For Bills rookie safety Duke Williams playing in New Orleans is a homecoming of sorts. He was raised in Monroe, Louisiana, which is a few hours north of New Orleans, but has siblings who live in the Crescent City.
“I have family that live in New Orleans and I have family in Monroe,” Williams told Buffalobills.com.
Williams lived in Monroe until he was 12 then his mother put in for a job transfer to Reno, Nevada and got it. Though his mother and sisters were not affected by Hurricane Katrina, his family left Louisiana less than a year later.
“We moved a few months after Katrina. Monroe wasn’t really affected by the storm, but my mom and sisters moved after some of our family left too,” Williams said. ”It was something new. It was a good transition. It was kind of hard. I have a two uncles and an aunt in Reno, but the rest of my family is still in Louisiana. I’m going to have a lot of family at the game.”
Williams has cousins and five stepsisters in New Orleans.
Spending his teenage years in Reno, Williams lived right down the street from the University of Nevada-Reno, which is where he wound up playing his college ball.
“It was my mom’s decision to go out there. It was something she wanted to do. It worked out well. Growing up I was an LSU fan, but things worked out differently. It’s great that I still had an opportunity to play college ball. The school was right down the street from where I lived. My high school and the college were two minutes away from each other. We had camps there every year so it wasn’t hard to go play for Nevada.”
And his exploits at Nevada obviously presented the opportunity to now play in the NFL.
Tags: Duke Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills
Week 2 on tap and a win is pretty much a must. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - @ChrisBrownBills
What are the chances Gilmore is back by the Thursday night game in Cleveland?
CB: Gilmore has made good progress since his surgery on Aug. 26th for his fractured wrist. The cast is off and he’s just wearing an immobilizer brace at this point. But the pins are still in his wrist and there is a lot of rehabilitation in front of him. Head coach Doug Marrone said he felt Gilmore was on the short end of the six to eight week timetable provided from the outset. If he is then, six weeks would put him at Oct. 7th, with a return to practice probably taking place in Week 6 in advance of the Oct. 13th game against Cincinnati.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
You can only use the IR-Return once, on one player. Correct?
CB: Yes, that is correct. The I-R designated to return can only be used once a season. At this point in the season if a player goes on injured reserve and the club wants to make him their designated to return player, it has to be declared as soon as he’s placed on I-R.
I thought the Bills might make use of the DTR tag on Ron Brooks this week, knowing he was the DTR player last season when he broke the same foot. But head coach Doug Marrone said they don’t believe his situation or that of Marquise Goodwin necessitates the use of the I-R DTR.
3 – Hi Chris,
Always like reading your material & watching your short videos. Keep ‘em coming. As a transplanted Buffalo guy living in Reno, I can’t help but be curious about Duke Williams. He’s either been below the radar, or not showing much in preseason. Any observations/thoughts? I watched him play a bunch at Nevada, and was hoping he’d be able to make a go of it at the next level…
Hope the weather in WNY is treating you well. The only time I get nostalgic about it is the fall–leaves changing, and football.
CB: Duke has done well throughout the course of the offseason and typically ran with the second unit defense through the preseason. He got four snaps on defense in Week 1, but is going to be spending most of his time on special teams. He played 15 snaps there last week.
Moving forward he’s likely to see more time on defense in certain subpackages as the season wears on.
Say hi to the folks at Black Bear Diner in Reno. Best milkshake I’ve ever had! Thanks for the compliments.
4 – Chris
Thanks for all of the fine coverage of the Bills. From the outside looking in, the whole attitude of the team seemed the change when J. Byrd showed up, is he a poison in the locker room?
Going with the assumption that the quarterback is the most valuable piece on the chess board, do you believe it was a critical error for our former GM to not draft a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds every year. If you hit on a few, more value at the most important position.
Lastly, even if Manuel plays well, should the Bills draft a quarterback in the 1st round in the upcoming draft.
Thanks for everything from Bills fans in Nevada.
CB: I think your characterization of the locker room is a bit off the mark concerning Jairus Byrd’s arrival.
With respect to the philosophy of drafting a quarterback every year, I’m not opposed to it if you are a team with good quality depth at most positions where you can afford to spend a draft choice on a QB prospect every year. The Eagles have traditionally made a habit of this and have shrewdly traded some of those QBs for future draft choices in return (See: A.J. Feeley trade).
If Manuel pans out as most in the organization expect him to, I don’t believe drafting a quarterback in round one will happen. Not only because the team will already have their franchise signal caller, but also because they’re very pleased with who they have behind him in Jeff Tuel.
I don’t think you could completely rule it out, but I would say highly unlikely if Manuel’s career track shows good progress through the course of this season.
5 – Hi Chris,
It was noted that Jamal Westermann made the roster, however i know very little about this athlete. Can you provide a bit of information as to how he made the team.
Thanks & regards
Richard in Los Angeles
CB: He’s a fourth-year player that is wholly familiar with coach Pettine’s defensive scheme having played for him with the Jets in New York from 2009-2011. He’s an OLB by trade. Here’s a bit more on him when he initially signed in mid-August.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Jairus Byrd, Jamaal Westerman, Marquise Goodwin, NFL Draft, Ron Brooks, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well final cuts will be coming down in the next 24-36 hours as Buffalo’s 53-man roster will be set… at least for the time being. Below we get to some of your more pressing questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Chris,
Pro scouts generally agree that E. J. Manuel has excellent athletic ability but concern about his judgement as a QB. Both Rob Johnson and J.P. Losman were good athletically but lacked judgment as a QB. While judgment is difficult to coach, how is the coaching staff doing it differently this time to ensure success?
With rookie coaching staff and the departure of some top players, what is the realistic expectation of the Bills record for this coming season? Recent statistics seems to indicate 3 to 5 wins for the season.
What is the target set forth by the Bills front office?
CB: Manuel is not going to be Rob Johnson or J.P. Losman. He already has demonstrated more poise and good decision making than both of them in two preseason games. What helps Manuel is his dedication to the game and to improve. Johnson and Losman did not possess the same work ethic. They both wanted to excel, but didn’t put the work in to make it happen.
Decision making is something that can be coached and improved and there are lessons that Manuel certainly still has to learn. But he’s way ahead of where those two quarterbacks were at this stage of their career.
As for the target set forth by the Bills front office it’s the playoffs and you typically need 10 wins to qualify.
2 – Chris,
If the other outside corners struggle that are stepping in for Gilmore, do you think it is at all likely the Bills will try Duke Williams as the other starting outside corner?
CB: While I wouldn’t rule it out as an option down the line, I don’t know if it’s the first option they would turn to. The coverage assignments I expect to see out there for Duke is on slot receivers and tight ends.
3 – Hi Chris
Thanks for all your hard work keeping all Bills fans updated on Bills news and information. I have a question about Kendall Gaskins. He looked real good from what I was able to see about his performance. My question is in regards to his position. He is listed as a RB, but he did pick up some blitzes pretty well. If he continues to distance himself and becomes a player that the coaches will want to keep, with a crowded RB position, do you see him being moved to a more blocking/power position like FB? Or do you see him in a returner/RB backup role? His height is in range of a prototypical FB, and at 238 can be a big obstacle in the way of the defense. Thanks
Larry in Tucson
CB: I think Gaskins has put together a nice camp and preseason, but the backfield is crowded as you said. Coach Marrone does want a back that offers a different style to that of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and Gaskins is more of a power back.
I think the roster decision comes down to Gaskins, Brown and Choice for the third RB role. If Gaskins doesn’t get it I see the Bills trying to get him or Brown on their practice squad.
4 – The receiver position is deep and we can’t keep them all. What is your best guess on how many receivers will be kept on both the 53 man roster and the practice squad? And who are those players?
I say 7
Thanks and Go Bills
Mike in Dallas, TX
CB: Unfortunately I think seven is not going to happen. Six is probably the number.
10, 11, 13 and 88 are locks. I think after that it’s down to 15, 16 and 81 for the remaining spot or two. My thinking is 15 and 81, especially after the injury to Brad Smith last night (ribs).
5 – Chris:
Please thank the crew for all the hard work they put in getting updates and stories for the fans.
I have 3 things I would like your input on:
1. Why are teams going to the trend of dressing only 7 Offensive Linemen for games? This is a dangerous practice, especially considering 5 play the entire game Offensively and some on Special Teams (if they stay healthy). The linemen make contact every play of every snap, the other players can’t say the same on Offense. Now with the Bills planning to snap the ball 75-80 times per game this increases the potential for injury. Isn’t that a concern and something to consider in the day of analytics?
2. How does coach Marrone feel about scrimmaging and practicing against other teams? Wouldn’t the coaches get a better evaluation on their own players in this situation?
3. With you being at practice every day watching and asking interview questions to Coach Hackett, doesn’t it seem as though he has many of the mannerisms of John Gruden? Is he as hands on and enthusiastic as Coach Gruden was on the field?
CB: The practice of dressing 7 linemen has been around for years. With the ability to only dress 46 players total and with there being far more rotation on the defensive side of the ball, they have to make seven work. More plays are solved by better conditioning the linemen though I don’t disagree every added play adds risk for injury.
I’ll have to ask coach Marrone about preseason scrimmaging. In year one however, his staff has so much to get in order and figure out that a scrimmage would complicate that process.
In terms of enthusiasm and being hands on, Hackett mirrors Gruden. But Hackett is always happy. Gruden is always ornery on the practice field.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jeff Tuel, Jon Gruden, Kendall Gaskins, Nathaniel Hackett, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
Preseason game number two tonight against the Vikings and a big night for Kevin Kolb. Here are some of your latest questions for this last edition of Fan Friday before the end of training camp. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I’m sure your sick of comments and questions about Jairus Byrd but my question I didn’t hear many talk about is this: did the Bills (or Byrd for that matter) consider that Byrd may have a tremendous year and increase his value even more next year leading to an even high price tag? If the Bills do what they are hoping he will do during his franchise year did they not cost themselves more money by not coming up a little higher to sign him this year? Or, if that was a consideration, does that not tell us there will be no attempt to sign Byrd long term after this season and this season is nothing more than a bridge to get one of the Williams’ ready?
CB: Bills GM Doug Whaley has gone on record saying they will still pursue a long term contract agreement with Jairus Byrd after the regular season concludes. At this point you have to take Whaley at his word as the team’s new GM. In my experience Whaley usually means what he says.
Now all that being said there is some merit to the argument of signing a player to an extension a year prior to their contract being up. If for example, the Bills are convinced that Alex Carrington is going to have a monster season in this the last year of his contract, they might opt to try to sign him before this season starts.
Is there a risk? Absolutely. He could have a down year or sustain a career-threatening injury. But there’s a risk in every decision an NFL GM makes. That’s why their salaries are where they are. When there’s a significant call to be made, they’re paid to make significantly more right decisions than wrong ones.
2 – Hi Chris,
I am a former season ticket holder (tunnel endzone) from the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s now living in SC. Thanks for all you do to keep out of town Bills fans up to date. I’m intrigued by the Bills corps of receivers. I have heard about the speed of Graham and Goodwin. Do you think either has the route running ability to be the next Victor Cruz inside? I have heard about the route running ability of Woods. Does he have the potential to be a Wes Welker inside bracketed between Stevie, Graham, and Chandler? Da’ Rick is also interesting. Where do you see him in this mix?
As far as team analysis I see our biggest areas of need as the O Line (need a tackle and two guards), an outside linebacker that can rush and compliment Mario, and a second corner to pair with Gilmore as I feel McKelvin is too small and better suited to slot defender. Your thoughts?
John in SC
CB: Woods is a polished route runner, but he’s not a Wes Welker. Welker’s quickness in and out of cuts is rare. Woods is a sharp route runner, but he wins more on hesitation, change of speed and shoulder fakes than pure quickness. Stevie Johnson is the primary slot receiver. Woods would be the number two.
To say one would have similar production to Victor Cruz has more to do with the quarterback throwing him the ball than their own exploits.
Da’Rick Rogers is strictly an outside receiver. Big and physical with soft hands, he needs more discipline with his route running, but when he gets it he could explode.
McKelvin right now is the best option to line up opposite Stephon Gilmore when healthy. At 5’10” 185 his size is adequate and his arms are long, which helps in coverage. Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers and Nickell Robey are considerably smaller in stature and better suited inside. McKelvin is probably best as a boundary corner.
3 - @ChrisBrownBills
What is up with Mario? How come he doesn’t interview after practice? Did they ever say what it was with his foot?
CB: He does usually once a week during the regular season and occasionally during training camp. Last night he did not stop for an interview because he had to get treatment with the athletic trainers. Head coach Doug Marrone did not say it was his foot that needed treatment. During camp there is typically an assortment of bumps and bruises that players experience that needs attention, especially linemen who endure more physical contact than other players.
I’m not trying to be a Mario apologist here, but even if it was his foot that necessitated the treatment I’d at least take comfort in the fact that he’s trying to take care of what’s nagging at him.
4 – Chris,
I appreciate the work you do on the Bills site, nice job.
A few points – when it comes to Byrd I think the Bills want to let this season play out and let some of their young safeties get some game reps (I.e. Searcy, A Williams, D Williams, Meeks) and see where they stand at the end of the year. While I think Byrd is a very good all-around player, the one thing I think he lacks, is that he is not a particularly big hitter, and I think that can change a defense when their safeties will hit.
The O line position that I think is more important than left guard is right tackle. Who do you think the right tackle will be, and how good of play do you think the Bills will get from that position?
We hear so much about the Bills up tempo offense but to me, that is not really an offense. Conceptually, in terms of routes, blocking schemes and personnel groupings, what do you think the Bills offense will look like?
Do you think the Bills need a legitimate big back? Certainly, CJ is a supreme talent, but to me, he is a space player, and to me 20 touches a game would be ideal. To me, Fred is a good all-around player, a good pass protector, a good screen game back, and a runner who makes his yards on a combination of vision, balance and using his blocks. But I think the Bills would benefit from a legitimate big running back. I think such a player could help on the goal line, third and short, and be a good complement to CJ and Fred. What do you think?
CB: Okay a lot to cover here. First, I disagree with your assessment that Jairus Byrd is not a hitter. He absolutely is a hitter. Evidence of that comes from the fact that since the 2009 season, no other safety in the league has more forced fumbles than him. He’s got 10. That being said the bigger hitters of the current contingent are Da’Norris Searcy and Duke Williams.
Right now I think the right tackle will be Erik Pears, who finally appears recovered from groin and hip problems the past two seasons. He’s moving as well as I’ve seen him and he’s as tough as they come. Chris Hairston, who is still on PUP, may very well miss all of training camp as he has not been moved onto the active roster yet.
Couple that with the fact that Sam Young and Thomas Welch have been unable to unseat him and it looks like Pears’ job to lose.
Concerning the Bills offense yes it will be up tempo, but it is a unique system that no one else is running. So I’ll give you the details that won’t give up the brilliance behind it. The easy identification is that it’s fast, but it’s also multiple personnel, slightly more run than pass (probably 52% to 48%) with stretch the field components. It has West Coast system roots with a physical edge to it.
It won’t be complicated, just fast and multiple in terms of looks.
If Fred Jackson is not the kind of goal line back you want because you don’t think he’s big enough Kendall Gaskins is the only back in camp (who isn’t a fullback) that is bigger. He’s 6’1” 238 and he can lay the lumber. He’s had a nice camp, but whether he can unseat Tashard Choice remains to be seen.
5 - @ChrisBrownBills
how’s Carrington doing? Was projected as breakout player but haven’t heard much about him?
CB: If you haven’t heard or seen much you might be living under a rock. He’s been a routine component of our highlight reels on Bills Roundup every evening we cover the day that was in training camp. I’ll let defensive coordinator Mike Pettine give you the assessment of the kind of camp he’s had (high praise).
“He’s a guy that we have a saying where we talk about playing like Bill, tough, competitive, productive, relentless, all the traits that we’re looking for in our guys,” said Pettine. “You go right down the list and he’s every one of them. He’s a guy that loves football, wants to get better, wants to get coached hard, asks the tough questions and it just shows up in his play.
“He’s probably our most technically sound guy up front. We emphasize to our guys that we want to get knock back on the offensive line and he’s probably our most consistent guy doing that, but the position he’s in I don’t think he’s going to show up on the stat sheet as much from a scheme standpoint. But to me he’s going to be one of the more important pieces of our defense.”
Tags: C.J. Spiller, Chris Hairston, Da'Norris Searcy, Da'Rick Rogers, Doug Whaley, Duke Williams, Erik Pears, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Jairus Byrd, Kendall Gaskins, Leodis McKelvin, Mario Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Robert Woods, Sam Young, Tashard Choice, Thomas Welch
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills head coach Doug Marrone spends time on the details when it comes to his football team. Keenly in tune with the measure of talent at each and every position on the roster, Marrone doesn’t harbor concerns about the team’s cornerback position.
Leodis McKelvin has been sidelined since last week with a groin problem as a result of overcompensating for the surgically repaired side of his groin. Justin Rogers is only now just returning to the practice setting, though he’s not going to play in Friday’s preseason game against Minnesota.
With a lack of proven performers to line up on the boundary some wonder if the depth at cornerback is sufficient. Marrone does not.
“I would like to have Leodis back and playing, but we want to be smart about it and bring him back when he’s fully healed and ready to go,” said Marrone. ”Knowing that he’s going to be back I think provides a sense of, I don’t know if comfort is the right word, but you feel he’s coming back.
“We feel good about how the other players are developing behind him. We have a lot of options there and options at our safety position that can do that. So as far as going out and looking for someone else for that position who may not be in camp right now, I don’t see that. We have enough players here to make us sleep at night.”
Marrone is referring to both Aaron Williams and Duke Williams as safeties that have the ability to line up at cornerback. Crezdon Butler is also coming off a nice opening preseason performance.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Crezdon Butler, Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, Leodis McKelvin
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills rookie safety Duke Williams left practice early Saturday and did not come out for practice on Sunday. Head coach Doug Marrone provided the update on Williams’ condition.
“He showed some concussion-like symptoms yesterday,” said Marrone. ”We thought he was fine initially coming off the field and then he showed some symptoms where we make sure we’re doing everything we can as an organization and a league for player safety. Once we see those symptoms they go through a process with our trainers and doctors until they’re able to be released.”
Williams is not expected to participate in Monday’s team scrimmage.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Duke Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills
While the Jairus Byrd franchise tender remains unsigned by the Pro Bowl safety, Buffalo hasn’t sat idly by hoping the situation get resolved sooner rather than later. Buffalo drafted a pair of safeties and transitioned Aaron Williams from corner to safety early in the spring practices.
Williams showed promise as he was one of the two leading interceptors in the spring workouts in Buffalo’s secondary. His confidence appeared to grow, as well as the confidence the defensive staff has in him.
“I think he’s ahead of schedule of where we thought he would be,” said Mike Pettine of Williams. ”He’s flashed just the things that we saw in him as far as being a safety. He’s had some interceptions and obviously his range his ability to get sideline to sideline is obviously something we’re going to take advantage of.”
Buffalo also drafted a pair of safeties in the middle rounds in Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. Though it appears that Williams will see some time at cornerback too. Da’Norris Searcy, Dominique Ellis and Mana Silva are other options that have seen time with the top two defensive lineups in the spring.
None of them have Byrd’s experience and none of them are proven commodities at that position in the NFL. It’ll certainly be a position that bears watching in training camp whether Byrd signs and reports or not.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Dominique Ellis, Duke Williams, Jairus Byrd, Johnathan Meeks, Mana Silva, Mike Pettine, Top 25 questions until training camp
Posted in Inside the Bills
Here’s where you can find one of Buffalo’s draft choices on the radio this afternoon.
Fourth-round pick Duke Williams will be on The Fan 1270 AM with Bull today (Thursday) at 1 pm.
He’ll be talking about the NFL rookie symposium that he and his draft classmates attended the past few days in Canton, Ohio. The Bills players also visited the Hall of Fame, which we covered on Buffalobills.com.
Tags: Duke Williams, Player radio appearances, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills brass is expressing confidence in the collection of young, but relatively unproven cornerbacks on their roster beyond Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. The likely reason is they feel they have options on the roster to turn to should certain players not fill the roles they’re expected to come training camp. Aaron Williams is an obvious one, but there’s still another that the coaching staff may turn to first.
Buffalo’s defensive staff is clearly pleased with the transition Williams has made to safety and it appears on the surface that they want him to continue to development in center field. So if some cornerback help is needed on the boundary one of the more likely candidates to step in should some of the regular cornerbacks fail to live up to expectations is rookie fourth-round pick Duke Williams.
Williams, as mentioned the day he was drafted, played in just about every position in the secondary during his time in college at Nevada. During the spring practices he lined up outside at cornerback and did not look out of place. In fact there were a couple of plays that he ran stride for stride with T.J. Graham in coverage and broke up his share of passes.
Williams ran a 4.48 40-time at the NFL Combine and has natural coverage instincts. If the Bills do not add a bargain veteran cornerback to the roster this summer it’s likely due to some of the promise Duke Williams showed in OTAs and the minicamp on the corner.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Bills OTAs, Duke Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills scout Brad Forsyth commented on Bills’ fourth-round pick Duke Williams’ aggressive nature on the field and admitted that there’s an angry edge to his game.
“He does have a bit of a nasty edge to him. That’s part of his personality,” said Forsyth. ”That’s the way he likes to play the game and that’s something you don’t want to take away from him because it’s what makes him a good player.”
Williams hits like a linebacker sometimes despite being just 201 pounds. Here are some highlights.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Duke Williams
Posted in Inside the Bills