Inside The Bills

Mario keeping sack pace

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2013 – 8:37 am

Bills DE Mario Williams had another sack in Sunday’s loss to the Saints and has upped his season total to 11 in the first eight games. His 11 sacks through 8 games are most by a Bill since sack became official statistic in 1982.

Williams and the Bills totaled four sacks on Drew Brees, which was good for a guy that climbs the pocket and throws on the run as good as anyone.

“We knew it was going to be tough obviously he’s a very smart quarterback,” said Williams of Brees. “He’s been in the league for a while and at the end of the day we left a few out there. We’ve got to get a quicker step and get him down.”

One of 19 NFL players since 1982 with 11+ sacks through first 8 games of season (joined by Justin Houston of K.C., 11.0, incl. 1.0 today vs. Cle.) … Williams, Houston, and Robert Mathis of Ind. (11.5, on bye this past week) are first NFL players with 11+ in first half of season since Jared Allen (12.5) and DeMarcus Ware (12.0) in 2011.

Williams sack streak is now at five games, the longest streak in team history since Aaron Schobel went six games in a row in 2006.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-21

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2013 – 12:19 pm

Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

The media and players talk a lot about enthusiasm and things they love about the new coaching staff being brought in. Is it any MORE enthusiasm than any other new regime that you’ve seen take over? Or is it the same kind of enthusiasm you get when the coaching staff gets replaced for a new one?

-Nate

CB: I would say that the enthusiasm witnessed here is greater than any new regime I’ve covered, which numbers six counting Marrone. I think Marrone and his staff have done an excellent job of developing a completely different approach from that of the past. The coaches are for the most part younger and more energetic, which enables them to relate to the players more. I also believe the staff is cutting edge and the players know it.

These coaches sound as though they have a plan for everything that can or will come up through the course of a football season. The players feel like the coaches have the answers. Of course executing those answers out on the field is the most important thing, but these players have come to quickly believe that they’ll be put in the best position to succeed.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

First off, I want to thank you for your in-depth coverage of the Bills. It’s really great for us fans living in other parts of the world!

My question is why are the kickers only taking 6 to 7 kicks a practice? Seems like so few “reps” when there is such a stiff competition at the position. Also, who do you see as the leader going into voluntary workouts?

Thanks again,
Brenning Greenfield
Crozet, VA

CB: The kicking statistics I would periodically provide in my OTA and minicamp practice notes were only the kicks that were attempted during the team portions of practice for special teams. During practice the kickers and punters typically go on a neighboring field to kick when the offense and defense are working on the main practice field.

Since I need to track the goings on during the team portions of practice with offense and defense I don’t have the option of going to view the kickers at that time. So yes, they do kick a good deal more than just those handful of attempts that occur during team segments.

3 – Hi Chris

I was wondering about your interaction with players on a personal level.  Over the years, have you ever made friends with any of the players to the point where you kept in touch once they left?   Have there been any players who really liked to ‘give you a hard time’ in a teasing/joking around way?

Just curious as to their interactions with you when the cameras are off, any insight would be great.

Brad in Rochester

CB: I’ve obviously come to know players that have been around a bit longer than others. I don’t really strive to know players on a personal level because it makes things awkward on both sides in light of my role with the team. I certainly know there are some players with whom I have a lot more rope when it comes to joking around, but it’s important that the players know they can trust me to fairly report on their play and performance. Befriending players muddies the waters.

As for players that would yank your chain, Sam Adams often tried to mess around with me. Aaron Schobel was another, but he did that with everyone.

 

4 – With Tarvaris Jackson being released it makes me think. We gave up a, what 3rd round pick this year for a player that didn’t dress for a game all last year? And didn’t make it to training camp.

After just re-signing him to a new contract. What a waste of time & money. Sure make Buddy look silly. Is there more to this story? ie attitude, poor performance, lack of effort..

Thanks Gary in Indy
CB: The Bills gave up just a seventh-round pick for Jackson, and yes there is more to the story. The Bills coaching staff quickly discovered that the combination of three quarterbacks vying for the starting job while also trying to install a new offensive system with three new signal callers was a bad one.

As important as it was to find the best quarterback for the job they also needed to provide enough reps to each of the QB candidates in the spring and training camp to ensure that any one of them would be ready to play come Week 1. That wasn’t going to happen with three of them splitting the snaps in practice.

So the coaching staff made a difficult decision to pull the odd man out, which was Jackson. Now whether it’s Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel that’s the starter, they’ll both have enough reps in the system where they and the staff will feel comfortable with them running the offense when the games count.

 

5 – Chris,

Great work covering our Bills, as always.

As far as WRs go, I heard you and Murph on Wednesday night talking about the top 5 being Stevie, Woods, Graham, Goodwin and Rogers and it being hard to unseat those guys. Then after that, you lumped 3 different WRs fighting for that #6 spot. I noticed that you did not mention Easley into that top group of WRs. In all that’s happened in the last few years, does Easley have an uphill battle to make the roster?

Is the talent that deep that we may not see him make the roster this year? I believe his practice squad eligibility is over, but it’d be a shame to lose him completely from the roster (and possibly the NFL) without seeing what his size and talent could bring to this team.

-Nate in Rochester

CB: I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of Easley over the years. I believe he does have a skill set that could succeed in this league, but his body just won’t cooperate. This spring he again missed a good deal of the practices due to an undisclosed injury.

His inability to stay healthy has been a hurdle that’s proven difficult for him to clear. Knowing the Bills made sizable investments in Woods and Goodwin with day 2 draft choices and knowing that Easley is a player that is now being inherited by the current staff without any measure of production at the NFL level he’s in a tough spot.

I’m not saying the challenge he’s facing is insurmountable, but he has to be healthy and get through the entire camp and preseason to even have a shot. After pure talent the second most important quality in a player is arguably availability. That’s something Easley has unfortunately struggled with the most.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mario takes number of former pass rusher

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2012 – 11:40 am

In officially choosing his jersey number, Mario Williams didn’t do it on purpose, but his number is the same as that of Buffalo’s last most effective pass rusher.

In taking number 94, Williams is wearing the same digits as Bills former pass rusher Aaron Schobel. Schobel is second all-time in sacks by a Bill with 78 in his nine-year career. Hall of Famer Bruce Smith is obviously tops on the list with 171 sacks as a Bill.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills haven’t had contact w/Schobel

Posted by Chris Brown on March 21, 2012 – 4:03 pm

With reports circulating that a couple of NFL teams have contacted Aaron Schobel to see if he would be interested in coming out of retirement to play, Bills GM Buddy Nix was quick to assure that Buffalo isn’t one of those teams.

Nix when asked about Schobel at the press conference introducing newly signed DE Mark Anderson responded as follows.

“Absolutely not,” said Nix. “Playing with us? No. Aaron Schobel was in the past with us from that first camp that I was here (2009). He’s a good guy. I like talking to him, but no.”

Despite the fact that he’s set to turn 35 before the 2012 season, there could very well be a couple of teams. I don’t know that these two teams are interested, but if someone asked me to play a hunch, one would be Jacksonville knowing new head coach Mike Mularkey saw Schobel at his best when he was head coach in Buffalo (2004, 2005).

The other guess would be New England. Partly because I personally witnessed Patriots owner Bob Kraft stop and shake Schobel’s hand in the bowels of Gillette Stadium after the 2009 Monday night season opener, when Schobel leapt up to bat down a Tom Brady pass and snared the thing for an interception and then returned it about 40 yards for a touchdown.

Kraft told him he was a heck of a player and that he respected his game. Schobel also is a very smart and crafty player. Bill Belichick likes those kinds of vets. It’ll be interesting to see if Belichick and the Pats are one of the teams interested.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schobel visits 1 Bills Dr.

Posted by Chris Brown on May 25, 2011 – 11:13 am

Aaron Schobel made a stop at One Bills Drive on Wednesday.

The retired defensive end visited with folks at the team facility after making a doctor visit in town. Schobel looks fit and said he’s tipping the scales at 258 right now. That wasn’t the case late last fall.

“I got up to 296,” he said. “It’s the heaviest I’ve ever been. That was enough.”

Schobel, who admitted that he watched a lot of football this past fall, is enjoying retirement. He’s playing a lot of golf and building a new home for his family down near his native Columbus, Texas.

He also said he likes Marcell Dareus as a player. Schobel believes the Bills had a good draft this spring.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-13

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2010 – 12:57 pm

Fn Friday

My apologies for the two week hiatus on Fan Friday, but the demands of training camp made keeping up with your questions difficult. I hopefully answered a lot of your queries in my 90-minute live chat which can be found here. We hope to have another live chat before training camp concludes. As always you can send questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 - Hey Chris - 

As important as Maybin’s development is to the function of the defense this year, I was wondering how he looked in summer workouts so far.  How is he adapting to OLB?  Does he appear more comfortable in his second year?

Best, 

David from Fairport
CB: Maybin’s speed rush has been very impressive. He’s bent the corner well and shown a good ability to dip his shoulder to get underneath opposing offensive tackles to put pressure on the quarterback. Where he needs to develop now is with a counter move that can keep opponents honest. A bull rush or a spin move are the kinds of counters that can work for a pass rusher his size. I’ve talked to him about developing those counters and he feels he’s on the right track.

2 - Chris,

One published report said that Chad Jackson ‘may have had the best off season’ of the skill positions.  From your reports, it seemed like several wide receivers looked just as good in the work outs.  And that doesn’t include Spiller, or Lynch or Jackson or any TE.  I realize we won’t know much about the rotation until the preseason games, but based on all reports, from you and other beat reporters,  other than the one saying Jackson was the “star” of the work outs, I have Jackson as the 6th WR if at all, behind Evans, Hardy, Johnson, Parrish, and Easley, at LEAST. At the moment I think a few of the Rookies, Roosavelt and Nelson for example, will be practice squad guys but MIGHT actually grab that 6th spot away from Jackson.  Do you agree? 

Regards,

Steve in Corning 

CB: Unfortunately when a reporter attends one or two practices and a receiver performs well it comes across like one guy is a superstar, when he may have just had a couple of good days. Head coach Chan Gailey has made no secret that a player has to put together several quality practice days together to impact the depth chart in addition to performance in the preseason.

Jackson has had some good days at training camp. Consistency and carrying that into the preseason games will be the key for him. Other receivers have been every bit as consistent as him if not more so.

Right now I would say Jackson is the fifth WR with Evans, Johnson, Parrish and rookie David Nelson ahead of him. And pushing him hard are rookies Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt. This thing is a long way from over though.

3 - I loved hearing Chan Gailey Mic’d. I am not the only one the whole Buffalo Bills Message board loved it. So I think you should have Gailey Mic’d up like once a week and put on buffalobills.com. I would love it and others would as well. I love hearing what Gailey brings to the table. He has a lot of intesity something Jauron never had and I am sure other want to hear more from Gailey also

Thanks for considering this idea.

Joe

CB: Glad you enjoyed it. We feel it helped paint a picture as to just what type of coach the Bills have. We hope to bring you more access like this. We’re fortunate that coach Gailey has been very accommodating in helping us provide special access to our fans at Buffalobills.com. We hope to do more of that, but in the regular season I believe things will be a bit tighter, which I think we can all understand, knowing games are on the line.

We’ll do what we can.

4 - Jairus started out great last year.  He kind of died off at the end 
of season, I guess  that is typical of rookies. Do we expect him to make a bigger impact this season?  How does he appear to be doing in Chan Gailey’s defense ?

Shawn Sieracki
Dallas Texas

CB: First, you’re being hard on Byrd in my opinion. The guy made just 11 starts and tied for the league lead in INTs with 9. The reason his play tailed off at the end of the season was because he was playing with a torn labrum in his hip which required offseason surgery and a five month rehabilitation.

By the looks of it he’s improving in the new defensive scheme. He’s blessed with natural instincts, now he’s working on blending those with the nuances of the new defensive system, which include more disguised coverages and interchangeable safeties.

5 - Hey Chris
 
 I just wanted to know what if you think that Aaron Schobel is the second best pass rusher in Bills history behind Bruce Smith and do you think the he has a shot on getting the Bills Wall of Fame?
 
Thanks for the time,
Josh Syracuse NY

CB: I think Schobel is the second best pass rusher in team history. He was blessed athletically, but simply played during arguably the worst decade in the team’s history as well. He rarely had comparable talent on the other side of the formation to draw attention away from him. He was the team’s pass rush for the last nine seasons and more often than not came through.

Factor in the fact that the Bills were often playing from behind and opponents were not forced to pass and his stats are even more respectable. As for the Wall of Fame I don’t know if he’s a slam dunk, but if I were voting, I would put him on the Wall of Fame.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schobel still deciding

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2010 – 11:00 am

Aaron Schobel said he’d take a couple of more weeks to decide if he’s playing in 2010 or not for another NFL club. For now that timetable seems to be accurate.

Though Houston DE Mario Williams is still dealing with inflammation in his hip, which is keeping him out of action in the camp setting with the Texans, Schobel remains undecided about his playing future. As ESPN blogger Paul Kuharsky astutely points out, the longer he waits and the more time Williams misses, the higher Schobel’s price tag could climb.

Kuharsky also notes that the Seahawks had expressed interest as well as the Patriots, but Houston in light of Schobel’s family situation appears to be the only serious consideration.


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Texans to evaluate Schobel

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 5:43 pm

Looks like there’s some level of interest on the part of the Texans in Aaron Schobel.

That according to HoustonTexans.com, which quoted Texans head coach Gary Kubiak as saying the following.

“He’s a heck of a player obviously,” said Kubiak. “I’ve followed him for a lot of years, being a local guy around town here. But we are going to do our homework on him like we do on every player. He’s a fine football player. We’ll do our homework, just like every other team, and see what happens.” 

Kubiak also added that defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who coached Schobel in Buffalo for three years, speaks very highly of him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why trading Schobel was unrealistic

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 2:56 pm

Some Bills fans are not exactly thrilled with the fact that Aaron Schobel was released without any compensation. The truth of the matter is that finding a trade partner for Schobel was next to impossible.

First and foremost, Schobel had four years left on his contract worth more than $27 million, including more than $6 million for 2010. No other NFL team was going to take that salary on and make a trade for a player that was and still is undecided about his playing future. No team would give up something for a player that might decide a week later that he’s going to retire.

Second, Schobel privately had made it clear that did not want to up and move his family to another NFL city and if he was to play in another city, wanted the option to fly home after games and not rejoin whatever team he played for until the following Wednesday. That type of arrangement wouldn’t go over well in too many locker rooms where he would be the new guy.

Finally, Schobel has commented that he’s not the player he once was athletically, which doesn’t exactly qualify as a convincing sell.

So in the end the Bills turned the page and did right by a player who gave his best every time the games counted.

Is it unfortunate that they couldn’t get compensation for a player of his caliber? Yes, but if he chooses to retire it’s a moot point anyway.


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Schobel to Pats “highly unlikely”

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 2:12 pm

With Aaron Schobel officially released by the Bills Wednesday afternoon, naturally the Patriots, who often sign veteran players to fill holes are being thought of as a possible destination for him. Knowing Schobel’s family situation it’s unlikely to happen.

Echoing those sentiments was FOX Sports reporter Adam Caplan.

caplannfl    Highly unlikely to happen. RT @WAD1980: @caplannfl I was hoping the Pats could land him cause Bill and Co.

What most outside of Bills fans do not know is Schobel’s family situation. With three school age kids, Schobel and his wife would prefer to keep them in the same school year round instead of splitting the curriculum between their home and another NFL city.

Living an hour outside of Houston, the family dynamic is no longer a concern, if he plays for the Texans, which most have pegged as his number one choice. Truthfully it’s likely his only choice. Of course that’s if he decides to play.


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Would Pats pursue Schobel?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 9:52 am

It’s no secret that the New England Patriots are looking for OLB options in their defense with Derrick Burgess contemplating retirement and missing from camp to this point. They already worked out free agent Adewale Ogunleye earlier this week. Would Schobel be contacted shortly after his reported impending release?

In an informative write up by WEEI sports radio in Boston, they examine whether Schobel would be a fit in New England’s defense. Their conclusion, with the help of Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus (stat sites) is that unless the Patriots predominantly play out of a 4-3 set, that Schobel is not worth signing.

However, what is not noted is the great respect that Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have for Schobel’s game. Last season after the Monday night opener in which Schobel had an impressive interception of Tom Brady and a 25-yard return for a touchdown, I was about to begin an interview with Schobel in the bowels of Gillette Stadium after the game, when up came Kraft.

Kraft walked right up to Schobel shook his hand and said, “That was a heck of an effort. You’re some player. You keep it up.” 

Schobel politely thanked Kraft and said he would, then began his interview with me.

Determining whether he is a fit or not is not how Belichick’s mind works. Belichick determines whether the player has football intelligence and is committed to football then finds a way to take advantage of that player’s skills.

Whether Schobel can convince himself to re-commit fully to the game is the question. But even if he can, his family situation, with three school age kids, and not wanting to be away from them remains an issue. That’s why to me it’s Houston or nowhere else.


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Report: Schobel to be released

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 8:36 am

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Aaron Schobel will be released by the team today (Wed.).

Adam_Schefter    Bills have no practice this morning, but they do have news. They will release two-time Pro Bowl DE Aaron Schobel today.

When the Bills announced they were moving forward without Schobel on Monday, Bills GM Buddy Nix said that Schobel would be placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list until he made a decision about his playing future. It appears as though that plan has changed.


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Bills react to Schobel parting

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2010 – 12:48 pm

Some Bills players commented after practice this morning about the team’s decision to not have Aaron Schobel as a member of the roster in 2010.

DT Kyle Williams, one of Schobel’s two closest friends on the team understood it was a business decision by the club and admits he’ll miss him as a friend and teammate.

“Well, like Schobel’s always said, that’s the teams prerogative,” said Williams. “They wanted to move forward without him. He was OK with that. He saw that and he wanted to take his time with it, and they made their play. That’s what we’re going to work with and we’re going to play without him this year.

“I know this is a business and things tend to happen that you don’t expect. Like I said, we all know Schobel is a good player. There’s a lot of teams that would love to have him, but we don’t so we have to live with that.”

Meanwhile Aaron Maybin, who now carries the burden of picking up where Schobel left off as the linchpin on which the team’s pass rush hangs said he is ready to take on that responsibility, but realizes he has a long way to go to effectively fill those shoes.

“I believe that I am,” Maybin said. “Like I’ve been saying from day one, I have yet to prove myself in this league. I tell everybody that, and everybody on this team knows that and they know how hard I’m working and how bad I want this team to win and how bad I want to be a major contributor to that.

“So with this happening, it just means that it’s time for me to step it up and it’s time for me to really put myself in that position and that role for this team.”


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Nix makes it clear on Schobel

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2010 – 10:42 am

Bills GM Buddy Nix made it clear regarding Aaron Schobel’s career with the Bills. It’s over.

“He will remain on our Reserve/Did Not Report list until he makes a decision about what he wants to do, whether it’s retire or if he might want to play somewhere else,” said Nix.

If Schobel does want to play elsewhere, the Bills will then begin to explore trade options. It’s clear the Bills will not outright release him.


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Buddy to talk after practice

Posted by Chris Brown on August 2, 2010 – 9:43 am

Bills GM Buddy Nix will address the media after practice on the Aaron Schobel situation which you can read about on the home page of Buffalobills.com.

Moving forward without Schobel means one of three things. He can either be released, traded or retire. We’ll have what Nix has to say for you as soon as possible.


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Team stance on Schobel unchanged

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2010 – 7:33 pm

Bills DE Aaron Schobel expressed the hope that the organization would give him a little more time to sort things out as his leanings now favor a return to football in 2010. It appears the team stance is unchanged in that regard as GM Buddy Nix again indicated the ball is in Schobel’s court.

When asked if the door is still open for Schobel even if he does not report to camp on time Nix had the following response.

“Always, sure,” said Nix. “What we’ll do is react according to what he does. If he comes, fine, if he doesn’t, fine. It’s up to him.

Nix also answered in the affirmative when asked if he’d still like to have Schobel on the team.

“Absolutely,” said Nix. “He’s a good football player. I’d like to have him. I’m not sure he knows what he wants to do, I really haven’t talked to him.”


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Teammates weigh in on Schobel

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2010 – 2:44 pm

Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay just arrived at camp and they’re two of Schobel’s closest friends on the roster. They weighed in on Schobel’s recent change in thinking about his playing career.

“I just spoke to Schobel on my way up here and we hope he comes back,” said Williams. “I think he wants to (play). He’ll miss parts of it. He’s quite an individual. We hope he comes back because he could help us out a lot. Him being able to play in this defense could help him, not just our team. I know he said he’s leaning toward it, but I’m sure he’ll take his time. He’s going to make up his own mind.”

“He’s weighed both sides and I’m not completely sold that he’s made a decision one way or another yet,” said Kelsay. “Time is running out and he realizes that, but when he makes up his mind 100 percent he’ll let everybody know and he’ll be here. I talked to Aaron a lot throughout the week and the offseason, but very seldom do we talk football. He’s going to do what’s best for him and his family and the organization. He’s definitely not being selfish about it despite what some people might think. It is a very tough decision for him. So coach Gailey and his staff are doing what they feel they need to do, giving him time and space to allow him to make a decision he won’t regret.”

It’s interesting that while Williams thinks Schobel wants to play, Kelsay, who has known him longer isn’t convinced. There is a strong family dynamic here that is at the heart of this decision. Granted his own self-motivation to play is part of it too, but as Kelsay said, once the guy is committed, he’s always been an ‘all the way’ player.


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Schobel anticipating fines

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2010 – 11:47 am

When a player under contract misses training camp fines are pretty much inevitable. So Aaron Schobel is naturally expecting to see some fines coming his way soon.

Schobel, who told Buffalobills.com that he is now “70-30″ to play in 2010, has been quoted as saying he just needs about 10 more days to make a decision. He’s now hoping the Bills will give him the little time he still needs.

“I need to make a decision soon,” he said. “If Buffalo will give me that much time, and I realize there will probably be some fines, and I’ve had a lot of time to make my decision.”

Schobel understands he can’t hold the Bills hostage so I would expect him to make a call one way or the other by mid-August at the latest. Everyone just needs to remember this is a decision about his family first and his career second. So if family logistics can be worked out in this short window of time I think it improves the chances of him returning.


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Schobel update

Posted by Chris Brown on July 28, 2010 – 9:47 am

Aaron Schobel said in June he was leaning toward retirement. Now that stance might be shifting ever so slightly.

Buffalobills.com was in contact with Schobel via text Wednesday morning. When asked if he’s reconsidering retirement and if he’ll report to training camp at some point, Schobel’s response via text was the following.

“Time will tell.”

Knowing Schobel isn’t the biggest fan of the training camp process, this does sound like a shift in thinking. We’ll bring you more of Schobel’s thoughts on the subject if they become available.


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Schobel question part 2

Posted by Chris Brown on July 10, 2010 – 9:26 am

While we cover the main Schobel question in our Countdown to Camp on the home page of Buffalobills.com (19 – Will Schobel officially retire?) what also needs to be considered is how that would impact Buffalo’s defense if he did in fact call it a career.

Obviously it would put a lot more pressure on second-year OLB Aaron Maybin to be the lead pass rushing threat. And though Maybin has 16 NFL games under his belt, he has never lined up as an OLB in a 3-4 defensive scheme on an NFL field. Executing his assignments consistently at game speed will be the first hurdle to clear let alone being productive as a pass rusher.

Fortunately for Maybin the 3-4 is so much more difficult for opposing offenses to decipher pre-snap that he should be afforded enough opportunities to make big plays for Buffalo’s defense.


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