Inside The Bills

Bills not expected to get compensatory pick

Posted by Chris Brown on February 10, 2014 – 1:24 pm

The NFL typically issues their compensatory picks to the clubs in late March at the owners’ meetings, but the experts out in cyberspace, who have largely cracked the league’s unpublicized formula for awarding compensatory selections in the draft, and accurately predict what teams will get extra picks, don’t see the Bills getting anything additional this spring.

Recently on Philly.com, compensatory pick prognosticator Jimmy Kempski forecast how the league will award these picks and to which clubs. Based on his projections the Bills will not be awarded any compensatory picks.

One of the main reasons why is a team, first and foremost, must have a net loss of free agents from the previous offseason. Based on past history there are several free agents who do not fall under the “net loss” formula. An example would be restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents who are not tendered by their teams, like David Nelson last year.

So based on those stipulations the Bills broke even on free agents, losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart, while signing Alan Branch and Manny Lawson.

Kevin Kolb does not count because he was released by Arizona and not an unrestricted free agent.

The league only awards 32 total compensatory picks a year in the draft. If there has not been enough player movement to warrant the full 32 compensatory picks in that fashion, the rest are awarded as net value picks, usually to teams who lost a free agent that signed for top 10 money at their position.

Such would be the case for the Bills with Andy Levitre, who signed for big money in Tennessee last year. However, with a high rate of player movement last year in free agency these projections indicate that every single compensatory pick this year will be awarded to teams that experienced a net loss in free agents. So teams like Buffalo (with Levitre) and Oakland (with Phillip Wheeler) would not receive a seventh round compensatory as a net value pick.

Their projection list is below with Pittsburgh and Green Bay the only clubs forecast to land picks at the end of the round three, the highest round in which a compensatory selection is given.

3 – Pittsburgh – Mike Wallace
3 – Green Bay – Greg Jennings
4 – San Francisco – Dashon Goldson
4 – Baltimore – Paul Kruger
4 – Detroit – Gosder Cherilus
4 – Baltimore – Dannell Ellerbe
5 – Houston – Connor Barwin
5 – New York Jets – LaRon Landry
5 – Baltimore – Cary Williams
5 – Atlanta – Brent Grimes
5 – Pittsburgh – Keenan Lewis
5 – New York Giants – Martellus Bennett
5 – Baltimore – Ed Reed
5 – Houston – Glover Quin
6 – New York Jets – Mike DeVito
6 – Green Bay – Erik Walden
6 – New York Jets – Dustin Keller
6 – New England – Patrick Chung
6 – Cincinnati – Manny Lawson
6 – St. Louis – Brandon Gibson
6 – New York Jets – Shonn Greene
7 – St. Louis – Bradley Fletcher
7 – Dallas – Mike Jenkins
7 – Cincinnati – Pat Sims
7 – St. Louis – Craig Dahl
7 – St. Louis – Rob Turner
7 – Dallas – Victor Butler
7 – Cincinnati – Bruce Gradkowski
7 – Tampa Bay – Geno Hayes
7 – Atlanta – Will Svitek
7 – Atlanta – Christopher Owens
7 – San Diego – Shaun Phillips


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-17

Posted by Chris Brown on January 17, 2014 – 1:26 pm

Don’t forget to check in on our Senior Bowl coverage all next week on Buffalobills.com. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hello Chris,

Well, another year like all years.  Just wait fans, we have something started here!!!  Marrone’s first mistake will be not letting Hackett go.  As I have said previously, loyalty is Marrone’s achilles heel.  He won’t know how to “can” Hackett so we are stuck with him.  What really stinks is that another year has slipped away and this team still has multiple problems to address.  Where do we even start with the next draft?  Please don’t draft another Alabama player!  We let players like Levitre sign elsewhere and then we say we need to address our weakness at offensive line.  Does this make any sense?  It is just one wasted draft choice after another on positions we could have fixed with players already selected.  When is this team going to address an age old problem at the tight end position?  Successful teams have tight ends who stretch the field.  When are the Bills joining the 21st century?  Sad leadership to say the least. I won’t even get started on the QB position.

Jim (Skaneateles)
CB: Jim, I respect the frustration. You fans have waited a while for a winner, but regarding your question on losing Levitre in free agency, keeping a player at a non-priority position at what would’ve been an exorbitant price ($8M plus a season) was unrealistic. Tennessee chose to spend big money on their offensive line and where did it get them?

They ranked 22nd in offense, 14th in rushing and 21st in passing. They were 19th in scoring. As coach Marrone said recently guard is position where you can develop a player into a competent to strong contributor. Offensive tackle and center are where you need the bona fide stars.

As for the tight end position, I think the new staff with GM Doug Whaley is looking to address the need for more athleticism at that spot. Tony Moeaki and Chris Gragg were the first steps in that direction. We’ll see where it goes this offseason.

Concerning your criticism of Hackett I think it’s misguided. Hackett had to curtail the variety and tempo of his offense to accommodate not one, but three “green” quarterbacks over the course of the year who were all spending their first year in his offensive system. Circumstances compromised his talent for calling plays. I’m confident the offense will expand and diversify considerably next season.

 

2 – Chris,

As always, thanks again for being a great source of Buffalo Bills information. We appreciate your feedback.

Can you explain the recent signings of 7 players to reserve/future contracts? The team moved quickly to sign these 7 right after the end of the regular season. What is this type of contract?

Bob Hammond

CB: Those contracts are typically reserved for players who were on a team’s practice squad during the regular season. If the team would like to keep those players on the roster through the offseason they must be signed to a reserve/future contract. If memory serves they have a week from when their season ends to sign their practice squad players otherwise they’re free to be signed away by other clubs.

Essentially players that the club believes can still be developed into something more are signed to these kinds of contracts, which are modest in nature.

 

3 – Chris,

With the release of WRs coach Ike Hilliard, would the Bills seriously consider bringing in Andre Reed to take over as WR coach ?  I think Reed would be a great choice. Andre had great work ethic in Buffalo and was as tough as they come running routes over the middle.

Randy C
Coach

CB: While I do not debate the qualities you described of Andre Reed’s game, it’s hard to say it’s a move that will be made. His coaching resume is very, very short though he is coaching in the NFLPA bowl on Saturday. I get the sense that coach Marrone wants someone with a more lengthy coaching background.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

I was looking at wide receiver free agents for this year, and I see that Eric Decker from the Broncos is a free agent after the playoffs. Would the Buffalo Bills pursue Decker and possibly make an offer?

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Yes, Decker is scheduled to become a free agent. I don’t think there’s any question that the Bills have already demonstrated a concerted effort to add size at the receiver position with the reserve/future signings of Ramses Barden (6’6”) and Chris Summers (6’4 ½”). But they need a proven answer with size at receiver. Decker is certainly a proven player, but I think they want the big receiver on their offense to also be a bona fide number one target. I don’t know that Decker can be that.

I feel that a lot of his production is a byproduct of the fact that opponents scheme to limit DeMaryius Thomas and Wes Welker and Decker becomes the beneficiary. Without a similar supporting cast, I’m not sure what you could count on with Decker in terms of production.

 

5 – Chris

When I see the names of Jason Peters and Karlos Dansby on the list for 2013, I think what if they were playing for the Bills now…… Two big problems solved…….Dansby is a run stopper as MLB, and Peters as T is one of the best.  Why don’t we as fans make the Bills FO accountable for their errors of poor decisions re. personnel choices……….And throw in there, their choice of ST coach……..Last season the FO thought Dansby as washed up… Hello, over the hill………..The Bills FO is on the clock in order to get their act together for 2014……………………

Tim in TN, Bills Fan
CB: While I understand your frustration in seeing talent flourish elsewhere instead of on Buffalo’s roster, your Bills history is a bit cloudy. The team wanted to keep Jason Peters and were willing to renegotiate his contract, which had two years left on it, but after he held out and then threatened to hold out again the next season it was clear that keeping Peters in Buffalo was going to be monumentally difficult.

So he was traded to Philadelphia for a first, fourth and sixth-round pick. When you have a player that doesn’t want to play for your team it’s hard to even make them happy with more money.

As for Karlos Dansby the Bills brought him in on a free agent visit so to indicate the front office thought he was washed up is just wrong. He chose to look elsewhere to sign essentially using Buffalo to drive up the market price for his services.

Both have been accomplished players, but if they don’t want to be here you’re not going to win with them on your roster.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-17

Posted by Chris Brown on May 17, 2013 – 12:31 pm

Time for the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

I don’t see how anybody can say that the Bills are good on the offensive line. The loss of Levitre left a gaping hole there. RT is a question mark, since Pears was injured all last year, and Eric Wood seems like he might be injury prone.

CB: I think your concerns about left guard are legitimate, but beyond that Buffalo has capable players for the starting roles and depth behind them. At tackle you have Cordy Glenn on the left and Chris Hairston on the right. Erik Pears is still limited, but when healthy more than capable himself on the right side.

Kraig Urbik is your right guard with Wood in the pivot. Depth-wise you have Zebrie Sanders as a tackle guard option once healthy. Beyond that it is a green group in terms of playing experience, but that’s the case for most of the league.

 

2 – Chris,

With the new high tempo offense, can we expect Doug Marrone to try to take a lead by choosing to receive this year?

Please say it is so,

Len in NYC

CB: I’ll have to ask him about that to be sure, but most NFL head coaches have found that the research shows if you choose to defer you typically wind up with the last possession of the first half. Obviously by deferring you also get the first possession of the second half. Those back-to-back possessions are seen as valuable in the eyes of many coaches. However, if your defense is substandard it might be wiser to choose to receive first if you win the toss. I’ll see if we can get an answer on coach Marrone’s philosophy on that.

 

3 – Hi Chris:
Now that the draft is over and we still need some positional fills, who do you  think the Bills will go after in FA to fill those voids (like OL, LB, CB)?

Thanks for delivering!
Mike from Orlando

CB: I think cornerback could prove to be the most pressing need. Buffalo has some interesting young talent at corner among the undrafteds, but there’s already a good deal of youth at the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added a veteran to that group at some point.

 

4 – Dear Chris,

My questions are about Brad Smith, I have heard he has looked good this spring as a WR. Is this his only role now or could he still be a wildcat/#3 game day QB? Will coach Marrone even employ the wildcat? If not could Smith be on the trade block at some point this off season?

 

Either way I wish him the best the coming season. He’s a real asset as a triple threat and that seems to be something this new staff seems to value.

I hope to hear from you soon on this as I’m sure I’m not the only fan to be wondering about Brads future here. As always GO BILLS!!!
Thanks,

Scott Kane,
Seneca,Pa.

CB: Yes, Brad Smith is strictly a receiver and a return man at this point. Based on coach Marrone’s comment on the Wildcat after the draft, I highly doubt we’ll see it as any respectable part of Buffalo’s offense.

Smith to his credit has performed well in OTA practices. He and T.J. Graham have probably benefited the most from the absence of Stevie Johnson on the practice field.

As for the trade block, I think we’re a bit ahead of the game at this point. There’s a lot of evaluation that needs to be done by this coaching staff.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Firstly, thank you for your coverage. As a Bills fan since 1986 living on the other side of the world, I am more than appreciative of all informed coverage.

Two quick questions: have the Bills had talks with Brandon Moore. if not, why not?

Secondly, it is all but impossible to follow college football from here. However, I have watched Keith Pough’s highlights. Admittedly, highlights can be very misleading, but he looked terrific. Why was he not drafted? What chance does he have of making the team?

Thanks,
Jeff Wallace,
Sydney, Australia

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge the Bills have not talked to Brandon Moore. Obviously, Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows him extremely well. He was the Jets assistant offensive line coach, who turned him from a defensive lineman to a very successful guard on the offensive side. So there’s a relationship there. At age 33, he’s probably not what the Bills are looking for knowing they want to build this roster from the ground up with players that will be here for the long haul.

However, if they do not like what they feel they are getting from the guard spot you can’t rule out the Bills making a phone call to the veteran.

As for Keith Pough, he’s a bit undersized and did not perform well at the Combine, especially when it came to his 40 time (4.87). He also played at a lower level of college competition at Howard. That doesn’t mean he can’t make an NFL roster, but it discourages NFL clubs from taking a chance on him with a draft choice. Signing him as an undrafted offers less risk. I do know that the Bills are high on him among their undrafted group.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-19

Posted by Chris Brown on April 19, 2013 – 2:05 pm

Alright Bills fans this is the last Fan Friday before the NFL draft. The “hay is in the barn” as the scouts say, just got to wait and see how the board falls next week. Be sure to check out my 8th annual mock draft next Wednesday. It’ll be entertaining. Here now are your latest questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - dcap22803 Apr 17, 11:27am

@ChrisBrownBills Would #bills be willing to trade down with #falcons and take Nassib at 30

CB: It’s my contention that the Bills would be very interested in trading down. As I covered in my story this week, after asking GM Buddy Nix about trading down, there could be some players for the eighth overall pick if prospects like Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson or West Virginia WR Tavon Austin are both still on the board.

I don’t get the sense that they like the value there at eight for positions they’d like to address early (QB, WR) so I believe if they can move back to an area where they like the value better (late teens or 20’s) and add a draft choice they would do it.

2 – JackJablonski Apr 16, 1:04pm

@ChrisBrownBills Williams to Safety. Does this open up the possibility of CB at pick 8? Dee Milliner, if he falls, or Xavier Rhodes??

CB: I think with Aaron Williams moving to safety it raises the level of importance for addressing cornerback in the draft. Outside of Stephon Gilmore the Bills lack size at corner, so a tough, physical corner is needed out there. If Milliner falls to eight I wouldn’t rule out him being a consideration. At the same time I believe moving back and adding another draft choice could trump it.

But with Williams moving to safety I believe it has made adding a cornerback a necessity at some point in this draft.

3 – Chris,
With our needs at SS, ILB, OLB, WR and QB most likely to be addressed thru the draft, I find it really strange that there has been very little noise about bringing in some quality free agent guards for visits.  It seems like a glaring hole (let’s not forget Rinehart is gone as well).  Have you heard anything on Mr. Nix’s plans for this position?  I would like to see our RBs continue to run hard and whoever are QB may end up being it would be nice for him to be in one piece after a few games.

Go Bills!
Kirk

CB: I’ll give you Mr. Nix’s exact thoughts about the team’s status at the guard spot. Here is a direct quote from the draft luncheon when he was asked if losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency had altered their approach in the draft at all?

“Not at all,” said Nix. “Not at all, now having said that I know people have said we’re taking one of those top two guards. Our roster in house is better than I think we get credit for especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We’ve got six guards and we think a couple of them can play. Now having said all that before you write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the old boy at Alabama (Chance Warmack) and the kid at North Carolina (Jonathan Cooper). Both of those are great players so you have to give that a lot of thought when they come up.”

When asked as a follow up if he had enough confidence in the six guards on the roster to the point where if they did not draft a guard would he be fine, he said he would be.

To be clear the players they believe offer them ability at guard are starter Kraig Urbik and Colin Brown and Sam Young. Brown and Young rotated in with the starting unit at left guard. If there are no other additions at the position those two are likely to battle it out for the starting role.

Zebrie Sanders, who Doug Marrone views as a tackle first and guard second, could potentially be a part of that competition down the road when he’s healthy.

4 –  Chris,
So I’ve been hearing that Tyler Bray has some of the best upside in the QB class I was wondering what you thought of him and if you think he’s worthy of our second pick. Also if you think that going after Patterson in the first round, Bray in the 2nd or 3rd to have some instantaneous chemistry on offense would be a good idea. Or do you see a prospect at QB worth it at eight and maybe go after the other Tennessee kid, Hunter in the second? I’d live to get some feedback on these thoughts.

Thanks, Will
GO BILLS!!

CB: There’s no debating that Bray can throw the heck out of the ball. He is the only junior eligible in this QB class and is a bit unpolished. I’m a bit concerned about his capability of coming in and being a leader for your football team. He has the physical skills, but there are maturity issues that NFL clubs have been busy investigating.

I respect your thought of instantaneous chemistry, but it would be anything but instantaneous. Patterson is very green and might not be a big time contributor until his third NFL season. Likewise Bray is also not NFL ready right now. So while those two might have chemistry, I’m not sure you’d see it right away on an NFL field against NFL competition.

I do subscribe to your latter suggestion. In fact that’s what I believe will happen in this draft. I believe Buffalo goes quarterback in the first and receiver in the second. Now they may trade back in round one before taking the QB, but I believe there’s a good chance they do that and Hunter is a viable value in round two.

I’m also a fan of E.J. Manuel despite the naysayers.

5 – Chris,

With the Bills being deficient last year at WR (and getting rid of what little depth that they have by releasing Nelson and Jones) on top of not signing ANY free agent WRs this offseason, doesn’t it seem like there’s a VERY good chance they draft Cordarrelle Patterson with their 8th pick? I’m not even saying I want that, but what choice do they have? That position is looking thinner and thinner this offseason. This is assuming they can’t get their franchise QB in the first round…

-Nate
PS- Go Bills

CB: I think your point is well taken. The Bills need to add an instant contributor at receiver. I believe this will happen in round two. There’s good value between rounds two and four where you can get a player that can help you sooner rather than later. The value at WR is not good in round one until the very end.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills took two receivers in the draft despite the fact that they have just six picks.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-12

Posted by Chris Brown on April 12, 2013 – 12:29 pm

The 2013 NFL draft is closing in. Pre-draft visits have wrapped up today. Let’s get to this week’s edition of questions from you the fan from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - CB,

Buddy had mentioned following the way the Bengals drafted AJ Green and Andy Dalton. Do you seen a scenario where the Bills go QB in round 1 and WR in round two? What do you think of the possibility of Geno Smith and Justin Hunter? I think these two are the might be the best players available when the Bills will pick in rounds 1 and 2. What are the scouts saying about Hunter, can he separate from DB’s at his size/speed?

CB: I’m at a point now where I getting the sense they don’t like any of the quarterbacks enough to take one at 8. I think that Buffalo doesn’t take a quarterback for sure at 8 if Geno Smith is off the board. So your scenario I believe is unlikely to transpire even though Buddy Nix did mention the desire to make those kinds of additions. I think a receiver is certainly a possibility in round two.

The value at the receiver position is very good between rounds two and four, so there’s also a window of opportunity there for Buffalo to wait on a receiver and address quarterback in round two and receiver in round 3. So what you’re proposing may happen, just in rounds 2 and 3 as opposed to 1 and 2.

As for Hunter specifically there’s no denying his deep speed, but he’s a straight-line speed guy. Having the combination of speed and quickness makes you a killer at wideout. He doesn’t possess both of those qualities, which is why he’s a second round prospect. He is a good route runner, which is what gets him separation. My only concern with him is his slight build. It makes me wonder if he’ll struggle early in his career with press coverage and the physical corners in the NFL. That also concerns me in terms of battling for the ball with DBs in the air.

 

2 – Chris,

Since Chris Kelsay has retired do you think Mario Williams will want his old number back? If so does the new Nike contracts require Mario to pay for all his unsold number 94 jerseys?  Or how does the process work for changing numbers?  Thanks for everything you do Chris!

-Fred M, Scotia NY

CB: It is my understanding that Mario is keeping number 94, but yes if Mario had changed to 90 he would’ve had to cover Nike for the outstanding inventory in terms of money.

 

3 – Chris,
Chris,
With Levitre will the Bills get draft picks this year or next year, from Tennessee, for guard Andy Levitre?
If so, what round picks?

Thanks,
Lee D

CB: The Bills will qualify for compensatory picks if they first and foremost have a net loss of free agents (sign fewer than they lose). That equation can prove difficult because some free agent signings and losses qualify, while others do not. I can say the size of Levitre’s contract would play in Buffalo’s favor, but again only if the Bills have a net loss of free agents or are even.

Determining the rounds is almost impossible at this point because the situations of the other 31 NFL clubs would have to be factored in.

 

4 – Chris,
Do you see the Bills taking Geno Smith or an OG over one of the very talented OLBs (Jarvis Jones or Dion Jordan) or one of the top tackles (Lane Johnson) with the 8th pick?  Just don’t see the value of taking a QB at 8 with the inconsistencies shown by the current candidates.  Also, what do you think of Nigel Bradham possibly moving inside?  Adding his athleticism and speed inside might add significant flexibility as the team moves to a Hybrid structure.

Thanks
Jim from Allentown Pa.

CB: I’m not convinced they like Geno Smith enough to take him at 8. I obviously do not have an expert opinion like the members of the Bills scouting department, but I do like Geno Smith a lot and would not have a problem with them taking him at 8 at all. I’m just doubting he’ll be there.

With that in mind I think the best defensive player on the board is the most likely outcome at 8.

Your assessment of Nigel Bradham is very astute. He has experience playing inside from his days at Florida State. So I would almost anticipate him moving there and being the three down linebacker.

 

5 – Chris,

With the new defensive coaching change, do you feel this will benefit A. Moats who lost his LB spot and then late season played some DE? What position do you see him competing for? Also, with Wilson and Levitre gone, any ideas for who’s going to be the next Show host? Do the fans have a say? Thanks again for all you do Chris!!

Dan in LA

CB: I anticipate Moats lining up in a couple of places, both OLB and ILB. Inside might be the best fit for him, but there is competition there. It’s a wait and see quite frankly.

As for our programming on Buffalobills.com concerning player involvement we’ve reached out to a couple of players, but feel free to provide suggestions. Obviously, participation in such a program is a commitment that a player has to make. We leave it up to them to decide if they want to do it, so please understand if your suggestion is not honored there’s usually a good reason why. Thanks for your viewership of our player programming on Buffalobills.com.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levitre lands almost $8M per year deal

Posted by Chris Brown on March 12, 2013 – 4:56 pm

The original reports of Andy Levitre’s new contract with the Tennessee Titans were inaccurate. He’s actually going to make even more with the Titans.

Original reports had the contract at five years and $39M, but the latest report has the contract lasting six years for $46.8M deal. That according to the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.

 

The deal averages $7.8M per season.


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Report: Levitre return unlikely

Posted by Chris Brown on March 12, 2013 – 2:55 pm

It’s not a surprising report, but with the start of free agency an hour away ESPN is reporting that Bills free agent guard Andy Levitre is a long shot to re-sign with the Bills.

ESPN AFC East blogger James Walker tweeted as much about Levitre’s future.

With a handful of NFL clubs desperate for interior line help like Chicago and San Diego there’s enough demand that will likely pay Levitre handsomely.


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4 teams named as Levitre suitors

Posted by Chris Brown on March 10, 2013 – 7:43 am

With the negotiating window now entering day 2 reports are circulating about the number of teams in pursuit of Bills impending free agent guard Andy Levitre.

According to a report by the Tennessean the Tennessee Titans are in pursuit of Levitre with additional reports suggesting the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears have also expressed interest. Indianapolis has been mentioned as a team interested in Levitre’s services too.

Naturally the Bills are also still vying to retain Levitre before he hits the free agent market officially on Tuesday afternoon.

The Chargers interest, which was reported by San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Kevin Acee makes sense for a couple of reasons.

 

Levitre is a native of Santa Cruz, CA and the Chargers also employ Bills former offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris as their new offensive line coach under new head coach Mike McCoy. D’Alessandris served in the same capacity under former Bills head coach Chan Gailey.


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G Lichtensteiger setting market?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 10, 2013 – 7:23 am

The Bills aren’t the only team with a starting guard that’s an impending free agent. The Washington Redskins had one in Cory Lichtensteiger, but he’s reportedly agreed to terms and will re-sign with the club.

According to the Washington Post it’s a five-year deal for Lichtensteiger, who is considered an average guard and not the caliber of Buffalo’s Andy Levitre.

It’s hard to say whether the deal for Lichtensteiger helps to provide a stabilizing market number for guards knowing Levitre is likely to be the highest-paid guard of the bunch this offseason.


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Levitre ranked a top 5 FA by King

Posted by Chris Brown on March 8, 2013 – 11:14 am

SI.com’s Peter King has put out his top 50 NFL free agents list for the impending market, which opens Tuesday afternoon. And he’s got Bills free agent guard Andy Levitre in his top 5 overall.

King has Levitre ranked as the fourth-best free agent player and top offensive lineman. Here was his assessment of Levitre.

4 – Andy Levitre – G – Buffalo
2012:
1 sack, 3 hits, 7 hurries allowed

Best fit: Indianapolis
He’s played all five positions on the line, and he’s a great team guy. Solid, solid.

King isn’t the first to speculate that Indianapolis will be very interested in Levitre. The Colts are looking to solidify the line for their franchise quarterback.


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Fan Friday 3-1

Posted by Chris Brown on March 1, 2013 – 12:42 pm

Free agency is coming up fast. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,

I have a few questions for you. 

First, with reports of Brian Urlacher possibly hitting the Free Agent market, do you see him as someone the Bills would bring in to add veteran depth and leadership at ILB? Also, if the Bills were to add a WR in free agency, who would be most likely? 

Finally, could we possibly see a similar situation to that of Washington last offseason and take two QBs in the draft? In my opinion, the chances are in your favor in that situation. 

Thanks,
Korey
Kenmore, NY

CB: Urlacher is on the decline. Not the same player. So no I don’t see him here. WR is a position that has limited top flight talent, so the guys at the top will be looking for big money. I don’t know that they can commit more big $$ at the position after handing out a big contract to Stevie last offseason.

I think affordable options that fit the mold of the big outside receiver that Buddy Nix is looking for are Braylon Edwards and Jerome Simpson.

 

2 - Hi Chris,

There continues to be serious concern regarding new contract negotiations with Andy Levitre and Jairus Byrd. Could you please update me with whatever progress is being made and how realistic is it that those two players will be on the roster in the fall.
Go Bills,
Richard
Los Angeles

CB: I respect the concern. We know that Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon and Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf met with the agents for both Andy Levitre and Jairus Byrd.

We’re about a week and a half away from the opening of free agency. Plus the new rule this year allows other clubs to talk to the agents of free agents from other clubs beginning March 9th, to open a dialogue on a possible contract. Only the team that had the player on their roster the previous season could sign said player however, prior to March 12th. The franchise tag is no longer an option effective at 4 pm on Monday.

I like both Levitre and Byrd as players, but if Levitre is asking for the moon I don’t see him back in a Bills uniform. As for Byrd I think if necessary the Bills would make use of the franchise tag at $6.79M. We’ll know by Monday afternoon for sure.

 

3 - Chris,

Is there any possibility of the Bills looking at Ryan Mallett from the Patriots? Seems like he was highly rated coming into the draft and slipped to the Patriots, you would have to think he’s learned a thing or 2 from backing up Brady the last 2 years. Of course the Patriots would have to be willing to give him to an intra division rival, if they even look at the Bills as that!

-Dan G in West Palm Beach

CB: The only way I see this as a remote possibility is if Matt Cassel is released by the Chiefs and signs back with New England where he began his career. That would make Mallett expendable, but even then I can’t see New England sending a player with potential to a division rival particularly at the quarterback position.

 

 

4 - @ChrisBrownBills Think Bills would consider going LT (Johnson/Fisher) at #8 and move Cordy Glenn to LG if they lose Levitre?

MustangMike23

CB: I believe both of those offensive tackles are in the right area in terms of value. Lane Johnson is a rare athlete and Fisher has NFL feet and strength right now. Glenn did play some guard in college, but I think if a quarterback they like is off the board when they’re on the clock at eight that they’ll go with the best defensive player on the board.

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

Well now with Kelsay gone would we try to target a pass rusher? Jordan or Jones?

JackJablonski

CB: I think the two are mutually exclusive. Kelsay’s retirement I don’t think would’ve had much bearing on whether they feel they need to add a pass rusher at OLB. What does have a bearing on it is where they feel that Mark Anderson fits. Knowing Buffalo’s defense is going to be a multiple front scheme is he a DE and OLB or just a DE? I would think they see him as a stand-up rusher in a 3-4 look. Now they could probably use another one in light of their deficiency at the position in general.

And as I said in the above response if there isn’t a quarterback there at eight that they like I think they’ll go with the best defensive player on the board. That could very well be a pass rusher.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix on McKelvin: We’d like to keep him

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2013 – 12:46 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix shared his thoughts on the team’s own free agents while out at the NFL Combine. Though Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre are likely high priorities, in a perfect world he’d like to re-sign them all.

In a morning appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, Nix stated a desire to keep all of their free agents including CB Leodis McKelvin.

“Leodis is a guy we’d like to keep,” said Nix. 

And while re-signing all of their unrestricted free agents would be fine with Nix, he also realizes that may not happen.

“We’d like to keep all our guys. There does come a time when you can’t keep everybody and it just doesn’t fit,” Nix said. “If somebody else see their value as a lot more than we do then good luck to them and good luck to the player.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-8

Posted by Chris Brown on February 8, 2013 – 1:41 pm

Here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday with your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at ChrisBrownBills as we touch on free agency, the draft and some Bills players rehabbing from surgeries and their progress.

1 – Hi Chris,

My question is about the Bills pick in the first round. Do you see the Bills taking T’eo, I think that T’eo would fit in with the Bills defense next season? Because we got a healthy Mark Anderson coming back, plus, Mario Williams if not do you think that the bills might go after Ryan Nassib from Syracuse? If not one of them then who do you think the bills might take in the first round?

Thanks for all the work you guys do
Chris
CB: I think a lot of the direction the Bills choose to take in the first round of the draft will hinge on what acquisitions are made in free agency. Te’o is an interesting case. He was a playmaker in college, but so was Paul Posluszny. That production and playmaking ability did not carry over to the NFL game. I’m no scout, but I wonder if Te’o is not the same kind of linebacker. Obviously how he times at the Combine will say a lot about whether he’d be a true sideline to sideline player at the NFL level. His lack of playmaking against Alabama was eye opening against top college talent. Knowing that he’ll be facing comparable and better talent in the league makes me wonder about his long range potential. And if there’s that kind of doubt among scouts I think he goes late first round, not top 10.

2 – Chris,

As free agency approaches it’s clear the Bills will want to retain Byrd and Levitre.  However, isn’t Spiller going to demand more if he stays the course, and wouldn’t it be in the Bills best interest to extend him now rather than later?  In addition, has Marrone made any indication on the status of Ryan Fitzpatrick, as I’m one of the few that would rather have him while prepping another quarterback.

Thanks,
Dave Faber

CB: Spiller still has two years left on his contract. I think in due time the Bills will make sure he’s extended to ensure his future with the club, but players like Byrd and Levitre are far more pressing in nature with them set to hit the market in just over a month if they’re not re-signed. So at the earliest I would expect Spiller to possibly be addressed next offseason.

3 – Good Day Chris,

I have not heard much from the Bills this season about the Tarvaris Jackson trade / signing.  Has anyone at One Bills Drive talked about his addition to the team in 2012 and what progress he might have made during the season?  If I understand correctly, he is a free agent soon and I wonder if the Bills have any plans to extend his contract?  Especially given the draft pick they needed to give up getting him.  It would be a shame to let him walk now with 1 less pick come the draft this year.  

Best Regards,
Brad
Fonthill, ON

CB: It’s hard to ascertain at this point whether there are plans to retain Jackson for 2013. You’re right he will be an unrestricted free agent. What is working in Jackson’s favor concerning the new coaching staff is prior to coming to the Bills this past season the only offensive system he knew was the West Coast offense, or some variation thereof.

Knowing Nathaniel Hackett’s offense is rooted with West Coast principles he is at least well versed in a lot of the concepts that Buffalo’s offense would presumably run.

Is that enough to interest Buffalo’s offensive staff in re-signing him to their roster? That remains to be seen.

4 - Chris,
Any news on how Torell Troup’s recovery is progressing?  I want to see him in our rotation next year.

John MacGaffick

CB: Hopefully you saw our write up on Troup’s Battle Back this week on Buffalobills.com. Troup is finally back to normal and two arduous years of back problems. He’s still rehabbing now, but expected to be ready to roll for OTAs in the spring.

5 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for answering our questions. It’s very helpful. Can you please explain players who are signed as reserve/future players?

Bob Hammond

CB: Typically they’re players that served the previous season on the team’s practice squad. In order to retain those players NFL clubs have a week to sign them to a future free agent contract. Teams can also sign players from other practice squad units if they’re not re-signed by their former club, or a player that joined the team as a signee in the second half of the season (after 10th regular season game) with one accrued NFL season of credit or less can be signed as a future free agents.

It’s essentially a category for rookie or first-year players that clubs want to retain and see how they develop from their practice squads.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Polian lists Byrd, Levitre among his top FAs

Posted by Chris Brown on February 5, 2013 – 4:10 pm

Jairus Byrd

ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL GM Bill Polian put together his list of top free agent talent set to hit the market in mid-March and two Bills appear near the top of his list.

Polian graded pending free agents with A, B and C grades. Here’s how he valued those grades in terms of investment.

A Players: Worth paying big, starter-caliber money.
B Players: Guys I would sign but only if the value made sense.
C Players: Guys I’d sign for low-salary, short-term (one or two years) value, with low bonuses.

Appearing on his ‘A’ list for offense was Bills free agent G Andy Levitre, who was listed 8th overall on the offensive side. Here’s Polian’s assessment.

Andy Levitre
Player Analysis: Levitre is a very solid, professional, strong, offensive guard. While he has the talent, his position might limit the money he’ll see.

Appearing on his ‘A’ list for defense was Bills free agent S Jairus Byrd, who ranked 12th on the defensive list.

Jairus Byrd
Player Analysis: Timed speed is a question mark, but instincts, toughness and production are not.

The only other Bills that appeared on Polian’s free agent list were Leodis McKelvin (B grade – but injury concerns) and Tashard Choice (C grade).


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Morris glad O-line has had time together

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2013 – 10:40 am

It’s an often used word in the NFL… continuity. Nowhere on the football field is it more important than the offensive line. That’s why Bills offensive line coach Pat Morris is happy to see walking in the door that most of the men up front have played together the past three seasons.

“I think that’s the biggest thing with offensive lines. It is a tight-knit group and they’ve played a lot together,” said Morris. “I’ve always thought that when linemen have played four years or more they’ve really started to reach their potential because they’ve played everybody. I’m excited. I did know all these guys coming out of the draft and most of them were draftable players and I’m happy to hear that for the most part they have played well. So I’m hoping to move them forward.

“I just think if you’ve got a partner that you’ve been with your timing is on, your communication, your awareness and when it’s crunch time it’s a little bit easier. Injuries kind of hurt that, but you’ve got to be position flexible, which I think these guys are in the little bit I’ve seen. All of that is very important for offensive line.”

The only question marks are guards Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart, who are both set to become unrestricted free agents come mid-March if they’re not re-signed.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levitre doesn’t call himself elite… yet

Posted by Chris Brown on January 16, 2013 – 9:23 am

Andy Levitre is a pretty humble player. He’s supremely confident in his abilities and believes his game is better now than it was two years ago, when it was still pretty good. But Levitre, who discussed his free agency in Bills Focus today, is far from satisfied with his personal game.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, but you never feel like you’ve… there’s always something you can work on or fine tune,” Levitre said. “There’s always some footwork you can get better at or some technique you can do a little bit better. I think it’s just continually fine tuning those things to help make you a really good player.”

Levitre admitted that Eric Wood has already been recruiting him to re-sign with the Bills. They also share the same agent.

“He obviously expressed to me that he wants me back, but he obviously understands the business side of it,” said Levitre. “And we’ve developed a good relationship over these last few years and we’re right next to each other on the line and we do a good job of communicating with each other and we understand each other a lot. So it makes it a lot easier going out there on Sunday and playing with a guy that you’ve been around for a long time.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Handful of Bills on PFF all-AFC East team

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2013 – 10:40 am

There are a handful of Bills players that were selected for the ProFootballFocus all AFC East team.

Their choices were the ones most would expect. Here’s who appeared on their squad and what PFF wrote about them.

Running Back: C.J. Spiller (BUF)
It wasn’t his fault he received only 207 carries. However, he can take full responsibility for making the most of those carries, ending the year with a league leading 94.6 Elusive Rating after forcing 66 missed tackles from his 250 touches of the ball.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker (NE), Brian Hartline (MIA) and Stevie Johnson (BUF)
We wanted to put a fullback in here, but there really wasn’t one in this division that either played enough, or played well enough. That made life a lot easier for us, going with Hartline and Johnson, with Welker working from the slot. All three ranked in our Top 30 for receiving grades by wide outs, and each of them put in a 1,000 yard season.

Guards: Andy Levitre (BUF) and Brandon Moore (NYJ)
There was a legitimate case for both Richie Incognito and Logan Mankins here. As good as Levitre was in pass protection (and he was very good), he really failed to consistently get much movement in the run game. In the end though, his competition just didn’t do enough to oust him. At right guard, Moore finished the season playing as well as any lineman, ending the year our third ranked right guard.

Defensive Tackle: Kyle Williams (BUF) and Muhammed Wilkerson (NYJ)
A controversial decision here with Vince Wilfork missing out. While he was dominant at times, there weren’t many games Williams or Wilkerson didn’t have their way with interior linemen. The more complete player of the two is the Bill, whose relentless play results in plenty of pressure (45 quarterback disruptions, ranking third among all defensive tackles). Wilkerson plays as a defensive end for the Jets in their 3-4 alignment, but the way he can get off interior blocks is something to behold. He had 46 defensive stops in the run game, second among all defensive linemen.

Safeties: Jairus Byrd (BUF) and Reshad Jones (MIA)
Byrd is going to be paid a lot of money, and very soon. There aren’t many ballhawking safeties like the Bill, who has the kind of range that should scare quarterbacks for years to come. He had our highest coverage grade of all safeties and was ranked second overall this year. That’s one spot above Jones, who missed too many tackles in the second half of the year, but became a real playmaker for Miami.

Returner: Leodis McKelvin (BUF)
It could very easily have been Marcus Thigpen, with the two men one and two in our returner rankings.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-4

Posted by Chris Brown on January 4, 2013 – 3:03 pm

It’s been a heck of a week here at One Bills Drive, with more big news to come once the Bills find their new head coach. Stay tuned to Buffalobills.com all offseason for updates. Also keep sending your questions to AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
What do you think of the idea of drafting two of the best QBs available in this year’s draft?  Last year the Redskins did and I think it’s working for them, don’t you?  What do we have to lose?  It’s quite evident we’re lacking in even (1) good QB on this team, right? As long as we have the right people making the calls on the draft, this could work. If we land one good QB, the best man would win out in training camp and then we have out second stringer in place.

Thanks,
LRT

CB: I thought it interesting that GM Buddy Nix this week reiterated how they intend to draft a quarterback and then added in that they might acquire another in free agency. Last year I think the opportunity to draft two quarterbacks was more realistic. The pool was much deeper. This year the pool of talent at QB is much thinner by all indications. So I think making use of two draft picks on quarterbacks might not provide the desired results this time around.
2 - Hi Chris,

I appreciate all the work you and your colleagues do to bring us inside Bills videos, statistics, and interviews that provide some insight into OBD.

What’s my hope as Joe Ticket Buyer for next season?  We’re going to have the AFC North and NFC South on the schedule, which are both very difficult divisions. What will be different? Can you give me any hope as a 29-year old that hasn’t seen his team in the playoffs since he was a sophomore in high school?

Finally, would you agree that finding a young quarterback to groom (or play) has to be priority #1 in the offseason?  Sure, more linebackers and a wide receiver would be nice, but without a quarterback that can make all of the throws in the NFL accurately and often, aren’t we still just spinning our wheels?

Thanks again, and please keep up the great work.
Sincerely,
Jeff Locke

CB: First, thanks for the compliments. Our staff appreciates it. With a new head coach coming in with a new staff and undoubtedly new ideas for the roster I think it’s safe to say a lot will be different for the 2013 Bills. No question those divisions on Buffalo’s slate won’t be easy, but let’s see what unfolds this offseason as far as the Bills are concerned before we make our assessments.

I agree quarterback is a big issue for this team. As I mentioned in the above response it is a position that the personnel department plans to address this offseason.
3 - Hey Chris,
After Urbik re-signed, do think that helps the chances of Levitre re-signing?  He has been our most durable lineman and I would view him to be our top priority?  Also what do think the chances are that the franchise tag is put on Byrd? I believe the tag amount on safeties is just above kicker and punter?  Also, since D Jones and Nelson were undrafted can’t the bills give them 1st or 2nd rd tender offers as opposed to the low qualifying tender offers? (2nd making the most sense)  Also what do think about a trade to the Jets? Brad Smith for Tebow and a draft pick?

Bryan
Grosse Ile, MI

CB: I don’t believe that one re-signing necessarily impacts another. The re-signing of Urbik is certainly good news for the Bills. Re-signing Levitre figures to be a bit more complicated. Levitre has been the most durable lineman on the roster having never missed a game in four years and is a heck of an interior lineman. I believe negotiations once they begin will take some time. Levitre has stated an interest in returning.

As for Byrd I get the sense in my conversations with him that he wants to test the free agent market. I worry that the Bills may have to make use of the franchise tag to keep him. The projected tag amount for safeties in 2013 is $6.4M.

Yes, you’re right with both Jones and Nelson undrafted there is not compensation due the Bills should they be tendered at the low level by Buffalo and another club signs them to an offer sheet and the Bills choose not to match. It’s likely that one, possibly both will be tendered at a middle tender, which would offer compensation to the Bills in the form of a second-round pick. I’d expect the new head coach would have a good deal of input on that.

Finally, no on your trade suggestion.
4 - Chris,

Thanks for your time and great work covering the Bills.  Question is about the defense in light of the coaching change and it not being a setback.  I agree, only if they stay in the 4-3.  If it were a switch to the 3-4 then an overhaul of personal will be a setback.  I don’t want to hear Mario as a OLB.  He likes putting his hand down, rushing the blocker.  So head coach that does whatever with our offense weapons and defense that stays a 4-3 and we can still compete for the playoffs next year.  Do you agree?   Switch to the 3-4 a setback?  

Bills fan in Raleigh,
Jason

CB: I think it’s safe to say that moving to a 3-4 defensively would be a major challenge moving forward if the defense is to improve on their substandard rankings this past year. The new defensive scheme can’t be a major change schematically. If it is a whole new learning curve will ensue and that will keep the players vets and young players alike from playing fast. I’d imagine the coach search committee is making it clear the 4-3 is something they’d prefer to keep intact.
5 – Chris,
I’m not interested in recycling a recently-fired head coach as Bills’ head man, but I am interested in putting pieces in place that can help the franchise.  Many fired head coaches return to action as a coordinator (Del Rio in Denver, for example).  Guys that don’t have a job right now are prime candidates for those jobs. 
 
I like the idea of getting a young, innovative head coach (Doug Marrone, Mike McCoy, etc.) but surround him with experienced coordinators.  My selections would be Ken Whisenhunt as OC and Lovie Smith – he says he wants to come to Buffalo! – as my DC.  Above all, we need a guy at the top who can evaluate and develop a young QB.  (The knock on Whisenhunt is that he failed to develop Kolb, Skelton, Lindley (?) in AZ.)
 
What do you think about that? 
 
Interesting comment on WGR yesterday about looking at Special Teams coaches (Harbaugh, Levy) as Head Coaches because they use the entire roster in putting teams together, thus they have a knack for working with – and getting the most out of – the entire roster. 
 
Intriguing thought, but I think it still comes down to getting the guy with the “right stuff”.  Can he manage the game day decisions, delegate the game plan development to his coordinators, motivate the team to play, get the most out of his talent?  Then sign him up!
 
Your thoughts?
Thanks for your time.  Let’s hope the Bills get it right this time.
Ron

CB: The Bills have made it clear that they’re not discriminating and exploring all options. I think the candidate pool which reportedly varies from Doug Marrone to Lovie Smith reflects that. As for your proposed HC, OC, DC combination that trio would cost upwards of $15M a year just for those three. Don’t know that it’s realistic.

That being said I do agree with your coaching point on developing a young QB knowing Buddy Nix intends to draft a signal caller. I also agree with a head coach being a head coach on Sundays and delegating all play calling to the coordinators. I’m a big fan of that approach. We’ll see what happens.
 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levitre on wanting to be back

Posted by Chris Brown on December 31, 2012 – 10:20 pm

The Bills have some free agent decisions to make this offseason. One of the bigger ones is unrestricted free agent Andy Levitre. Buffalo’s starting left guard was asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how much he’d like to re-sign with Buffalo.

“It’d be a 10,” said Levitre. “There’s great people, great coaching staff and players. I think we’ve gotten a lot more competitive since I first got here and I know the culture is set in place. I know we haven’t been doing well the past couple of years, but I think if we continue to grow the way we have been we’ll be in the playoffs next year.”

Buffalo has already re-signed Kraig Urbik to a multi-year extension. Fellow guard Chad Rinehart is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Byrd, Levitre, Kyle update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2012 – 3:56 pm

Jairus Byrd, Andy Levitre and Kyle Williams all got back on the practice field, but no one was full go.

“Most everybody that was out yesterday did something today,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “Most of them were limited today and didn’t take every rep, but they practiced.”

Byrd (ankle), Levitre (knee) and Kyle Williams (ankle) were all limited joining Mark Anderson (knee), Nick Barnett (knee) and a handful of others. Here’s the full injury update.

DID NOT PRACTICE
WR Ruvell Martin – not injury related
S Da’Norris Searcy – groin

LIMITED IN PRACTICE
S Jairus Byrd – ankle
G Andy Levitre – knee
DT Kyle Williams – ankle
DE Mark Anderson – knee
LB Nick Barnett – knee
FB Dorin Dickerson – ankle
WR Marcus Easley – hamstring
CB Justin Rogers – foot
LB Chris White – hamstring
C Eric Wood – knee


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Posted in Inside the Bills