Inside The Bills

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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Rex: No receiver has separated from the pack

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2016 – 8:45 am

While Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be the first to acknowledge that a few receivers have made some nice plays through the first week of camp, he does not believe anyone has begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Ryan is looking at the wideout contingent beyond what is widely perceived as the top two in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.

“I think when we start getting into the preseason games and the scrimmages and all that, maybe then we’ll see somebody separate,” said Ryan. “Greg Salas is a guy that made a great catch on a third and two, (Thursday). Tyrod was really patient he took away the first three options, then hit the deep and he makes a great catch. But, he’s got some savvy, great hands, so there’s a comfort level there.

“But then you get a guy like (Greg) Little who shows up, making some big plays and (Jarret) Boykin’s had his moments. We talked about Dez (Lewis) already. But to say all that the answer simply is no, nobody has separated themselves.”


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Report: Manny Lawson expected back for Wk 1

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 4:05 pm

He’s been on the Active/Non-Football Injury list since the start of training camp. Manny Lawson suffered an upper body injury in a personal workout just a few days before camp. He’ll be sidelined for a while, but according to an AP report he’ll be ready to play Week 1 of the regular season.

Lawson told the AP he has a partially torn pectoral muscle. The injury occurred when he was bench pressing during a workout. Lawson is being counted on to start at right outside linebacker in place of rookie first-round pick Shaq Lawson, who is expected to miss the first part of the regular season following surgery to repair a labrum in his shoulder.

How much practice time or preseason game time Manny Lawson sees between now and Week 1 is still undetermined.


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Preston Brown is Bills candy man

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 3:59 pm

A couple of days ago I asked Preston Brown why he insists on wearing a hoodie under his pads and jersey no matter how hot it is at training camp. He only told me that it was just his personal preference. On Thursday he provided the real reason.

With temps in the mid-90’s on the field Thursday morning, Brown and a few other players were ordered to take their hoodies off for practice. This cramped Brown’s preference for wearing the hoodie, which he apparently does to stash candy in the double hand pocket on the front of the sweatshirt.

“I wear my hoodie because I keep candy and gum in there, so they kind of made me take it off but I found another shirt with some pockets in it,” said Brown smiling.

Brown then confirmed that the handy pocket for goodies is the only reason he wears it.

“Everybody thinks I just be trying to swag,” he said. “I just wear it because I hide candy in it.”

Brown also has rookie LB Reggie Ragland run to the store to keep their supply of candy strong.

“Reggie’s got some good candy,” said Brown. “He went and got all the big fun-size, big Halloween style stuff. So he’s got candy for days. He has to go get the candy. Everybody goes through the candy year (rookie year).”

Obviously when it’s hot any chocolate related candy is out of the mix. Hard candy and another variety seems to hold up okay in the heat for Brown.

“Little gummy bears,” said Brown. “They come in little wrappers so they’re nice, sealed, so just in case no one’s looking, just pop one open. You might catch me one day.”


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LB Lattimore out with broken nose

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 3:50 pm

Bills LB Jamari Lattimore has missed the last couple of days of practice thanks to a broken nose. Head coach Rex Ryan explained how it happened in a freak accident during a walk through session.

“We were actually just walking through a drill and a player slipped and when the player did he fell back, and his knee came up and actually UFC’d him right in the nose,” said Ryan. “So, it was an accident, but it’s just one of those things that happens.”

Ryan said fellow LB Randell Johnson was the guilty party. No word on when Lattimore will be allowed to practice again.


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With heat in 90s, Bills add breaks to practice

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 3:40 pm

The thermometer at St. John Fisher had on the field temps in the mid-90’s despite the fact that it was a morning practice for the Bills on Thursday. Buffalo’s athletic training staff took additional measures to prevent players from suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Head coach Rex Ryan explained part of the plan for practice.

“We added another break in there,” said Ryan. “So we had two water breaks. Compared to just the one that we normally have. And then we did have two guys come out in sweatshirts (under their jerseys), so we had to make sure we had those things were removed from those players. But we’re very mindful of it. There’s always water present. There’s all that, and we encourage our guys to drink as much as possible.”

No player on the roster succumbed to the heat in practice Thursday.


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Bills connections to 2006 draft run deep

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 9:55 am

While it’s pretty well known that with Buffalo’s addition of Reggie Bush, Buffalo has now had each of the top three picks from the 2006 NFL draft on their roster at one point or another. But the Bills connections to first-round draft choices from the 2006 class go well beyond that.

Buffalo has had a total of seven players from round one of the 2006 NFL draft on their roster. Currently the Bills still have a pair of players from round one of the 2006 NFL draft on their roster in Bush and Manny Lawson.

Here’s a look at the full list of 2006 first-round picks who at some point have been on Buffalo’s roster either preseason or regular season.

Pick   Player
1           Mario Williams
2           Reggie Bush
3            Vince Young
8           Donte Whitner
10         Matt Leinart
22         Manny Lawson
26         John McCargo


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Knee injury never had Kyle thinking retirement

Posted by Chris Brown on August 3, 2016 – 2:31 pm

He missed the last 10 games of the season and eventually underwent knee surgery. It wasn’t the first time Kyle Williams went under the knife. After 10 seasons in the league however, his latest rehab and recovery never led him to think once about retirement.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sporstradio 550, Williams said retirement never crossed his mind.

“This offseason has been tough,” he said. “It’s been hard, but I can’t (retire). I’m such a day-to-day guy. I worry about what I can do today to get better. There are dark days in every rehab where you hit plateaus and you’re thinking you’re not getting any better, but you keep grinding and building and building and building. It hasn’t crossed my mind yet, and as soon as it does I will (retire) because if it crosses your mind that you don’t want to play anymore or you’re done, and you just keep going you’re either going to get yourself hurt or you’ll be a discredit to your teammates.

“I’m not there yet. I don’t plan on being there for a little bit. So I just plan on working and hopefully help this team get to the playoffs and do some special things because I want to be on that field when it happens. That’s what I’ve worked for.”

 


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Pacing himself unusual for Incognito

Posted by Chris Brown on August 3, 2016 – 11:35 am

If Richie Incognito had his way he’d be on the practice field for every single rep the first team offense has. However, that’s not how Rex Ryan and his coaching staff are approaching this training camp with their top veteran players. They’re pacing their starters who’ve had time in the league like LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay and a couple of offensive linemen in Eric Wood and Incognito.

Incognito would prefer not to because it’s just not how he’s wired, but he understands the aim of the approach.

“Yeah, it’s one of those things where, you know, we’ve got a ton of reps in this offense,” Incognito said. “And, you know, the coaches are being deliberate with our reps right now, you know, keeping our pitch count right now a little low, and we’re going to build. But, you know, there’s a method to their madness and I believe in the coaches and the training staff and I’m going to follow what they say.”


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Kyle on how film can help your game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 3, 2016 – 9:21 am

Bills DT Kyle Williams isn’t on the practice field just yet, but he is watching practice film every day. And practice film was a topic of discussion during an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550.

Appearing on the Schopp and the Bulldog show, Williams was asked about defensive line strategy and film study to help put him in position to succeed. Williams explained his approach in the film room and then taking it onto the game field.

“It’s very intricate,” Williams said. “When you’re watching film you’re watching guys’ feet, guys’ hand position. How he blocks this run, that run. How he blocks this pass set. How he sets on first down, second down, third down. Then it goes into formations, backfield sets, down and distance. Where’s the tight end? Where’s the back? You have to process a lot of information. Some guys process a book in three seconds, some guys can only do two sentences in that amount of time. Players are different.

“Then there might be a guy over there and they like to do this and when they do that this guy like this set and this will work against that set. So you have to think about a lot of things rapidly to be able to compete. If you can do that you can have a great edge of making an educated guess of what you want you do and when to do it.”

Williams said he won’t save a specific approach on a play until a crucial time in the game. If he sees an advantage on any play he takes it.

“I’m not going to save anything because if  I can beat you from the first snap, I want you to beat you from the first snap until the 50th snap of the game,” Williams said. “I want you to be thinking about it. I want you to think, ‘Okay that’s my protection that I like to do when I just have to stop a guy and he was coming and he just got a pressure or a sack.’ I want him to know that I know that I’ve got him. So there’s a cat and mouse game, but there’s a lot going on in there.”

 


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Kyle explains why ‘D’ got crossed up last year

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2016 – 11:19 pm

There was no debating that Buffalo’s defense struggled to not only execute, but to even get plays called or changed before the snap by the opposing offense. It led to problems for most of the season. Those problems no longer exist as Kyle Williams sees it, but in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Williams explained what transpired last season.

On the Schopp and the Bulldog show, Williams was asked why Rex Ryan’s defense was not as similar to Mike Pettine’s 2013 scheme with the Bills as perceived by outside observers.

“I think you always have growing pains when you’re changing coverages and defenses and doing all kinds of different things,” said Williams. “It’s similar, but it’s not. There are different things going on. I think some guys’ plates may have been overloaded. I think Rex and even some guys have admitted that. I think (this year) we’re going to carry a volume of defense to be successful, but we’re not going to inundate guys to the point where they can’t think, kind of a paralysis by analysis type thing.”

Then they delved into how to go about determining if a scheme or the volume of a scheme is too complicated?

“You can sit in calculus or trigonometry class with the teacher in front of you and spout back the answer, but when they lay the test down in front of you, and you have a certain amount of time to do it, you may know it, but you might hesitate and that can be the change in the game,” said Williams. “That’s what happens. You can get the answers right and correct things on the practice field, but in a game when this guy motions to number three and this is what you have to change it to and all it takes is the half second where everything gets set behind and then you struggle. Your only eraser is going back to the bench because you gave up a 60-yard touchdown.”

Williams believes all those problems have been addressed and rectified because he’s seen a vast improvement in on field communication and in execution.

“I think we’ve got a good thing going right now,” Williams said. “Just from watching film our mental errors are way down through the first few days of camp. Even in the OTAs and minicamp and watching all that go on. The communication is better. What we’re running is a little clearer in terms of what’s expected. I’m excited. We’ll see where it goes.”

 

 


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Bush: I’ll have offense down by end of week

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2016 – 10:51 pm

Reggie Bush sees a lot of carry over from previous offensive systems he’s played in to the one Greg Roman runs for the Bills. It has the veteran running back confident that he’ll know the offense completely in short order.

“A lot of the concepts are the same, a lot of the names of the concepts are the same,” said Bush. “Going through the playbook the last couple days, I’ve seen a lot of things that I’m familiar with. A lot of route concepts and a lot of names I’m familiar with. So I’m not going to have any issues with that.”

Even though Wednesday is a day off for the Bills, Bush will be putting in extra time with running backs coach Anthony Lynn to work on mastering the playbook.

“I’ll meet with the running back coach when we have some free time,” said Bush. “We have a day off (Wednesday) so well meet (Wednesday). I’ll be here and well get some extra time, studying the concepts and I’ll do some on my own tonight, (Wednesday). I’ll be caught up by the end of the week.”

 


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Did Incognito earn finder’s fee for RB Bush?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2016 – 10:41 pm

Richie Incognito is one of the bigger supporters of Rex Ryan as a head coach. He loves playing for the guy. Explaining how enjoyable the game is playing under Ryan to Reggie Bush last month may have helped to convince the veteran running back to sign with the Bills.

Incognito ran into Bush in Las Vegas this offseason. The two were former teammates in Miami where Incognito and his Dolphins teammates helped Bush rack up the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career in 2011. The subject quickly turned to Buffalo where Incognito got a second chance to revive his career.

“I did a little scouting on my own,” Incognito said. “I ran into Reggie in Las Vegas in the summer and he was asking me what Rex was all about and I told him how I really love playing for him and love being around him. So I’m really excited to have him here.”

When asked if he deserves a finder’s fee for landing the veteran running back, Incognito just laughed.

“No. The finder’s fee is Reggie (Bush) scoring touchdowns on Sunday.” said Incognito. “He’s a dynamic player and I really think it’s a great fit for him. With our backfield there are kind of a lot of question marks in there. We have Shady (LeSean McCoy) he’s the established, number one guy. I think Reggie as a dynamic playmaker who can come in and G-Ro (Greg Roman) can really scheme up some situations to get him in some open space. I love it man.”


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