Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 6-19

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2015 – 11:33 am

The mandatory minicamp is in the books. Six weeks until training camp at St. John Fisher. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Is there anybody that is already on the squad that might have torn up the practice fields that we haven’t heard about yet because they didn’t get much playing time?  In other words, is there anybody on the team already that you think is either in line to break out or will push a current starter for a job more than expected?

Tommy of Pittsford

CB: There were a few players who performed admirably in the spring practices that didn’t get much time on the field last year, but I caution that football in the spring is not real football, so take these names with a grain of salt.

Marquise Goodwin had a strong spring. He was turning in plays left and right in the passing game. Now keep in mind that’s without Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin or Aaron Williams running around in Buffalo’s secondary. And the pads aren’t on, which is when the game gets more physical and cornerbacks are jamming receivers a lot harder at the line of scrimmage. We’ll see what he can do at camp.

Cyrus Kouandjio, as we’ve covered on, has improved his footwork and balance a great deal. We’ll see how he does in camp, again, when the pads are on.

Two other players that I thought fared well, who could take a step forward this season are S Jonathan Meeks and TE Marqueis Gray. Both made plays in the spring practices and offer high caliber athleticism at their respective positions.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Is Harvin slated for both return spots or just punts?


CB: From what I witnessed at OTAs and minicamp Harvin is only being used on kick returns. The primary punt return candidates included Leodis McKelvin and Marcus Thigpen.


3 – Chris,

In light of the draft where they added 1 TE and one RB, how does this affect the final roster? Roman likes to dress/have 4 TE’s but they

currently have 5 running backs. Are Boobie/Bryce on the cut list to watch? I am not a fan of drafting a developmental running back with a history of violence against women, I don’t see the value in picking a back. Boobie plays special teams as well. Do you see O’Leary as lock to make this team too? Wondering how you might this these position groups look after the draft?

CB: Adding O’Leary and Karlos Williams just deepens the pool of talent at their positions. I like what I’ve seen from both players in the spring practices. O’Leary catches just about everything thrown to him. I agree that there will probably be four tight ends on the 53-man roster.

The tough call will be at running back where Williams has made a good case for himself. You’re also forgetting the fact that they’ll keep one fullback too who factors into the RB equation. So it’s likely they keep 4 RBs and 1 FB and 4 TEs. That could also mean the team only keeps five wide receivers. You’ve got to trim numbers somewhere else if Greg Roman’s offense needs numbers at TE.


4 – Chris,

Could you share your thoughts and insights on our offensive line expectations? Our two glaring weaknesses from last season was the inability to protect or provide the QB position ample time to develop consistency in a passing game and the lack of developing a foundation with a running game.

Many feel the offensive line play led to the lack of a better QB play although the argument could easily be spun both ways.  Yet going into this next season our offense is mostly a mystery of what to expect.

Despite the influx of talent brought in during F/A one could argue that we will be no better off than a year ago with the only hope that the new offense and scheme applied will either swing the pendulum one way or the other.  Many feel that controlling the trenches is where it all starts regardless of how skilled your skilled positions are.  Still another unsettling feeling deep in the souls of us Bills fans.

Thanks for you time and efforts.

CB: I’ll start by saying perhaps the two most important additions for the offensive line were coach Aaron Kromer and OC Greg Roman. Both know how to organize and coach line play. That’s where the two biggest improvements were made. Richie Incognito is a perfect fit for a power run game and John Miller has been widely lauded as Buffalo’s best pick in the 2015 draft and is expected to start at right guard.

With Cyrus Kouandjio showing an improved skill set and Cordy Glenn in the best shape of his life I believe the unit can take a sizable step forward this year and perhaps rebound from their 25th ranked rushing attack last season and get back into the top 10.


5 – Chris:

A couple of questions:

Whom do you think will take Dareus’ place in game #1?

Do you expect 90 players will be there the first day of training camp or will that number be reduced because of OTAs? Jeff Tuel was just released, but Matt Simms took his place.

Thanks very much.

CB: Right now the guy the Bills have penciled in to take Dareus’ spot in Week 1 is Corbin Bryant. Rex Ryan confirmed that when asked. Now will it be Bryant exclusively in that spot for the entire game? Probably not. Stefan Charles might rotate in there as well.

I do expect 90 players at training camp. Coaches like to have as many bodies as they can at camp. Knowing the Bills intend to run two team units simultaneously at camp when they go 11-on-11 in practice, having 90 players will be all the more necessary.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

FA OT Hunter in on tryout basis

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 4:11 pm

He hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2012 season, but free agent OT Wayne Hunter was at practice Wednesday with the Bills on a tryout basis.

Hunter, 33, last played in the league for St. Louis in the 2012 season appearing in 14 games making four starts. He has a history with Rex Ryan, playing under him in three of his four seasons with the Jets. Hunter was a full-time starter for Ryan in New York during the 2011 season.

Buffalo hasn’t made a secret of seeking out additional offensive tackle help to boost their numbers at the position for training camp. Hunter wore jersey 75.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

McCoy has seen rotation at QB before

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 3:42 pm

With a healthy dose of new faces on the offensive side of the ball for the Bills this season there are some outside observers who believe it’s imperative that a starting quarterback be named to allow all the new players to get acclimated to one signal caller. As far as LeSean McCoy is concerned it’s not as big an issue as some might make it out to be.

McCoy, who saw a healthy amount of quarterback changes during his time Philadelphia, says the key difference here is the rest of the offense is being exposed to all three QBs who are part of the competition for the starting job.

“I’m used to it,” said McCoy. “In Philadelphia, we had a lot of different quarterbacks coming in and going out. I’m kind of used to that. The biggest thing here is, all the quarterbacks are getting reps with the first team. It’s not like I’m not getting reps with none of the quarterbacks. They’re all rotating out with the ones—each day they have their day with the ones. They get a lot of work with the first team.”


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Watkins happy to be worked back in

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2015 – 2:12 pm

Sammy Watkins has been a limited participant in spring practices coming off an offseason hip procedure, but through the first two days of minicamp he’s been sprinkled in for a few team reps in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. It’s not much, but Watkins is happy to take any reps he can get with teammates around him.

“It feels good,” he said. “Just to know I can get on the field and compete and go out there and make a play or two. Just to get back there is a great feeling to me, and just to see coaches confidence in putting me back there and knowing that I’m healthy – it was a great feeling for me.”

Watkins said he will be full go for training camp come late July.

“I’ll be in there the first day of training camp competing,” he said. “It’s all about now getting in shape and coming back ready to compete.”

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Hopkins kicks well

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2014 – 10:49 am

He’s seen by most outside the building at One Bills Drive as a potential kickoff specialist for Buffalo with Dan Carpenter signing a sizable free agent deal with the Bills this offseason. But Dustin Hopkins is working to make the place kicking job a stiff competition as well. On the last day of minicamp Hopkins may have provided a sign of things to come.

Erratic in last year’s training camp, Hopkins’ performance on Thursday was in stark contrast. Both he and Carpenter had the opportunity to kick field goals in the final special teams segment of minicamp practice Thursday. Carpenter after going 8-for-8 on attempts Wednesday went 5-for-6 on Thursday with his only miss coming from 50 yards out. Hopkins meanwhile was a perfect 5-for-5. Below are their attempts kick by kick along with the results.

Carpenter                                           Hopkins
28 yards – right hash – good        32 yards – left hash – good
30 yards – left hash – good          35 yards – right hash – good
37 yards – right hash – good        41 yards – left hash – good
39 yards – left hash – good          48 yards – right hash – good
50 yards – right hash – wide rt.  53 yards – right hash – good
53 yards – left hash – good

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone guiding Henderson

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 7:32 pm

Marcell Dareus is not the only personal project for Bills head coach Doug Marrone this offseason. Marrone said earlier this spring that he’s in conversation with Dareus every day whether it’s in person or by phone to help him through his issues which are mainly off the field. Marrone is also working closely with rookie OT Seantrel Henderson, but his assistance with the seventh-round pick are mainly on the field.

Thrown into the fire in the minicamp as the starting left tackle with Cordy Glenn sidelined by illness, Henderson was still adjusting on day one, but on Thursday he got his feet under and won his share of plays against Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson.

What has Henderson encouraged about his progress is having a head coach who has an offensive lineman’s background.

“Coach is always helping me with my technique,” said Henderson. “It’ll be the smallest things that a rookie can do wrong like myself and he’ll see it just because he’s been in the game for a long time in college all the way up to the NFL and he played offensive line. So this is his craft and he’s helping me all the time and I’ve never had a head coach who was into the offensive line like that so I feel like that’s a good thing for me.”

Henderson fell a long way in the draft mainly because of his off the field issues, but it’s clear that his new teammates in Buffalo recognize his immense physical talent. That’s why when interviewing Henderson Thursday, Anthony Dixon’s chime in comment on the way by myself and Henderson was most telling.

“He’s going to be a beast and we’re going to get him right,” Dixon said.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ finishes on good note

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 7:23 pm

Even EJ Manuel will tell you that some days were better than others with his passing game exploits and reading of coverages in the spring practices, but his last two days were probably among his most effective. Head coach Doug Marrone felt the same way.

“I think in these last couple of days, we’ve had some good results with yesterday probably being the best day that he’s had on third down when he was here,” said Marrone. “There are a lot of things that are going on that you get excited about and we have to carry that on and do that when the preseason comes.”

When asked how much further Manuel is ahead of where he was at this time last year, Buffalo’s head coach felt the difference was significant.

“Quite a bit further, especially with the amount that we have in and the amount that was given to him,” said Marrone. “I think it’s always this stage in a young quarterback’s career, especially one that hasn’t practiced as much as him because of the injuries. Out of everyone on the football team, make no mistake about it, that position has the most.

“He’s put in a lot of work. He has a much, much better understanding and it’s exciting. What you hope to see as training camp and the installation goes in, you hope to see it better the next time around. What happens after that is that is starts getting better because now the playbook starts reducing to what you’re going to do. So, it’s a natural reaction. The thing that we were concentrating on, like I said before, was to make sure that he had the fundamentals that a lot of people might not be able to see because we’re always looking for the end result.”

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Marrone: Felt bad Stevie couldn’t work

Posted by Chris Brown on April 18, 2013 – 3:56 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone naturally was eager to see Stevie Johnson in action during the team’s three-day voluntary veteran minicamp, but that didn’t happen. But Marrone felt worse for Johnson than anything else knowing how hard the receiver has worked this offseason.

“Is there an area of disappointment? Absolutely. But my disappointment is not that I wanted to see Stevie Johnson out there,” said Marrone. “My area of disappointment was Stevie worked extremely hard. When he came back and was with our weight coaches, really from what I heard he’s the best he’s ever been and really put a lot into it. And we had conversations prior to this and I was very excited. My disappointment is for him because he put a lot into it to get himself ready to get out here with a new staff.”

Johnson was again held out of practice Thursday, but he believes there’s plenty of time to get up to speed with the new offense.

“We’re still early.  I’ll have time, they’ll have time also to get the chemistry down,” said Johnson. “It’s still early. Nothing too big I guess to worry about.”

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Marrone’s assessment of QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on April 18, 2013 – 2:17 pm

With the Bills first voluntary minicamp under head coach Doug Marrone in the books, the Bills sideline boss was asked for his impressions of the top two quarterbacks on his roster after watching them in action for three days.

“For the amount of volume that we have in on both sides of the ball, for a quarterback in Kevin who was injured and hasn’t played a lot lately to Tarvaris who wasn’t available to play last year and to come into a camp where they’re not out throwing on 7-on-7 before a camp or they’re not at a high school field, I was very impressed with how they handled themselves in the classroom with
excellent questions,” Marrone said. “I was very impressed with how themselves on the field especially with all the stuff that was going on the field on both side. I was very happy with how they handled themselves in light of what they’ve dealt with the past

Both Kolb and Jackson appeared to execute better on the final day of the minicamp than they did earlier in the practice sessions.

“It’s good. It really is,” said Kolb. “I think for a new system in all three phases, a lot of new players, I think practice has gone fairly smooth for our situation. Obviously a lot to build on, a lot to correct, but it’s all making sense for everybody and everybody is kind of catching on phase by phase.”

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Some honorable mentions

Posted by Chris Brown on June 22, 2012 – 9:05 am

There were some close calls with our Minicamp-OTA awards that we handed out today (Friday) with the spring workouts now over and done with. So here are a few honorable mentions from the May-June practices of players that had some encouraging play, keeping in mind that it’s hard in an OTA-minicamp setting for linemen on both sides of the ball to really shine since it’s still not real football.

Bryan Scott – the veteran is a subpackage specialist that will have a defined niche in the defense. He was around the ball consistently in the underneath zones.

Marcus Easley – He made some of the most difficult catches in the spring practices. Showed he has the strength and size to make plays in traffic and with DBs hanging on him.

Donald Jones – With Stevie Johnson missing most of workouts, Jones was a frequent target of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Arthur Moats – Playing two different linebacker positions in base and subpackages, Moats looked very good in coverage for a LB that played up in college.

Young players that flashed
Here are some rookies besides those mentioned on our awards list that flashed some encouraging potential.

T.J. Graham – His speed is obvious, but he made a handful of plays towards the end of minicamp that made you feel like things are starting to sink in for him.

Nigel Bradham – For a long angular LB he has pretty good cover ability and got some valuable reps at times with the top unit in subpackages and base.

Ron Brooks – He’s got the quickest feet in the whole secondary and made plays on the ball. We’ll have to see how he fares when the pads go on.

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Thurs. non-participants

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2012 – 1:09 pm

Here are the non-participants for the final minicamp practice.

Terrence McGee
Josh Nesbitt
Robert Eddins
Kelvin Sheppard
Andy Levitre
Eric Wood
Kellen Heard
Erik Pears
Torell Troup
Lionel Dotson
Dwan Edwards

Posted in Inside the Bills

Stevie gets involved

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2012 – 5:39 pm

His reps on Wednesday were again extremely limited in the team setting, but Stevie Johnson pulled in his first catch of the spring.

It came right at the end of practice during 7-on-7. Johnson took a deep route down the right side of the field and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him for a 20-25 yard pickup.

“I think for him, just for us to be able to hook up and for him to feel like he’s part of it again and out there will be important for him to get a few catches,” said Fitzpatrick. “I know the relationship we have and he knows the relationship and rapport we have on and off the field. The big thing is getting him out of minicamp healthy and feeling good and confident. Then I promise you he’s going to catch plenty of balls in training camp and the season.”

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Talk now paired with Aaron’s walk

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2012 – 5:35 pm

Bills CB Aaron Williams has been more apt to voice his feelings along with his play as he enters year two of his NFL career, and there’s a reason for it.

“Like I always say that first year you want to listen more than you talk,” said Williams. “When you get used to everybody’s personality and the chemistry of the team the talk starts to come out especially in minicamp and training camp too. It’s all just competing and grinding and getting each other better. The trash talking is just keeping the confidence up. Even when there’s a bad play I’m not going to let you know that you had me on that play. I’m going to keep going.”

One of the offensive players that makes sure he dishes right back to Williams is his fellow native Texan Fred Jackson, who is often the “spokesperson” for the offense during practice. He was warning Williams that they were targeting him frequently.

“We’re coming to you all day,” said Jackson after Williams likely committed a pass interference penalty on a pass to the end zone intended for Derek Hagan.

But Williams turned in three pass breakups on the day and more than held his own.

“Fred is the biggest kid I know whether he’s 30 or 29, but he keeps me humble and keeps me level-headed. He’s my older brother in the locker room always beating me up,” said Williams. “But he has my back. He took me under his wing when I got here so I’m really blessed to have him.”

Williams is just hoping his performance in training camp can convince the coaching staff that he deserves one of the two starting outside cornerback jobs.

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Shep sitting

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2012 – 2:19 pm

Bills MLB Kelvin Sheppard was participating in individual position drills, but he’s a spectator now.

Shep is not getting reps in team work. We’ll try to get an update after practice.

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Wednesday non-participants

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2012 – 1:54 pm

There’s a new addition to the minicamp mon-participation list here on Wednesday.

Andy Levitre is a spectator with an undisclosed ailment. Here are the others.

Terrence McGee
Eric Wood
Kellen Heard
Erik Pears
Mike Caussin
Torell Troup
Lionel Dotson
Dwan Edwards

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Stevie to clear mental hurdle

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2012 – 6:08 pm

Stevie Johnson was back in the practice setting taking part in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 team work. Only getting 10 snaps however, Johnson still has to get his mind convinced that coming off of groin surgery his body is healthy again.

“They say it looked good,” said Johnson of the review from the athletic trainers. “I felt like I was a bit slow. Then coming in and cutting to the right it felt heavy. It’s just a mental thing because I didn’t feel any sharp pain like I did last year. That’s why I felt like I’m good. So hopefully tomorrow I’ll just be able to go out there and focus on plays and who is lined up across from me and defense and all that other stuff. Today it was more of if I cut right here will it pop or what is going to happen next? I just feel like if I get a few more plays then I’ll be good.”

Johnson said there was a reason he targeted minicamp to return and it was to get any concerns about his groin out of his head before training camp.

“That’s why I wanted to come out for this minicamp so I can get acquainted to running routes and try to get over the mental aspect of being out there and cutting on my left leg and trying to trust it,” he said. “I don’t want to go into training camp thinking like I’m thinking now out there. I think this is a big step.”


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Stevie still going

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2012 – 2:56 pm

WR Stevie Johnson looks like he’s got no restrictions today coming off groin surgery.

Johnson for the first time this spring is taking team reps in practice. More on this later on

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Handful return from injury, absence

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2012 – 2:45 pm

A few Bills players are back in action as Bills minicamp begins.

Stevie Johnson is doing individual position drills. We’ll see if his work goes beyond that as he anticipated.

Aaron Williams is back as is Spencer Johnson as both were dealing with knee irritation according to Chan Gailey.

And Marcell Dareus is back after missing two voluntary days for personal reasons last week.

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Minicamp non-participants

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2012 – 2:37 pm

Here’s the list of non-participants for day one of Bills minicamp.

Terrence McGee
Eric Wood
Kellen Heard
Erik Pears
Mike Caussin
Torell Troup
Lionel Dotson
Dwan Edwards

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Afternoon update

Posted by Chris Brown on June 24, 2010 – 4:51 pm

The minicamp report has been updated with afternoon practice information and highlights. Also check back later in the media lounge for exclusive video highlights of the best plays of the day from Bills minicamp.

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