Positions battles are commonplace in every NFL training camp, but the dynamics with the one for the strong safety role with the Bills are a bit different. One of the candidates for Buffalo’s strong safety job alongside Aaron Williams, Duke Williams explained how the circumstances of the competition between himself, Da’Norris Searcy and Jonathan Meeks give the battle a different vibe.
“Me and Meeks came in as rookies and Da’Norris has been here three years before we have,” said Duke Willaims. “So we try to learn from him and compete against him at the same time.”
Williams has taken that learning part to the next level as he’ll often sit in with Searcy to study film.
“Me and Da’Norris are neighbors so we go to each other’s house and watch film together and go over plays and just talk football together,” said Williams. “It’s a great competition and a healthy competition and we’re all trying to help each other and in the end the better guy is going to take the position.”
As we profiled in our Camp Countdown the strong safety job looks like it’s Searcy’s to lose heading into camp.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Camp Countdown, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Posted in Inside the Bills
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).
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
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.
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!
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??
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?
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.
Tags: 2014 NFL draft, Corey Graham, Da'Norris Searcy, Dan Carpenter, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Johnny Manziel, Jonathan Meeks, Mario Williams, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 - Chris,
Love all the great work you do in keeping those of us who root for the Bills but no longer live in WNY up to date on the pulse of the organization. I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bills Backers here in Portland OR.
My question is what do you think the chances are of the Bills making a real push to go after Jimmy Graham in FA? The talk is that the coaching staff wants to add a big target and a pass catching TE for EJ. With Graham you get both (and maybe the best receiver in the NFL outside of Megatron).
I know he won’t come cheap and they have many TE on the roster but wouldn’t adding him be a major coup for the offense just like Mario was for the defense? It sure looks like the new regime in buffalo is trying to change the culture and this move would be another big step in that direction. He won’t be cheap and we would have to overpay (see Mario again) to get him but WOW. Do the Bills have the cap space and upcoming FA room to swing such a deal?
CB: I don’t anticipate Graham being available on the open market. The Saints know their offense takes a crippling hit without him and will do whatever they have to in order to keep him in the fold.
2 – Chris,
Obviously there is not a Bills fan out there that can thank you enough for all the hard work you do. It shows you love what you do.
Question: I am hearing a lot of talk about drafting a WR come May. I am on board with this pick. With Bills brass bringing in tall WR’s this offseason, I can assume they might want to address this in the draft as well. What I do not get is all the talk about S. Watkins. He is a true top WR, but I already see the same skill set he has in Goodwin, Woods, and Graham. What would be the benefit of adding another receiver of his capability when we the Bills need a tall jump ball receiver?
CB: As outlined by Bills GM Doug Whaley their definition of a big receiver is not based solely on height. We covered this in our NFL combine feature story on Sammy Watkins, who is an example of a big receiver, even though he stands just 6’1”. Here was Whaley’s exact quote in explaining a phrase he likes to use, ‘big wins.’
“At the wide receiver position ‘big wins’ means a guy that plays big,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he’ll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that’s 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn’t play big. So it’s not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.”
3 – Hey Chris ,
Here’s a quick one for you . Seeing as most all of the experts last year saw the QB class as not very good & the pick of EJ as a reach for the Bills (all but Marrone, Nix, Whaley, & Brandon) do you see us taking a QB if a good one falls in our lap in the later rounds ? Especially seeing as the supposed experts see this years QB class as being a very good one filled with candidates !
Thanks again for your time
Mr T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility knowing the Bills subscribe to the best player on the board philosophy. Of course we’ll have to see what Buffalo does in free agency beforehand.
I’ll also say we need to be mindful of the fact that three of the four quarterbacks on the roster are all young and inexperienced. I’m not sure adding another, unless he’s one of extraordinary value, is of interest to the Bills.
4 – Hi Chris, thank you for all the coverage you provide for the Buffalo Bills fans all across the country.
I have two questions for you:
As per the last question I sent you regarding Eric Decker going to the Bills, you said that he would not be a good fit. Ok, I buy that, but how about Kenny Britt or Darius Heyward-Bey? The Bills do need size at the receiving position, and either of these two would provide that.
Also, It has been publicized that the Buffalo Bills will need a veteran backup quarterback to back up E. J. Manuel, in case of another injury. particularly one that can win football games. Two names that come to mind are Chad Henne and Kellen Clemens.
What are your thoughts? As always, I am looking forward to reading your response.
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: Kenny Britt is a talent no question and has size, but his injury history is undoubtedly a concern. The Bills and other NFL clubs will investigate that thoroughly. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a tall and fast receiver, but I’m not sure he’s the bona fide answer the Bills are looking for at the position. We’ll see.
As for the QB free agent market I wouldn’t mind Chad Henne as a backup option. Kellen Clemens is another story. Matt Cassel wouldn’t be a bad option either.
5 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for the coverage.
Q- After watching the Super Bowl seeing Kam Chancellor blow up Denver’s big wideouts and thinking that we might lose Byrd. Do you think if a big receiver is taken in the draft what would it take to get Marcus Easley a look at safety. He was great on special teams and if he’s not being used at receiver why not?
Thanks, Andy (Rochester)
CB: I really doubt that would ever be an option mainly because Buffalo has some young safeties on the depth chart already. I think Duke Williams is a very talented and underrated prospect and will be a good player in this league. I think Jonathan Meeks also has a lot of potential, so there really isn’t a need to move Easley to the other side of the ball.
Tags: 2014 NFL draft, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jonathan Meeks, Marcus Easley, NFL free agency, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
Sunday will be step one in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can make it a season sweep of the Dolphins. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Hi Chris,
As a Bills’ fan for decades, I believe coach Marrone is a good coach. The question is whether he can turn around the losing culture. I have a few questions regarding accountability and talents.
What are the Bills going to do with the undependable players? This includes, but not limited to, Steve Johnson, Leodis McKelvin and T. J. Graham.
What is Jairus Byrd’s long term prospect with the Bills? The Bills like to get rid of established players to save a few bucks. In the end, this contributes to a longer wish list for the ever rebuilding process. A
recent example is the Offensive line. My suggestion is to get rid of Steve Johnson and save some money for Byrd’s contract. (Note, The Bills is in the business to make money. I suppose a better product would lead to increased revenue. In this case, a true contender in NFL).
What is the long term plan for the QB position? I mean both first string and backup in this case? While coach Marrone indicated EJ Manuel is the long term solution. I beg the difference. EJ is not playing any
better than JP Losman by comparing their rookie year. Lewis and Tuel are littering their path with interceptions and fumbles. How long do you think these two can keep their job in NFL?
Marcus Easley seems to be doing a very good job in special teams. What is the possibility of moving him to CB if the Bills cannot use him as WR? This may afford the team to get rid of Leodis McKelvin thereby saving more money.
The New England Patriots seem to be able to overcome huge deficit consistently. When playing with the Patriots (as well as other teams), what are the Bills doing to safeguard our calls/signals from being stolen?
Please keep up with the good work.
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.
CB: I understand why you feel like the players you mentioned are not dependable. This is where the coaches and front office make their offseason evaluations, but being dependable goes beyond just game day. It’s about being a professional every day of the week in everything that you do. So if the players you mentioned struggle in those areas then they could be at risk with respect to their futures here.
Doug Marrone is only going to keep players on this roster that he feels he can win with the way he wants to win. He has stressed accountability time and again and has been clear in explaining to his players what accountability means. They’ve had all season to prove they’re on board. If they’re not, and only the coaches and their teammates would know for certain if that’s the case, then they won’t be here long term.
As for Jairus Byrd, the safety has said he’s open-minded to staying here long term, which is an improvement in terms of where that situation was this past summer. I think Byrd is smart enough to know that he can really flourish in this defense with the talent he has around him on that side of the ball. Talent that is tied up long term for the most part. Byrd has to be convinced that he can win here and as is usually the case the money has to be right as well.
At the quarterback position EJ is their long term answer at the position. You may not be convinced, but the people that make those decisions are. I believe this offseason will be dedicated to putting more talent around Manuel to help him succeed. We’ve certainly seen flashes of ability. What has me most encouraged is the way in which Manuel performs when the game is on the line. Buffalo has needed a clutch quarterback for the longest time and Manuel has shown he has that ability. With improved talent around him he’ll also be better for the other portions of the game too.
I believe the decision makers still see Jeff Tuel as a developmental type prospect. Thad Lewis is still being evaluated, which is why Sunday’s game is huge for him. He’s proven he’s tough and that he can deliver big plays. Now he has to prove he can learn from his mistakes and improve from some of his shortcomings in the first meeting with Miami. It’s really the perfect litmus test for him.
I completely disagree with your Marcus Easley idea. Easley doesn’t not have the foot quickness to play CB, and Leodis McKelvin is having his most consistent season in a Bills uniform at cornerback. Not to mention he’s playing at very affordable money for his position.
Finally, the reason the Patriots are able to overcome big deficits is primarily one reason and one reason only, they have one of the best quarterbacks in a generation in Tom Brady. End of story.
2 – Hi Chris, I live in Western Canada so it is always hard to get coverage on the Bills out here. So I really appreciate all your updates.
My question is about Stevie Johnson. It seems every year there is a play that he fails to make that costs us a game. The game against Pittsburgh in OT where he dropped the wide open pass, the game against the Jets when he again dropped a game winning TD, and of course against the Falcons which just didn’t just cost us that game, but our season.
He is a great receiver, no doubt about that, but I question if he is ever going to be a clutch number 1 receiver. We all agree that we need a big “go up and get it” receiver. So if we get that receiver, someone has to go.
I think we should consider trading Stevie Johnson this off season. Robert Woods is precise in route running and has good chemistry with EJ, and Goodwin and Graham are fast on the outside and can also move inside when needed. I think Stevie is odd man out and gives us the most return for our buck, plus maybe he is to used to losing in Buffalo. What do you think we could get for Johnson? A 2nd rounder or maybe someone like Bowe in KC?
Paddy, Vancouver Canada
CB: I think Johnson is the type of receiver whose return in a trade would be limited. The reason why is he is a possession receiver. He’s a move-the-chains player not a stretch the field, deliver a game-changing play every week type wideout. Johnson is a very unique player with a unique skill set, but he is not going to blow the doors off a defense. All that being said I think at best he’d get you a fourth-round draft choice. Frankly, it might be even less because his contract may not fit the role another team might envision for him, so to take on that salary would likely lead to a team offering less in return like a fifth or sixth-round pick.
3 – Hey Chris,
My question is regarding the offensive line. How do you see the Bills helping the line in the off season? I know they have to see how guys like JJ ‘Unga pan out over the last 3 games, but if they do go after a guy in the draft, do you see them going after a guy who can be versatile? Are there typically guys who can play guard and tackle? I would imagine that’s what coaches look for in any player on the field. Do you think free agency is possible? Also, do you think Chris Hairston will be able to return to form?
CB: I would not be surprised if there are wholesale changes made on the offensive line. As I see it the only players who have job security are Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik rebounded real well this past week after a down week in Tampa, but I think he will be pushed for his starting job this offseason and into training camp based on what we saw the past couple of weeks with J.J. ‘Unga. Beyond those three I expect to see change there. I think the organization will look to the draft and free agency to address the offensive line.
4 – Chris,
Thanks for the great reporting, week by week for the Bills. Yourself and John Murphy do a great job but My question is based of everything about this youth movement and getting these unknown guys more playing time. I been listening and reading about the guys y’all are naming but I keep seeing this guy left out…. Duke Williams? Why is he not getting involved in the discussions and not getting more reps? What part of his game is lacking that has him buried on the depth chart? Because before the season he was getting hyped up as a utility guy in the secondary, that could play multiple positions. What happened? Please explain that to me.
Brian in South Carolina
CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to Murph. Duke Williams is a player that has been seeing time mainly on special teams. The reason he has not seen time at safety is because there is quality and experienced talent in front of him in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard. I do think heading into next season Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks could challenge for bigger roles and what happens with Byrd and Leonhard this offseason with both being free agents will have an impact on that as well.
5 – Chris,
I have been surprised at the lack of two back sets the Bills are utilizing this year. I would think this would confuse defenses as Fred is a highly capable pass-blocking back and we all know about CJ’s home run ability with every touch. Would these formations not mix things up and keep opposing defenses off balance… not knowing to expect run or pass?
Also, I am concerned (as are many fans) about the utilization of CJ Spiller. Not in terms of number of plays per game, or on the year, but the play calls he is being used in. They seem to heavily favor running him behind the left or right guards. Why not more screen plays? I think all of us get excited when CJ Spiller has the ball with 3-4 blockers in front of him with the ability to pick and choose which lanes he wants to take.
Jim from Massachusetts
CB: We saw some split backfield in training camp, but there has been very little of it during the season. I do think there is an element of predicitability there when they have only Fred or C.J. on the field in a single back set. Heading into last week’s Jacksonville game I know that Spiller had not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the snaps since Week 2.
However, when he is on the field he got the ball 60 percent of the time. While the usage is admirable I fear that it makes Buffalo’s offense predictable when Spiller is in the backfield.
Jackson is usually on the field in third down situations because they trust him with blitz pickup and blocking assignments.
I don’t know a one-thousandth of what Nathaniel Hackett knows about football, but I do think a split backfield with C.J. and Fred in the offensive backfield on third down could create a lot of headaches for opposing defenses. That’s where I think it could be most useful for Buffalo’s offense.
Tags: C.J. Spiller, Cordy Glenn, Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Eric Wood, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, J.J. Unga, Jairus Byrd, Kraig Urbik, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Easley, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
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