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Inside The Bills

Brad Smith ready to go

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2012 – 1:33 pm

Bills QB/WR Brad Smith completed another day of practice coming off his groin injury and according to head coach Chan Gailey will be playing Sunday.

“No question he’s ready to go,” said Gailey. “We were able to time up our Wildcat so he’s ready to go.”

Smith is listed as probable for Sunday.


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Looking good for Brad Smith

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2012 – 4:48 pm

QB/WR Brad Smith (groin) did very little in practice Wednesday, but took a big leap forward in Thursday’s practice.

“He moved around great today,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “We got some timing with our Wildcat so that part of it was good. He took some reps at receiver. I was shocked how well he looked today. So I’m very encouraged.”

Smith was still listed as a limited participant in practice, but all signs are pointing to him being available for Sunday’s game. Smith was injured in the last preseason game at Detroit last week.


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Brad Smith looking better

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2012 – 2:48 pm

Bills QB/WR Brad Smith was looking better in practice Thursday after being very limited Wednesday.

Smith, who is dealing with a groin injury suffered last week, was running routes and planting and cutting without much limitation during the media viewing portion of practice. Coach Gailey said on Wednesday that the plan was to have him do a little more each day in practice and that plan looks to be moving along as scheduled.

We’ll get an update from coach Gailey as to the extent of Smith’s participation after practice.


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Bills injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2012 – 4:39 pm

Here’s the full Wednesday injury report for the Bills

Did not practice
RG Kraig Urbik – lower back

Limited in practice
QB/WR Brad Smith – groin
WR Stevie Johnson – groin

We’ve provided details on the status of Johnson and Urbik for this week.


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Smith very limited

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2012 – 2:41 pm

Bills QB/WR Brad Smith was a participant in practice Wednesday, but didn’t do a whole lot.

Dressed in his white receiver jersey, Smith caught passes in the warmup lines where receivers move at half speed. He then joined the quarterbacks for individual position drills, but did not attempt a pass. Suffice to say Smith was very limited in his return from a groin injury last week.

Head coach Chan Gailey said the plan is to work him in a little bit more each day this week to hopefully have him ready for Sunday.


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Chan: If Smith can’t go, no Wildcat

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2012 – 1:05 pm

Brad Smith is nursing a groin injury suffered in the team’s last preseason game last Thursday. He’s going to try and practice today, but if he’s not fit to play on Sunday, head coach Chan Gailey says there won’t be any Wildcat to turn to as an offensive option.

“He’s going to go out and work a little bit,” said Gailey of Smith prior to Wednesday’s practice. “This is sort of the transition day and we’ll hopefully get him on the field a little bit more tomorrow and a little bit more Friday and hopefully have him Sunday.”

When asked if Smith can’t go and if there is a backup for their Wildcat package, Gailey had a terse response.

“No,” he said.

The follow up was if Smith can’t go is the Wildcat out for Sunday’s game?

“Yep,” said Gailey.

Smith’s likelihood for Sunday’s game doesn’t need to be provided by the team until Friday. While another player on Buffalo’s roster might be designated as a Wildcat backup, he’s unlikely to be able to run the Wildcat package as extensively as Smith.


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Two Bills sidelined

Posted by Chris Brown on September 3, 2012 – 3:33 pm

Just two Bills players are not participating in practice here on Monday. One on offense and one on defense.

CB Ron Brooks and QB/WR Brad Smith both were not practicing. Smith was riding the stationary bike Monday during practice.


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Smith has groin injury

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 11:00 pm

Brad Smith suffered a groin injury in Thursday night’s preseason finale.

Head coach Chan Gailey didn’t believe the injury to be serious, but said Smith would be re-evaluated Friday.

Gailey also said the injury would not complicate the decisions to be made at quarterback.


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Chan doesn’t rule out carrying 4 QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 5:41 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey is in a unique circumstance regarding the quarterback position. His starter is Ryan Fitzpatrick and his number three remains Brad Smith. The number two QB question lingers with Tyler Thigpen, who knows the offense, but has struggled with consistency; and the newly acquired Tarvaris Jackson who doesn’t know the offense very much at all. With the season opener in 13 days Gailey couldn’t rule out carrying four quarterbacks to start the season.

“You never know,” said Gailey. “We’re going to do what’s best for the team, I know that, and it’s not going to be an easy call whatever direction we have to go.”

When asked if he’s comfortable carrying four quarterbacks, Gailey wasn’t certain.

“I’m comfortable with doing what’s best for the team and I don’t know what that is today,” Gailey said. “So let us make that decision later on.”

That decision will have to come by 9 pm on Friday night when the roster must be reduced to 53 players. Tarvaris Jackson is only supposed to play a few snaps at best in the Bills preseason finale at Detroit. It’s unlikely to be enough to give the Bills any sense of comfort that he’ll be able to finish a game in Week 1 or 2 should Ryan Fitzpatrick succumb to injury.

“You’ll have to make a decision,” he said. “I’ve never been in this situation so I can’t tell you how I’m going to do it. We’ll evaluate it and do the best we can and it won’t be easy.”  

If the Bills do feel they need to keep four quarterbacks at least early in the season, it will take a spot away from another position to get to 53. Bills GM Buddy Nix said earlier in the day that you “probably can’t keep four.”


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How many QBs will Bills carry now?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2012 – 2:28 pm

Final roster cuts are on Friday, when the team must trim their roster to 53. Quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brad Smith are locks for the roster. Now in light of the trade to acquire Tarvaris Jackson one wonders if all four quarterbacks might be carried on the opening day roster for the Bills.

The reason why is with Jackson so new to the Bills offensive system, it might be hard to ask him to effectively execute the offense in two weeks time should there be an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. It may very well force the Bills to carry all four quarterbacks on their roster to make sure they have a signal caller that can execute all aspects of the offense in a very important division game.

That being said, the offensive coaches had Brad Smith working with the quarterbacks up until last week when he moved to receiver with the sole purpose of having Smith know enough of the offense to get them out of a game if there were injuries suffered at quarterback.


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Fan Friday 8-24

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2012 – 12:50 pm

Two preseason games to go before the real thing. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris,

I would like to cover two points: Obviously, I am aware of the Bills big splash in free agency, and their very good draft. Although the Bill’s pass rush appears to be very potentially awesome, I am a little concerned about their run defense. Yes… I think highly of Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, but what happens if the opponent can get huge chunks of yardage between the tackles? That is another Bills problem where an issue may or may not be solved. 

Secondly, regarding wide receiver: If Stevie Johnson goes down with an injury, who would be his replacement? Would David Nelson become the replacement? This is why the Bills should have signed Robert Meachem; they would have had a legitimate insurance policy in the scenario I had just mentioned. In a previous Q+A with you, your points were valid regarding not signing Meachem, since he demanded a salary close to Stevie’s, and this would potentially lead to internal conflict about number 1 and number 2 receiver.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Personally I believe Buffalo’s run defense is going to be much improved. All the hype has been about how much the pass rush is going to take a jump this season, but with Kyle back in the fold, the interior run defense is extremely solid. When you consider that the backup DTs are Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson there’s reason to believe that there will be zero drop-off when those two rotate in.

Concerning Stevie Johnson, should injury strike Donald Jones would probably be the primary replacement in a pro set (2 WRs). If it’s a three-wide or four-wide set, Derek Hagan would line up in Stevie’s ‘X’ receiver position with Jones as the flanker or slot with Graham the opposite outside WR in a four-wide look (minus Stevie).

2 - Hey Chris, every year there is a numbers game involved in cutting to the final 53.  The interesting battle to me is D-line. We know the 4 starters with Mario, Marcel and Kyle and Anderson. My question is how many more do you expect them to keep? With Kelsay, Edwards, Johnson, Carrington, Troup, Heard, etc, it sounds like someone who played a lot last year will be cut this year!

CB: I’m afraid that will be the case. The starting four are locks as well as Kelsay. Edwards and Johnson I believe are also safe. I think if all holds to form, Kyle Moore will be the team’s fourth end. So that’s eight defensive linemen. If they keep a ninth I believe it’ll be a defensive tackle, so it comes down to Carrington, Heard and Troup.

3 - Chris,  
Do you think Thigpen, Vince Young & Brad Smith will all be on the roster week one?  Also,  I’m sure the Bills would prefer a roster spot go to a long snapper/OLB rather than just a long snapper, so I’d like to know if you think Batten has a shot at winning the long snapping job? 

Pete Howell
Fairport  

CB: No, they all will not be on the roster. Brad Smith is a lock as the #3 QB. Chan Gailey said as much. Vince Young currently has the edge on the #2 QB job, but it will either be Thigpen or Young that will be moved off the roster. In an ideal world a long snapper can do more than just long snap, but a majority of the teams in the league have a specialist just to long snap.

The Bills have a very, very good one in Garrison Sanborn, who just signed a contract extension this past offseason. Danny Batten has tried long snapping here and there, but no one on this roster right now is going to unseat Sanborn as the team’s snapping specialist.

4 - Hi Chris,

I have heard rumors about Vince Young running the wildcat this year. Could you potentially see Coach Gailey install a wildcat offense that Vince and Brad run together?  

Thanks,
Joe

CB: I don’t think I would trust your sources. That’s not to say they couldn’t be on the field at the same time knowing one of Brad Smith’s roles is as a wide receiver, but within the scope of the Wildcat? I don’t see it.

5 - Chris:

I’m a life-long Bills fan living in New England.  Over the last 10+ years, this has been more of a challenge of hearing it from Pats fans with their team’s success, and the Bills lack of winning.  As of last year, local Pats fans have been harping on me that the Bills and Buddy Nix made the wrong move in paying Fitz too early after a little success with the big contract, and that the Bills won’t go far with him because he proved he wasn’t good after receiving the contract and going 2-8 once he was paid.

Now as a true Bills fan, I hope/trust that last year’s finish of 2-8 wasn’t an accurate finish to portray with Fitz is all about.  I try to explain to the non-Bills fans that due to injuries/lack of depth, a weak defense (adding pressure to Fitz & poor field positions), and the questionable rib injury Fitz took in week 8 – these are all reasons as to why the team and offense flopped after the hot start.

I have to figure that Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey know more than we all do and that they felt at the time that Fitz was the real deal before week 8 of last season when they gave him the big pay day, and that he
is the real deal going forward.

Chris, do you think he’s the real deal?  Is he worth the contract he has?  Do you think a couple seasons from now the whole league will look back and applaud Buddy and the organization for locking Fitz up in 2011 with this deal?  Will I and other Bills fans finally be able to say to everyone else ‘I told you so’?

Doug Glassman
Waltham, MA

CB: First, if you take a look at his contract it’s commensurate with quarterbacks in the middle tier of starters in the league. So I believe too much is made of the size of the contract. Second, I think fans and outside observers get blinded by the interception total and understandably so, it led the league.

But despite the second half swoon, Fitz still finished 6th in the NFL in completions, 9th in completion percentage, 10th in touchdown passes and 11th in passing yards. He also had a lot to do with being the least sacked quarterback in football getting the ball out so quick.

He was also 11th in pass plays of 25 yards or more last year. The names of the QBs ahead of him in that category? Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Stafford, Rivers, E. Manning, Romo, Newton, Dalton, Ryan.

With another year in Gailey’s offense, a quarterbacks coach that should improve his accuracy and a receiving corps with which he’s wholly familiar with I believe Fitzpatrick can be a top 10 quarterback in this league.


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Brad Smith dressed for WR

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2012 – 4:06 pm

Bills QB/WR Brad Smith looks like he won’t be handling much quarterback duty in practice today.

Smith is not wearing his red QB practice jersey. Instead he’s got his white WR jersey on.

Head coach Chan Gailey indicated during training camp that much like the spring practices that Smith would be shifting over to wide receiver in practice eventually.


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Abilities of Fred, C.J. & Brad to impact WR

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2012 – 2:40 pm

There are many outside observers that believe that the Bills will carry six receivers on their final 53-man squad. Granted, there is a good deal of capable talent on Buffalo’s roster right now, but there is a compelling reason not to carry more than five as well.

Having the multi-faceted Brad Smith and the extremely versatile Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller would seem to reduce the need to carry an extra wideout despite the fact that three-wide and four-wide sets are commonplace in Chan Gailey’s offense.

“Well, those factors do impact our decision,” Gailey told Buffalobills.com. “They give us more wiggle room. Both Fred and C.J. have shown they can split out wide and be effective lined up as receivers, and we saw what Brad could do last year when pressed into that role. So yes, their abilities will have an impact.”

Right now based on reps in practice the top five receivers appear to be Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Derek Hagan and T.J. Graham.


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Brad Smith on Wildcat

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2012 – 10:23 am

Buffalobills.com had a chance to talk with Brad Smith a day after the first Wildcat installation plays went in at practice early this week. Smith is excited knowing there’s far better preparation to execute elements of that package this year as opposed to last.

“We got a good start on it, some things that coach has put in, and like any other play in any other scheme you’ve got to work on it so it was good to get it in and get the guys moving and get the timing down and everything so it was good for us,” said Smith.

Last year with the NFL lockout, Smith was signed as a free agent right as training camp opened and had to wait a week by rule before he was allowed to practice. It compromised the degree to which they could make use of Smith in the offense last season.

To this point Smith has lined up solely as a quarterback and kick returner as well as the signal caller on punt team. But eventually Chan Gailey says Smith will also line up at receiver.

“We want to keep giving him quarterback,” said Gailey. “He’ll be the third quarterback going into the season so he’s got to know the offense to finish a game. So we’ve got to give him enough where he’s comfortable, about as comfortable as he can get taking as many limited reps as he’s taking. We’ve got to get him that before we take him to receiver.”


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Rogers is lead kick returner

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2012 – 1:30 pm

The team’s first official depth chart is out and there’s an interesting pecking order on kick return.

Second-year cornerback Justin Rogers is listed as the team’s top kick returner with Leodis McKelvin second and Brad Smith third on the depth chart. While it may be surprising to some knowing part of the reason Smith was signed as a free agent in 2011 was for his kick return abilities, the bottom line is Rogers outperformed Smith last season when he was inserted into the role late in the season.

Rogers averaged an impressive 28.7 yards a return with 13 total on the season and a long of 57 yards.

Smith on 15 returns averaged 18.8 yards with a long of 28.

C.J. Spiller averaged 23.8 yards a return, but only had 6 attempts all season. Leodis McKelvin averaged 21.5 yards a return on just two attempts.

Rogers was an accomplished return man in college at the University of Richmond. As a freshman he served in a return role ranking third in the nation in kick return average (30.4). As a senior he led the Colonial Athletic Association conference in punt return average (12.4) and set the CAA record for kick return yards in a career, most notably passing Brian Westbrook on the all-time list.


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The plan for Brad Smith

Posted by Chris Brown on August 1, 2012 – 11:28 pm

To this point in training camp it’s been nothing but quarterback work for Brad Smith. In the spring workouts Smith was a quarterback for about half of the OTA practices, then in the last week switched over to wide receiver. Head coach Chan Gailey indicated that a similar plan will unfold for Smith here at training camp.

“Like we did in OTAs we took about the first six or eight practices and worked him strictly at quarterback,” said Gailey. “Then we’ll start to work him at receiver and start the Wildcat package later on. We’ll have all that going for him at a later date. But being the third quarterback he needs to know how to do the base offense, the two minute stuff and all that. So he has a lot of work to get ready at quarterback before he starts that other stuff.”

Gailey wants to ensure that should the unthinkable happen and both the starting and backup QBs go down in a game that Smith is capable of finishing a game for the team. Knowing Smith is getting a limited number of reps at quarterback in the team setting it’s probably going to be a little while before he puts a white jersey on and lines up at wideout.


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Fan Friday 7-13

Posted by Chris Brown on July 13, 2012 – 11:15 am

Less than two weeks until training camp. Hard to believe it’s almost here. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. And keep sending them in. I usually get to everyone eventually.

1 – Hi Chris:
Do you think the Bills will carry seven wide receivers for the regular season? They are very deep here, and based on competition, I would say that maybe Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Session do not make the final roster. What are your thoughts? 

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I do not think they keep seven wide receivers. As I outlined in our Top 25 Questions until training camp series, I foresee the coaching staff keeping just five with a couple on the practice squad. I don’t dispute that it is a talented group, but in each of the past two years Chan Gailey and his staff have kept just five receivers. The main reason last year being that Brad Smith as the third quarterback can also serve as a wideout. This affords them some wiggle room at the position. Plus with talents like Kamar Aiken, who still has practice squad eligibility they can keep a reputable talent there if needed due to injury.

Six receivers (not counting Smith) is a remote possibility, but seven will never happen.

2 – Chris –

Hoping you might post this “question” (and your response) in your “Fan Friday” blog on bb.com.  I continually find fellow Bills fans bemoaning the presence of DE Chris Kelsay on the roster.  Kelsay has become a lightning rod of sorts — many fans believe he has underperformed, they don’t understand why he was extended by Nix, and they feel as though he should be a roster cut.  I’ve grown tired of defending him myself, so I hoped you could give the perspective of the organization as to why they believe Kelsay is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

Thanks as always for your contributions,

Eric Haase
Durham, NC
Bills Season Ticket Holder since 1990

CB: I think the reason Chris Kelsay doesn’t garner the respect of some Bills fans is because they pigeon-holed him as a pass rusher. Kelsay is not a pass rusher by trade. He’s said it himself. He’s a well-rounded defensive end that when given an opportunity can log some sacks (see Week 16 vs. Denver last season). But his game is predicated on being good at everything. Not elite, but solid. His leadership both in his work ethic and what he says in that locker room carry weight as well.

The fans with whom I’ve spoke over the years that aren’t a big fan of Kelsay’s, almost all of them say he doesn’t get enough sacks. I’m confident the misperception of him as a pass rusher from the time he came to the team in 2003 is where a lot of this disappointment in his game is rooted.

3 - Hi Chris,               

It was fun getting updates on how the players are doing in the OTAs and being excited about the upcoming season.  One player I hadn’t heard anything about is Fendi Onobun.  How is he doing?  I thought it was great when we acquired him as there have been a number of athletic basketball players that have become really productive as tight ends.  Do you see him figuring into the Bill’s plans?  Thanks.

Cliff

CB: Onobun is an athletic talent no question about that. The problem is the game is still very new to him coming from a college basketball background. As a result the nuances of the game do not come naturally to him yet. The coaching staff is eager to work with him and develop him, but I would expect him to reside on the practice squad this fall.

4 - Whats up Chris?

Thanks for the weekly insight, but I have a two part question with us drafting T.J. for the other side for Stevie how is he looking so far? Does look like he will have a chance to start opening day? & last I know Stevie gave Stephon his props & corner was 1 of our weaknesses last yr, so how does Stephon & Aarron look so far & could either have shutdown capabilities?
Thanx Chris          

Draper Jackson Memphis,TN

CB: T.J. has definitely made progress. He made more plays in the passing game as OTAs came to a close and ran into spring minicamp. That being said I want to see how he handles things when the pads go on in training camp. It’s a different game against physical corners when the pads are on and closer to what Graham can expect out there on Sundays.

In fact Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore would out muscle him for the ball in the spring. Now that they’ll have a chance to work normal contact on him within five yards it’ll be interesting to see how he handles all of it. Training camp and preseason will tell us a lot about what to expect.

Williams and Gilmore looked very good in spring practices. I think those two will only benefit when the pads go on knowing both have a physical style to their play on the corner. It wouldn’t shock me if both wound up being the starting outside corners come Week 1.

5 - Chris,

Last season, I felt that the plays called in the Bills wildcat formation were predictable and unimaginative. Now that we have added a more talented QB in Vince Young to the wildcat formation, do you foresee the Bills using this package more often in ’12 and with Young in there do you predict that he will be throwing the ball more from that position as well. I don’t have the numbers but it seemed that Brad Smith’s arm was never utilized in the wildcat thus giving the Bills’ opponents a lame, predictable and ineffective offense. Will Young provide the wildcat offense with more plays throwing the ball. Chan seemed to have no confidence in Brad Smith’s ability to throw the football.

Thanks for your diligent and thorough coverage as we impatiently wait for this anticipated season to begin. 

William
Schenectady, NY

CB: The reason the Bills Wildcat package looked so limited last year was because the Bills could not sign free agents until a week before training camp. It prevented the Bills from fully incorporating Brad Smith’s talents into the offense because without spring practices like OTAs and training camp there was no forum to experiment with plays and effectively evaluate what he can and cannot do. Chan often lamented that fact during training camp.

Now with a full offseason Smith will again be the featured Wildcat QB and it’s my contention that he will throw more. Here’s a quote from quarterbacks coach David Lee for you to chew on regarding what they were trying to get out of OTAs and minicamp with respect to Smith’s capabilities.

“Every day the script for him is at the end of the OTAs determine what he does best,” said Lee. “What are Brad’s four best passes from empty? What are his four best passes with six-man protections? We’re trying to find out what he does best right now.”

Presuming they gathered that information in the spring practices the coaches will now install what they feel gives them the best chance for success in that package during training camp and make use of it with Smith at the right times during the season. Make no mistake, Smith is the Wildcat QB.


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Fan Friday 6-22

Posted by Chris Brown on June 22, 2012 – 11:05 am

1 – Chris,

Are we assuming Kyle Williams will be his old self? Most players don’t return to form until 2nd yr after major injury…what say u?

Steve

CB: Williams’ surprise participation in OTAs and minicamp can only be taken as an encouraging sign. I think a lot of fans forget that Williams (and Shawne Merriman for that matter) did not rupture his Achilles. He only had to have it repaired. The rehab on such a surgery is 4-5 months. By camp he and Merriman will be 8-9 months removed from surgery.

After seeing Williams in action in the team setting the past month, though his reps were only 5-10 a day, I’m encouraged that you’ll get the old Kyle Williams come training camp, the preseason and the regular season. The sudden burst off the ball was there and knifing through gaps was evident. Get ready.

 

2 - Hey Chris,

Thanks so much for your daily updates on Bills mobile, one of my favorite things to wake up to! Anyways, I need to ask about the running back situation. Fred recently signed a contract extension, I know this, but when will Spiller be the official starter and get his chance? Even though Fred had a breakout year, I think people tend to forget Spiller was a top ten pick, and I feel as if were completely wasting away his talent.

CB: Chan Gailey has been asked this question in one form or another often. Spiller certainly showed he’s ready for primetime with his performance over the last six games in place of an injured Fred Jackson. As good as C.J. was I think you’re forgetting that prior to the game that Fred got hurt he was first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league, third in the NFL in yards per carry average (5.5), had the second-longest TD run of the season at the time (80 yds) and was 5th in the league in receiving yards for running backs with the second-highest yards after catch average among RBs in the NFL (12.8).

In terms of total scrimmage yards he was second only to Matt Forte, who had him by 15 yards at the time (1,391 to 1,376).

You don’t toss that production aside because you have a top 10 draft choice on your roster. Chan Gailey and his offensive staff know they have to get both players on the field a lot and get them both involved in their attack. This is where having a veteran offensive play caller and designer is an advantage.

I think you’ll see a good number of split backfields with both Jackson and Spiller out there simultaneously. I think there will be a good amount of pre-snap motion with either Fred or C.J. motioning out of the backfield and lining up somewhere else. And while game to game the amount of work each of them get might not be in perfect balance I believe come season’s end, barring any injuries, that both will be integral components in the offensive production.

Coach Gailey has told me it’s impossible to keep everyone happy with the amount of touches they get, but his focus is doing what’s best for the team to win games.  What that translates into could change week to week based on the opponent and based on player performance. Just know as a fan you’ve got a good situation no matter which one of them has the ball in their hands.

 

3 - Chris, 

With the drafting of TJ Graham, do you expect Marcus Easley to be a factor in the Bills passing game?

And what are his chances of securing the position of the Bills No. 2 receiver? 

William Aiken
Schenectady, NY

CB:  I think Easley’s situation certainly wasn’t made any easier by the addition of Graham. Graham is clearly the fastest wideout on the field. It’s not even close by my eye. He’s very, very explosive. That being said he’s still trying to master the base concepts of the offense.

He was however, given a ton of reps with the first unit through the spring workouts for a reason. They want him out there to stretch the field vertically. I just think when the pads go on it may prove to be harder for Graham to make plays consistently because he may get knocked around a bit.

I still believe that Easley has the best physical skill set of the entire receiving corps for the outside receiver role they’re trying to fill opposite Stevie Johnson. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are other players on this roster that are capable of holding down that job (see: Donald Jones). I just believe if Easley can put it all together he’s the clear choice out there at 6’4” 225 pounds and running a 4.4 40-time.

He clearly impressed the coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp because in minicamp Easley was given more reps with the first unit.

He plucks the ball out of the air, rarely body catches, can make plays with DBs hanging on him or in traffic. Really the only thing that has stopped him is his body (injury, medical condition). Having three years of exposure in this offense will be an asset, but he’s got to get through camp healthy and not miss time.

I’m confident if he does that he’ll be right in the mix for that outside job opposite Stevie.

 

4 - Chris,

Shawne Merriman says he has never felt better coming of surgery for his Achilles injury.  Considering how he was a force with San Diego when he was healthy, could he be a sleeper factor in the Bills’ newly revamped pass rushing attack?

Mike in Rochester

CB: After what we saw in OTAs and minicamp I think you can be encouraged that Merriman is as close as he has ever been to his former self when he was terrorizing quarterbacks all over the league and a three-time Pro Bowl talent.

Now there’s still another bridge to cross in training camp when the pads go on, but nothing in the spring workouts gave any indication that he could have a setback. His first step burst has been impressive and his power game looks to be back as well. We’ll know more when the pads are on and the football gets far more physical, but the arrow is pointing up right now on Merriman’s outlook for the first time in a long time.

 

5 - Hey Chris,

First off thank you very much for all the great Bills coverage you provide us loyal Bills fans every day. My question to you sir is about the QB position and how you think it might pan out. With the signing of Vince Young do you think that Brad Smith will stay listed as a QB?

I would think that Vince Young having the same kind of running QB wildcat potential, and if he wins the QB 2 job I can see it making sense to have him run the packages that were originally designed for Brad Smith allowing Brad to focus on WR/KR and be listed there on the depth chart, relegating Thigpen to the QB 3 roster spot, it’s an intriguing situation and was hoping to get your thoughts, thanks again. 

Sean Clemens
Las Vegas, NV

CB: Appreciate the sentiments. Chan Gailey made it clear that Brad Smith is his third quarterback and will run their Wildcat package. So Vince Young is essentially in a quarterback competition with Tyler Thigpen for the #2 job going into camp.

Through the last week of OTAs and minicamp Young and Thigpen rotated in and out with the second unit and I anticipate that to be the case when we all get to training camp as well. So although Young is athletic Smith is the better option for that Wildcat package.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Backup QB a two horse race

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2012 – 3:27 pm

It was largely assumed already, but Bills head coach Chan Gailey effectively confirmed that Buffalo’s backup quarterback competition will be a two man competition.

In talking about the team’s plans for Brad Smith, Gailey locked Brad Smith into the number 3 quarterback role as a multi-faceted Wildcat threat.

“He’ll go into the season, unless something major changes which I don’t foresee, he’ll be the third quarterback so he’s got to have enough quarterback knowledge to get you out of a game,” said Gailey of Smith.

That leaves Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen in direct competition with one another for the backup quarterback job behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since Thigpen has returned to the practice setting from his strained abdominal muscle he has seen more of the snaps with the second unit, but Young has rotated in.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Wildcat to be installed soon

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2012 – 2:44 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey knows with Brad Smith on his roster he’s not going to keep other NFL coaches in the dark about having a Wildcat package in his offense. But with a full offseason to install and experiment with the package using Smith, something they could not do last offseason due to the work stoppage, Gailey sees value in having it as a part of the offense.

“We still plan to use it,” he said. “We had to get out of it last year when Brad had to go play wide receiver for a time. You don’t have time to work on that all the time. But when we had it we thought it was a viable option for us during the course of a ball game. So we’re going to keep it. We’re going to keep working with it and the better Brad gets at quarterback, now he’s a threat to throw it and run it and that helps your Wildcat.”

That’s part of the reason Smith spent more than two-thirds of the OTA practices at quarterback over the past three weeks.


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Posted in Inside the Bills