1 – Hi Chris,
First off I just wanted to thank you for keeping me informed over the years being a displaced, and soon to be reunited, WNY Bills fan. I look for your stuff daily!
This is pertaining to Mike Tolbert. I see a lot of hype on Pat DiMarco, which is understandable. I see nothing on Tolbert. Will he even make the roster? Living in SD for the last 30 years I have followed the Chargers as well and really like Tolbert. I was wondering if you think he will make the cut, and if he does will be utilized at all?
SD Bills fan
CB: I think Tolbert is going to be given every opportunity to make this roster. He’s seen as a valuable locker room presence by Sean McDermott. Building the culture here is job one for McDermott and Tolbert could be one of his best allies in the locker room to cultivate that. Now he also has to be able to contribute on the field.
I believe he’s underrated as a receiver out of the backfield and can serve as a short yardage and goal line back. Add in his abilities on special teams and I do think there’s a way to have both Tolbert and DiMarco on the roster.
2 – Dear Chris:
I’ve looked over our roster and have noticed a lack of depth particularly at DE and safety, and I’m not so sure about Will linebacker either. Are the Bills still looking to add guys? What are your thoughts?
Sincerely, John from Pennsylvania
CB: With respect to defensive end I tend to agree with you. The starters are solid with Lawson and Hughes, and Lorenzo Alexander could line up there on obvious passing downs. But Ryan Davis and Max Valles are the second teamers. Davis has NFL experience, but has been a role player for most of his career. Valles has never appeared in an NFL regular season game.
So it’s understandable to feel uneasy as a fan when there is no proven track record for the guys the team will be counting on behind the starters.
At safety they improved their depth this week with the signing of Bacarri Rambo, whose entering his fifth season in the league. But much like defensive end there is a lot of unproven talent there. I like what I’ve seen from Joe Powell, but again behind starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer there isn’t much NFL experience.
WILL linebacker is improved with the addition of Gerald Hodges in free agency and draft choices Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo will likely be battling for second string roles.
The bottom line is with a new GM and personnel department and a new coaching staff the roster turnover on the back half of the roster will be particularly high as the decision makers try to shape the squad in the image they feel fits the team identity and demands the best.
You can’t fill every position with supreme depth in your first year on the job, but that won’t mean that Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott won’t be trying to do so.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Moving the chains is so important in West Coast offense. Could we see Daikiel Shorts edge out guys like Powell and Lewis? Can Shorts be anything but slot?
CB: Shorts is a sleeper player for sure in this camp. He can play outside in my opinion. He’s 6-1, 202 and knows how to gain separation right before the catch point. The key here will be his ability to execute the route assignments consistently. This is a precision and timing offense, so if Shorts can be dependable for his quarterbacks and make plays in the process, he’ll have a shot. At the very least I see this kid landing on the practice squad.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Any insight to the Stevie hoopla? Is this really a thing?
CB: Everything I’m hearing about Stevie Johnson is he’s happy in retirement. John Murphy Show co-host Donald Jones, a former teammate of Stevie’s still talks to him a lot and there doesn’t appear to be any desire on Johnson’s part to try to resuscitate his NFL career. As much fun as it was to watch Johnson play, his offseason training regimen was basically playing basketball. His herky-jerky route running style was effective, but put an enormous amount of strain on his groin muscles and as he got older he missed time on the field with the 49ers and Chargers the last few seasons. Now 31, and with a lot of off the field interests, I see Stevie enjoying other pursuits rather than football.
5 – Chris:
Cardale Jones is traded for a conditional pick. What does the mean exactly? Conditional on his making the team? Conditional on how many games he plays in? Making the practice squad count?
I read it was for a late round pick. Does that mean it can be 5th – 7th round?
Thanks very much
CB: The team doesn’t confirm trade terms, but I’ve heard from my sources that it’s a conditional 7th round pick
What the terms are to improve the standing of that pick could be anything. It could be if he wins the backup job it improves to a sixth-round pick. It could be if he makes six starts it improves to a fifth-round pick. It could be any number of conditions that the Chargers and Bills came up with to make the trade suitable to both parties.
Tags: Cardale Jones, Daikiel Shorts, depth chart, Fan Friday, Mike Tolbert, Pat DiMarco, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
In the wake of the loss of Alex Carrington there have been a couple of shifts on the Bills depth chart. Here’s a look.
First, Alan Branch is now listed as the starting left defensive end, with Corbin Bryant as his backup. Truthfully I see Branch rotating in to spell Dareus and Kyle Williams more than playing the end position. As coach Marrone indicated Corbin Bryant figures to see the most work in what is now Carrington’s vacant role.
On kick return Marcus Easley is now listed as the official backup to Marquise Goodwin, who is still recovering from a broken hand in Week 1. Easley hasn’t had much of an opportunity to return with all the booming kickoffs the Bills have seen the first three games. In fact Easley has made more of an impact in kickoff coverage turning in big tackles each of the last two weeks.
Finally Jim Leonhard is now listed as the backup punt returner to Leodis McKelvin, a role in which he served last week after McKelvin left with a hamstring injury. Leonhard was a pretty accomplished punt returner in college.
Even if McKelvin is able to play this week, it’s likely that Leonhard gets punt return work as the Bills will probably try not to overextend McKelvin with added special teams duties.
Tags: Alan Branch, Alex Carrington, Corbin Bryant, depth chart, Jim Leonhard, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Easley, Marquise Goodwin, roster
Posted in Inside the Bills
In training camp the coaching staff will shift and move players up or down the depth chart based on performance. Usually they are made on the heels of a preseason game when coaches get an accurate look at what a player is or is not capable of. However, in an offseason where there is little for coaches to go on and more questions than answers with some players, Bills head coach Chan Gailey and his staff are more apt to wait a little longer this summer before making a depth chart move.
“The movement on the depth chart is slower now because you’re taking more of a wait and see attitude before you start moving people up and down the depth chart,” Gailey told Buffalobills.com. “That’s due to mainly our lack of practice and preparation. The reason why is you don’t know at the outset if a player’s performance or consistency is due to a conditioning issue, they may not have the recall from last year, but they’re going to get it. With all of that stuff (in play) you’re just hesitant to move people up and down the depth chart too quickly right now.”
That’s why Gailey said going into camp that some returning veteran starters are more entrenched in their positions than perhaps in any other training camp. With so many added variables (conditioning, no spring workouts, less evaluation time) to the preparation process in this camp Gailey and his staff want as many sure fire answers as they can have in their starting lineups. So it’s going to take a special performance for a 2nd teamer to move up to the first unit, and it seems as though it will take a big time collapse through the preseason for a starter to get bumped down a peg.
Tags: 2011 Bills Training Camp, Chan Gailey, depth chart
Posted in Inside the Bills