Inside The Bills

All 6 Bills WRs up today

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 12:51 pm

The Bills have all six of their wide receivers on the 53-man roster up today. It serves as solid indication that Buffalo’s offense is going to be spreading the field a good deal against the Patriots today.

Most NFL clubs when facing the Patriots formidable front seven, which was ninth in the league against the run in 2012, spread the field in order to run the ball. Most expect Buffalo to do the same.

Four of Buffalo’s six receivers (Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods) are playing in their first career NFL regular season game today.

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C.J.: EJ unaware of the volume at the Ralph

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 10:10 am

Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel has played in some loud college stadiums before, but as far as his veteran teammates are concerned he knows nothing about the volume that can be generated at Ralph Wilson Stadium by Bills fans on a successful Sunday.

“He doesn’t have any idea,” said C.J. Spiller chuckling. “Hopefully he doesn’t think its Doak Campbell; this is Ralph Wilson (Stadium). It’s going to be loud and we expect that. We need our fans to be loud, but in order for them to do that, we have to do good on both sides of the ball. In all three phases of the game, we have to keep those guys into it. We saw a couple years ago when we won, how they helped us by being loud. It’s going to be our job to make sure we keep those guys in the game.”

“It’s going to be fun for them,” said Eric Wood of the rookies. “They’ve not experienced something like Ralph Wilson is going to be on Sunday and I’ve told them that. These coaches, I’m getting them ready. An opener against New England, it’s going to be wild and loud. I’m excited for them to get to experience it.”

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Dareus: Week 1 vs. Pats is tone setting game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 9:40 am

Bills DT Marcell Dareus like a lot of his teammates can’t wait for kickoff at 1 pm today. What’s different this time around is the coaching staff and the players have worked diligently to change their identity as a team. The first true test to back up all their efforts to do that is with results in the opener against New England.

As Dareus sees it they’ll know where they stand rather quickly.

“Everybody knows this is kind of a set the tone game, see where we’re at,” he said. “I look at the first five minutes of the game as a gut check, to see where we’re at, what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do this season. Just go to chop at the wood and try to finish creating our identity as a team and as a unit.”

Dareus said he and his teammates aren’t so concerned about who their playing, they’re more focused on how they themselves are playing. A sound game with no mistakes is their focus.

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Carpenter’s career numbers at the Ralph

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 8:35 am

Dan Carpenter will be handling kickoff duties today at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the opener against the Patriots with Dustin Hopkins sidelined with a groin injury. Here’s a look at Carpenter’s career numbers in Orchard Park.

Carpenter is 5-7 on field goal attempts for a 71.4 percent success rate. His only two misses came from 40-yards plus. He’s a perfect 8-8 on extra point attempts.

“The thought is to come in here and do what I’ve always done,” said Carpenter. “I’m going to work hard, try to get better
every day. If it comes down to the game, I’m going to try to kick them all out of the end zone and be 100-percent on field goals. That’s all I can do. That’s all I can worry about. That’s all I’m concerned about-to help this team win.”

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EJ to decide on knee brace in warm-ups

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 5:35 pm

During the practice week EJ Manuel wore a light weight brace on his surgically repaired knee. Whether he wears it against the Patriots in the season opener is a decision he’ll make Sunday during warm-ups.

“I haven’t had any hesitations, it feels fine. It feels strong,” said Manuel of his knee earlier this week. “I can do all my normal movements that I would do if I didn’t have the brace on. Just have the brace on for extra comfort. I’ll see. It depends how it feels.”

Manuel said he’s never worn a knee brace in a game before.

“I’ve had to wear like a neoprene sleeve before. It feels fine though. I didn’t feel any different when I was running. When you play football your body takes over and you don’t worry about an injury. Doesn’t really matter what you have, so when you’ve got guys flying at you like (Vince) Wilfork and those kinds of guys, you need to get out of there. I won’t be thinking about it at all.”

What Manuel did make clear was that the choice about wearing the knee brace will be his decision.

“If I don’t want to wear it, I just don’t want to wear it,” he said. “It’s kind of my choice. We’ll see.”

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Leonhard hoping for a lot of snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 3:22 pm

Bills newly signed S Jim Leonhard is very familiar with Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme having been one of the primary play callers in the system for the better part of four of his eight NFL seasons. Jumping back into it after being two years removed hasn’t been an issue in practice this week, which is why he’s hoping to have a sizable role in Sunday’s game plan.

“I know the majority of the defense,” said Leonhard. “Obviously going from it being Rex Ryan’s defense now to Mike Pettine’s defense, he put his own twist on things, changed terminology and things like that. Just kind of re-learning everything. I feel comfortable with it. I’m excited. I don’t know what my role will be, what the opportunity is going to be, but I’m excited for whatever it is.”

Leonhard, who is known as one of the sharper players in the league, doesn’t believe he’ll have any issues reacting at the speed he’ll need to against a high-octane offense like New England.

“Yeah, I don’t think it will be a problem mentally,” he said. “I’m excited just for the opportunity to get ready for whatever role they throw me in. Hopefully it’s a lot of snaps. As a competitor you obviously want to play a lot. I know there are some talented guys in this secondary so by no means do I think I’m just going to come in here and get a job. You’ve got to go out there and earn every snap.”

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Pats OC McDaniels on his green WR corps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 11:49 am

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in heading into the 2013 season with the youngest receiving corps he’s had in years. With three rookies in Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson, it’s an inexperienced group. Here’s his outlook on his group of very green wideouts this year.

“They’re all anxious to get started,” he said. “They’ve got an enthusiasm about them. They’re all three capable of playing in our offense. We’ve already moved them and played multiple roles, multiple positions with them, which in our system is a really big plus for us to have some flexibility with those guys. They’ve shown that they will study and work at the mental side of the game to be able to be flexible and play at multiple spots that we need them to.

“They are all competitive and they’ve all been productive in different roles throughout the course of the spring and the preseason. And at the same time, we understand that this will be their first opportunity to play in a regular season game, and we’re going to try like I said to put them in the best positions to be successful at what they’re doing. So, it’s exciting to have them get started, but they’ve got a lot of veteran, experienced players around them. Certainly we are not going to throw them out there and not have a good idea of what exactly we are going to do with them.”

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Ball security a thorn for Bills vs. Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2013 – 8:36 am

Coaches talk all the time about how turnovers affect the outcome of games. Knowing how the Bills-Patriots series has gone over the last several years, the turnover table accurately follows what coaches preach about protecting the football.

In the last six meetings the Bills have committed an astounding 24 turnovers, with nine in their two meetings in 2010, six in their two games in 2011 and another nine in the pair with New England last season. Over that same span the Patriots have just one-third that amount (8).

As much publicity as the Patriots offense gets for rolling up points and their defense gets for stopping the run, it’s New England’s ball security that has been a relative constant for them as well.

The Patriots have led the AFC in turnover ratio and total takeaways in each of the last three seasons. Here are their figures.

2010 – 41 takeaways – +25 turnover ratio
2011 – 34 takeaways – +17 turnover ratio
2012 – 38 takeaways – +28 turnover ratio

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Gronk doubtful, Amendola probable

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2013 – 5:48 pm

As expected it’s not looking good for Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to be suited up to play against his hometown team on Sunday. Receiver Danny Amendola however, looks ready to go.

Gronkowski, who just returned to practice coming off of offseason back surgery was limited all week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Bills.

Meanwhile, Amendola, widely viewed as the replacement for the departed Wes Welker, is probably coming off a groin injury. He participated fully in practice Friday.

RB Brandon Bolden (knee), WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring), DB Nate Ebner (ankle) and DB Duron Harmon (hamstring) are all questionable for Sunday’s game.

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Leonhard could have role on Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2013 – 12:51 pm

On Wednesday head coach Doug Marrone said it was a ‘wait and see’ situation with newly signed S Jim Leonhard in terms of whether he would have a role on defense in the season opener. On Friday the situation had not changed much, but Marrone sounded comfortable with the idea of putting Leonhard on the field against the Patriots.

“I think we’ll just wait and see,” said Marrone. “I think Jimmy has been a veteran in this system for quite a long time so for us to plug him in there would not be a problem.”

Leonhard, who is immediately the most experienced NFL player in Buffalo’s secondary as well as the most experienced defensive back in Mike Pettine’s system it stands to reason that Leonhard will see some time against the Patriots Sunday, presumably in a subpackage role.

Rookies Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams are the only other safeties on the roster besides the two starters and Leonhard, who are healthy. Jairus Byrd is doubtful with a foot ailment.

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Brady adjusting to new WR corps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2013 – 2:55 pm

Adjusting to new receivers is nothing new for Patriots QB Tom Brady, but typically it’s a receiver here or there from one year to the next. The wholesale changes that the New England receiving corps experienced this offseason combined with the youth and inexperience has Brady trying to be as patient as possible heading into the season.

“I’m not the most patient guy to begin with, so that’s something that I’m working on,” said Brady. “But you understand that there’s a learning curve, and there’s things that are going to come up that, you know, look, some guys haven’t experienced the things that I’ve experienced, so you try to talk about, ‘OK, this is possibly going to happen, if it happens then I want you to make this adjustment.’ Well it happens and then the adjustment’s not made and I say ‘Well I told you…” But sometimes that’s what I do with my three-year-old too and he doesn’t listen either.

“You try to just hang in there, and when you communicate you determine how good of a communicator you are by the feedback that you get, and if you’re not getting the right feedback, then you communicate more and you’re obviously not doing a great job of it so I’ve got to do a better job. And that’s I think part of what I tried to do this offseason.”

Where the most change has happened is obviously receiver and tight end. That’s where Brady has tried to focus all of his attention.

“It’s the tight end, the receiver position; the running back position is pretty much the same with the exception of LeGarrette [Blount],” said Brady. “A lot of the extra time and energy has been with the tight end position, the receiver position, making sure that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re on the same page, because you really don’t want to go into a situation like this, at Buffalo, on the road, division opponent, loud stadium and really not be able to communicate and know what to do.”

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Stevie: Rival not the hook, it’s Wk 1

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2013 – 2:49 pm

The Bills have a big opening game against their most bitter division rival in New England, but according to Stevie Johnson the excitement for the players leading up to this matchup is less about who they’re playing.

“It really has nothing to do with divisional rivals,” said Johnson. “If it was anybody, the Bengals, the 49ers, I think we’d all still be excited because it’s Week One. This is what everybody wants to see. Everybody’s been waiting for this season. It’s just excitement period. It’s just excitement. Ready to go out there and play and start a new era. Hopefully this season will be
something special.”

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Mario provides defensive priorities

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2013 – 2:34 pm

Mario Williams is good to go this Sunday as his nagging foot problem appears to be behind him. Heading into the season opener here are his defensive keys for the Bills to have a chance at victory against the Patriots.

“First stopping the run because they can run the ball and they’ve shown that in preseason,” said Williams of the Patriots. “They can still make it happen even though everyone says Tom Brady thinks fast. They’ve shown in the preseason they can still run the ball. Then the next thing is getting after Tom and winning the turnover battle.”

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Week 1 unknowns a concern for Brady

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2013 – 11:15 am

As much as Tom Brady has some measure of unknowns in terms of how his rookie receivers will perform in their first NFL regular season games on Sunday in Buffalo, he also has some unknowns concerning how the Bills personnel will be utilized in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme.

“You play a team like Buffalo with the new coordinator and you’re really not sure what they’re going to do,” said Brady. “In a way, you have to prepare for everything, and a lot of the focus from the last four days has been just that, trying to really put together a game plan, go out, and we’ve had three good days of practice and now we’ve got to follow it up with two more.

“It’s a very good defense. It’s a challenging scheme because they use their players very well. I think they have very multi-dimensional-type players. Similar to what we do on offense: we use everybody, they use everybody. Everybody has a role in their defense. Whatever they feel like is working, they stick with.

“But from game to game it’s always been different, so we’ve got a lot of information on the team based on what they’ve done in the past, so you really aren’t quite sure what they’re going to do. You can just kind of prepare for what you think they’re going to do, certainly what their strengths have been, and try to go from there.”

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EJ’s absence in preseason an advantage?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 10:31 am

There’s little doubt that Bills head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett would’ve preferred to see EJ Manuel get as much work as possible in the preseason. His knee injury did not allow for that to happen as he missed each of the final two preseason games. But there could be a hidden advantage that Manuel’s lack of field time provides the Bills heading into their season opener against New England.

While there’s little doubt the Patriots have done their homework on Nathaniel Hackett’s offense and play calling tendencies, there is limited preseason game tape of Manuel running it. Essentially he played a total 61 snaps in the preseason. That’s why New England head coach Bill Belichick admitted there will be a bit of a feeling out process for him and his defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Sunday.

“To be honest with you, there isn’t a ton of Buffalo film on either one of them,” said Belichick of Manuel and backup Jeff Tuel. “We saw them play in college and scouted them both coming out there, but that doesn’t really mean as much as what they do in this offense and how they do it. There’s not a whole lot of film on either guy.

“We’ll just have to go on what we’ve got and again, be ready once we really see, which is true of a lot of rookie players. Even though you watch them on film, once you actually see them in person and get on the field with them, sometimes they look a little different than what they look like on film. There’s always that whole element of it. I think in this case, we’ll go on what we have but that’s not a whole lot.”


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EJ Manuel return timeline

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 10:13 am

With EJ Manuel named the starter for Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots just 16 days after surgery, here’s a look back at his injury timeline and how he made his way back to the field.

Aug. 16th – Manuel injures left knee in preseason game vs. Vikings
Aug. 17th – Manuel reports swollen knee. Examination identifies injury and surgery is recommended
Aug. 19th – Manuel undergoes surgery in Buffalo
Aug. 20th – Manuel rejoins teams in meetings
Aug. 21st – Manuel begins rehabilitation from surgery
Aug. 22nd – Manuel begins throwing
Aug. 23rd – Manuel begins light movement work
Aug. 29th – Manuel throws during pre-game vs. Detroit, takes a few pass drops
Sept. 1st – Manuel practices with the team on a limited basis
Sept. 2nd – Manuel practices fully splitting first team reps
Sept. 3rd – Manuel put through a battery of final testing on his mobility
Sept. 4th – Manuel named the starter for season opener

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Belichick expecting blitz

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 10:04 am

He hasn’t faced the Bills defense under Mike Pettine yet, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has seen the Pettine scheme in action before with the Jets. That’s why he’s expecting blitz and a good deal of it Sunday.

“Quite a bit, percentage-wise,” said Belichick when asked if he’s expecting to face a lot of blitz calls. “There are some tendencies that are stronger than others, but yes, blitz pickup will be definitely something that we need to work on this week, no question about it.”

Belichick sounds as though he feels he has a handle on what Pettine likes to do even though the Bills defensive coordinator has a whole new set of personnel.

“This looks a lot like the Jets defense, just different,” Belichick said. “Different players and schematically it’s similar to what we’ve seen from the Jets. This year, Buffalo looks like the Jets, schematically.”

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Belichick cryptic on Gronk

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2013 – 4:42 pm

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did his daily dance with the New England media and was vague and cryptic with his answers concerning TE Rob Gronkowski, who practiced in pads for the first time since his offseason surgery.

Here’s how the Q&A went between Belichick and the Boston media, as reports continue to speculate on whether Gronkowski will be able to play Week 1 at Buffalo.

Q: How fair would it be to say that Rob Gronkowski has taken a step forward?

BB: This is his first opportunity to be in pads so, yes he’s definitely moving forward.

Q: What have you seen?

BB: He’s day-to-day.

Q: Does he have a shot to play on Sunday?

BB: He’s day-to-day.

Q: What do you need to see from him before you’re willing to put him on a game field?

BB: We take it day to day. Evaluate tomorrow based on how today goes, see how it goes. See how tomorrow goes and deal with whatever that day is, Wednesday or Thursday or whatever the day is. We’ll take it day to day. It’s the same way we do with everybody.

Q: Do you feel the last two days were a significant step for him?

BB: No, just the next step.

Q: What have you seen so far from Rob Gronkowski in practice?

BB: We evaluate any player coming back day to day. That’s what we do with every player.

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Report: Gronk to undergo 4th surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on May 8, 2013 – 12:33 pm

New England Patriots tight end and WNY native Rob Gronkowski is going to undergo a fourth surgery on his injured forearm from last season.

According to the Boston Herald, the procedure is going to remove the metal plate that’s securing the broken bone in the forearm. The main problem right now is there is currently an infection in his arm, which is delaying the surgery as he is completing a six-week antibiotic regimen to eradicate the infection.

The metal plate in Gronkowski’s arm needs to be replaced and the recovery time is 11 weeks. Were he to have surgery today that rehab regimen would take him to the start of training camp, so it’s clear that Patriots doctors believe they have a bit of time to work with.

However, knowing the Bills open the season against the Patriots, monitoring Gronkowski’s health is something Buffalo’s coaching staff will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on through the summer.


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Beating Brady blueprint started by Pettine

Posted by Chris Brown on May 8, 2013 – 12:22 pm

Pittsburgh Steelers S Ryan Clark appeared on ESPN NFL Live in the ESPN studios in Bristol recently and talked about how defenses can successfully throw Patriots QB Tom Brady off his game.

Clark told ESPN NFL Live the following.

“In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs,” he said. “When Tom Brady gets pressure and when you’re man-to-man and bumping those guys and making it hard for him to throw, he sees ghosts.

“Even when guys aren’t around him, even when he’s not about to be sacked, when his clock goes off in his head that the ball should be out, we’ll see him duck, we’ll see him flinch. When you get Tom Brady doing that, the whole New England Patriots mystique goes away.”

Everyone knows that the Patriots offense is based largely on timing. That’s why it’s little surprise, as ESPN AFC East blogger James Walker points out, Brady’s completion percentage drops from 68.2 percent to 42.3 percent when he holds onto the ball three seconds or longer.

What’s most encouraging is Clark references the Jets approach in the 2010 playoffs. That approach was largely drawn up by Bills current defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Add in the fact that Wes Welker is gone and Rob Gronkowski coming off the arm injury and the season opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sept. 8th could be a very interesting matchup.

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