Inside The Bills

Crossman: Veteran additions grew the culture

Posted by Chris Brown on October 29, 2014 – 5:38 pm

He wanted veteran core special teams players as part of his four main special teams units (kick return, kick coverage, punt return, punt coverage) after a trying first year of running Buffalo’s special teams. Now halfway through his second season as Bills special teams coordinator, Danny Crossman is pretty pleased with the growth in team culture on his special teams squad.

Crossman credits players like Boobie Dixon, Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes for convincing younger players of the value of special teams to the outcome of games. It quickly emboldened incumbent special teamers like Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley, Ty Powell, Duke Williams and Ron Brooks to take on more of a lead by example approach for the new arrivals on the roster. Soon the importance and commitment to special teams play reached critical mass.

“The plan up to this point has worked. We’re excited,” Crossman said. “The guys we brought in for leadership as well as performance have done both at a high level. The biggest thing is that leadership. I think some of the other guys have stepped up who were here a year ago and some of the new younger guys that we added this year. Right from the get go they’ve been brought into that culture of what our expectations are and not only coach driven, but player driven. Anytime you get that you’re going to be successful.”

 


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Rub plays were big in Chargers pass game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2014 – 6:20 pm

It began with a ‘pick play’ on Nickell Robey, who lost Malcom Floyd after his pursuit was re-routed by an intersecting receiver. Floyd was wide open and went 49 yards and into Buffalo territory before he was brought down. It was the first, but certainly not the last time the Chargers resorted to the ‘rub play’ to get one of their receivers some separation from his defender.

“We didn’t make the plays when they came our way,” said Corey Graham. “They pretty much ran a lot of pick routes, a lot of speed outs, a lot of crossers and we sat back and gave it to them. We weren’t aggressive enough. We didn’t make enough plays.”

When asked specifically what was a thorn in the pass defense’s side, Graham laid it out.

“Pick plays,” he said. “They put receivers in the slot and they would run a little rub routes –the number two receiver and the number one receiver.  They had that big play early on with that.  They ran a couple of them.  That was the big thing—we didn’t adjust well to what they were doing and if you don’t adjust you’ll lose games.”


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Rotation at CB will continue

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2014 – 9:36 am

In Week 1 Stephon Gilmore wasn’t available to play so Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham started. But come Week 2 Gilmore was healthy along with McKelvin and Graham. Gilmore and Graham started the game, but by game’s end Gilmore had 53 snaps and McKelvin 33 including a late INT. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that the Bills are going to continue rotating their top three corners during games provided all three are healthy.

“All three (are starters),” said Marrone. “I’m not trying to play games. We’ve been rotating them from day one since they’ve been back. I keep saying the same thing. Everyone is trying to pin, ‘Who are the two (starters)? Who are the two (starters)?’ But we’ve got a pretty good deal going if we have three guys.

“I firmly believe, with the level that they’re playing, that those three players will produce more than if it’s just two. We only have an opportunity one or two of those guys maybe wearing out, whereas now we have all three and it’s a long season. We’re in good shape until something separates.”

Marrone means if one of those three is performing really well they’ll see more of the work. Such was the case with Corey Graham. He had a solid Week 1 when Gilmore was out and started in Week 2 where he played 91 percent of the snaps. Gilmore and McKelvin split time in Week 2 with Gilmore seeing 53 snaps to McKelvin’s 33.”

When Marrone was asked specifically if McKelvin and Gilmore’s snap counts would increase he couldn’t give a definitive answer, knowing both are limited by soreness coming off their offseason hip surgeries and Gilmore coming off an additional groin injury suffered right before the season opener.

“I don’t know if I can expect their snap count to increase, only because we haven’t started practicing again this week,” he said. “Again, I think we’re going on basically just how they feel, as far as coming off the injuries from last week. I still think the same thing. If you ask me what the best thing is I would say, ‘Hey, we have three corners that 33, 33 and 33 and play those percentages, we would be a better team.”

Marrone said moving forward they’ll keep playing Gilmore, McKelvin and Graham.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

The fans meant a lot

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 7:19 pm

It was unanimous in Buffalo’s locker room following their 29-10 win over Miami, Bills fans played a role in the victory.

“Do our players feel that (energy from the fans)? Absolutely,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “To sit here and say our fans weren’t a big part of it (is ridiculous). Those third downs and I know there was a another penalty that the fans caused. It was outstanding. That’s why I think that this is one of the toughest places to play.”

“It’s definitely a way to get us amped up,” said Mario Williams of the crowd noise. “Whenever you’ve got the home crowd behind you and their yelling and screaming and getting pretty hyped out there it definitely relays to the field.”

“It was beyond what I expected, the fans were so amazing and I felt the energy the whole day while we were out there, they never let up,” said Corey Graham, a Buffalo native who had 10 tackles and three pass breakups. “It was unbelievable, I never in a million years dreamed that it would be that special.”

“It means a lot just to have our fans out here and engaged,” said Sammy Watkins. “They helped us with the win. It was amazing and the team, we just have to keep giving the fans and the community something to believe in. I think if we keep winning, they’ll keep believing in us.”

 


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Graham: EJ had the team pumped up to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 10:16 am

Bills veteran CB Corey Graham appeared on Kiss 98.5 this morning as their difference maker of the game. Head coach Doug Marrone said the locker room had a different vibe before the game, in a good way. Graham explained why things were different when the team went out on the field.

“EJ was fired up,” said Graham. “He got the whole team fired up. He pretty much inspired everybody. It was the first time on any team I’ve been on where I’ve seen a quarterback get that excited and get that fired up and excited and ready to play a game. That really got guys pushed over the top and really got guys ready to play. That’s what they were talking about when they said the locker room was different and how excited everybody was and how focused everybody was. It was EJ. It was EJ leading, it was EJ inspiring and it was EJ bringing some passion with it. I think that’s what everybody was talking about.”


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Team leaders stood tall

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:25 pm

The Bills just named their captains last Monday. Six days later just about all of them had a pretty big hand in Sunday’s overtime victory.

The six players named captains were Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, Fred Jackson, Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes.

On offense Wood helped lead an offensive line that was new in terms of playing together and surrendered just one sack all day. They also helped the run game roll up almost 200 yards on the ground averaging almost six yards a carry.

Fred Jackson had the biggest run of the day in overtime on his 38-yard rumble down the sideline to the one.

On defense Mario Williams had a sack, Kyle Williams had an interception, Brandon Spikes was instrumental in stuffing the run and Corey Graham had an interception and a couple of pass breakups late in regulation to force Chicago to settle for a game-tying field goal.

Add in EJ Manuel’s performance in his natural leadership role of quarterback and it’s a pretty good day for Buffalo’s captains when it comes to setting an example.


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Captaincy nothing new for Corey Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on September 1, 2014 – 2:55 pm

Corey Graham was named one of six captains for the 2014 Bills by his teammates, which were announced Monday by the club. Named as a captain entering his first year with Buffalo was certainly an honor, but serving as a captain is nothing new for the veteran defensive back.

“I’ll pretty much be the same person I’ve always been,” Graham told Buffalobills.com. “I’ve been a captain pretty much everywhere I’ve been. I’ve been nominated a captain in Chicago. I was also a captain in Baltimore. So I’ve been a captain everywhere I’ve been so it’s nothing new to me. I just try to lead by example and play as hard as I can and help guys any way I can.”

Buffalo also had another captain named who just joined the team in the offseason in veteran LB Brandon Spikes.


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Schwartz glad to have Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on August 22, 2014 – 10:41 am

Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is pretty happy with a lot of the talent he has on his side of the ball this season. Having reliable players who execute consistently is something every coordinator covets. Schwartz believes he has that in a good number of his player, and confirmed recently that Corey Graham is one of them.

When asked what Graham has brought to the Bills defense Schwartz didn’t hold back.

“A lot. An awful lot. He’s a very good leader, he’s a student of the game,” Schwartz said. “He’s an excellent professional, meaning that he prepares every day. He’s competitive. He plays the ball down the field very well, he’s a good tackler. He’s very assignment sound. He gives coaches a lot of confidence in him. He’s been playing a lot of different positions for us. He’s been playing corner, he’s been playing nickel, he’s been playing dime. Even the last couple days he’s been playing some safety. I mean everything we’ve been giving him he’s done a good job with. I’m very happy to be working with him.”

After the injuries suffered by Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore last year Buffalo wanted to have another veteran corner that could play a lot and play well. McKelvin just suffered a groin injury earlier this week so Graham’s presence is comforting.

This Saturday however, Graham might be lining up at safety having been there in practice all week.


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Bills coaches have special teamers identified

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2014 – 1:09 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the last two preseason games as it pertains to jobs on special teams. Marrone gave strong indication that the core special teamers for their squad have largely been selected.

“I think we have that group,” Marrone said. “We’ll just wait. Obviously we’re still in a process, but I feel very comfortable about the guys that we have identified right now. I think when the roster is set, and we get down to the final cuts, we’ll talk about that role for those players.”

Buffalo signed free agents like Boobie Dixon and Corey Graham to provide some veteran leadership on special teams this offseason.

 


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Safety gives Corey Graham new perspective

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2014 – 9:29 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone hinted at it as early as the spring, not long after Corey Graham was signed by the club as a free agent. He and the defensive staff wanted to get a look at the seven-year cornerback at safety. That didn’t happen however, until the final week of training camp, and Graham had put the thought out of his mind.

“I was a little surprised just like you guys of the opportunity to play safety, but it’s fun,” said Graham. “It definitely is a different look. It would be a fun transition. I don’t know how much or how serious we’re going to be about it, but it’s good to start to learn it. I kind of learned it already in the past, but it’s good to finally get out there and play a little bit.”

When asked about Graham’s prospects at the safety position head coach Doug Marrone downplayed the significant of the move. He indicated it was done to make sure Graham could handle the role in an emergency situation if there were a rash of injuries at the position on game day.

“We’re just making sure that we’re training people for game day stuff,” said Marrone. “You know, how we want to do it. If we have four safeties out there then he can play safety, he can play corner, he can do a lot of different things for us. We had to cross train. We cross trained the backers too with Preston Brown and Ty Powell (in practice).”

In his two days lining up at safety Graham has found directing the traffic defensively pre-snap to be the most challenging aspect of the job.

“That’s probably the biggest thing, telling everybody what to do and get everybody lined up,” said Graham. “The mental part of it is probably the biggest thing. Playing it is a lot easier than corner.”


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Starting secondary hoping to reunite soon

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2014 – 10:21 am

The Bills are taking a conservative approach with starting CB Leodis McKelvin in his return from offseason hip surgery. He has yet to play in the preseason as he was inactive again against the Steelers Saturday. Though he is being slowly worked back into the practice setting his time with his fellow starters in the secondary has been limited. Stephon Gilmore only began to see more action in practice and preseason this past week. Even though there’s just three weeks before the season opener at Chicago the starters in Buffalo’s secondary aren’t concerned about their limited time together.

“We want those guys to come in when they’re ready,” said S Aaron Williams. “We never want a guy to rush just because one person feels like the whole group needs to be together. I want the whole group to be together when everybody is 100 percent and ready for the season. We’re not going to rush Leo (McKelvin), (Stephon) Gilmore or whoever else is hurt to come back at a fast pace. That’s just going to cause problems later down the road. Whenever they’re ready to come back and feel 100 percent because they know their bodies more than we do then the excitement will come.”

What has kept the secondary from being concerned about fewer reps than usual on the practice field together is the time they’ve spent on the field over the past two seasons.

“Yeah it’s definitely an advantage when you have a few years under your belt together,” said Williams. “You know the chemistry of each other and you know how each person thinks and plays. Leo has a different playing style than Stephon. The fact that Da’Norris and I know that makes the calls a lot faster and a lot easier.”

A beneficial byproduct of McKelvin’s absence has been the opportunity for the rest of the secondary to get used to lining up and playing with veteran free agent signee Corey Graham.

“I’m with Corey every day and I talk to him and try to pick out how he plays. Every meeting we sit next to each other and have conversations about what’s going on and how he thinks and how I play things,” said Williams. “That communication has really helped both of us out especially with our chemistry knowing we have to get ready for the season. Corey has been with us a few months now and I’m starting to learn more and more about him.”


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Bills ‘D’ aims to add attitude to production

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2014 – 9:54 am

Buffalo’s defense was a top 10 ranked unit and was top five in interceptions and second in sacks. Now Bills defenders are looking to add a bit of attitude to all that production this season.

“It’s just one of the things we’re trying to do to get better,” said Aaron Williams. “We don’t want to take crap from anybody. When somebody jumps in your face we’re not going to let it go.  We’re trying to be a different defense, more attitude, and just trying to  have the attitude that we’re going to win.”

Williams feels adding attitude to the unit has only been enhanced by the presence of Brandon Spikes and Corey Graham.

“That’s what they bring to the defense.  They’ve been on great defenses where the attitude is they are the best defense, and that’s what they bring to the team, that’s what we want them to contribute to the team,” Williams said. “We’re glad we added them to the team.  Not only do they bring their skill set, they bring their experience and their attitude, that’s one of the positives that we have.”


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Competitive fire on display Sunday

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 10, 2014 – 7:04 pm

A long, hot practice in the sunshine at Bills camp made for some competitive, chippy play on Sunday.  And both the Bills offense and defense were not shy about letting the other side know when they made big plays.

Veteran wideout Mike Williams took an extra long bow to the crowd after catching a tough touchdown pass in traffic during red zone work.  And Williams curtain call resulted in DB Corey Graham throwing the ball at him after he started to return to the huddle.

“I had about six touchdowns today,” Williams said after practice. “It’s very competitive, we wanted to make it like that. We always want to make it competitive, we want them (defense) to compete, so we can be our best on Sundays.”

Safety Aaron Williams embraced the competitive, fiery nature of Sunday’s practice.

“It’s just one of the things we’re trying to do to get better,” he said. “We don’t want to take crap from anybody. When somebody jumps in your face we’re not going to let it go. We’re trying to be a different defense, more attitude, and just trying to have the attitude that we’re going to win and it has to happen on both sides.”

 


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Safety not in plans right now for C. Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on July 18, 2014 – 9:05 pm

Corey Graham was a notable free agent signing by the Bills this offseason. Back in the spring, it was mentioned that the veteran cornerback might get a look at safety, but GM Doug Whaley at the outset of training camp indicated that safety is not in the plans for Graham at this time.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show, Whaley stated that cornerback is where Graham will be putting in his work.

“Corey brings us depth, so he helps us outside and nickel and I think in a pinch we would put him at safety, but I think we’re going to concentrate on him in the corner position right now,” Whaley said.


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Fan Friday 7-18

Posted by Chris Brown on July 18, 2014 – 11:59 am

Well Bills fans it’s here. The 2014 Bills training camp presented by Connors and Ferris gets underway with player report day today. I will do my best to keep up to date on Fan Fridays during camp knowing that’s when questions will be flying in from you folks. It just gets a bit nutty sometimes at camp so bear with me. Send your questions as always to me on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris.

I Love all the work that you do. As far as the current Bills go I had a question about the plays EJ was requesting to be removed from the offence.  I remember that he wanted ‘clean reads’.  I don’t know much about professional play structure, but I wanted to ask if, by eliminating those, does that make it easier for the defense to adjust to the play, or, more generally, how does doing that affect the defense.  Are they clean reads versus the Tampa 2, but maybe not 3-deep, etc.?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Sal Prezioso
CB: I appreciate the compliment. I’ll let EJ explain what he was getting at with respect to the give and take with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on choosing plays to keep or remove from the game plan week to week.

“I think Coach Hackett is going to put everything on my plate that we need to win. I don’t think he’s going to be limited at all as far as his play calling,” said Manuel. “It’s just having the rapport with your coach. Sometimes there may be plays I don’t like and I’ll tell him. I know there were a few plays we came into at minicamp I just wanted to be clean, I wanted to have sharp reads. I told him hey I don’t like that play and we took it out. I think that’s having that good rapport between Coach Hackett and I.”

Having “clean reads” could mean a number of different things so we’d only be speculating as to what EJ meant exactly.

In reality taking plays out doesn’t make it easier for the defense. They still will likely not know what’s coming next. And as Manuel said very shortly after making this comment, you could have just 20 plays in a game plan and if you execute them effectively it doesn’t matter what the defense does. That was the M.O. of the K-gun offense. Fast, simple, effective.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the current Bills try to adopt a bit of that philosophy this season. Not the same offense, but the same approach.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

My question is about the general experiences that a fan from Charleston, South Carolina needs to experience (born and raised in Damascus, VA- a very small town but now, I live and have worked in SC for 7 yrs). I have been a fan since I was a kid and one of my dreams is now coming true.  My wonderful wife bought me tickets for the Minnesota game and being so far away from Western New York of course this will be my first game.

I was wondering if there are places to possibly get autographs from the team? I do have many questions but I will keep it brief; could you tell me the name of the wing place that they take the first round draft pics at? Any information would be greatly appreciated you do a great job at keeping us non-local fans informed.

Thanks,
Adam
CB: Autographs are easiest to obtain at training camp with the next best option being by good old fashioned mail. If you’ve got an item you want signed that can be mailed I’d recommend it. Just send it to the player’s attention at One Bills Drive, Orchard Park, NY 14127 with a self-addressed envelope so he can send whatever he signs back to you.

As for experiences here on game weekend Duff’s is the place to go for wings, but you’ll be able to get them right at the stadium this season at most of the concession stands. They’re the official wing of the Buffalo Bills.

The brand new Bills store will be up and running so that will be a stop you have to make. We also have the Bills Experience inside the team’s Fieldhouse on game day that is open to fans from 9:30 to 12:30 for 1 pm home games. A lot of interactive stuff is there for fans to do along with a host of vendors and you can watch the pre-game radio show on our flagship station live for the whole three hours. I’ll be there for the final hour myself so be sure to come say hello. Safe travels and we’ll see you up here on Oct. 19th!

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Looking forward to training camp and we always have a group which goes to a night practice.  Is there any information available on where and when we can get tickets?  This is the toughest part of the process as sometimes they are only in Rochester locations.  Trying to make plans, so this would be a great help.  Thanks so much.

Regards,

Cliff Miller
CB: Here is the link to all the information you’ll need on night practice tickets.

http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-1/2014-Training-Camp-night-practice-ticket-information/22e4ada3-d208-4c65-ab50-78ab08d31747

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all of the great coverage of the Bills throughout the year. I was disappointed when I heard the news regarding Kiko;  he was all over the field last year and the heart of the defense.  However,  I feel that Bradham and/or Rivers are capable of quality play at linebacker.  Returning from a torn ACL is never easy, but do you think it is easier for defensive player to return to their pre-injury form after recovery compared to offensive players?  I just hope Kiko will be able to go sideline to sideline in the 2015 season like he did during the 2013 campaign.

Thanks,
R.J.  Westmoreland, NY
CB: I don’t know if it’s any easier for a defensive player to return to pre-injury form than an offensive player. The reason a blanket statement like that can’t be used is because every ACL recovery case is different. Every person heals and recovers differently from the next. That’s largely why physicians put a 7-9 month recovery window on ACL reconstruction patients. Some heal faster and some heal slower, so a two month window on the recovery is given. Let’s hope Kiko is a quick and effective healer.

 

5 – Dear Chris
First and foremost you’re the man. Your work ethic on providing up to date info on our squad is second to none.

My first question is why is Aaron Williams being moved to FS? I would’ve loved to see him stay at SS with Corey Graham taking FS. I thought that’s why Graham was signed. Poor Williams has had 4 new DC. And 3 position changes now.

Second has there been talk about slowing down the offense towards the end of games if we’re leading??
Last years week 1 NE game is still stuck in my head. WE HAD IT!!  But in all honesty our line should be a lot better this year so I might eat my words. Thanks again

-#1BillieverAlive
Saratoga Springs

CB: Williams is being moved to free safety to replace Jairus Byrd. Coming from a coverage background at corner, he has the athleticism and experience to cover the deep half and roll over the top of his corners in double coverage situations. The way Jim Schwartz uses safeties makes the position designations of strong and free somewhat moot. They’re largely interchangeable in his scheme.

Corey Graham will probably get a look at safety. How lengthy that look will be and how seriously he’s considered for a role at safety be it as a starter or reserve remains to be seen. Da’Norris Searcy enters training camp as the top guy at strong safety at this point. He’ll get healthy competition from Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks.

As for slowing down the offense. If the Bills have the lead late I do expect them to go into a four-minute mode more often especially with a pound out yards rusher like Anthony Dixon now on the roster. Whether they’ll slow down the tempo is likely going to be decided on a case by case basis.

 


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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 Buffalobills.com. “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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Fan Friday 4-11

Posted by Chris Brown on April 11, 2014 – 12:53 pm

The Bills pre-draft visits were in full swing this week. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for more visit updates in the weeks to come. For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,
Thank you for keeping me informed for the last  decade. Before I only had the newspaper to go by and it was very slow and incomplete.

Three or more of these eleven  players Jake Mathews, Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron, Mike Evans, Kahlil Mack, Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Justin Gilbert and Jadeveon Clowney will be avilable to the Bills for sure. If any of the top three QB’s are added to the mix then Buffalo can even be more selective.

I think the top 9 will go like this 1) QB/DE, 2) WR/DE, 3)&4) QBs, 5)QB/LB ,6) OT, 7) OT/LB,8)QB and Buffalo will choose Mack, Lewan, Watkins or Evans in that order depending on their availability.

I actually think the Bills will take an OT because it affects the most players. Players such as the RBs, the QB and the WR/TEs directly. No other position does this. I hope they get Lewan but if Mack is available I would go with him first because the defense wins FB games and Mack would push our “D” past Seattle in my modest opinion.

How do you see it at this point in time?

Thanks
Ken

CB: It’s hard to know exactly what will fall to the Bills at nine as the teams in front of them, for the most part, need a lot of different building blocks. That means they could go in a number of different directions with their top pick. Knowing the QB class is far from intriguing outside of Manziel the popular speculation now is that only two QBs will go in the top 8, with Teddy Bridgewater looked upon as the QB falling out of the top 10.

Jacksonville at three is one of those pivot type picks, where what they do could largely impact the teams right behind them. They’re now thought to be considering a QB in round two rather than round one and will look to add a difference maker at another position on offense (Sammy Watkins?) after loading up on defense in free agency. I still think they’re still considering a QB, especially if Bortles is still on the board.

Mack will not make it to nine, no way, no how. So cross him off your list. Cleveland is unpredictable as to what they might do as are the Raiders at five. Atlanta is expected to go OL or DL and it will depend on which player is ranked highest on their board among those two positions. Tampa Bay is a virtual lock to receiver and take Mike Evans. Minnesota is likely to take a QB knowing the mess they had at the position last year and it could be Manziel there.

So what should be there for Buffalo? Probably one of the top three OTs (presumably Lewan), Ebron and C.J. Mosley. I don’t see Justin Gilbert or Anthony Barr as part of the equation there. Whether the Bills have another player or two ranked as high is unclear.

The most talented of the three I mentioned (Lewan, Ebron, Mosley) is probably Ebron, who one could argue also has the most upside. Lewan and Mosley kind of are what they are. They’ll both be very solid pros and should be in an NFL starting lineup right away, but Ebron has a chance to be special and that could give him the edge there. We’re all guessing, but the most important factor is how things play out in front of Buffalo.

 

 

2 – Chris,

Pardon me, but my brain is working overtime on the Bills.  With Carpenter in the fold where does this leave Hopkins?  Thought he was supposed to be the new guy with the strong leg.

Jim (Skaneateles)


CB:
It puts Hopkins in a tough spot. First of all he’s trying to come back from a bad groin injury on his kicking leg side. Second, he’s competing with a veteran kicker who put up the second most accurate FG kicking season in team history. With the money invested in Carpenter by the Bills, Hopkins is going to need to have the training camp of his life to unseat Carpenter.

Now head coach Doug Marrone is not opposed to carrying a second kicker as a kickoff specialist, which is a role that Hopkins could most definitely fill. However, the roster numbers have to work out right to keep a second kicker for such a luxury. We’ll see how it plays out this summer.

 

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Huge fan of yours and the Bills obviously. Just wondering about the Corey Graham signing. Will he be competing for second cornerback position with Leodis?  And if not, how will that affect Nickel Robey’s playing time, if at all?  Do you think it was a big contract for a potentially 3rd string corner or will his special teams play make up for it?

Thanks,
Brendan

CB: As I’m sure you and most other fans have seen coach Marrone has said he intends to make Graham a part of the safety competition with Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy to fill the spot left by Jairus Byrd. He’ll also be the first guy in on the boundary at corner if McKelvin or Gilmore are sidelined by injury. As for Robey he will hold onto the role if Graham lands the safety spot next to Aaron Williams.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

I was just curious, if team a wanted to trade a player for a pick in the draft, and the traded player ended up failing the physical for team b, what would happen?  Would the player(s) selected with the traded pick pick(s) go to team b and the player that failed the physical would return to team a?  Or would something else happen?

Thanks,
Tommy

CB: Yes, if a player did not pass the physical for his new team the trade would be nullified and any and all assets exchanged in the deal would revert back to their original clubs. That’s what happened several years ago when the Bills tried to trade John McCargo to the Indianapolis Colts. He failed his physical with the Colts due to a back problem they cited and the trade was nullified.

 
5 – Hi Chris,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Bills seemingly not attempting to keep Carrington or Moats. There was so much talk last summer about how well Carrington was coming along and now they could seem to care less about keeping him. I wouldn’t imagine it’s because of competition from other teams as he hasn’t proven himself on the field for any stretch of time.

Also looking at Rivers career he hardly seems like an upgrade from Moats. They both seem to be in the same kind of position as fill in LB’s struggling to get more snaps. Also what is the deal with Chris Williams? NFL.com says he graded out terribly last season. To be honest I’m less than pleased with where the offensive line has gone under Marrone. In Gailey’s last season we had the fewest sacks and CJ’s yards per carry were through the roof. Marrone’s supposed to be a line guy and during his first year we were at the bottom of those stats and seem content to downgrade from Levitre to Williams at LG. Do you know anything we dont about where this might be going?

Dan

CB: I have it on very good authority that the Bills offered Carrington a contract extension before the 2013 season, but he and his agent (the same one as Jairus Byrd) turned it down. Three weeks later Carrington tore his quadriceps tendon and went on I-R in a contract year. Moats was presented with a contract offer this offseason and he chose not to take it thinking he could do better. Whether he did or not we may never know, but he signed a one-year veteran minimum deal with a $65K signing bonus.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-4

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:24 pm

The 2014 draft is just over a month away and the pro days are winding down. Among the big ones left are Penn State (April 8), LSU (April 9) and Georgia (April 16).

For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

If a scenario happens where say the big 3, Clowney, Mack and Watkins were gone and either/or Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel fell to the Bills at #9. Do you see any chance the Bills would have interest? I’m of the mind that we need to give EJ Manuel a healthy and fully educated season to see if he’s the man. That being said if a team sees a potential franchise QB drop into their lap I guess you do have to consider it.

Enjoy your work Chris,
Thanks Wally James
Fredericksburg ,VA

CB: That’s an interesting scenario you’ve painted. I think the Bills have been clear that they are all in on EJ Manuel as their franchise quarterback. As tempting as it may be to draft Johnny Manziel if he is there at nine, you have to look at this the way the Bills or any other NFL franchise would.

They invested more than a year of research, scouting, testing and projecting to make their determination that EJ Manuel is fully capable of being their franchise quarterback and excelling for them on the field. That kind of commitment mandates that you do everything you can as an organization to help him succeed. Drafting a quarterback ninth overall this year, no matter who it is, does not achieve that mandate.

If the value at nine is right for a player who can more effectively help EJ Manuel on the field this year on offense then another player will be the pick. Not Johnny Manziel. If the value is not right then I see the Bills moving back to allow another club to trade in to take Johnny Manziel and gain valuable picks in the process, not unlike they did last year (See: Kiko Alonso).

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all you do. With all of the cuts of high priced veterans (Revis, Peppers, etc) do you anticipate Mario Williams to survive the length of his contract in Buffalo?   Or do you anticipate the Bills parting ways to free up $16+ million in cap space.

-Jim

CB: High-priced players sometimes do not see the end of lucrative contracts, and you’ve provided more than one example above. When contracts aren’t guaranteed, as is the case in the NFL, there are no guarantees a player will see the end of it with the club that signed him.

That being said the Bills are among the most fiscally responsible teams in the league and rarely put themselves in a position of having to fire sale the roster. The last time it happened was in 2000 when late GM John Butler, being so tied to Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed compromised the team’s salary cap health until he unfortunately had to cut all three on the same day.

It served as a lesson to this organization to not fall into such a situation again.

So while I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a day coming when the Bills do decide to part ways with Mario Williams prematurely, I think they also try to maintain a measure of responsible spending to allow for a couple of lavish contracts on the roster.

 

3 – Chris,
As always thank you and everyone who help to inform Bills nation. My question is on the defensive side,  now that Byrd is gone for sure who do you see stepping up next to Williams? I know Searcy saw a good deal of time last season in spot duty for Byrd early on(along with Leonhard), but do you see him as a full time starter? I really like him as a third safety you can put in the box and play on special teams personally.

Do you think Duke Williams could be the next guy or Meeks maybe? Or maybe a replacement could be found in the draft. Also what do you make of the defensive end position as a sleeper positional need? Do you see any of the “tweeners” (Hughes or Lawson among others) possible switching to or back to the d-end position? Or do they stay at linebacker? Look forward to hearing what you think thanks again!
Will

CB: Doug Marrone has given indication that Corey Graham will be given an opportunity to play safety alongside Aaron Williams, so he’ll be part of the competition and I like the open-minded thinking there. He’ll be in direct competition with Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. I really liked what I saw from Williams in both the practice setting and the preseason last year. I think his athleticism caters well to the versatility you need nowadays at the safety position. He played corner at Nevada so coverage assignments down on the line aren’t an issue for him.

We just didn’t see enough of Meeks last year with the injury to know what he can offer. Searcy while capable of playing safety really carved out a niche for himself as a nickel LB. He had a very productive season there so I’m not sure the coaches will want to mess with that.

As for defensive end, I think the priority is getting Jerry Hughes signed to a long term deal as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Provided they can get a deal done they should be okay there.

With coach Marrone saying at the league meetings last week that they’ll primarily be a 4-3 front defensively I do see Hughes and Lawson joining Mario Williams as the primary defensive ends in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Whether they decide to add through the draft remains to be seen, but that’s a pretty darn good trio.

 

4 – HI CHRIS,
I am absolutely delighted that the Bills have re-signed K Dan Carpenter,but I am perplexed as to why the Dolphins released him. Was he a problem in Miami or was it a money situation??
Regards from
Richard
Los Angeles

CB:
The Dolphins found him expendable because they drafted a kicker in the middle of the fifth round last year in Caleb Sturgis. Miami was apparently disappointed in Carpenter, who had struggled a bit early in the 2012 season and was hurt for the last two games that year. The investment in Sturgis practically predetermined how the “competition” was going to turn out in Miami last summer.

What I enjoyed was watching Carpenter succeed on almost 92 percent of his attempts, almost half of which came from 40-yards plus. He finished tied for 10th in the NFL in field goal accuracy and only two kickers ahead of him (Gostkowski, Tucker) had more attempts from 40-yard plus than him.

Meanwhile Sturgis finished 29th in field goal accuracy at 74.6%.

From 40-yards plus last season Carpenter was an impressive 14-for-17 (82.3%) including 4-for-6 from 50-yards plus. Sturgis was 11-for-17 (64.7%) and he played half his games in Miami. Carpenter had seven games in Buffalo.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a hypothetical question for you. If Sammy Watkins was still available when the Bills are picking do you think they may pass on him because he is reportedly to be represented by Eugene Parker? I think it would be a fair observation to say that Eugene Parker is developing a reputation for causing the Bills front office grief when it comes to contract negotiations with Jairus Byrd and Jason Peters being prime examples.

From an outsiders prospective if the Bills were to select Watkins and he performs as expected, then we would only have him for the length of his rookie contract before he ventures off to “greener pastures”. Do you think teams are impacted by who the players selects as their agent when deciding who to draft particularly in the first round?

Regards
Matt
CB: I don’t believe that NFL clubs factor in the agent for the player when assessing their grade for the player on their draft board. Knowing that I tend to believe the Bills and every other NFL team chooses a player based on his ability on the field, potential, character makeup, passion for the game and fit for their team. So if Sammy Watkins is on the board at nine, which I don’t think will happen, then I see the Bills running the card up to the podium with his name on it.

Your point is a valid one, but the opportunity to get one of the best prospects in the entire class at a position of need trumps any concern you might have about him staying with the team for his second contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mike Williams has motive to play his best

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:07 pm

Bills newest receiver Mike Williams pending the passing of a physical is the second player added to the roster who is a Buffalo native. And head coach Doug Marrone has made it obvious that’s it’s not by accident.

“I’m real big on people that want to be in Buffalo, that want to play well,” Marrone said. “What I look for are people who want to come to Buffalo and play for a cause great than themselves and play for the people and play for the region. I think that’s important. And I want players who have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove. We all have to do that. We’ve all obviously been out of the playoffs for 14 years and we’re looking for a player who plays with a chip on their shoulder.”

Marrone figures to have that in both Graham and Williams, who will be motivated to play at their best in front of family and friends every week playing for the Bills and their native city. Williams also is coming off a down season after missing most of the year with a torn hamstring, so he’ll be eager to re-establish himself as a playmaker.

“I like the fact that they’re from Buffalo,” Marrone said. “There’s a lot of added pressure when you’re playing in your own hometown.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-28

Posted by Chris Brown on March 28, 2014 – 11:45 am

Pre-draft visits will begin next week. We’ll have you covered here at Buffalobills.com as the draft is just over a month away. Now we turn to some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey CB,

Why are more people not talking about Martavis Bryant?  I saw his combine numbers and at 6 foot 5 I though they were quite impressive.  He was projected by some to go in the late 2nd or 3rd round and I was just thinking.  Wouldn’t that be a steal to get him in the 3rd round?  The bills need a tall receiver that can be a red zone threat.  Thank You

Morgan

CB: There’s no question that Bryant is an athlete after clocking a 4.42 at the NFL combine along with a 10’4” broad jump and a 39-inch vertical. His linear speed is unquestioned, but dropping his weight and getting in and out of breaks is still a bit of a question mark for him. He’s also considered a raw prospect, who wasn’t asked to run a full route tree at Clemson.

My biggest issue with him is his playing strength. Even though he had an impressive 16 reps on the bench it’s difficult to find that strength off the line or in traffic on the playing field in his game. He needs to add muscle to his frame as he goes just 211 pounds and has a slight build. Against the physical cornerbacks of the NFL he’s going to get knocked around. He’s probably a late second or early to mid-third round pick in a deep receiver class.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you believe his lack of “body of work” will lower the #Bills interest in Mike Evans? He just started playing ball.

rockydm92

CB: I think what intrigues most NFL clubs with Mike Evans is his amazing production despite still being young in football. As most talent evaluators see it there is a very high ceiling there knowing when he does gain more experience his production could be even better at the NFL level.

And the reason teams are happy to wait on that potential is because right now even in the NFL he’s a size mismatch and he should be able to produce just off his measurables to start. Then as he hones his game he’ll be an even greater asset to a team’s passing attack.

 

3 –  Chris,

With Jairus Byrd now in New Orleans, do you anticipate the Bills are happy with their current S depth with: Aaron Williams, Searcy, Meeks, Duke Williams?

Also a random question, do you know why the NFL football is nicknamed “the Duke”??

-Jim

CB: As you probably saw this week with our coverage of the league meetings in Orlando, led by our own John Murphy, head coach Doug Marrone is considering lining Corey Graham up at safety as part of the competition. It sounds like he’ll compete for a role there, in addition to cornerback, with Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy. Aaron Williams is a lock at one of the safety spots already.

As we outlined in our story on this development this week, Graham isn’t completely foreign to safety.

As for your question about NFL footballs being nicknamed ‘The Duke,’ here’s the history behind it courtesy of the Wilson Sporting goods website.

In honor of the late New York Giants owner, Wellington Mara, one of the most beloved and respected figures in professional sports history, the Official Football of the NFL is called “The Duke”.

Wellington Mara, who spent 81 years with the New York Giants and made numerous contributions to the NFL, was named Wellington by his father, Tim Mara, after the Duke of Wellington. He was given the nickname “The Duke” as a youngster by Giants players.

The NFL first used a ball in honor of Wellington Mara called “The Duke” in 1941 at the suggestion of George Halas, as Tim Mara (Wellington’s father) had helped him arrange for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. to become the league’s official supplier of game balls.

“The Duke” ball was used through 1969 but was discontinued prior to the 1970 season, the first to be played post NFL-AFL merger. The NFL and AFL continued using a Wilson football, but with a new design and no official name. In 2006, the NFL returned the name of “The Duke” to the ball after Mara’s passing in October, 2005.

 

4 – Chris,

I think the two best prospects the Bills should consider are Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins. Which do you think fits the team better? They would bit the best player available. What chances to you think they might make it to 9? How should the Bills protect a team jumping up to 7 or 8th pick if they find a player they love?

Josh

CB: I don’t disagree that Mack and Watkins are two of the best prospects in the class, but I’d be surprised if either are available at nine. If either one gets past the fifth pick I think a few teams will be making efforts to move up to six or seven to grab them. If both are still on the board when Tampa Bay is on the clock at 7, I think it’d be very tempting for Buffalo to swap spots with Minnesota at 8 to ensure they would get at least one of them. Still, parting with picks is not what the Bills typically do. Then again it’s Doug Whaley’s first draft and we don’t have a track record to work with concerning his approach in a fluid draft situation.

 

5 – Hi, Chris!

What criteria did the Bills and New York Giants, and the rest of the NFL teams qualify to be the selected matchup for the annual NFL HOF Game? Does both the PFHOF in Canton, OH, and the NFL decide which teams to play, is the selection if teams always announced in February, especially after the Super Bowl? Thanks. Llewellyn.

CB:  The league doesn’t have a specific criteria, but the fact that both NFL franchises have some of their most popular all-time players being inducted in this year’s Hall of Fame class in Andre Reed and Michael Strahan does play a factor. The NFL also takes into account the likelihood of fans from the respective teams traveling to the game. Knowing that fans of the Bills and Giants will already be on hand for the induction ceremony, there’s a strong likelihood that many of them will make a full weekend of it and take in the Hall of Fame game Sunday as well.


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Posted in Inside the Bills