Inside The Bills

Tyrod: Players want to deliver for Bills fans

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 3:40 pm

He’s only been a Buffalo Bill for a little over a year, but Tyrod Taylor knows the franchise’s quarterback history. Since Jim Kelly, Drew Bledsoe has been the closest thing to a franchise QB. So we asked him now with a new contract extension in hand, the Bills believe he’s the guy to lead them long term success, so why does he believe he’s the guy to do it?

“I believe I’m that guy because of my dedication, my preparation, of course my character,” Taylor told Buffalobills.com. “I have a unique skill set. I believe that I can get this team, with of course help from the guys around me players as well as coaches, to come together. But I think we’re headed in the right direction. We showed flashes of what we can be moving forward. I’m excited about this team.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me here. I’m looking forward to getting this organization back on the right foot. The Bills fans definitely deserve a winning team. They’ve waited a number of years for it. To witness four Super Bowl runs and not get a chance to get back to the playoffs for so long, the anticipation is there and as players we want to deliver that to them. And I’m looking to be a part of it.”

 


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Taylor built relationships along with his game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 3:05 pm

Tyrod Taylor deservedly gets a ton of credit for building his game and becoming a starter who performed so well he went to the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starting quarterback. But in a very short amount of time, Taylor also built relationships with coaches and teammates that unquestionably has made him the leader of the team.

“Coming in this offseason he took the bull by the horns and took it up another step,” said GM Doug Whaley of Taylor’s leadership and ability to pull the team together. “He’s galvanized not only the offense, but the defense and the whole team. He’s undeniably the leader of the Buffalo Bills.

“It just shows you that once you have a leader in place and it’s your quarterback and everyone looks up to him, then he holds them accountable. And then those players want to play and study and do the best they can so they don’t let that guy down. That’s an important step to becoming a championship team.”

That’s why Buffalo made the commitment to Taylor in the form of a long-term contract extension Friday.

“Since I’ve walked into the Bills facility my relationship with the coaches and the players has gotten stronger each and every day,” Taylor told Buffalobills.com. “Me and G-Ro (OC Greg Roman) talk very often even through the offseason we’re in communication. Me and the quarterback coach (David Lee) and Rex. Just the players in general we have a lot of guys with the right mindset. We make it easy to be around each other. Coach Ryan does a good job of allowing us to be ourselves and to be who we want to be on the field and off the field. I think just day by day my relationship with the players and the coaches has gotten better.”


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When Tyrod knew a deal was close

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 2:54 pm

He said at the outset of training camp that he had not talked to his agent at all. He made the choice to focus only on football and let his agent handle the contract talks. So how and when did he find out a deal was close to being completed?

“Like I told people at the press conference on day two of training camp I had not been in contact with my agent throughout camp. I wanted to keep the contract talks away from my mindset and focus on football and getting better,” Taylor told Buffalobills.com. “But he shot me a text a couple of nights ago that we were really close. That’s basically all I told him to inform me, that when we were close to let me know.

“Up until then there’s no need for me to think about it. Am I happy that it got done? Very happy and now I can just truly focus on football.”

With the preseason opener a day away, Taylor had the good fortune of having his parents on hand to witness him signing his contract extension.


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Fan Friday 8-12

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 11:05 am

We’re on the cusp of preseason game number one for the Bills as they host the Colts Saturday night at 7 pm at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here is the latest edition of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Is Aaron Williams’ injury potentially serious? If so, how long would he miss?

@kevinwh1te3

CB: We do not yet know the severity of Williams’ injury sustained at practice Thursday night. He was being evaluated for a possible concussion. We hope to learn more soon, but I think this all but guarantees he will not see any action at safety Saturday night.


2 –
@ChrisBrownBills

How has Aaron Williams looked in camp so far?

@JaredBailey23

CB: Williams has admitted that he is taking the path back to full contact slowly coming off his neck surgery. Unfortunately Thursday night’s collision happened without him having any choice as to how involved he wanted to be.

He’s trying to be that leader in the secondary while also balancing the aggressiveness of his play on the field. It cannot be an easy task for him. So hopefully he comes out of the collision with Dez Lewis without suffering a major setback in his road back to full contact play.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you get tired of fans and media having a short rope with GMs and coaches?

@FitzCT

CB: I have been covering this team for the entire playoff drought and then some. I recognize and understand the frustration of Bills fans. They just want a winner, and they’re at the point where patience has run out and if they don’t think a GM or coach is capable of getting the team to the postseason they don’t want to wait around another year to see if the fortunes will change.

But in the NFL time and again it has been proven that continuity pays off more often than not. And constant change does not. Fortunately the Pegulas despite being young in the NFL ownership business understand this. So I anticipate them staying the course beyond this year.

Does that mean they’ll be satisfied if the team doesn’t reach the postseason in 2016? Absolutely not. They want to win, badly. And for that matter so does Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

How confident are you in the safety depth behind A. Williams and C. Graham?

@Seeairuhyo

CB: While I am encouraged by what I’ve seen from Robert Blanton in the practice setting and improved play from Jonathan Meeks, whose career has been interrupted by injuries, I need to see more in the preseason before I can feel comfortable with what the Bills have behind the two incumbent starters at safety.

Things look good on the practice field, but I want to see it translate to the game field for some hard evidence that the Bills are going to be okay there beyond their starters.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris, if the Bills are in fact able to extend Taylor, would you expect Gilmore to get tagged if no deal is done? #Bills

@Josh_McCarty28

CB: Under your hypothetical situation the Bills could make use of the tag if necessary. Really the franchise tag would only buy the Bills some time in keeping Gilmore on the roster. Common ground ultimately has to be reached if Gilmore is to stay here long term.

I think Buffalo will have to be very creative to make a long term deal palatable to Gilmore in light of where the cornerback market has gone this offseason. Hopefully the Darius Slay deal with Detroit helps stabilize the going rate a bit more.

 


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Opportunity at OLB

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 7:59 am

With Shaq Lawson on the shelf and Manny Lawson not likely to see the field until just before the season opener, there’s an opportunity at outside linebacker for those players who are healthy and on the field right now for Buffalo.

That was Rex Ryan’s assessment heading into Saturday’s preseason opener against Indianapolis. But if his feet were held to the fire in a game that counted, and he didn’t have either Lawson, he knows who he’d start at that vacant outside linebacker position opposite Jerry Hughes.

“I think the battle for outside linebacker is wide open,” Ryan said. “Obviously you don’t have Manny Lawson ready to go yet. But let’s see who steps forward. You know? Sometimes we put Striker in there. Sometimes we put IK out there. He’s been primarily the starter, but if we were going to start a game today, I’d start 57. I’d start Zo [Lorenzo Alexander] at that spot. I can’t tell you the last mistake he’s made. I think he’s made one or two the entire camp. Veteran player, but it wasn’t the role that I wanted for him, and I’m not going to put him there. I want some of these young guys to see if they can’t step up and do it. [Bryson] Albright is another guy that’s shown a little bit.”

All those candidates mentioned by Ryan will get plenty of playing time Saturday night.


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Bills release LB Kevin Reddick from reserve/injured list

Posted by buffalobills.com on August 11, 2016 – 4:29 pm

ORCHARD PARK, NY – The Buffalo Bills today announced that the team has released LB Kevin Reddick from the reserve/injured list with an injury settlement.

 


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Terry Pegula on running the Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2016 – 5:10 pm

Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula have been at the helm for almost two calendar years, and not a lot is known about how they like to run their professional sports franchises. Terry Pegula shed some light on that subject Wednesday on the John Murphy Show.

After denying the reports from last December that he issues and ultimatum to Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan to reach the playoffs or they were out (he was at his lake house in the Adirondacks at the time the report was made), he was asked on the John Murphy Show how he likes to operate his professional sports teams.

“Anybody who watches the way I work and the way I want the Bills to operate, we get into debates and there might be some stuff thrown around some time, but it’s all to get better,” said Pegula. “It’s not to threaten somebody and say, ‘Hey you’re on the outs.’ It’s all positive arguing, and there’s not much of that because we seem to be on a pretty good path of where we’re going.”

Pegula referenced top to bottom and bottom to top communication within his franchises as essential.

“I like when everyone is aware of what’s going on in the organization,” he said. “Offensive coaches know the defensive coaches, the physical side of it, the doctors, everybody is on the same team. The more we cross pollinate and the more knows what everybody else is doing the better off we’re all going to be because everyone is aware of things they may not be aware of if we had silence.”


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Report: Ragland to have surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2016 – 7:35 am

The Bills have been waiting for the swelling to go down in Reggie Ragland’s left knee, after he sustained a knee injury last Friday in practice, to accurately determine the extent of the damage. Now reports have surfaced that Ragland has a partially torn ACL and will need surgery.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Ragland has a partially torn ACL, will need surgery and could wind up on injured reserve. If that proves to be the case he could miss part or all of the 2016 season.

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No word yet on whether Watkins dresses Sat.

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2016 – 7:30 am

It is considered highly unlikely that Sammy Watkins will suit up for the Bills first preseason game Saturday against the Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He’s participated in just one practice and was just cleared on Monday. But at this point head coach Rex Ryan has not made a decision on Watkins’ availability for Saturday.

When asked if he’s not expecting to play Watkins Saturday, Ryan explained how a call has not been made to this point on Watkins.

“Well I haven’t said that yet,” Ryan said. “We haven’t even really thought about the game guys. How long the starters are going to play? All this, who’s going to do what. We haven’t even discussed that yet. We will as the week goes on.”

When Watkins was asked about the prospect of playing Saturday he appeared a bit surprised at the thought.

“I don’t know. Being that it’s the first game I don’t know,” said Watkins. “You never know with the training staff or Rex. If they throw me out there I can probably play and compete. But I don’t have that answer.”

Knowing how slow the Bills are taking things with Watkins return from foot surgery it would be a major surprise if he dressed for Saturday’s preseason opener.


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Kouandjio only focused on getting better

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2016 – 6:34 pm

With Cordy Glenn out for an undetermined amount of time it appears that Cyrus Kouandjio will be the team’s starting left tackle for the interim. Paired up with Ryan Groy and Fernando Velasco who rotated at Richie Incognito’s (sore ribs) starting left guard spot, Kouandjio is focused more on improving his personal game than where he’ll ultimately wind up on the depth chart.

“It’s fun working with the first unit because you get better and faster with them,” he said following Tuesday’s practice. “Everybody on that field is talented and you have a great time out there.”

When asked if his opportunity to work with the starting unit is a bit of an opportunity to reclaim some status he may have lost after he was a second-round pick.

“Me personally I’m out here to have fun,” he said. “I feel blessed because the Lord has allowed me to be out here and keep playing even though I have injuries that other people probably would’ve quit five years ago. I just stay in my Bible and I’m blessed and happy to be out here with the guys. I’m just having a good time.”

Kouandjio has dealt with some knee issues since his college days.

Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman has more of a direct outlook on the situation for Kouandjio.

“He’s got to take advantage of these opportunities with consistent play,” said Roman. “It’s that simple.”


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Bills depth chart has few surprises

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2016 – 9:05 am

The Bills released their unofficial depth chart and there aren’t too many surprises in the listings with the team’s first preseason game just four days away. But here are a few that caught our eye.

At safety behind starter Aaron Williams, listed as the backup is Duke Williams followed by Jonathan Meeks. For most of the last week, Meeks has seen more and more time at the backup safety spot alongside Robert Blanton than Duke Williams. Whether that trend continues enough to alter the depth chart remains to be seen.

CBs Jonathan Dowling and Sammy Seamster have each been listed ahead of veteran free agent Sterling Moore. This is a bit tricky because Moore is seen as the primary nickel corner backup to Nickell Robey-Coleman and has seen a good deal of work in the slot. Perhaps because he’s viewed as a backup subpackage corner he’s listed further down on the depth chart.

Kevon Seymour is listed as the backup kick returner behind Reggie Bush. As we noted in this space earlier Seymour has emerged as a new kick return candidate this week as he took some kicks in practice Monday. He previously had not been part of the rotation, but is clearly a candidate now. Greg Salas is listed as the backup punt returner.

Beyond that there aren’t many surprises on Buffalo’s depth chart.


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New kick return candidate

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2016 – 6:12 am

When all is said and done it’s likely that Reggie Bush will be Buffalo’s primary kick returner in addition to being their primary punt returner. But there was a new kick return candidate who entered the fray at practice Monday.

Rookie CB Kevon Seymour, who has been consistently running with the second team defense at right cornerback, is now part of the kick return rotation during special teams segments of practice.

Seymour ran a 4.39 40-time at the NFL Combine, so his speed is attractive for the role. His kick return experience however, is very limited. The Bills sixth-round pick had just seven kick return attempts in college at USC when he was a sophomore for 92 yards. Though the average of 13.1 yards is not a good figure, it’s a very small sample size.

All that matters is that Seymour was getting a good look on Monday and we’ll have to see if those opportunities spill into the preseason games.


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Separators in pass game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2016 – 8:44 pm

There was a spirited one-on-one session in the red zone during practice Monday between receivers and defensive backs. Here’s who stood out when it came to gaining separation from the DBs.

First off, there is an inherent advantage for the receivers on this drill as they have virtually the whole end zone to work with one-on-one against the DB. In fact secondary coach Tim McDonald even had a good number of his DBs play off coverage with the wideout lining up at the five-yard line. The DB would not pick him up until the goal line. That’s a tough ask.

That being said the receivers who were consistently getting away from coverage were Greg Little, Robert Woods, Greg Salas and Marquise Goodwin.

Goodwin’s speed is so sudden that he’s on top of the DB in a blink and they’ve got to make a decision a lot quicker than they’d like. He would quickly get position on a corner at the point of his cut and dart away for more than a few relatively easy receptions.

Little again proved tough to handle in one-on-ones. His best move was when Stephon Gilmore tried to jam him at the line and his first step was backward to avoid the jam attempt. He then sold the post route so well that when he went to the corner Gilmore couldn’t make up the lost ground in time.

Woods did well both when he got separation and when he was covered winning contested passes in tight coverage. His best a twisting, turning grab on a fade route.

And Salas isn’t overly quick or fast, but he has great head and shoulder fakes and it helps him separate. Then he has the frame to shield the defender from the ball to make the play. He did that three times for scores on defenders in the red zone.


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Defenders had hands in passing lanes

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2016 – 7:31 pm

At Monday’s practice there were a number of plays made by defensive players in the passing game. Here’s the rundown.

DT Corbin Bryant had a batted pass during a two-minute drill series
CB Stephon Gilmore had a pass breakup on a first down play in two-minute
CB Kevon Seymour had a nice PBU on a pass deep down the left sideline from EJ Manuel that was intended for Leonard Hankerson.
CB Sterling Moore jumped a pass to the left flat for Walt Powell by Manuel and went the other way for what would’ve been a TD.
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman had a PBU on a pass to the left flat for Greg Salas from Tyrod Taylor during a red zone series.
LB Preston Brown raked the ball away from TE Charles Clay as he tried to secure it in the back of the end zone during that same red zone period to force an incompletion.


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LB Hawthorne got Rob Ryan recommendation

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2016 – 6:57 pm

He’s not the first Bills free agent signee to get a recommendation from Assistant head coach/Defense Rob Ryan. There have been others this offseason. But after having him play under him when he was defensive coordinator for three years, it was easy for Ryan to give his twin brother and the personnel department a full report on LB David Hawthorne.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan outlined how Hawthorne was given the Rob Ryan seal of approval.

“Obviously he had experience with him in New Orleans so he’s very familiar with him,” said Ryan of his brother’s rapport with Hawthorne. “Jerry Hughes played with him in college (at TCU). So that’s a good thing. Can he pick things up? I understand he’s a quick study so that’s going to help, and that’s important.”

Ryan said there’s plenty of carry over between his defensive scheme and the system his brother ran in New Orleans, so he’s optimistic that Hawthorne will feel comfortable in the Bills system in short order.

Rob Ryan has also recommended free agent signees Corey White and Sterling Moore, now cornerbacks in Buffalo’s secondary.

 


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Taylor’s head over heels play

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2016 – 5:57 pm

Bills QB Tyrod Taylor is essentially a non-hit player. It’s why he and the other quarterbacks wear a red jersey. But when Taylor took off on a red zone play for the front left corner the end zone the lines on what to and what not to hit can sometimes get blurry.

Taylor tried to leap over a pair of players to reach the goal line with the ball in the front left corner of the end zone on a scramble run and was inadvertently flipped head over heels over those two players. He landed on the back of his head and his one shoulder leaving just about every person watching with their heart in their throat. Taylor popped right up and jogged back to the huddle.

The other players were dumbfounded by the play. Corey Graham who was near the play, but not involved in any of the contact, held his hands up like he was checking for rain, as if to say, ‘How are we supposed to play that?’

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman stepped into the huddle on the next play no doubt to remind Taylor to be smart in practice with such plays.

After practice Rex Ryan admitted how nervous he was watching the play unfold and said that Taylor has to do more to ensure his own well being.

“It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Like please. You know, ‘Don’t do that.’ You literally hold your breath because we think that we got a really good one there. We’ve got a fine outstanding quarterback, and you’d hate to see something like that happen where something would happen with him. So he’s got to take care of himself too.”

As much of a gamer as Taylor is and as encouraging it is to see how competitive he is, everyone, this reporter included would prefer he throw the ball away in a training camp practice if such a situation arose again.


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Trust continues to build between Taylor & Woods

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2016 – 4:19 pm

Last season it was hard for Tyrod Taylor to trust Robert Woods because Woods’ debilitating groin injury compromised his consistency in being in the right place at the right time. That’s not the case anymore and there is growing trust between the quarterback and receiver with each passing day at training camp.

It began in the spring where in the absence of Sammy Watkins (offseason foot surgery), Woods was one of Taylor’s primary targets. That has carried into training camp where it’s clear that Taylor is completely comfortable giving Woods an opportunity to make a play on the ball even when there is tight coverage.

It happened again at Monday’s practice. In WR-DB one-on-one drills in the red zone, Taylor, despite tight coverage from Mario Butler, tossed a fade pass to the back right corner of the end zone for Woods. The fourth-year receiver jumped high into the air snared the ball, did a 180 to shield the ball from Butler and got two feet down before falling out of bounds for a touchdown.

“Yeah, I think it’s all about trust,” said Woods. “We’ve been together for a year now, we’ve been going offseason, season, another offseason. And now we’re putting in the same work, trusting each other, knowing the offense, knowing where we can go in zones and man and it is all trust. We gain trust and we’re putting the ball out there and running under it.”

Woods appeared to solidify himself as the team’s No. 2 WR in minicamp, and he’s done even more through the first week-plus of training camp. He and Greg Little have probably been the two most consistent receivers in camp thus far.

 


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Zach Brown, Tyrod revisit Wk 5 tackle

Posted by Chris Brown on August 6, 2016 – 10:21 am

In Week 5 last season Tyrod Taylor pulled a game out for the Bills against the Tennessee Titans, but suffered a sprained knee as a result and would go on to miss the next two games. The injury happened on a tackle made by former Titans and current Bills linebacker Zach Brown.

Brown actually caught Taylor from behind on his longest run of the game and was flagged for a horse collar tackle on the play. Taylor despite the knee injury suffered on the play, stayed in the game. The Bills won 14-13.

Brown said that Taylor is cool about the play even though it cost him the next two games last season.

“Yeah me and Tyrod have joked about it,” said Brown. “I told him that we’re on the same team now so you don’t have to worry about me ever catching you again. I’m probably the only linebacker in the league that could catch him. I told him, ‘You’re my guy now.’ But we have a long history going all the way back to our annual battles between Carolina and Virginia Tech.”

Brown played at North Carolina and Taylor at Virginia Tech. The two schools square off annually.


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Is that Preston or Zach Brown?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2016 – 4:18 pm

Their jersey numbers are one digit apart. They have the same last name and they play the same position. Sooner rather than later Preston Brown and/or Zach Brown will probably need to add a first initial to the back of their jerseys to tell the difference between them when viewing them at a distance.

“Both of us are big too so one day they put Preston’s jersey in my locker,” said Zach Brown. “I was like, ‘Hold up. It’s a great number, but this isn’t me.’”

Now Preston and Zach are deciding who it is that will get their first initial added to the back of their jersey.

“I was messing with him about it,” said Zach Brown.

The two linebackers have served as good competition for one another, though it’s clear that Preston Brown is the starting inside linebacker alongside Reggie Ragland.

“We’re competitive and we go out there and just have fun,” said Zach Brown. “If you have fun everything goes good. At the end of the day it’s a game. It’s our job, but it’s a game so you’ve got to have fun.”


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Marv Levy to again be a presenter at HOF

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2016 – 4:12 pm

Bills Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy has been a presenter several times before at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For once he won’t be doing it for an enshrined Buffalo Bills player.

Levy will be the presenter for Senior Committee inductee Dick Stanfel. The former Detroit and Washington offensive linemen is being enshrined largely through the efforts of Levy, a former coaching colleague of Stanfel’s.

Stanfel’s three sons largely credit Levy for campaigning for Stanfel to be considered and re-considered by the Senior Committee for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Marv was the hugest proponent of getting, if I had to pick one single person, Marv Levy sort of carried the banner for dad,” Stanfel’s son Rick told ESPN.

Stanfel was an offensive lineman during his playing days and worked under Levy on the Cal coaching staff in 1963. They also coached together as assistants with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969.

Stanfel passed away last year at the age of 87, and with his sons knowing they were too young to speak about their father’s playing days, they chose Levy to do the honors.

So once again Levy will be in Canton for Hall of Fame weekend.


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