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Inside The Bills

The other cornerback consideration

Posted by Chris Brown on June 25, 2013 – 9:41 am

The Bills brass is expressing confidence in the collection of young, but relatively unproven cornerbacks on their roster beyond Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. The likely reason is they feel they have options on the roster to turn to should certain players not fill the roles they’re expected to come training camp. Aaron Williams is an obvious one, but there’s still another that the coaching staff may turn to first.

Buffalo’s defensive staff is clearly pleased with the transition Williams has made to safety and it appears on the surface that they want him to continue to development in center field. So if some cornerback help is needed on the boundary one of the more likely candidates to step in should some of the regular cornerbacks fail to live up to expectations is rookie fourth-round pick Duke Williams.

Williams, as mentioned the day he was drafted, played in just about every position in the secondary during his time in college at Nevada. During the spring practices he lined up outside at cornerback and did not look out of place. In fact there were a couple of plays that he ran stride for stride with T.J. Graham in coverage and broke up his share of passes.

Williams ran a 4.48 40-time at the NFL Combine and has natural coverage instincts. If the Bills do not add a bargain veteran cornerback to the roster this summer it’s likely due to some of the promise Duke Williams showed in OTAs and the minicamp on the corner.


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OTA reps for Jackson, Kolb make sense now

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2013 – 7:05 am

Through the course of the OTA practices it was Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb getting the majority of the reps while EJ Manuel got noticeably fewer snaps. It may have seemed peculiar on the surface knowing Manuel would need all the snaps he could get in order to get up to speed sooner rather than later. Now looking back Buffalo’s offensive staff may have been using OTA practices for a much different purpose.

As their first-round pick Buffalo’s offensive staff knew that Manuel was going to be one of their top two quarterbacks on the roster regardless of how much work he got in OTAs. He is the long term investment. What they probably didn’t know for sure was which quarterback would serve as his stiffest competition. Perhaps that’s what Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett were working on in terms of decision making in having the two veteran QBs get most of the work through the OTAs.

Kolb and Jackson provided enough practice tape for Marrone and Hackett to make an evaluation and determine which quarterback would serve as Manuel’s main competition in training camp. With the release of Jackson, it will obviously be Kolb.


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A. Williams has reverse role

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 5:31 pm

In Mike Pettine’s defense, Buffalo’s defensive coordinator would like to have players capable of playing more than one position, but he doesn’t want to line them up at their “second” position, until he feels they’ve mastered their first. That shouldn’t be much of a problem for Aaron Williams.

Williams, who already knows how to line up and play cornerback, has been working at safety all spring. Safety is technically Williams’ first position, which he’s working to master. His second position is cornerback, but he has the advantage of already knowing that spot.

“It’s a reverse thing for me because I have experience and played in games at the corner position,” Williams told Buffalobills.com. “Now my main goal is to work on my craft at safety. Once I get my goal (accomplished) at safety I can go back to cornerback and see what I can do and master some other positions. But right now it’s safety and that’s the only thing.”


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QB timetable based on performance

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 3:38 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows he’s going to be asked constantly about the state of the quarterback competition, but he’s sticking to his original plan as to how a starter will be reached.

“I think the timetable comes when one of those guys separates themselves,” said Marrone. “The struggle with that position as well as some other positions on the field is it goes back to reps. You only have a certain amount of time. I’m going to take a good look this week and go back and see it. As far as my evaluation the two young guys (Manuel, Tuel) I’m very happy with (them). And Kevin (Kolb) and Tarvaris (Jackson) have been doing a good job of competing out there and we have had enough reps of them to look at see what they’ve done.”

Obviously any coach would want to have a defined answer at that position sooner rather than later, but sometimes it takes until the first or second preseason game for there to be any defined separation between the candidates.

 


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Dickerson asked to go back to TE

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 3:13 pm

As we reported on Tuesday in our OTA Practice Notes, Dorin Dickerson was back working with the tight ends. The lack of bodies at the position due to injury was deemed to be part of the reason, but head coach Doug Marrone also said the switch was requested.

“There were three tight ends missing that I was aware of and most of it was due to injury,” said Marrone. “Another had a personal matter that he needed to attend to. Dorin Dickerson we thought would have a good opportunity to go to receiver and play for us. He came to us wanting to go back to the tight end position. So I think we have a player right now that can really do a good job of playing both positions for us.”

“Just going to try it out a little bit and see how it feels,” Dickerson told Buffalobills.com earlier this week. “We’re down a couple of guys so it’s good for me to be versatile and see what I got at tight end, too.”


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Bills on the air

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2013 – 9:03 pm

Here’s where you can find Bills players on the local radio airwaves and on national TV Friday.

LB Kiko Alonso is scheduled to appear on the Howard Simon show on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 at 7:30 am.

Meanwhile C.J. Spiller is scheduled to be a guest on NFL Network’s Total Access Friday night at 7 pm.


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Bills demanding more of themselves

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2013 – 5:11 pm

While there’s little debate that the players and coaches are putting in the time and the effort to make strides each and every day in the OTA practice sessions, they’re far from satisfied. In fact Stevie Johnson wants to see the team kick it up another notch to close out the OTA sessions on Friday.

“I think we need to push the issue a little bit,” said Johnson. “We’re not coming off a playoff berth. We’re not coming off a Super Bowl. I think we need to push the issue like we’re hungry. We’re out here fighting. Don’t get me wrong we’re out here fighting, but we’ve got to step it up a little bit more.

“We’ve got to stack it up. Coach was just saying you can’t come out here and have a good day today and then fall off tomorrow and come back the next day and then hope it’s good. We’ve got to stack it up. That’s what the winners do they stack it up week by week. We’ve got to do it day in and day out.”


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Players in thinking phase with schemes

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2013 – 4:11 pm

Players when working to learn a new offensive or defensive scheme go through a process. Through the early stages players often have to think about their assignment as they read the play and then they react. Eventually they want to get to a point where they feel so comfortable in the system that they’re no longer thinking about the assignment, they’re just executing. As Nigel Bradham sees it they’re not at that point just yet.

“I feel like we are kind of thinking a little more,” said Bradham. “We haven’t gotten to the point where it’s all instincts and reacting yet as a team, as a defense. We’ve haven’t gotten to the point yet where everybody knows what they’re doing or everybody knows each other’s position so we know where our help is at or where is the weakness of the defense. We haven’t got to that point yet, but we’re definitely working at it and getting better.”

It’s difficult to say exactly when the offense and defense will be just reacting as a unit knowing players absorb and learn at different rates, but with the work being put in the learning curve shrinks with each passing day.


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A bit more on WR Sampson

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2013 – 1:04 pm

Newly signed WR DeMarco Sampson is a former seventh-round pick of the Cardinals (2011), but there’s more to know about him than that.

He’s already spent time with two NFL clubs, Arizona and Philadelphia. Sampson has appeared in 12 NFL games in his career, all with the Cardinals in 2011. He has three career receptions and two of them came from the arm of Kevin Kolb in a loss to Pittsburgh during that 2011 season.

Here’s the scouting report on Sampson from 2011 when he was in attendance at the NFL Combine.


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Kyle likes scheme’s confusion for offenses

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2013 – 5:04 pm

Bills DT Kyle Williams hasn’t taken a rep in Buffalo’s defense yet as he rehabs from Achilles surgery, but from what he’s seen in the classroom and witnessed as a spectator on the practice field has him excited for the upcoming season.

“There are a lot of things going on. Learning a lot of multiple positions. We’re going to be doing a lot of different things,” said Williams. “We have to be on top of everybody year round, make sure everybody knows what we’re doing because there are a lot of moving parts. But if you look at the track record of the defense that’s kind of what it takes. So I’m excited about it.”

Williams, who is again seeing another different scheme for the defense in his eighth NFL season, doesn’t care so much about the change provided it brings results.

“I think it’s exciting anytime you have something new that you haven’t done before,” said Williams. “Obviously it’s no secret. We haven’t had much success. At the end of the year I said, ‘I just want to win.’ You only get so long to play this game and I’ve been around for a little while. So I’m down for anything. I’m going to be me and give it everything I’ve got. I’m excited about it.”

Williams is expected to be full go for training camp in late July.


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Dareus likes how defense is shaping up

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2013 – 2:54 pm

Bills DT Marcell Dareus was back at OTAs Tuesday after missing some voluntary sessions for personal reasons last week. Dareus is encouraged by the way the defense has developed through the installation period on the practice field.

“It felt like normal,” Dareus told Buffalobills.com. “Getting back out here with the guys, just excited. I’ve been here, really getting after it as a defense. We’re just coming together, and everything’s just looking so good. Just getting out here, we look alright. I really wait until we put it all together and I see what we can do.”

Dareus said while he was away from the practice setting he did work on his own to stay in shape and stay sharp.


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Bills blitz scheme productive

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2013 – 4:01 pm

The defense had a productive day in the final OTA practice session of the week for the Bills. It was probably the most effective blitzing day for Mike Pettine’s crew this spring. In defense of the offensive line they were without two of their top three offensive tackles. Still, it’s an encouraging sign for a defense that found sacks hard to come by.

There was a stretch during team work where the defense had four sacks in a span of eight plays. Practice even ended with a sack, but as we’ve heard before it’s typical to see the defense ahead of the offense at this point in time.

“It is a bit easier for the defense knowing they just have to react,” said center Eric Wood. “That being said we’ve had some missed assignments that have been pretty brutal but that’s going to happen when you install a new offense. Missed guys, missed blitzers, that just completely blows up the play, and then you watch the film and two guys were open on the back end and if one guy maybe picks up a block or makes his assignment then it’s a great play. You’ve kind of got to take the good with the bad in these early stages of an offense and understand that on the back end we’re going to come out all right.”

 


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Stevie encouraged by play of young WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2013 – 1:44 pm

While Stevie Johnson did get out on the practice field for the first time in about a month Tuesday coming off a strained back, the Bills top wideout has had a good deal of time to observe the young additions at receiver to the Bills roster. Here are his thoughts on the influx of youth at the position.

“I like what I’ve seen out there. They say it’s kind of fast right now, but as far as terminology, which is pretty much the hardest part, they say they’ve got it down,” said Johnson. “So now it’s just about going out there and playing and they’ve made plays and there are some that have been left out there, but overall I like what I’ve seen.”

Eight of the 11 receivers currently on Buffalo’s roster are 24-years old or younger. Only Johnson (26), Brad Smith (29) and Dorin Dickerson (25) are over 24 years of age.


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Safety update: A. Williams adapting

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2013 – 10:45 am

Bills cornerback turned safety Aaron Williams is getting plenty of work at his new position in Buffalo’s defense. Now lining up at safety after playing his first two NFL seasons at cornerback for the Bills, Williams is faring well in the eyes of his defensive coordinator.

“He’s doing a nice job, and that’s a difficult thing,” said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine of Williams. “You could make the argument, he’s a DB and he’s staying at DB. But the safety world is very different from the corner world. He’s very intelligent. He’s soaking it all in. Every day is a challenge for him as far as new concepts in the play book. I think he’s done a real nice job buying in and really getting quickly to the graduate level details of it.”

 


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Pettine: Alonso not locked in with starters

Posted by Chris Brown on May 21, 2013 – 2:43 pm

As we reported in our practice notes on Monday, second-round pick Kiko Alonso, was getting first team reps on the defensive side of the ball. While defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has liked what he’s seen from Alonso to this point, by no means is the rookie locked in with the first unit.

“It’s a credit to his preparation. He came in and did a good job in the rookie camp,” said Pettine. “Now, we’re still in the process of rolling guys through, we’ve been alternating.  This is his week to get with the ones so it’s still a work in progress. There’s been no commitment made there. But he’s done a nice job. He stepped in that huddle and he’s not out of place.”

Alonso has primarily lined up as a ‘mike’ linebacker on defense this spring.


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Bills not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2013 – 11:20 am

Here’s the rundown of Bills that aren’t participating at voluntary OTAs.

Some players are rehabbing offseason surgeries or injuries. Others are not in attendance.

Stevie Johnson
Brandon Kaufman
Jordan Dangerfield
Keith Williams
Marcus Easley
Scott Chandler
Alan Branch
Manny Lawson
Kyle Williams
Marcell Dareus


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Manuel feels quick on uptake

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2013 – 10:41 am

There’s no one that doubts EJ Manuel’s physical abilities on a football field. The big question being a rookie is how quick he’ll be in absorbing and then executing Buffalo’s offense. To this point Manuel feels his learning curve will be a short one.

Appearing on Sirius XM NFL radio over the weekend, Manuel believes the Bills offense will be easier to learn than the offense he executed in college.

“It’s easier to learn than the offense I learned at Florida State,” said Manuel. “To be honest it’s a true West Coast type progression offense and that’s really what I wanted coming through the pre-draft process where I could just go in and go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and just check it down or run. It’s that simple and I love it. I’ve done great and the learning curve for me is a lot shorter simply because of what I had at Florida State, which is a little harder to catch on and learn.

“But this offense is very simple, and having Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin doesn’t hurt either. And Stevie Johnson when he’s healthy and C.J. Spiller, we’re going to have some fire power on the offense.”


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Anderson glad to be back practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2013 – 3:59 pm

It was a long, difficult road back to the field for DE Mark Anderson, who needed a pair of surgeries to repair a knee injury that cost him the last 11 games of the 2012 season. Anderson, who is finally back on the practice field, admitted last year was a tough one to endure.

“You know me, but that’s tough for any player,” said Anderson. “Anybody that’s a competitor you want to be on the field. They brought you here for a reason so you want to help the team out. It was real tough, a lot of hard work and a lot of adversity, so I kind of had to stay focused and try to stay healthy.”

Anderson is eager to get back up to full speed, especially after seeing the plans for Buffalo’s defense under coordinator Mike Pettine.

“Shoot it was a great deal bringing this coaching staff over to this defense,” said Anderson. “We’ve got great playmakers on this team. You’re going to see a lot of guys do a lot of different things. You can already see it with guys flying around making plays. It’s going to be fun.”


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Kick return candidates

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2013 – 3:48 pm

Here during OTAs there are a few kick return candidates on the roster and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is not short on talent.

Taking reps on kick return in OTAs this week were Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham, Brad Smith and Tashard Choice. Leodis McKelvin has been mentioned as an option as well, but he’s been limited to just individual position drill work in practices coming off his groin surgery earlier this offseason.

Nevertheless the speed quota is more than filled in the return game for Buffalo.


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Strained back keeping Stevie on the shelf

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2013 – 1:58 pm

Stevie Johnson is usually an upbeat, happy go lucky player on the practice field, but being sidelined with a strained back has changed that mood somewhat as he missed the first week of OTAs.

“I’m getting better,” said Johnson. “It’s just frustrating seeing the guys running around, but it’s getting better.”

Johnson has no idea when he’ll be cleared.

“I don’t know it’s just a timing thing,” he said. “I’m just doing everything that they’re telling me to. I’m doing the weight room stuff. Of course I’m inside the playbook and when they give me the green light I’ll be ready to go.”

Watching practice Johnson has had the opportunity to watch QB EJ Manuel in action, but he went back to look at some of Manuel’s college tape too. Buffalo’s top wideout is impressed with the rookie QB’s physical skill set.

“Just his overall game. Watching him right now everybody is still in the learning phase so you’re not just going out there playing like you would if you were in the backyard. Watching his film from his college days he’s a dynamic quarterback. He’s big, he can run and throw, he can make every pass. I like it. It’s going to be fun this year. I just can’t wait to get out there with the guys.”

 


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