Inside The Bills

Pears performing well

Posted by Chris Brown on July 23, 2014 – 2:24 pm

While there is a competition going on at right guard, as we covered in Wednesday’s practice notes, there does not appear to be much of a battle to this point at the starting right tackle spot.

A lot of people outside the organization assumed that second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio would be quickly challenging veteran incumbent Erik Pears for the starting right tackle job. As head coach Doug Marrone sees it Pears has put himself in a good position in the early going to retain his starting gig.

“I think Cyrus is coming along. The closer you are to the ball the tougher it is to play in this league,” said Marrone. “Erik really feels healthy. He was coming off an injury last year and has really performed well. It’s still going on (the competition). Nothing is locked in stone yet. It wouldn’t be smart of me to say anything is locked in stone. Everyone has to go out and prove that they can do it. We’ll see how it goes as camp goes along, but Erik has done a very good job so far.”

Pears did play hurt last year, which compromised his effectiveness at times. Also Kouandjio just turned 21 on Monday and is relatively young in football. His learning curve might prove to be a bit steeper than some anticipate.


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LB Kitchens, CB Smith out for a while

Posted by Chris Brown on July 22, 2014 – 12:18 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone addressed the status of a pair of defensive players who were injured in practice on Monday and did not participate on Tuesday in undrafted rookie LB Darrin Kitchens and CB Brandon Smith.

“(Kitchens) and Brandon Smith will both be out for a period of time,” said Marrone after practice Tuesday. “Lower body injury for Smith and a lower body injury for Kitchens.”

Both players were seeing most of their time on the field with the third team defense.


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Marrone: Hopkins a kickoff specialist only

Posted by Chris Brown on July 22, 2014 – 11:01 am

It’s early in camp and Dan Carpenter has taken all the FG attempts. Dustin Hopkins has only taken kickoffs in practice. On Tuesday head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that Hopkins is strictly a kickoff specialist.

In fact Marrone stated that kickoff specialist is the role Hopkins has to try and land.

“He had to tr to make the roster as a kickoff specialist,” said Marrone.

Carpenter is coming off a career season where he hit on almost 92 percent of his kicks in 2013.


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Dareus delayed by weather

Posted by Chris Brown on July 22, 2014 – 8:36 am

Bills DT Marcell Dareus was unable to get back to Bills camp Monday night as scheduled due to weather delays.

Dareus’ flight back to Rochester was canceled last night due to weather. Head coach Doug Marrone may provide an update on Dareus return schedule following practice this morning.


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Marrone on Glenn’s situation

Posted by Chris Brown on July 21, 2014 – 8:59 pm

Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn was out doing light exercises on the other practice field away from the team Monday as he worked with an athletic trainer. Following Monday’s practice head coach Doug Marrone addressed Glenn’s designation on the Non-Football Illness list.

Marrone was asked if he knew when Glenn would be able to return to practice. At this point it sounds like the Bills head coach is at the mercy of the recommendations of the medical staff.

“I don’t know that,” he said of Glenn’s potential return to practice. “It’s a medical condition. I’m preparing to go on as if he’s not playing, which he’s not. So I’m just waiting for the doctors and I can’t speak about the condition because it’s something that happened outside of football.”

When asked if he thought Glenn would be playing eventually Marrone could only be hopeful.

“I’m planning on him playing,” he said. “Right now he’s not there, so I have to plan with him not being there. When he’s there then we’ll plug him back in.”

Rookie seventh round pick Seantrel Henderson manned the starting left tackle spot on Monday.


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Dareus excused from camp; back tonight

Posted by Chris Brown on July 21, 2014 – 5:52 pm

Bills DT Marcell Dareus has not been  cleared to practice yet being on the Non-Football Injury list, but he also has not been in attendance each of the past two days at training camp. Head coach Doug Marrone explained why on Monday.

“All the players reported to camp. At the present time I’ve excused Marcell,” said Marrone. “He’s taking care of some personal stuff, but he’ll be like everybody else on the side training getting ready to pass the physical. He’s one of the players that didn’t pass the running test.”

Marrone said Dareus is scheduled to return to camp this evening (Monday).

 


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Marrone: Dareus didn’t pass conditioning test

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2014 – 5:47 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that Marcell Dareus didn’t pass his conditioning test which is why he was placed on the non-football injury list.

He obviously won’t be practicing tonight.


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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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DBs coach Henderson big mentor for Aaron

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 9:45 am

His first two seasons with the Bills were a little rocky. A second-round pick, Aaron Williams was expected to be a solid cover corner. What Williams battled more than the receivers he faced was his own self-confidence. In less than a season under defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, Williams in his own words, ‘got his mojo back.’

On Buffalobills.com’s Camp Countdown we covered some of the reasons Aaron Williams will excel in 2014. While Henderson was not listed in terms of what will help him succeed in the future, Williams largely credits him for rebuilding his self-confidence, and the results last season were obvious. In addition Henderson also aided Williams in his transition to safety, teaching him some of the nuances of the position.

“Being with Coach Henderson, he really helped me out with how to be rangy like Jairus has been for us the last few years,” said Williams. “It takes repetition and practice. I think my rookie year I played safety for our scout team for a little bit. It’s never just been about cornerback. I’ve always tried to help my craft out anyway possible. I think moving to safety, it helps me. My man coverage is a lot better, I’m obviously good in the box and my range, and I’m perfecting it a little more. I keep studying film and seeing other players like Jairus and Earl Thomas and other great safeties like Troy Polamalu. See what they do and what makes them great. Match my game and how can I increase my value in the backfield.”

Retaining Henderson on his staff was huge for Doug Marrone after some of the other defensive staff defections to Cleveland with Mike Pettine. Marrone considers Henderson one of his most valuable assistants.


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Fan Friday 7-4

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2014 – 11:42 am

Happy Independence Day everyone! A proud day to fly the flag. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Given the new additions on offense do you see the Bills being run heavy or pass heavy? With Dixon and Brown there won’t be enough carries to go around. Getting 4 RB’s the ball seems like a tough task. Given the league is pass heavy and Watkins is in the fold how is the ball going to go around. Its a pass heavy league and EJ will need to throw 300 yards often. How do you see this shaking out?
Thanks,

Sean

CB: It’s my contention that the Bills want to be a run heavy team, but not to the point where they’re grossly imbalanced. Last year is a perfect example. With a rookie quarterback in 2013 the Bills ran the ball more than any other team in the league, but they still only ran the ball 49 percent of the time (546 times on 1,116 plays).

Every team in the league strives for balance as much as possible, but I believe Doug Marrone wants to be able to run the ball whenever he wants regardless of whether the defense knows it or not.

And as much as you want to call it a pass heavy league here’s a look at the 12 teams that ran the ball the most last season. Eight of them were playoff teams including the last two NFC teams standing last year. Yes, some of them also threw it ton (New England, Denver), but it wouldn’t surprise me if Marrone wanted his offense to be similar to that of San Francisco. The 49ers ran 52.5 percent of the time last year, and knowing the pace at which the Bills want to run their offense if they’re successful they’ll be more plays and thus more opportunities for more backs to carry the football.

Don’t kid yourself there will be a pecking order and some backs will see less of the field than others, but if their offense operates as they anticipate there will be more than enough carries to go around.

2013 Total rush leaders
1 – Buffalo – 546 rushes
2 – Seattle – 509
3 – San Francisco – 505
4 – Philadelphia – 500
5 – NY Jets – 493
6 – San Diego – 486
7 – Carolina – 483
8 – Cincinnati – 481
9 – New England – 470
10 – Tennessee – 462
11 – Denver – 461
12 – Green Bay – 459

2 – Hi Chris,
With all the talk around EJ Manuel and his progression, I have a question. I’ve listened to Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett say how good he is coming along, then I hear Marrone talk about the playoff drought. If EJ Manuel doesn’t pan out by the 3rd or 4th game, is he willing to pull EJ and replace him with either Lewis or Dixon? I am also curious as to why he has not been asked this by the reporters, because as fans we want a winning team as well. I’m curious as to why Marrone hasn’t been asked this and what his response would be. Just bought my season tickets this morning for the first time!! GO BILLS.

Thanks,

Lee
CB: First, thanks for supporting the team. We look forward to seeing you out there this fall. The reason coach Marrone hasn’t been asked this question is because coaches don’t like to deal in hypotheticals, especially those that deal with replacing players in the lineup. So if the question was asked it wouldn’t be answered.

Now to speculate on the situation you present is difficult. The organization has said from the day they drafted him that they’re all in on EJ Manuel. That plan is not going to be scrapped if he gets off to a slow start. That being said every plan has a breaking point. What that breaking point is for this coaching staff however, is hard to pin down now.

I think the staff is under more pressure to win in light of the ownership void. They know victories validates them as coaches, but only coach Marrone has to what lengths they’ll go to get wins and he’s not going to cross that bridge until he comes to it.
3 – Hey Chris,

I’m still trying to form a conclusion of whether or not the Sammy Watkins trade was a good one.

Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the people jumping off of my couch yelling “Sammy or Mack!” when the trade first scanned across the screen.  But after the dust has settled, and now that we are in OTAs and such, we tend to come back to reality and realize that afterall….Sammy is just one guy.  Yes Sammy is a playmaker, but statistics show that most rookie WRs do not produce heavily.  Plus you factor into the equation that Manuel was very inconsistent (to say the least) with his accuracy…along with a bunch of other variables working against Sammy.  So with all that being said, I guess I have 2 questions for ya.

1)  Would YOU have done the trade or would you have stood pat and taken say…Ebron or Beckham for much cheaper of a price in the 1st round?

2)  Since you were in the war-room, what was Buddy Nix’s reaction to the trade?  In the video and pictures of the warm room, everyone was clapping, cheering and celebrating the pick.  Buddy, however, was the ONLY one NOT celebrating.  I know it’s just Buddy, but he is still an advisor that has a wealth of knowledge and a history of not making trades on draft day.  So I’m just curious if you got the sense that he wasn’t thrilled about the value that was given up.

As always, Thanks for all you do.

And GREAT work on your draft coverage.

Sincerely,

Tim in NJ
CB: I think if I believed that Sammy Watkins was the best player in the draft and I had an opportunity to get him I would certainly take a swing at it. Doug Whaley said himself he wasn’t their top receiver, he was their top player in the entire class.

Yes, there’s no doubt there are variables that can impact Watkins’ production. He is dependent on quarterback play and such, but I think A.J. Green is a good indicator as to what Sammy can be in his rookie season. Green was also the fourth pick in the draft and he played with a young quarterback at the time in Andy Dalton. Green had 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns as the number one receiver in the Cincinnati offense. I don’t think those are unrealistic numbers for Watkins.

As for Buddy’s reaction in the room, you have to remember the dynamics at work there. It was the first draft Buddy was attending since stepping down as GM. It was Doug Whaley’s first draft and he just completed a huge deal. I think Nix was being respectful of Whaley’s role now. It was Doug’s room, Doug’s draft and Nix was letting Whaley and the personnel staff enjoy the moment.

And so you know Whaley and Russ Brandon consulted Nix on about a dozen occasions through the course of the draft, most often when they were done having conversations with other clubs on the phone. So Nix is still a highly respected man in that personnel department.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks again for all you great coverage.  Makes it easy for us not living in Buffalo to get our daily fix of the Bills.

Two questions about the defense:  Is Marcell Dareus facing a suspension from either the team or the NFL for his drug charge and driving incident?  And are you concerned about Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme looking a lot like Dave Wannstedt’s scheme from two years ago.  Both Jim and Dave said they rely on the front 4 to get pressure on the QB and our D from two years ago was not exciting, never blitzed, and seemed to never be aggressive or in control.  Mike Pettine’s D was exciting, aggressive, and confusing for offenses.  Which Defense do you expect to see more of this year?

Pat

CB: Thanks for the kind words. With Dareus the cases are just going to have to play out and based on their results the NFL will decide if disciplinary action is warranted. So they’ll have to reach their conclusions before the league steps in if at all.

As for Schwartz’s defense I’m not concerned about the Wannstedt comparison. Schwartz is a cutting edge coordinator in this league. He’ll blitz a whole lot more than Wannstedt ever did. And if I have to trade in 10 sacks in exchange for the best third down defense in football (Detroit was #1 last year) and a top 10 run defense (Detroit was 6th last year) then I’ll do it.

 

5 – Chris,

I’m interested in you thoughts on how Mike Caussin has been a Bill since 2010. He has almost no NFL production to his name and has an injury history, but continues to keep getting camp invites year after year. Does he have immense potential? Has he shown something in camp in previous years that keeps him around? I’m just used to seeing guys with his history off the roster after a max of 2-3 years. Thanks for all your work.

Nick in Baltimore
CB: I think what’s most appealing about Caussin’s game is his athleticism. He’s a pass catching tight end that has uncommon agility for a man his size. He’s also trying to develop as a backup long snapper to Garrison Sanborn. Yes, injuries have largely derailed his career. That’s why this is likely a make or break camp for him with tight end as deep as it’s been in a while in Buffalo.


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Marrone sees advantages at training camp

Posted by Chris Brown on June 20, 2014 – 9:15 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone did not have a lot of practices to get things up and running in his first year as Bills head coach. Quite the opposite will be true this year at training camp.

Playing in the Hall of Fame game in Canton on Aug. 3rd, Buffalo has the opportunity to begin training camp earlier than all but one team in the league, the New York Giants, which is the team they’re facing that weekend. For Marrone the extra practices in camp are invaluable.

“I’m excited, I really am. I’m excited that we have those extra days,” he said. “I wasn’t as excited last year because we had the least amount of practices. Now we will have the most amount of practices. So, I’m excited about that because we need that and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

The team has to report to training camp at St. John Fisher on July 18th with the first practice coming two days later.


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Marrone guiding Henderson

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 7:32 pm

Marcell Dareus is not the only personal project for Bills head coach Doug Marrone this offseason. Marrone said earlier this spring that he’s in conversation with Dareus every day whether it’s in person or by phone to help him through his issues which are mainly off the field. Marrone is also working closely with rookie OT Seantrel Henderson, but his assistance with the seventh-round pick are mainly on the field.

Thrown into the fire in the minicamp as the starting left tackle with Cordy Glenn sidelined by illness, Henderson was still adjusting on day one, but on Thursday he got his feet under and won his share of plays against Jerry Hughes and Manny Lawson.

What has Henderson encouraged about his progress is having a head coach who has an offensive lineman’s background.

“Coach is always helping me with my technique,” said Henderson. “It’ll be the smallest things that a rookie can do wrong like myself and he’ll see it just because he’s been in the game for a long time in college all the way up to the NFL and he played offensive line. So this is his craft and he’s helping me all the time and I’ve never had a head coach who was into the offensive line like that so I feel like that’s a good thing for me.”

Henderson fell a long way in the draft mainly because of his off the field issues, but it’s clear that his new teammates in Buffalo recognize his immense physical talent. That’s why when interviewing Henderson Thursday, Anthony Dixon’s chime in comment on the way by myself and Henderson was most telling.

“He’s going to be a beast and we’re going to get him right,” Dixon said.


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EJ finishes on good note

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 7:23 pm

Even EJ Manuel will tell you that some days were better than others with his passing game exploits and reading of coverages in the spring practices, but his last two days were probably among his most effective. Head coach Doug Marrone felt the same way.

“I think in these last couple of days, we’ve had some good results with yesterday probably being the best day that he’s had on third down when he was here,” said Marrone. “There are a lot of things that are going on that you get excited about and we have to carry that on and do that when the preseason comes.”

When asked how much further Manuel is ahead of where he was at this time last year, Buffalo’s head coach felt the difference was significant.

“Quite a bit further, especially with the amount that we have in and the amount that was given to him,” said Marrone. “I think it’s always this stage in a young quarterback’s career, especially one that hasn’t practiced as much as him because of the injuries. Out of everyone on the football team, make no mistake about it, that position has the most.

“He’s put in a lot of work. He has a much, much better understanding and it’s exciting. What you hope to see as training camp and the installation goes in, you hope to see it better the next time around. What happens after that is that is starts getting better because now the playbook starts reducing to what you’re going to do. So, it’s a natural reaction. The thing that we were concentrating on, like I said before, was to make sure that he had the fundamentals that a lot of people might not be able to see because we’re always looking for the end result.”


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Marrone won’t foist leadership on players

Posted by Chris Brown on June 12, 2014 – 4:09 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone had some pointed comments on his stance concerning player leadership on his roster. Naturally Marrone had captains on his team in 2013 (Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood). When asked about leadership Thursday however, he made it plain that he’s not going to try and manufacture leadership in a player.

“If it develops, it develops,” he said. “I learned a long time ago not to push it, not to try to point out that stuff, not to identify or put people in those types of roles. If you don’t have that or you don’t see that or it’s not occurring on your team then you have to take more of a role. That means myself and then it passes on to the coaches. I do see a team that’s coming together and is getting to know each other better, which at least gives you the ability to step up from the leadership standpoint amongst the team.”

When Marrone was asked if he needs to make the leadership on the team better he again indicated that it can’t be created.

“I learned a long time ago not to try to do that. If you try to force that I think you’re always going to be disappointed,” he said. “You go full steam ahead and lead by example, starting with myself and the coaches. The number one skill you need to be a good leader and you first have to be a good follower. I learned that a long time ago. If you don’t want to stand up there and lead then stay in line and follow.”

Finally Marrone was asked if EJ Manuel has to be a leader. Here was his response.

“I think it’s a natural thing by position,” he said. “I don’t know if you’re sitting here thinking does he need to be this or that? What we need him to do is just play well. He’s in a natural leadership position, just like Eric Wood at center is in a natural leadership position. No different than the middle linebacker who calls the plays who is in a leadership position.  So a lot of times on a team you have people in leadership positions. You just have make sure you have the right ones.”

What do you think of Marrone’s take on team leadership?


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Schein sees Bills ending playoff drought

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2014 – 8:31 am

He’s certainly not the first, but NFL.com contributor Adam Schein is convinced the Bills are going to end their playoff drought this season.

As he sees it there’s too much talent on the roster for Buffalo to come up short. After conducting a radio interview with head coach Doug Marrone last week, Schein believes the Bills will finally get over the postseason hump. In fact he quotes Marrone’s belief that the team is better in just about every area.

“We are a better team right now than we were last year at this time. We have to be able to convert that into wins,” Marrone said. “There’s no doubt about it that we’re more athletic, we’re bigger, stronger faster. The system is under our belt, we’re moving around quickly, we’re making plays.”

 


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New combo on left side of O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2014 – 11:29 am

With starting LG Chris Williams not on Han at voluntary OTAs the combination up front had a surprising change on Thursday.

Starting at left tackle is Chris Hairston and kicking inside to left guard is Cordy Glenn.

Head coach Doug Marrone briefly experimented with Glenn at guard early in training camp last year, but with Glenn clearly his best tackle in 2013 he left him on the blind side.

Hairston has a long way to go after being unable to practice, let alone play, for almost a full calendar year being on the reserve non-football illness list. But the current coaching staff, which inherited him, is at least interested to see why he can offer on the left side before considering the two rookie tackles they drafted in Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson.

We’ll see what develops from here on out.


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on June 5, 2014 – 7:35 am

Here’s where you can find Bills coaches and players on the local and national radio airwaves Thursday.

8:00 am – Brandon Spikes on WGR 550

2:30 pm – Doug Marrone on Sirius Mad Dog Radio w/ Adam Schein


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Marrone committed to getting Dareus on track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Kiko feeling good after offseason surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2014 – 4:37 pm

Kiko Alonso participated in the individual position drill portions of practice, but not any team work. That is likely to be the plan for the rest of the OTAs after he underwent offseason hip surgery.

“Yeah, it’s great. I feel great. I had a great rehab and I’m just trying to get stronger,” he said.

Alonso was one of several players who had offseason surgery. Fellow draft classmate Robert Woods had ankle surgery. Head coach Doug Marrone addressed both.

“They’re coming off procedures both of them,” Marrone said. “Kiko had a hip and Robert had an ankle.  Those guys have been here the whole time working and we’re just being progressive, making sure they’re working their way back.  We know they’ll be available and healthy for the season.”

 

 


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Undrafted S Ladler showed well

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2014 – 4:38 pm

It wasn’t a perfect three days, but undrafted rookie S Kenny Ladler performed relatively well over the course of the Bills rookie minicamp. An All-SEC safety at Vanderbilt, who was productive in his college career Ladler showed a very good set of hands during ball skills work.

Head coach Doug Marrone also has some inside knowledge on Ladler, who surprisingly went undrafted. Marrone knows Commodores defensive coordinator/safeties coach Bob Shoop.

“Coach Shoop, the DB coach and I worked together at Vanderbilt so I know a little bit about him from there,” said Marrone. “I’ve been around that program quite a bit in the offseason so I was happy. I didn’t know why he wasn’t drafted. I was impressed with his foot speed. I think that he’s someone who… we’re obviously going to keep an eye on all of them, but I think he’s someone that had a good showing in these last couple of days.”

“The one thing that jumped out on film about him was he has a nose for the football. He led them in tackles, had five interceptions and I think five forced fumbles, so he was making big plays on the back end,” said Bills area scout Tom Roth. “He’s got average speed, but very good explosiveness. A very good tackler who can play deep third or in the box.”

Ladler became the first defensive back in school and Southeastern Conference history to lead a team in tackles in two consecutive years (90 in 2012 and 91 in 2013). He also had nine career interceptions.

 

 


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