your question the answer is no. Players hire the agent, not the other way around. So players determine ultimately who they want to play for. Now agents will sometimes try to steer or convince players to take the offer with more money, and in many cases they do. Some players do forget to think for themselves and do what they want and blindly follow their agent’s recommendation. But most know it’s their career and their decision.

Concerning McCown my understanding is Cleveland was willing to pay McCown a lot more than the Bills were willing to offer, so it was more about the total committed dollars than the length of the contract.


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Bills ‘O’ already being touted as most improved

Posted by Chris Brown on April 2, 2015 – 2:48 pm

They’ve only added the talent on paper so far this offseason, but the NFL prognosticators are already putting the label on Buffalo’s offense as the most improved.

NFL.com listed the top five most improved offenses based on pieces that teams have added. With LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay headlining the offensive additions over the past month or so, they listed the Bills as number one. Here’s what they wrote.

1. Buffalo Bills

Additions: LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay, Matt Cassel, Richie Incognito, Jerome Felton and Tyrod Taylor

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks has outlined the reasons to expect new coordinator Greg Roman’s offense to spark a legitimate playoff run this season. Minus a reliable quarterback, Roman will orchestrate a run-centric offense with McCoy, bruising lead blocker Felton and savvy veteran Fred Jackson. The 49ers ranked eighth, fourth, third and fourth in the past four years under Roman.

In Harvin and Sammy Watkins, Roman has the benefit of two explosive weapons to draw up creative misdirection runs and gadget plays that will frustrate defensive coordinators. Throw in tight end Charles Clay and possession receiver Robert Woods, and the Bills might have more weapons than any offense in the league.

This collection of playmakers can stretch the field horizontally like few we’ve ever seen. The question is whether they can beat defenses vertically.


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DE/LB Mauldin tried to mimic Preston Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on April 2, 2015 – 9:25 am

Louisville pass rushing prospect Lorenzo Mauldin, profiled on Buffalobills.com today (Thursday), overcame a lot to make an NFL career a reality. He also gravitated to a few senior teammates when he first joined the Cardinals roster as a freshman. One of them is current Bills LB Preston Brown.

“When I first got to Louisville Preston (Brown) was one of the first guys I looked at,” said Mauldin. “I wanted to look at all the veterans and Preston was there along with Marcus Smith. They taught me how to play the game. Watching Preston each game and each practice and see him go 110 percent in practice. They make you want to go so you try to mimic them to impress the coaches and get on their good side.”

Mauldin is forecast as a mid-round draft choice.


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Bills GM Whaley making the pro day rounds

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2015 – 1:29 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley is a scout at his core, so the personnel evaluator naturally gets to as many pro days as possible. So it was not surprising to see his name listed among the front office executives at the University of Miami pro day.

NFL Network reporter Lindsay Rhodes reported that Whaley is on hand at Miami’s pro day in Coral Gables today among a host of other GMs and coaches.

Among the more notable prospects in this year’s draft class from the U are OT Ereck Flowers, TE Clive Walford (who pulled his hamstring and is not running), LB Denzel Perryman, RB Duke Johnson, WR Phillip Dorsett and CB LaDarius Gunter.

Here’s a shot of Whaley observing at the Miami pro day from Dolphins beat reporter Omar Kelly.


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Kyle Williams again on All-Fundamentals team

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2015 – 11:00 am

Bills DL Kyle Williams is once again a member of USA Football’s All-Fundamentals team. He’s also making a football equipment donation in his hometown of Ruston, Louisiana.

Williams, a multiple honoree for the All-Fundamentals team (2013, 2014) will donate a $1,000 equipment grant to the Bearcat Football Club in his hometown through USA Football, the official youth football development partner of the Bills and the NFL.

USA Football’s 2014 All-Fundamentals Team honored 26 NFL players – 11 offense, 11 defense and four special teams – who employ proper techniques, particularly when blocking and tackling, that fosters inherent safety benefits and better on-field performance. As an All-Fundamentals Team player, Williams received an equipment grant from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school program of his choice.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, trains more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the U.S. More than 5,500 youth leagues and 750 high schools participated in USA Football’s Heads Up Football program in 2014, benefiting nearly 1 million young athletes.


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Bills a pick for new playoff club in 2015

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2015 – 9:04 am

The Bills have been a popular pick for most improved team on paper due mainly to their handful of recent acquisitions via trade and free agency. They’re also a team that’s garnering more consideration for the 2015 postseason. Knowing an average of five new teams qualify for the NFL playoffs every year over the past decade, Buffalo is a pretty popular pick these days.

NFL.com put together their five clubs they feel are most likely to be the new handful of teams in the postseason for 2015 and Buffalo was second on their list. Here’s what they wrote about the Bills likelihood of ending their playoff drought.

2. Buffalo Bills: While the Patriots are still the odds-on favorites to take the division, look for Rex Ryan’s team to come out with that first-year Ryan energy and take down a wild-card spot. If nothing else, the additions of LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin should ease the burden on whichever quarterback ends up winning the battle. A nine-win team got markedly better from the year before and has a coach who can better utilize the tools at hand on defense. What’s not to like?


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Report: June 1st deadline moved up to May

Posted by Chris Brown on March 31, 2015 – 5:27 pm

The formerly infamous date on the NFL calendar for veteran players with fat cap numbers and a role on their team not commensurate with that financial figure is no more. The June 1st free agency deadline has been moved.

That according to ProFootballTalk, which is reporting the deadline has been moved up to May 12th. June 1st used to be the date where after it came and went NFL clubs would cut veteran players that they no longer wanted who had multiple years left on their contract. Teams could cut the player after June 1st and not absorb the full amortization of the contract in the current year, instead pushing it to the next fiscal year.

The date lost its punch when the NFL allowed teams to cut up to two players prior to June 1st, yet still designate them as post-June 1st cuts to move their cap hits into the next year.

The only real significance left to the date is if free agents are signed after June 1st they don’t factor into determining whether a team had a net loss of free agents which is the primary criteria to qualify clubs for compensatory picks. Now that date will be May 12th, which will allow players who sign after that date to participate in most of the offseason practices with their new club (OTAs, minicamp, etc.).


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