Inside The Bills

Roman: players are making chicken salad

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2015 – 4:01 pm

Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is known to experiment a lot this time of year when it comes to drawing up plays for his offense. It’s part of a process to see what works well and what doesn’t. In Thursday’s closed OTA session Roman did exactly that and was pleased with the way his players handled a large volume of material.

“Guys are working hard and we’re throwing a lot at them. Today we worked on a lot of things we may or may not use during the course of the season,” Roman said. “We still feel it’s important enough that it may come up at some point. I thought the guys did a great job of taking in a tremendous amount of information in a short amount of time, and going out and making chicken salad out of it.”

With a brand new roster to work with for the first time in five years, it’s understandable why Roman and his offensive staff see a need to experiment and see what their personnel can absorb, retain and effectively execute. Much like the players have to refine the offensive plays that are installed, the coaches have to refine their playbook in terms of what stays and what goes. That happens by testing things out on the practice field.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kromer: OTs have to be able to play both sides

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2015 – 3:09 pm

Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has done his fair share of experimentation moving his linemen around during spring OTA practices. It’s still not the kind of football where Kromer can make effective evaluations of his players because the pads are not on yet. What he is doing is cross training many of his linemen to play more than one position. With his offensive tackles he’s exposing them to play on both ends of the line.

One of those players is OT Seantrel Henderson, who has seen time both on the left side with the second unit and the right side with the first unit, the position he manned as a rookie in 2014.

“We’re moving a lot of guys and he’s one of them,” said Kromer of Henderson. “He has to play right and left and so do some other guys. We feel like when you get in a game it’s important that you have backups and starters that can move. If you train them in more than one spot you’re in a much better situation when you only dress seven linemen. That’s what we’re trying to do with him and a lot of guys. I think that will bode well in the end. Right now it’s hard on guys to do them both, but that’s the NFL, you have to be able to play both sides.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ryan: QB race still three-man competition

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2015 – 5:08 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan thinks a lot of new QB Matt Simms, who he had on his roster in New York. Quarterbacks coach David Lee, who also worked with Simms while with the Jets, believes in his abilities as well. But according to Ryan it’s not going to make the offensive staff change the current three-man quarterback competition into a four-way battle.

“(The competition) is what it is right now,” said Ryan. “Three guys are going to be working at it, they’re splitting the reps.  Don’t kid yourself, Matt will get opportunities.  Will he get as many as the top three guys, probably not. One thing about Matt, I know he’ll take advantage of the opportunities he gets and I’m not saying he can’t make this team.”

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Fan Friday 5-29

Posted by Chris Brown on May 29, 2015 – 11:44 am

OTAs are underway and the pace of practice is crisp. Players are getting a ton of work in during these sessions. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills where’s Henderson lining up??


CB: In the first week of OTA practices Seantrel Henderson spent most of his time at left tackle with the second unit. Cordy Glenn was the starting left tackle with Cyrus Kouandjio manning the right side. Head coach Rex Ryan and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer have both stated that there will be a lot of rotation in these OTA practices between those top three tackles.

Buffalo has only four true tackles on the roster, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add another before training camp just to have enough at the position to put on the field.


2 – Chris

Very disappointed that the Bills are willing participants in limiting access to one of their games, namely, the upcoming game in London. Sure, put it on digital, but also allow for normal distribution so fans less tech savvy or without internet access can have a nice big screen HD experience.

My specific question deals with the TV distribution: will the game just be on in Buffalo, or will other New York markets which normally see Bills’ games—Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton,e.g.—be able to watch on their televisions as usual.

Thanks for the info.
James Delaney

CB: As it’s been explained to me the London game will be broadcast much like a Monday Night football game. Locally in Buffalo (and Jacksonville) it will be carried by CBS, but everywhere else it will be on a digital platform.

Those rights will be sold in the near future so for those folks in Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and other upstate locales will have to keep an eye out for which digital platform landed the broadcasting rights. Some outfit like Apple, Facebook or Google figure to bid on it.

It will not be available on Sunday NFL Ticket on DirectTV.

It’s already been speculated that the NFL will probably look to strike a deal with one of those digital carriers who have the ability to stream on mobile devices. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s where the technology is headed.


3 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering if u knew what Rex thinks of Jeff Tuel? I liked what I saw and wonder how far along he currently is and if he is going to be given the same chance to win the job.


CB: Coach Ryan has been pretty candid that it’s a three-man competition for the starting QB job and that Jeff Tuel is not one of those three candidates. He has not shared much about his view of Tuel as a quarterback, but to answer your question, no I do not believe, based on coach Ryan’s comments, that Tuel will be part of the competition at any point in this process.


4 – Hey Chris, my question is regarding the Bills offensive line.  As much as I am worried about it though, I do think without the draft in the books that we have some good competition.  I especially like the idea of Henderson moving to left tackle and Glenn moving to left guard.  Hopefully with all the work Kouandjio has put in he could work out and be the guy at right tackle with Incognito being at right guard.  My question to you is do you think this is a possibility? I wonder if our line wasn’t successful over the past two years because of the coaching and maybe they tried to force players to fit their scheme and not work to the players strength.  I notice that the coaches we have in place now like to play to the players strengths.  I would love your take on this.

Thanks for all your hard work as always,

CB: While I don’t think you can rule out a Henderson to LT and Glenn to G move, I think it’s unlikely. The main reason why is because this team is down in numbers at the offensive tackle position. They have just four true offensive tackles on the roster with the fourth being undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler.

As I mentioned earlier I think they’ll keep an eye on the waiver wire to see if there’s a vet they can add for depth at the tackle position. But if nothing substantial develops on the open market, Glenn is probably the team’s best option at left tackle and Henderson and Kouandjio can fight for the right tackle gig.


5 – Chris,

I love reading your Fan Friday column on Twitter.  The coaches have talked about using 2 fields during training camp for the offense.  This is probably to get as many reps for all 4 QBs.  Would Greg Roman consider parking himself on a scaffold in between fields and call the plays using headsets just as in the game?  Thanks for considering my question.


CB: Rex Ryan addressed this very subject on the John Murphy Show this week. Essentially he said trying to watch both team sessions simultaneously is impossible. But that doesn’t mean they miss anything because they’ve got it all on tape to review. I suppose if he was up on scaffolding he’d have a better vantage point to watch both, but knowing all the pre-snap alignments and shifts that go on coaches want to watch the whole play. Trying to watch both units execute would prove supremely difficult according to Buffalo’s head coach.

“I tried to (watch both team sessions), and your heads on a swivel, you don’t see anything,” said Ryan. “You will pick it all up on tape, though.”

Ryan said this is the first time he’s implemented it as a head coach. He took it from offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who made use of it in San Francisco.

“We said, ‘Let’s give it a shot right now.’ It makes sense for development, especially for the younger players, and also about giving the reps to your quarterbacks,” Ryan said. “As we know, it’s a three man competition, they all need work. It’s not a true competition if you’re not going to give them work. I liked that today.  And I can understand the drill. I’ll be excited to watch the video, too, because now you get twice as many snaps (to evaluate).”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Texas floods keep Goodwin away

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2015 – 2:25 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin was one of the few players who was not in attendance at OTAs on Wednesday. Head coach Rex Ryan explained how the flooding in Texas the last few weeks have kept planes on the ground in the Lone Star state.

“Unfortunately, we know the weather out in Texas and man, oh man,” said Ryan. “I saw the pictures in today’s paper and it’s like, wow, it’s hard to fathom being out here where it’s nice out. But man, what they’re dealing with is something. He’s been detained.  We’ll see how long that goes, I know he’s trying to get here, but obviously there are much more pressing needs than him being here in a voluntary camp.”

Ryan has not been in touch with Goodwin personally, but the club has spoken to him about his situation.

“I know he’s in touch with our guys,” said Ryan. “The main thing is obviously to take care of home first and then get back when everything is taken care of. Hopefully everything is OK, but I’m not sure.”

Chris Williams is another veteran player who has not been in attendance.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

McCoy, WRs sit with nicks

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2015 – 2:23 pm

On day two of Bills OTAs, RB LeSean McCoy and a couple of wide receivers sat during practice. Head coach Rex Ryan provided an update following Wednesday’s practice.

McCoy along with rookie WR Dezmin Lewis, WR Tobais Palmer and WR Marcus Thigpen were all sidelined.

“We had a couple of issues at wide out,” said Ryan. “Thigpen went out with a hamstring. Lewis with a hamstring. Palmer had a groin, so those two were real limited today.”

Thigpen began practice, but left early. Meanwhile McCoy was a spectator due to a neck ailment.

“He’s got a little thing in his neck or something like that, but it’s not serious,” Ryan said. “It’s one of those things where we don’t need him out there.  He probably didn’t even have a helmet, he might have but I’m not sure.

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Fan Friday 3-13

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2015 – 11:44 am

Happy Friday the 13th everybody. It’s been a busy week Bills fans so let’s get right to your questions from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for all of the work you do for the bills it’s great. I was wondering if the bills were interested in signing guard mike lupati from the 49ers. I don’t know if the 49ers will resign him, but he would be a great fit for the bills. He is one of the top guards in the league and could come to the same offense he’s been in with Greg Roman.

Thank you,

CB: I never got the sense that the Bills had much interest in Mike Iupati. In fact I think their initial plan was to pursue free agent offensive tackles over guards. With a player like Bryan Bulaga now re-signed in Green Bay I suppose the focus could shift to guard. Of course the top guards are already locked up now too.

Where the Bills go to improve their offensive line will certainly be interesting knowing their options on the free agent market are certainly reduced.


2 – Chris,

A very good candidate to keep an eye on in the draft is Bo Wallace from Ole Miss, 6’4″, 217 lbs, awesome talent. What do you all think of the Bills chance of bringing him in and taking a long, serious look at him? Might be able to trade up to get him. Let’s hope the Bills include him in their prospects. Maybe you could buzz up the Bills brass and put a “bug in their ear”.

Thanks for your time.

CB: I don’t envision the Bills spending a draft choice on a quarterback now that they’ve got four on the roster, unless some prospect slips to them in some of the middle rounds that they can’t pass on. Buffalo’s willingness to trade for a veteran QB like Cassel and add a younger QB like Tyrod Taylor to go with EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel it’s hard to think they’d add a fifth.


3 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering about Marqueis Gray and what you might know about the new staff’s possible opinion of him. If I remember correctly, he proved to be a very athletic and versatile player. I recall seeing him line up as a tight end, h-back, fullback, and even from various receiver positions. I think a player like him, with such great versatility and decent skills at everything could be a great asset to the bills. And Greg roman has been known to covet versatile guys. What are your thoughts?

Billsmafia for life!
Tommy from Pittsford

CB: It’s hard to know just what the new Bills offensive staff thinks of Marqueis Gray, but what is working in his favor is his versatility. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman covets versatility in his tight ends and Gray is an athlete who can provide that. I think he’ll be given every opportunity to earn a role that will contribute weekly.


4 – Chris,

According to Wikipedia the Bills have Tampa Bay’s pick -the 1st pick in round# 5 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Why is that? I dont recall any deal with Tampa Bay other than the one for Mike Williams. BTW I dont see any compensation (6th round pick?) going to Tampa Bay from Buffalo for Williams?


CB: The Bills swung a trade with the Buccaneers on day 3 of the NFL draft last year. Buffalo gave Tampa their fifth-round pick in exchange for Tampa’s seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, and Buffalo also got Tampa’s fifth-round pick this year (2015). But Buffalo doesn’t have that pick anymore. They sent it to Minnesota in the Matt Cassel trade.


5 – Chris:

With a new coaching staff, does the league allow additional practice time,  OTAs for the Bills?  Also, Chris Williams was placed on injured reserve with a back injury.  Was their surgery to correct this condition and/or what is his current physical condition?

Conrad in Elma

CB: Yes, new coaching staffs get the benefit of an additional set of practices to implement their schemes to their new players. So Buffalo will get that extra set of spring workouts, presumably sometime in April.

As for Chris Williams’ back I do not know if surgery was required for his back condition. I do know that he has had back surgery in his past. In his rookie year he needed surgery to take care of a herniated disc. We’ll know more when the players show up next month for the offseason conditioning program.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

EJ confirms has authority to change plays

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2014 – 9:56 pm

As a rookie he was on a short leash, but EJ Manuel now with a year invested in  the Bills offensive system sounds like he’s got full clearance to make a decision on getting the offense into a better play if the first one called looks like a dubious one against the defensive look he’s seeing.

There have been a fair number of audibles at the line of scrimmage this week in OTAs by all the quarterbacks. Manuel confirmed his firm grasp of Nathaniel Hackett’s system has given him the green light to change the play at the line.

“I would say from the last game last season to now I’m way further ahead,” said Manuel. “We’ve learned our responsibility of having the ability to change plays. Coach Hackett is not second guessing what we’re doing. I think he trusts me a lot more to get us in the right play.

“Obviously in the game it’s easier because you have a game plan with specific things that you check into. In practice it’s kind of all the place, but I definitely feel a lot better with my grasp of the offense. Sometimes I get frustrated because I know it’s there and if we have one misstep (in practice) and it’s not complete that’s frustrating. I try to pride myself on knowing it so well, but we’ve just got to keep rolling with the punches.”

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Limited work the plan for McKelvin, Gilmore

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2014 – 5:28 pm

For the first time this spring starting cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore got team work in OTAs Tuesday, with both getting a handful of snaps during 11-on-11 red zone work. But with both working their way back from offseason surgeries, they’re not expected to see much more action than that the rest of the spring.

That according to McKelvin himself who spoke with after practice concluded.

“We’ll pretty much just wait until training camp,” said McKelvin. “We’ll probably do a lot of the same as what we did today with red zone work and work our way back in there. You never know there may be a couple of reps where we want to try open field, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Gilmore and McKelvin are both coming off hip procedures in the offseason and they’re taking a slow and steady approach to their return to full participation. Watching from the sidelines is a bit easier for each of them with the other starting corner standing next to him.

“We’re on the sideline watching and watching the guys on film and watching their mistakes and what they do on film,” said McKelvin. “When we get out there we just make sure we’re on top of our task and not over work ourselves, but make sure when we’re out there when we do things right.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How Hackett evaluates play in OTAs

Posted by Chris Brown on June 6, 2014 – 3:45 pm

It’s very far from real football in the organized team activity setting of spring football, but coaches have to evaluate to some degree anyway. Here’s how Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett does it before the pads come on.

“It’s about the spacing, it’s about what the defense gives us,” said Hackett. “We don’t know what the defense is going to run so it’s all about kind of what they give and how that play fits, just like a game situation. You want to see how everybody makes their decisions. How they adjust their routes, how they adjust their drops, where a quarterback is going within the progression. As long as we get through the proper steps and we get to the right guy within that progression that’s how we evaluate that, that this guy was able to run his route in the progression.”

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Watkins route running progress report

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2014 – 3:32 pm

Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins has made route running his top priority in the spring practices. Knowing the precision that receivers coach Rob Moore and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are demanding, Watkins is anxious to tighten everything up. Here’s his assessment of where he’s at after two weeks of OTAs and a rookie minicamp.

“I’m getting better. There are probably two or three routes that I still have to work on,” he said. “Overall, I think I’m looking similar to the older guys in the offense and I think I’m picking it up real fast.”

Watkins explained why the route running part of his job is a demanding hurdle to clear.

“You’ve got different routes than I was running in college. There are so many routes in this offense,” he said. “Most of them are similar but you got to have steps, it’s more steps now than yards. You got to get the correct steps to get your yardage.  So that’s been the biggest struggle.  But this week, I’ve been doing all my steps and revolutions, I know how to do them now so now I’m running my routes perfect.”


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Moorman, Dombrowski hanging punts

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2014 – 3:28 pm

The punter competition continued at OTAs on Thursday. Both Brian Moorman and rookie Jake Dombrowski were working on hang time, distance and directional punting in practice. Both punters had a moonshot in their series of kicks Thursday.

Moorman’s best kick was a 67-yard effort that bounced out of bounds at the opponent’s six-yard line. It had an unofficial hang time of 4.63.

Dombrowski had the longest kick of the day booting a 70-yarder that had an impressive unofficial hang time of 5.42 seconds.

Where Moorman is still ahead of the game is directional punting and the veteran was on in Thursday’s practice. Moorman put three of his kicks out at the five, eight and one-yard line. The best was his last. One of Buffalo’s gunners ran down the field to keep the ball from reaching the end zone for a touchback, but Moorman’s Aussie style punt bounced sideways parallel to the plane of the goal line and out of bounds at the one.

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Hughes a pass rushing force Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2014 – 4:21 pm

Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes was living up to his billing in practice Wednesday. Though it’s far from real football at this point in time in OTAs, Hughes had his best practice thus far.

After a would-be sack midway through Wednesday’s practice during a 9-v-9 segment the Bills run, Hughes followed it up with three more sacks in a span of five plays. In practice pass rushers can only tap out a QB on a pass play. Hughes tapped out Jeff Tuel and EJ Manuel on his four sacks.

On his last play Hughes swooped around the right side and tapped out Manuel before he could launch a deep ball for Sammy Watkins down the right sideline. Hughes began shouting down the field, “Bring that ball back! That was a sack!”

While much has been made about the adjustment Hughes may need to make going from Mike Pettine’s defense to Jim Schwartz’s as Hughes sees it not much has changed for him.

“He’s brought in his 4-3 scheme, but as far as what I’m doing it’s pretty much the same thing I did last year,” said Hughes. “My hand is in the ground and I’m coming off the edge trying to create pressure to get to the quarterback.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

New nickel competition healthy for Robey

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2014 – 5:07 pm

Last year at this time undrafted rookie Nickell Robey was well on his way to locking down the starting nickel cornerback role for the Bills. This year he’s got some veteran competition in free agent signee Corey Graham. But Robey is going to school on Graham’s experience and he believes it’s helping his game.

Graham has been first in the rotation at nickel corner in Buffalo’s defense followed by Robey. Other players have been rotated in here and there, but in all likelihood it’ll be a two horse race come training camp. Robey instead of feeling threatened by Graham is soaking up any knowledge Graham can provide either through his play or the time they spend together in the film room.

“Just learning from him. He’s been in the league going on eight years,” Robey told “Basically I’m just taking in what he says and his experience from other places and learning the offense as well as he can. He knows how the offense operates, so trying to learn from him and take in the knowledge and experience he has as far as the wisdom part of it. That relationship is great. Having him here it definitely makes things a lot better for us nickels because he knows what he’s talking about.”

Robey had a pass breakup and a sack in Tuesday’s practice.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone committed to getting Dareus on track

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2014 – 3:13 pm

The two latest incidents off the field by Marcell Dareus are certainly of concern to the Bills organization. Even though Dareus will now miss the remainder of OTA practices (7 in all), throwing his full support behind Dareus in an effort to get him back on track is head coach Doug Marrone.

“Obviously, we all know and are well aware that Marcell has made some poor decisions lately and the one thing is that I’ve been working with him and he’s dealing with a lot of personal issues too,” Marrone said. “I spoke with him at length and we spent a lot of time together talking about a lot of things. As of now, he’s not going to be attending the OTA’s, but he’ll be attending the mandatory minicamp when we come back.

“I just want to make sure that I’m clear that everyone understands that I believe in Marcell and I will do everything I can to make sure that we can get him on the right track. Really that’s the situation. There are a lot of things going on, a lot of personal talk and that’s really all I’m going to comment on. The conversations we had are between us and we’re working this thing. I’m disappointed in all of our players anytime anyone of us, including myself, when we make poor decisions. It’s a reflection of the team, which is a reflection of me and it’s a reflection on this organization.”

Marrone went on to say that it’s more important for him to do right by a person who needs help over everything else.

“When any player makes a poor decision I always think of where I made a mistake,” he said. “That’s the truth. I just feel that way and when I make decisions to not play people, bench him and all that other stuff, I do it because winning, don’t get me wrong my job is to win and winning is important, but it’s not as important as trying to help somebody.

“I’d rather lose games and do the right thing in my mind, not everybody else’s mind, not the media’s mind and not the public opinion’s mind. My mind. I’d rather do the right thing and I can live with myself. At the end of the day, I’m the one that is going to have to live with myself. That’s the way I treat it. Right wrong or indifferent, it might not be what people want to hear, but that is more important to me. Trying to do the right thing and help people, than it is to win.”


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Chandler progressing well

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2014 – 10:31 am

By the end of the first week of OTAs, TE Scott Chandler was back working the team segments of practice. In 2013 he was coming back from a more serious ACL repair and played in all 16 games last season. Now he’s returning from a less severe knee procedure, but he’s not going to rush it.

Chandler admitted he put a lot of pressure on himself to get back fast last offseason, perhaps anxious to prove himself to what was then a new coaching staff.

“I pushed it pretty quick last year and I think it’s good to not do that again,” he said. “I got all 16-games in last year and that’s the goal.”

Chandler was naturally happy to get some team work in at the end of last week’s OTA practices.

“I’m progressing back in rehab and stuff, feeling a lot better,” said Chandler. “It’s been a big step for me, got to get in there a little bit more with the team work.”

Chandler led the Bills in receptions and receiving yards last season.

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Bills TEs not worried about respect

Posted by johnmurphyshow on May 30, 2014 – 5:00 pm

Before the draft a month ago, many experts pegged the Bills biggest need as tight end. More than a few draftniks had Buffalo choosing TE Eric Ebron from North Carolina in the first round.

We know how that played out. And now after one week of OTAs, the Bills tight ends held over from last year are making big plays in the workouts.

Scott Chandler had one of the best catches of the first week-a leaping grab over the middle on a pass from EJ Manuel. Tony Moeaki has been a consistent and solid pass-catcher in the first three workouts. And second-year man Chris Gragg has caught more than his share of passes.

It makes you wonder how much of a need the tight end position really was.

The most veteran member of the tight end group, Scott Chandler, says outside perceptions of the Bills returning tight ends don’t carry much weight with him.

“We know what we’ve got,” he says.  “I’ve played with all of these guys for two years now. I think we know what it takes to be successful in this league. We’ve got a group of smart guys and that’s an underrated quality. If we pay attention to what you guys are talking about all the time we’re going to be in trouble. We just focus on what we need to do.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Lewis-no more playing catch-up

Posted by johnmurphyshow on May 30, 2014 – 3:30 pm

Quarterback Thad Lewis wound up getting five starts for the Bills in 2013.  Which was pretty amazing, considering he wasn’t even on the roster until late August.

Lewis had to go through a crash course in Buffalo’s offense on the fly to get ready to start in mid-October against the Bengals.

This year, it’s a totally different story. Lewis wrapped up the first week of OTAs Friday with confidence in his command of the offense, something he could not say last season.

“Every day I had to study from the ground up,” he said after an OTA workout this week. “The other guys were moving on, because they didn’t have time to teach me. It was a hard grind.”

Lewis has been getting backup quarterback reps during the first three workouts of the spring OTAs.  And after spending the last month in the QB meeting room, he says he now feels confident in the Bills offense and what he has to take out onto the practice field.

“It’s been great. Getting an opportunity to know what you’re doing and going ahead and just running plays—being able to correct the things you see on film.  “Last year I was kind of iffy on that situation there. It’s been good. It’s been an easy transition, I wish I would have had this before I had to start that game in week six last year.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-30

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2014 – 1:01 pm

Week 1 of OTAs is in the books and here are some of your latest questions about the team from email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

what role does Hairston have? He played well until his injury but is a holdover. I hope he gets a fair shot


CB: Hairston right now is running mainly with the second team at left tackle. He hasn’t received a ton of reps in the team setting. We’re guessing it’s due in part to the fact that he hasn’t played any form of football on a field in almost a year after landing on the non-football illness list in 2013. He’s looked a bit rusty this week, which is understandable, but if he can regain the form that made him a very capable swing tackle two years ago, Buffalo’s line depth becomes that much better.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills

With the resigning of Dan Carpenter, what does this mean for Dustin Hopkins, he was injured, but he is the real deal…..

Jay C@SWFLChiver

CB: Carpenter is coming off a career year and the second-most accurate season in Bills team history. Unless he has a complete meltdown in training camp or the preseason Carpenter will be the place kicker. The key for Hopkins will be to demonstrate he can be a dynamic weapon on kickoffs by booting everything through the back of the end zone for touchbacks. Coach Marrone has said he’s not opposed to keeping two kickers if they can both prove they would be of great value to the team.

The trouble for Hopkins is his groin injury was severe and took a long time to heal. As a result he’s rusty entering OTAs having been unable to kick. He has to get his swing back and he has to do it in short order to convince the coaches that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster.


3 – Chris,
With the Bills not making a move during draft for a tight end, how do you think the position will shake out behind Chandler? Do you see the Bills keeping Lee Smith? I like Chris Gragg as development tight end with good speed. What do you think he chances are to make the final roster? Tony Moeaki still is a question mark to me, since he has hardly played in 2 years. Can Gragg stick and lineup as be juke type of TE? Or is too small to beat LB/DB?

CB: Right now Scott Chandler is not participating in team work after coming off of offseason knee surgery. So that has opened up more opportunities for the likes of Tony Moeaki and Chris Gragg when it comes to the passing game. Lee Smith is primarily a blocker though he can work the short areas. In the first week of OTAs Moeaki and Gragg have seen the most action.

Moeaki is the most athletic in the group. His transition from catch to turning up field is very, very smooth. Gragg has very good straight line speed for a man his size (6-3 244), but like some of the other tight ends is not sudden in his movements when it comes to route running. He’s long-limbed which always helps in the passing game, but I would put Moeaki ahead of him.

We’ll know more about both players once the pads go on at training camp, but from a pure playmaking perspective Moeaki is going to be pushing Chandler.


4 – Chris,

With Watkins and Williams in, Graham would seem to go down to 5th on depth chart. Given they need special teamers like Easley/Hogan. How do you think this will play out? Goodwin and Graham are just too similar. I liked Hogan more as slot/special teamer. Could they trade Graham? Or will he have to fight for a spot in camp?

CB: I think Graham will have to fight for a spot on this roster. There is suddenly a lot of depth at receiver and Marquise Goodwin has the added advantage of being a pick made by the current regime, not one that was inherited like T.J.. The problem is Graham is not participating in any team work due to an offseason procedure. He can offer return ability to special teams, but Leodis McKelvin handles punts and Goodwin handles kickoffs.

Making things tougher Chris Hogan has had a solid first week of OTA practices. So when Graham is again full go in the practice setting he’ll have to really turn it up.


5 – Chris,

There has been much talk about the defensive formation Jim Schwartz is going to deploy this year.  He has been successful with the Wide 9 approach but with the personnel moves we have made, it appears to me that we may see as much of the 4-3 Under deployed by Mike Pettine as we will of a pure Wide 9.  Bringing in Spikes and moving Alonso upgrade the two linebacker spots and Rivers provide competition for Lawson.  That and the lack of another “pure” defensive end leads me to believe our defense is going to as varied as we saw last year.  Just hope it stays as agressive.

Appreciate your thoughts on this and as always, very much appreciate your insights and reporting on the comings and going at OBD.

Macungie, Pa.

CB: I don’t think you have to worry about the defense staying aggressive. Talking to some of the men up front this week (Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus) the defense is all about being aggressive and getting up field. They feel it will cater well to what their strengths are across the defensive line.

Now that being said Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes have some big adjustments to make as they will be full-time defensive ends in Jim Schwartz’s system. Mario will presumably man the left side and Lawson and Hughes will split the job on the right side.

We’ll be able to ascertain how it’s all coming together when the pads go on in July.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Spiller: Best I’ve felt since 2012

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2014 – 8:35 am

The last time C.J. Spiller was on the team’s grass practice field every step was a chore. Planting and cutting, let along straight like jogging all made his high ankle sprain throb. Spiller battled through the 2013 season with that hitch in his step. The first week of OTAs that hitch was gone.

“I don’t feel nothing, I feel great,” said Spiller. “This is the best I’ve felt since 2012 when I had that great year. The ankle feels wonderful.  I just have to keep doing what I need to do to stay healthy this whole season and try to go out there and make plays.”

Spiller, for those that don’t remember had 1,244 yards rushing and just over 1,700 yards from scrimmage in 2012 and averaged an impressive six yards a carry, tied for the league lead with Adrian Peterson.

“That’s what I’m capable of doing,” said Spiller. “When I’m fully healthy I consider myself one of the best in the league, but when you’re not healthy it kind of hinders your game a lot.  It hinders our game plan.  So the biggest thing for me is to be healthy,  for all of our running backs to be healthy so we can expand our game plan.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills