Inside The Bills

Rex not putting more stock in 3rd preseason game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 12:26 pm

The third preseason game is typically the last dress rehearsal for the starters on the roster knowing they’ll play very little if at all in the preseason finale next week. But head coach Rex Ryan is not attaching any more importance to this third preseason game against the Steelers than any of the other preseason contests.

“About as much stock as I put in all the other ones, not much,” he said. “But with that being said I always say they’re all important. Every game is important. I don’t say well here is the dress rehearsal, I don’t believe that. Every day you’re evaluating and all that kind of stuff. It’s not that this game is more important than the other games. I don’t look at it that way, unless we win, then I’ll be like, ‘Yeah absolutely.’”

Ryan said all three quarterbacks in the current competition with see time with the starting unit on offense.


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Fan Friday 8-28

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2015 – 11:24 am

A big preseason game for the QBs coming up on Saturday. Here’s the latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
What running backs will play tomorrow?

SarroJoeWNY

CB: At this point it looks like it will only be Fred Jackson and the three young backs we saw in the Cleveland game, Bronson Hill, Ricky Seale and Cierre Wood.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Cassel get cut with a perfect Tyrod and EJ performance?
AZBillsFan1

CB: I don’t foresee any of the three quarterbacks getting cut. It’s my belief all three will be on the roster and Rex Ryan has given me strong indication that they plan to carry three on their 53-man roster. A perfect performance by Tyrod Taylor would go a long way in helping him pull ahead of Matt Cassel, provided Cassel doesn’t light things up himself.

EJ Manuel would obviously help himself too with a strong performance, but how far that will move him back into true contention for the starting job is something that will be quantified by the coaching staff.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

What has you most excited about the 2015 buffalo bills? Keep up the great work!

4evrbills

CB: I’m most excited about offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s plans for this offense. Chan Gailey was absolutely a qualified play caller on offense when he was here in Buffalo, but Roman is a proven and progressive coordinator that is probably the best they’ve had since the turn of the century.

I just think his ability to adapt and maximize the talent he has at his disposal while also exploiting opponent’s weaknesses is first rate. Roman gives Buffalo’s offense the ability to be dynamic and unpredictable and that will be a welcome change.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

Is the media hyping the EJ start too much? He’s played good against 2-3 stringers. I think MC deserves another chance.

browndevil37

CB: I don’t know that they’re hyping it too much. It’s an opportunity for Manuel that I think was a slight surprise in light of his reps, or lack thereof, with the first unit through the course of training camp. This starting opportunity is unlikely to last as long as the ones for Cassel and Taylor in the other two preseason games because Ryan said that all three QBs will see time with the first unit.

If Ryan is interested in fairness, as he has maintained, I would anticipate that each of the QBs would get 2-3 series each with the first unit. So Manuel could be exiting the game by the end of the first quarter or earlier if the offense gets three early possessions.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Does Buffalo really believe in our QBs to the point where acquiring better QBs (Mettenburger, etc) isn’t a possibility?

killerbeekevin

CB: I think Doug Whaley has already proven that if there’s an opportunity to make the roster stronger or deeper he’s willing to talk to just about anyone in the league. I don’t know if they’re convinced that what may or may not be available via trade is demonstrably better than what they have.

A young QB like Mettenburger, as you suggested, would also need time to get schooled up on what is a very voluminous playbook and multiple offense. At this point if you traded for a QB and it was a relatively young and inexperienced one like Mettenburger, I don’t know that you could count on getting much in the way of contributions from him this season.


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Boobie participates, but a ways to go

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2015 – 5:08 pm

Boobie Dixon didn’t get through the whole practice, but just being back out on the practice field had the running back in high spirits.

“It felt great man, especially coming off last year,” said Dixon of participating in practice Thursday. “I had the best season of my career last year. I went into camp thinking to myself I was going to build on that and it was going to be another great year. Then bam I get the injury so it was kind of depressing.

“Watching is always the toughest. You’re watching guys out there make plays at your position. You know you can do the same thing, but you’re just not able. It was tough, but I’m kind of back now, still breaking it in easy, but today was a positive.”

Dixon, who is not expected to play Saturday against Pittsburgh, laid out just where he feels his injured calf is at this point.

“I still have got some ways to go,” said Dixon. “I was fighting hard to get back early. I’ve been working non-stop every day since I got hurt, almost three weeks in a row every day. Even on the off days doubling up on the conditioning work. It’s been tough, but I’ve been fighting through it. It’s almost there. I’d say I’m at about 70 percent right now. It was just fun to get back out there man and run around with my teammates and be wild and crazy and have fun. That was great.”


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Cassel, Tyrod ready to perform Saturday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2015 – 5:03 pm

EJ Manuel might be getting the start in the team’s third preseason game Saturday, but Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor are every bit as eager to get their time with the starting unit and perform well against the Steelers.

“Go out and play well. That’s the only thing you can do,” said Cassel. “Go out and try to show consistency and build on what I did in the first preseason game and hopefully show them enough where you can make an impact and an influence that maybe you’re the guy.”

“I’m looking forward to go out there playing. It’s the third preseason game. We worked hard throughout the training camp and I’m looking forward to going out there in the third preseason game and showing what I can do,” said Tyrod Taylor. “It’s been fair, that’s all I can ask for is the opportunity. I’ve been given that and I’m taking it one rep at a time.”


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A look at Dareus giving back to his hometown

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2015 – 1:08 pm

Bills Pro Bowl DT Marcell Dareus was back in his old stomping grounds of Birmingham, Alabama to give back to the community where he grew up.

Dareus donated $100K to the Birmingham Parks and Recreation department to help build and refurbish park and playground sites in the Birmingham community. Here’s a look at when the community donation was made.


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Rex: Incognito better than anticipated

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2015 – 2:31 pm

Bills starting LG Richie Incognito came to the team as a free agent signing and after an 18-month layoff will be playing regular season football. Bills head coach Rex Ryan had faith in Incognito’s abilities, but even he admitted that the veteran guard has surpassed his expectations.

“I think Richie has kind of exceeded my expectations,” said Ryan. “I said it right when we got here. I was surprised with his condition and overall fitness. It’s that of a much younger player. You’d expect him to be physical and all that stuff, but his overall fitness level has exceeded my expectations.”

Incognito has demonstrated some leadership on a line with younger players like Seantrel Henderson and rookie John Miller. When asked how that’s possible in light of his past, Ryan said his situation in Miami doesn’t change the measure of Incognito’s experience.

“Maybe that’s one of the reasons why. He’s been through a lot. He’s seen a lot and has years of experience in this league,” Ryan said. “Just because of his so called past doesn’t mean he can’t be a leader. We welcomed him with open arms and he’s been tremendous here. Can I see him being a leader? Yeah why not?”


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Rex camp gets stamp of approval from players

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2015 – 12:06 pm

The first Bills training camp under head coach Rex Ryan is in the books and the players gave it their overwhelming stamp of approval.

“He did everything in his power to take care of us heading into the season,” said Fred Jackson, who missed some time with a hamstring injury. “It’s one that veterans really appreciated. Having us done every day by six or seven o’clock we were able to get back to our rooms and get off of our feet and get the mental part of it. It was a camp that I think definitely allowed me to add some years to my NFL life. It’s one that I’m appreciative to be a part of.”

“I felt it was good. It was a great learning experience, you know, Rex coming in, bringing in his defense, we were able to learn something new every day,” said DT Corbin Bryant. “(Defensive line coach) Karl Dunbar was able to teach us the techniques that he wants us to take on out on the field and, you know, it’s been good. It’s been a little different than last year. We’ve had a lot more time off of our feet to recover and study on our own and other things like that. But I think this has been one of my better training camp experiences.”


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DT Bryant sees parallels with Bills & Seahawks

Posted by Chris Brown on August 26, 2015 – 9:16 am

Bills newest DT Red Bryant, who signed last week, has a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Seattle Seahawks. He’s spent just about a week here, but is extremely impressed with Buffalo’s roster and coaching staffs and sees some striking similarities between this Buffalo club and his championship Seattle team.

“I can see a lot of similarities with the defense here—a great defense that can rush and stop the run,” said Bryant. “A great running game with McCoy and Fred Jackson, and those two things right there are the recipe for success.  I did it. I can attest to them.”

When asked for further clarification on what has him so impressed with the 2015 Bills squad, Bryant covered the whole gamut.

“Just the talent, coach Rex Ryan, he’s first class,” said Bryant. “(Defensive line) coach (Karl) Dunbar, he’s probably one of the best D-line coaches I’ve been around, the way he communicates, the way he teaches technique.  I’ve been real impressed with how they do things.”


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Charles Clay update

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:31 pm

Bills TE Charles Clay was pulled out of practice early Tuesday with a knee problem. He stayed to watch the remainder of practice, but didn’t take another rep the rest of the session.

“It’s not a serious thing,” said head coach Rex Ryan of Clay. “He’ll probably play the game this week against Pittsburgh and then rest him going into the next one.”

So it sounds like Clay will be among a host of Bills starters who will be sitting out the Detroit preseason finale completely.


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Navigating the injuries & staying on schedule

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:28 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan felt the team accomplished all that they set out to do in training camp at St. John Fisher. There are still a couple of weeks before the regular season so final preparations will continue at One Bills Drive. But Ryan admits all the skill position injuries did make it more challenging.

“It certainly doesn’t help. That’s for sure,” Ryan said. “But guys are on top of it. They’re still studying, they’re going through walk throughs, but there’s nothing like getting out here. I’ll tell you what it does, when a guy is not in there, somebody has to step up and when they do they never look back. We had a couple of guys who have really taken off. I think of (Andre) Davis and (Deonte) Thompson, guys who have really stepped up and taken advantage of the situation.”

Ryan said most of the injured will be good to go come the start of the regular season.


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Bills injured RBs pushing to get back

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:15 pm

It was a lineup of injured Bills working on the sidelines at the team’s final training camp practice Tuesday. Boobie Dixon, Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy were all working with the strength and conditioning staff as they all rehab injuries. When asked what the mood is like in the running backs room with all the injured guys, Fred Jackson offered the following.

“Anxious. Guys want to get back,” said Jackson. “The worst thing is to sit and watch other guys go out and practice and not be able to help. Those guys are busting their butts trying to hurry up and get back out here and contribute to this team. As long as they do that they’ve got the coaches and the training staff to get them back out here.”

Jackson has been back for each of the last three practices coming off a hamstring injury.


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Vets encouraged by progress in camp

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2015 – 3:08 pm

Two players who have seen their share of training camps with the Bills are very encouraged about the team’s prospects as their preparations came to a close at St. John Fisher Tuesday.

A lot of Buffalo’s questions heading into the season reside on offense, but Eric Wood and Fred Jackson like the pieces they have in place on the roster and the coaches they have on the staff.

“It felt like training camp. It was a lot of work, but I love our scheme, I love our coaches we have in place,” said Eric Wood. “I love our team at this point. I’m excited about our group moving forward. I’ve been excited in the past but it’s hard to compare year to year. I just know I’m really confident in the group we have right now.”

“This is by far the best team I’ve been a part of,” said Jackson who finished his 10th training camp with the club. “We’ve got a lot of weapons, great coaching staff. Guys that are in here ready to work and contribute and feed off of each other. I think as long as you have that you have a great opportunity to win games.”

 


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EJ on staying in Buffalo: I love it here

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2015 – 11:55 am

Bills QB EJ Manuel has been battling all offseason to try and win back his starting job. Head coach Rex Ryan has given every indication that it’s his intention to keep three quarterbacks. Still, Manuel was asked the question about how important it is for him to remain a Buffalo Bill.

“I love it here,” Manuel said. “As you can hear the fans out here every day watching us in practice, that means a lot to us and I think sometimes I don’t know if they understand how much that means to us to have a packed house out here every night practice we’ve had. When we’re on the grass field, having a packed house out there it means a lot to us and hearing fans cheering for us during practice, because during the season we don’t have that and, not that it gets boring, but it’s a difference when you’re out here playing in front of a crowd. So I love it here and I want to stay here.”


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WR Davis making most of his snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2015 – 9:47 am

With all the top receivers down it’s given undrafted rookies like Andre Davis the opportunity to shine. On the heels of his fourth down touchdown catch with 1:31 remaining in the win over Cleveland, Davis is looking to build on it.

“It definitely gave me a confidence boost,” said Davis of his performance against Cleveland. “All week I prepared to go in the game and when I got my shot to make a play, it came down to that play at the end of the game. EJ confided in me and had confidence in me to come back to me after the pass interference call, he gave me another chance and I made it happen.”

Davis realizes he’s seeing a lot more action than most undrafted rookies would, but he’s trying to do the most with the chances he’s being given in practice and the preseason games.

“Yeah I definitely feel like I’m making the most of my opportunity,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great guys that went down, so learning from them and them being out and them helping me out, that helps me out even more being on the field. So it definitely presents me a good chance.”


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Hogan expects to be fine in time

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 10:47 pm

He knew the way his ankle got twisted up that it wasn’t good in the first half of the Cleveland game. After getting carted off he admitted he was a bit concerned, but WR Chris Hogan should be good to go after some time to heal.

“I was a little nervous about it and the doctor saw me and the initial exam he said everything was intact, which was a huge relief on my part so I’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” said Hogan. “I’m feeling pretty good, a day-to-day kind of thing. I’ll probably be out on the field working out and doing some stuff. I’ve already been doing stuff in the training room. I’m in there as much as possible trying to get this thing healthy and get better as fast as I can.”

Hogan is not optimistic about being ready for the Pittsburgh game, but hopes he’s good for the preseason finale in Detroit.

 


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Bills getting calls about players

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 5:49 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said the club has been fielding calls about players on their roster as other teams are hoping Buffalo can part with a player or two at one of their deeper positions. But Ryan is adamant that they’d only entertain a trade if they could get something in return that would help their club.

“I think when people know how deep you are at certain positions they’ll call you,” said Ryan. “Sometimes they call about somebody and it’s like, ‘Dude that guy is going to make the team.’ You know there’s no question. There are several like that. Will Deonte (Thompson) be one of them? That’s a real possibility.

“We’re not just going to, ‘Oh you want him? We’ll help you out and get nothing in return.’ That’s not happening. The only way we’ll trade one of our players is if it can help this team. Other than that, we’re going to be selfish and keep everyone that we can.”

Ryan reference Thompson specifically because in his previous comment, the head coach said they’ve been getting calls about him. Thus far in the preseason Thompson has four catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

NFL clubs calling other teams this time of year isn’t uncommon. Teams are often looking for ways to fill holes on their roster now to secure a specific player they covet, rather than hoping said player is cut and then fight 31 other teams to sign him.


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Rex on keeping a kickoff specialist

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2015 – 4:34 pm

More and more NFL clubs are making sure they have a kicker who can put the ball through the back of the end zone on kickoffs, be it their place kicker or a kickoff specialist. Last season Buffalo carried Dan Carpenter for field goals and Jordan Gay for kickoffs. In the eyes of special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, Gay’s statistics from the 2014 season make him worthy of a roster spot. So where does head coach Rex Ryan come down on carrying a kickoff specialist?

Ryan gave indication that he’s leaning in the same direction as Crossman, provided the consistency of the kickoff specialist is there.

“Well you prefer not to, unless, you better have a really, really special guy,” said Ryan. “(Gay is) pretty good. He kicks almost a five second hang time on kickoffs and he launches them. So I think his percentage is probably higher than anybody’s in the league on touchbacks in the same type of situations. Some guy can kick it off in Colorado, I don’t know what their deal is, but if our guy did it, he’d kick it out of the stadium probably. So he’s very talented to say the least. But yeah, you have to be special if you’re going to keep somebody like that.”


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Fan Friday 8-21

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 12:30 pm

Two preseason games in the books, two to go for the Bills. Let’s get to latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Barring a trade for another QB, do you foresee Roman using the Bills QBs as follows;

Start – Cassel

Back-up – Tyrod Taylor, used throughout a game as a change up w/the read Option

3rd – EJ depth in the event of any injuries

Cut – Simms, do not see much upside w/Simms

If they trade EJ,… maybe they could trade for either Mike Glennon, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallet or the back up on Titans. Scouts need to do a good job and find a QB in first 3 rounds of 2016.

Randy

CB: I think your scenario could very well play out this way. Matt Cassel seems to be the quarterback they trust the most, due mainly to his experience in the league. Tyrod Taylor as talented as he is doesn’t have an NFL start on his resume. For an offensive coordinator running his offense with new personnel in Buffalo in season one, it wouldn’t surprise me if he feels most comfortable with Cassel running it.

That’s not to say that Taylor couldn’t overtake Cassel for the starting job. Now if Cassel does in fact prove to be the starter I could definitely see a package of plays for Taylor as a read option QB where he comes in for a series or two depending on the opponent that week.

I asked and Rex Ryan confirmed for me that they intend to keep three quarterbacks on their roster. I believe Ryan likes EJ as a quarterback and I think the organization feels there is still some ceiling to be reached by him as an NFL QB.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With so many WRs injured, any chance the Bills go after a FA like Reggie Wayne?

WillowWatchesTV

CB: I don’t foresee this happening. Buffalo has a strong stable of receiver talent. Yes, they are a bit nicked up right now, but Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan barring anything happening that’s new injury-wise should all be good for the regular season. Rex Ryan even said that Percy Harvin will be fine for the regular season.

So taking all of that into account the need for a Reggie Wayne doesn’t compute. He’d be a better fit for a team that lost a receiver for the whole year like Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

You think Taylor will get another shot with the first team since half his team is injured for the Browns game?

GaynorGuarantee

CB: I think Taylor performed quite well despite the lack of weapons at running back and wide receiver. He went 7-10 passing for 65 yards and had three straight third down conversions on the opening drive. He was also effective on the ground with four carries for 41 yards including a long of 21.

 

4 – Chris,
As Bills fans we all know about the competition for the starting QB position. We have heard so many times that the selection process will e long, open and based upon individual merit. Given that, what does each QB candidate need to specifically improve upon to become the starter. All we ever seem to hear are generalities.
Thanks
Dr. Dennis

CB: Cassel is a 10-year veteran and is what he is as a QB. He’s a capable starter, who can make some plays in the passing game and knows risk versus reward based on time and score, matchup, etc. He’s a good leader and competent game manager.

Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel both have the same task, prove they can be consistent with decision making, accuracy and execution. That means proper ball location every time, proper mechanics every time, the right read every time, the proper touch on a pass every time.

Hopefully that provided some specifics.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any idea the coaching strategy with cassell?
bigred8865

CB: As coach Ryan said they wanted to give extended time to both Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel to get a better feel for the abilities of each of them in a true game situation. I think they feel they know Matt Cassel’s game inside and out.

On a secondary level I think if Matt Cassel played behind that second offensive line he might not have been able to avoid pressure like EJ Manuel did and could’ve been at great risk for injury.


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Some teammate praise for Manuel

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 11:09 am

He helped the team pull out a one-point victory with under two minutes to play, so it’s not surprising that teammates of EJ Manuel felt he showed a lot on Thursday night.

“EJ is a ballplayer,” said Chris Gragg, who caught all three of his passes from Manuel Thursday night. “People have him under a lot of scrutiny, just because he’s got that first round hanging over his head. People want us to win.  But I think he’s a great player.  He proved it out there tonight.  No matter who is in the game, if they’re keeping score we want to win and he got the job done.”

Andre Davis who caught Manuel’s touchdown pass on fourth and goal was taken by Manuel’s cool persona during the most stressful part of the game.

“He was real poised, man,” said Davis. “He’s just a real calm, cool, collected guy. He was very poised and he said we were going to make it happen at the beginning of the drive and he went down there and drove, and made it happen like he said he would.”

Rookie RB Bronson Hill, who capably protected against the blitz liked Manuel’s demeanor in the huddle.

“EJ is a really good quarterback, he’s a good leader,” Hill said. “He kept the huddle in line.  It might have been before that play, or the touchdown, on one of those he told us that you have to make big plays. It’s time for everybody to make big plays, that’s what he told us in the huddle.  He got us riled up.”


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Mind games for Bills defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2015 – 8:59 am

Rex Ryan is supremely confident that he has an elite defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to rest on his laurels as a coach because he has a unit blessed with great talent. That’s why Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman put in some multi-faceted adjustments on the fly for their first team defense Thursday night.

“When you have a good defense or an elite defense you challenge them mentally to do things,” said Ryan. “Dennis and I were talking and we put on some checks, some audible checks, calls they never heard and we said, ‘Make it work. Here are the two things we’re going to combine and just based off formation.’

“So we challenged the heck out of them mentally as well. You make adjustments in this league. I want our guys to understand it’s not just one or two defensive calls. We’re very multiple in what we do and we do it for a reason. We take advantage of what we’re seeing and what we’re getting, protections and so forth and we’ve got to be ready to go with it, but I thought they did a nice job and responded well to it.”

Ryan not only has high end talent, he’s got veteran talent that can adjust to mixing play calls in their scheme among other things. Buffalo’s head coach insists they still haven’t shown much of their defensive concepts for the regular season, but it won’t keep them from throwing adjustments on the fly at their players.


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