Inside The Bills

Bills returners tonight

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2010 – 1:38 pm

It’s final audition time for some players on Buffalo’s roster in the preseason finale, and often the ones that can show they can help on special teams in addition to offense or defense are the ones that help themselves the most. Here is the list of kick returners and punt returners for tonight’s game agains the Lions.

On kick return Joique Bell, Donald Jones and Chad Simpson will be the primary returners.

On punt return Naaman Roosevelt and Ellis Lankster will be the returners.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-27

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2010 – 12:49 pm

Big preseason game test coming up Saturday night. Eager to see more progress from all three phases. As always questions can be sent to (AskChris@bills.nfl.net). Let’s get going with this week’s edition.

1 – Hey Chris it kind of seems from a fans prospective so far that the bills staff intends to keep Levi brown as the 3rd option, is that the case or still a little early to say?  

Frank (Bills fan in dolphin country) Miami, FL

CB: First, my condolences for having to live amongst Dol-Fans (man that’s a lame term isn’t it?). With respect to the quarterback contingent I believe that Levi Brown will be carried on the 53-man roster. I think there is too much potential there to risk putting him on the practice squad.

Bills GM Buddy Nix in a recent interview on the Shredd and Ragan show (103.3 The Edge) up here in Buffalo confirmed that they’re only keeping three. My feeling is that Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick are likely the two QBs fighting for the one remaining spot. Brown will be the third QB, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the 53-man squad. 

2 – Chris,

Since Jackson’s injury seems to be longer term than Lynch, if Lynch performs well do you think he may become the feature back again? He has looked great in TC I hear, and if he is back to his 2008 form he could be in for a good season. I know some coaches stick with what works and if he is getting it done why fix it if its not broke. Your thoughts??

Thanks 
Wes

CB: I think anything is possible with respect to the so called number one role in the offensive backfield. As Chan Gailey has said, he doesn’t care about hurting people’s feelings, he cares about scoring points. Yes, Lynch had a good camp prior to the injury, but so did Jackson. Jackson is still shooting to be back by the opener, and I don’t count that guy out on anything he puts his mind to.

Personally I think if Jackson does come back by Sept. 12 that he’ll be getting the lion’s share of the rushing work.

3 – Chris,

This is the first time I have ever wrote to you about the Bills, but I ( like many other Bills fans) am getting extremly frustrated with the organization and its decision making process.  One question that has been bothering me is why wont the Bills trade Fred Jackson? 

We have a crowded back field and some decision needs to be made.  Jackson’s value is never going to be higher than it is right now!  He’s almost 30, and the Bills got him for practically nothing, so their return on their investment would be amazing.  I know he has had one season with over 1000 yards rushing, but Lynch has done it twice in 3 years.  In my opinion he would have reached that mark last year if he wasn’t suspended.  Lynch is a capable back that has been proven way before Jackson came along.  I guess my point is…we could trade him to get more draft picks in the upcoming draft, since we are committed to turning this organization around through the draft.  If need be trade Lynch as well to get more picks to solidify our lines!  That’s where football games are won anyway. Please let me know your thoughts!

Thanks,
Elbert.    Albany, NY

 

CB: Unfortunately you’re not the first person I’ve heard this line of logic from. While I completely respect the idea of dealing from a position of strength to fortify other areas of your team, the plan in 2010 is to lean very heavily on the running game. It’s shown great promise in the preseason and Chan Gailey has a history of success running the football.

Jackson can do everything well as evidenced by his season last year when he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and accumulate 1,000 kick return yards in a season. He also LED THE LEAGUE in combined yards from scrimmage. More than Chris Johnson, more than Josh Cribbs, more than everybody. In fact it was the fourth highest combined yardage total in NFL HISTORY.

So if you want to get rid of that guy I think you’re nuts. I say keep all three in the fold and pound the rock in 2010.

4 – Chris, I’d be interested in knowing if you think any of these players will be on the 53 man roster opening day.  Donovan Woods, John McCargo, Donald Jones, Ellis Lankster.  Also, what is the status of Easley & Wang?

Pete Howell

Fairport

CB: I think Ed Wang is a lock despite his injury. Of the rest I believe Ellis Lankster has the best chance. Granted he didn’t have his best game against Indy in the preseason, but the fact is you can never have enough cornerbacks. If the Bills keep six corners, he’s the guy. Donovan Woods and Donald Jones are in the hunt. Marcus Easley’s season is over, he’s on I-R. As for John McCargo, he’s worked very hard to adjust to playing defensive end in a 3-4, but I think he’s caught in a numbers game at the position, and knowing the Bills are likely to keep just six defensive linemen, I think he could be on the outside looking in.

5 – Hi Chris,

After 2 pre-season games, the special teams performance has not been very good, particularly on kick/punt return coverage.  The tackling has been poor and it has resulted in some decent return yards for the opposition.  Do you think this is a reflection of the Bills trying out players who have not had experience playing special teams, a new scheme that the players are still learning under Bruce DeHaven or do you think this is a real cause for concern?  Also, in practices, do you think special teams is getting enough reps?

Thanks.
Shenif

CB: There’s no question that coverage on kicks and punts has been a bit suspect. I discussed this with head coach Chan Gailey in a one-on-one setting and here’s the answer straight from the head coach’s mouth.

“We have people in the wrong places,” said Gailey. “We’ve got to get people in the right places and staying disciplined in their lanes. Some of that is because guys haven’t done it since they were freshmen in college.

“Preseason is about teaching those guys how to play on special teams that haven’t played there before. And we’re looking at a lot of guys on special teams to find out if they can help us or not.

“So you really don’t have your starting special teams units on the field like you do on offense and defense early in the game because you don’t know how many punt returns or kickoffs you’re going to get so you have to get those guys out there early in the preseason games.”

I believe the new scheme and some turnover have been contributing factors as well, but I’m confident Bruce DeHaven will have things humming come the regular season.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nickel corner revisited

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2010 – 9:32 am

With the nickel corner competition being addressed on the home page, I thought I’d toss in some observations from the spring camps.

Among those that made the most plays on passes through the course of the OTAs and minicamps of those listed in the nickel corner competition were Reggie Corner, Ellis Lankster and Ashton Youboty.

Now that’s not to say that Drayton Florence and Lydell Sargeant didn’t have their share of pass breakups too, they did. Florence’s game is clearly the most physical of the group and you need physical play inside.

The distance between the QB and the slot receiver is obviously shorter than with an outside WR, so getting a good jam or delaying the receiver from getting into his route is key inside. Florence excels in this area.

Youboty is the only other candidate in this group with a similar stature to Florence and he’s longer and lankier, which helps him knock passes away from receivers.

Corner, Lankster and Sargeant are all more compact type corners. They’re lightning quick, but if there’s a big WR in the slot channeling them to one side or another can be a task at times. Still their quickness affords them the ability to undercut receivers to make plays on the ball.

This nickel corner job is going to be one of the more competitive in camp, with a lot of capable candidates.


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Lankster questionable

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2009 – 4:45 pm

Bills CB Ellis Lankster missed practice on Friday due to back spasms.

He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. If he cannot go, Buffalo will be down to four cornerbacks for the game in Terrence McGee, Drayton Florence, Reggie Corner and Ashton Youboty.


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Lankster not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2009 – 3:07 pm

Bills fifth CB Ellis Lankster was not participating during the portion of practice that’s open to the media.

Bryan Scott, Donte Whitner, Paul Posluszny and Chris Ellis (absent) were also not participating.

We’ll have a full update from Coach Jauron after practice.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-9

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2009 – 11:54 am

Gotta get a win this week. No ifs, ands or buts. Let’s get to your questions. And send your future questions to AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1. Hi Chris, while watching the Bills game, I noticed that the four times that Trent Edwards tried to reach Terrell Owens they were mostly deep balls. Why didn’t they use Owens underneath? Like in a run and catch play? He is very dangerous when utilized in this fashion.

I understand that teams are limiting the deep ball, but the Bills could have went to both Owens and Evans underneath, and turned in huge gains in each situation. Obviously, it is the receivers job to catch the ball regardless of the play, but I think the Bills are using Owens the wrong way. What do you think?
 
Tony, Daytona Beach, Florida.

CB: I think there’s some merit to your suggestion. We actually saw Owens and Evans targeted more on some intermediate routes in the preseason. Both of Owens receptions in the Hall of Fame game were short and intermediate throws that Owens turned into first downs after the catch. Knowing the protection has been spotty of late I’d be all for letting Owens and Evans gain the extra yards after the catch instead of trying to get it on one big throw.

 
2. In watching each one of the bills games I notice the DB’s playing at least 7-10 yards off from TO and Lee, what would be so hard to stand and throw the ball to them on the back shoulder as they come off the ball. I watched closely to see if they were being baited and were going to run out a LB or DE but in at least 6 of the times nothing happened. I also noticed that Lee and TO mostly run down the side line and haven’t been curling or skinny post ….. nothing. I can’t believe this is the whole arsenal they have established for 12 mill per year. Every team with a stud receiver finds a way to get them the ball…. 
Thanks 
Terry

CB: I don’t deny that it’s been frustrating to watch. Much like the answer above, I’m not opposed to giving Trent the option to check to a ‘now route’ when he sees single coverage outside and the cornerback is playing off Evans or Owens. Take two steps back from center and throw them the ball to them right at the line of scrimmage and let them make a defender miss to get yards after the catch. It’s a much higher percentage throw and gets Evans and Owens involved quicker.

 
3. Chris,

Do you see the Bills looking to Jackson to return kickoffs more now that Lynch is back?  Parrish seemed to struggle against the Saints though he was better against Miami. With McKelvin out the return game has looked weak.  Any other thoughts on others that could return kicks if Jackson doesn’t?

Thanks,
Dan

CB: Jackson was out there with Parrish on a few kick returns in Miami, but as you pointed out Parrish fared better against the Dolphins. If the team does decide to go in another direction Jackson is an option as is Xavier Omon who has done kickoffs. I also think an intriguing option would be rookie Ellis Lankster who returned kicks and punts in college at West Virginia and was a JUCO All-American returner.

 
4. Due to the recent scoring struggles we have had and the addition on Lynch back to our offense, do you see us using some type of situational wildcat offense?  To me, a backfield of Jackson and Lynch would be extremely lethal.
 
Best regards,
Ryan Korchinski

CB: I’d be surprised if it becomes a prominent feature, but with the struggles they’ve had I don’t see why they couldn’t turn to it for a series or two. I’d have Fred Jackson in the quarterback role (Ronnie Brown), with Marshawn Lynch as the move back (Ricky Williams role). Roscoe Parrish was also utilized in the QB role in training camp having been a former HS QB. We’ll see.

 

5. Chris,
With McKelvin going down, that leaves McGee, Florence, Corner, Youboty, and Lankster.  Do you think Lankster will be seeing any action this week?  Will he even be on the active roster?
-Chris, Rochester

CB: He was active, but did not play on defense last week against the Dolphins. He’s basically the 5th corner now with McKelvin on I-R. He’ll play on special teams depending on numbers each week. I wouldn’t mind seeing him on kick returns. He’s got potential there I believe.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Palmer ready to fill

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2009 – 9:10 pm

Rookie Ashlee Palmer’s goal was to be a starter in this league some day. Never did he think he’d get the opportunity to prove himself so soon in his career.

Palmer was having a promising training camp before a high ankle sprain sidelined him after the first preseason game in Canton.

“I’m kind of like right where I want to be. I’m coming into a situation where they had starters already set and me being undrafted and I had really thought I was going to make the practice squad with me being hurt, but I end up making the roster and that set things off from there,” Palmer said. “I have special goals for myself and one of them was to become a starter in the league one day and I get that opportunity this week.”

Palmer is viewed as a fit for Buffalo’s ‘Tampa 2′ scheme which preaches 11-men to the football. Being a linebacker with a lot of range Palmer can get to the ball quickly. The question is how comfortable does he feel in the system?

Though the scheme he played in his senior season at Ole Miss nothing like Buffalo’s system, he played almost the exact same defense the year prior as a Rebel.

“At Ole Miss we ran a lot of man so the scheme was totally different,” he said. “But I ran this style my junior year at Ole Miss under Ed Orgeron. But it’s just a difference in terminology and getting used to that. Not a big difference.”

Watching him all offseason and preseason, he was one of the more impressive rookies athletically. The only other rookie that may have been more athletically gifted was Ellis Lankster, so you can understand why the Bills staff is going to put him out there and give him a shot.


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How CB depth chart shakes out

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2009 – 8:01 pm

With Leodis McKelvin now on injured reserve and lost for the season, here’s how the Bills depth chart shakes out at cornerback.

Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence are the starters. Reggie Corner is the first nickel and the backup to Florence on the right side.

Ashton Youboty is McGee’s backup on the left side. He’s also Corner’s backup at nickel.

Ellis Lankster is now the team’s fifth corner.


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Fan Friday 9-18

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2009 – 7:11 pm

Getting ready for Week 2. Got some good questions from you. Keep them coming. AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Hi Chris,
 
Do you know how the “Bills’” name came about?  And if so, what exactly does “Bills” stand for?
 
Currently in Baghdad, Iraq and was part of an interesting discussion with some guys the other day.
Thanks,
Mark

CB: Here’s your answer on the origin of the “Bills” team name. It goes all the way back to 1946 when in an effort to generate more fan interest and distinguish the All-American Football Conference team from the city’s minor league baseball and hockey teams, which were also called the Bisons, the team ran a contest to select a new name. Over 4,500 entries were submitted, and the “Bills” won out over “Bullets” “Nickels” and “Blue Devils.”

James F. Dyson, though not the only one to suggest Bills with his entry, was named the winner of the $500 grand prize based on his essay comparing the team to a band of “Buffalo Bills.”

When Ralph Wilson founded the AFL club in 1959 they adopted the name left behind by the AAFC team.

 

2. Hi Chris
I am a long time Bills fan, and am wondering what role you think the following three young players (I like them all) will have on the team come regular season: Steve Johnson, Reggie Corner and Ellis Lankster.

Thanks
Chris Straus

CB: Right now Reggie Corner is the nickel cornerback. That could change however, once Drayton Florence returns to the lineup. Steve Johnson and Ellis Lankster are two players that will find it hard to be on the active roster on game day when seven players must be inactive. Johnson has a greater chance to make a contribution than Lankster, but it might not come unless there is an injury or two at receiver.

 

3. Chris- When players look at still photos on the sidelines, what information can they get from that to help during the game?
     Thanks TM

CB: Offensive players are looking at the defense’s pre-snap look and then there will be another photo after that which reveals how they defended the play out of that look. Quarterbacks can see how the opponent disguised a defensive play call on a particular down and distance so if that look is shown again later in the game they have a better idea as to what might be coming on a 3rd-and-medium. That’s just one example, but there’s valuable info they can get off those photos when assembled in sequence.
HI Chris.

 

4. I am a big Bills fan, and I was wondering what you thought about Dick Jauron’s comments about the 3-4 defense.  And how he said he’s not opposed to using it and that you need the right personnel.  Personally I think our defense is showing improvement but I really think that they need to get out of the middle of the pack and get to the top 10 this season for success.  Though it is far too late to be thinking of this, I think we do have the right personnel for 3-4 defense. You would have Marcus Stroud as the NT, move John McCargo to DE and Spencer Johnson to DE.  Then you move Aaron Schobel and Aaron Maybin to OLB.  And then slide Mitchell into ILB with Paul Pozluszny.  What do you think of this.  I understand it would be impossible to incorporate now but do you think it could have worked?.
 
Thanks and Go Bills!
Kevin

CB: It’s an interesting plan you have there with the exception of Stroud at the nose. In his first edition of Marcus’ Mailbag on Buffalobills.com this week he said he does not consider himself a two-gap nose and would rather play the five-technique (DE) in the 3-4 if it came to changing the front. I think all your other moves are realistic.

Who knows? With a strong DT class coming out in 2010, maybe some more serious thought can be given to that idea in the future. But not this season.

 

5. Chris,

I hope all is well with you today!  My son and I were curious how Kevin is doing?  Do you plan on doing any updates?

Darin
Nashville Bills Backer!!!

CB: I don’t have any updates for you on Kevin Everett. For all of us Kevin will always be a Bill, but now that he’s no longer with the team we don’t keep track of him and his progress as much as we used to. To keep up to speed on what he’s doing I encourage you to go to his website at the following link (below). He’s got a blog page there as well as a link where you can send him an email. I’m sure he’d be glad to reconnect with some Bills fans.
http://www.thekevineverettfoundation.org/AbouttheFoundation.asp


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Sporting News has Bills special teams ranked #1

Posted by Chris Brown on September 10, 2009 – 1:53 pm

After finishing last season as the top ranked special teams unit, the expectations are there to be #1 again.

The Sporting News has the Bills special teams holding the top spot in their preseason rankings.

Bobby April’s unit does not appear to have the same degree of turnover it had last season when several veteran specialists departed via free agency. With the core of the units intact and promising newcomers like Nic Harris, Ashlee Palmer and Ellis Lankster the group should not miss a beat this season.


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Jersey number changes

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2009 – 7:16 pm

Rookies Ellis Lankster and Ashlee Palmer have both changed their jersey numbers.

Lankster is now donning #25 and Palmer is now wearing jersey #59.


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2009 training camp awards

Posted by Chris Brown on August 19, 2009 – 4:43 pm

With training camp coming to a close it’s time to hand out our 4th annual training camp awards.

Most entertaining player – Roscoe Parrish – T.O. certainly had his moments, but Parrish from start to finish in camp drew the most oohs and ahhs from the fans with the catches he made and the defenders he juked.

Most improved defensive player – Chris Ellis – As camp wore on Ellis’ confidence grew with the pinnacle coming in the Bears preseason game when he had a sack and forced fumble as well as a fumble recovery. Ellis has taken a big step forward from year one to year two.

Most changed player - Paul Posluszny – This guy’s demeanor on the field has changed significantly. He’s taken full command of the team’s defense and you can see it and hear it in his voice. In year three Buffalo’s MLB is a confident player that’s ready to lead as well as become a playmaker. Trent Edwards is a close second here for a lot of the same reasons.

Most improved offensive player – Demetrius Bell – the offensive tackle has begun to mesh his solid athletic ability with the techniques required to play effectively on the line. He may not start this season, but by mid-season he might look starting caliber.

Most impressive rookie – Ellis Lankster – Helped by the fact that he was a seventh-round pick, Lankster carried his strong spring in OTAs into training camp and did not disappoint. Constantly around the ball, Lankster was among the team leaders in interceptions and pass breakups in camp. Eric Wood was a close second here.

Most consistent veteran – Kyle Williams – The defensive tackle put in his typical solid camp and got consistent penetration during run game segments and fared well during one-on-ones and team work. Honorable mention to Lee Evans and Josh Reed.

Most surprising player – Ashlee Palmer – The undrafted rookie linebacker got a long look in the spring from the coaches and they liked what they saw as they had Palmer running with the second unit. We had him as a training camp sleeper and he made plays in the HOF game, but an ankle injury has unfortunately curtailed his progress. Jonathan Stupar gets an honorable mention here.

Most inspirational player - Marshawn Lynch – Whether he’s joking with an offensive teammate to remind them they have to make a play or trash talking the defense to get them to play harder, Lynch is his own way pulls the best out of his teammates on both sides of the ball. He’s doing it in a much different way, but it’s leadership.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-14

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2009 – 1:25 pm

Training camp is winding down, with three days left at St. John Fisher after today. Still some time before the regular season however. Let’s see what you’ve got for me this week.

1. Hi Chris,
Do you think one of the reasons the Bills have been reluctant to deal with the strong outside linebacker spot is because they plan on using Maybin there (as well as DE)?
Mark (State College, PA)

CB: I don’t believe that’s the main reason why, but it could be a factor. The Bills defensive staff really likes what they’re getting out of Nic Harris so far in the preseason. I believe he’ll push Keith Ellison, but ultimately experience will win out there. But Maybin I believe will be used as a rush linebacker in addition to getting snaps at defensive end. I think where he lines up will depend a lot on down and distance.

 

2. Hey Chris,
I was lookin at your Q&A regarding safties.  You didn’t mention Ko Simpson.  So you think he will be cut this training camp?  I think
that would be a shocker, considering he is young and his experience.  But I guess I can see, with the addition of Byrd, they may not have
the room. Do you think the Bills may look at trading him?

Shawn Sieracki
Dallas, Texas

CB: I think Ko Simpson is a bubble guy in this camp due mainly to the presence of Byrd. Though he hasn’t set foot on the practice field yet, Byrd was taken in the second round for a reason, to get on the field sooner rather than later. Buffalo did not get a single INT from their safeties last season. That has to change. Byrd had 17 INTs in college in three seasons.

If he shows any kind of promise in the preseason games he plays in and doesn’t look lost, he could be a starter before this season is over. Either way he’s a lock to make the roster.

In all likelihood the team keeps five safeties. Right now here’s my list of who I think they keep. Whitner, Scott, Wilson, Byrd and Wendling. Wilson and Wendling make it because they’re more valuable special teams players than Simpson.

 

3. Chris,
Nice job on the site.  How do you see the O-line situation developing…the situation at guard has been often discussed, but a couple of situations I am interested in is (1) Demetrius Bell – probably not a starter this year, but from what I saw last year it seems like he might have the athletic ability to be a LT – do you see him starting in yr 3 or 4?  Also, what do you see happening at backup center, Brandon Rodd or have somebody like Seth McKinney cover backup at guard and center?

CB: With Bell I think they see him as the heir apparent to Langston Walker, who three years left on his deal counting this season. I believe Bell is left tackle caliber. He’s certainly athletic enough. I think he’ll be the team’s swing tackle this fall.
At center Brandon Rodd has done okay as the backup. You’re right Seth McKinney does have NFL experience there, but he has not seen reps in the pivot thus far. I think he would be an option though. I don’t anticipate them putting Eric Wood in there either, despite the fact that he played there in college.

 

4. Hey Chris, 
 
I’ve noticed in most of your articles dealing about the LB position, you always mention Ellison only having two players to battle with for the starting position, Bowen and Harris. Why isn’t Pat Thomas mentioned at all? Is Thomas battling for a back up position behind Kawika or Poz? If Thomas isn’t being considered to battle with Ellison, do you see him actually making the team?
 
Thanks,
Brian Craig (Walworth, NY)

CB: Pat Thomas is battling for the backup MLB role with Marcus Buggs. It’s been a heated competition with the two of them flip flopping back and forth in the backup role behind Poz. As for Ellison his greatest competition looks like it’s going to be Harris. Bowen has been largely on the weak side in camp.

 

5. Hi Chris,
 
The battle to land a spot on the roster at corner is one that I find most intriguting on the Bills this season. How many corners do you figure will make the roster? Which ones?
 
Thanks,
Anthony

CB: I think the top four or five corners are easy to determine, but do they keep a sixth is the question. McGee, McKelvin, Florence, Youboty and Corner all make the roster as I see it. Then if they decide to keep a sixth I believe it’s Ellis Lankster. Cary Harris and Lydell Sargeant probably go to the practice squad.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lankster and other rookies arrive

Posted by Chris Brown on July 24, 2009 – 5:01 pm

7th round pick Ellis Lankster along with a few of the undrafteds are on campus.

Undrafteds Ashlee Palmer, Jermaine McGhee and Lydell sargeant just arrived.

Vet Pat Thomas as well.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lankster has a chance

Posted by Chris Brown on July 7, 2009 – 2:43 pm

The Bills process of signing their draft class began in earnest Tuesday with the two cornerbacks inking deals, one of whom could be a surprising talent come training camp.

Seventh-round pick Ellis Lankster was one of the best performing rookies in the spring practices. He was a good anticipator with good feet and ball skills.

What we all need to keep in mind however, is that the game changes when the pads go on and some defensive backs can play as effectively when the nature of play becomes more physical.

Jabari Greer struggled with that his first couple of years. He’d have a monster spring and then have his struggles when the pads went on before bulking up a bit more a couple of years ago and blossoming.

Lankster however, is a solid 5’9″ and 190 pounds. He’s well built. He’s one of the young players I’m eager to see in a more realistic football setting. I think he’s got a legit chance.


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Youngsters who impressed most at spring camps

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2009 – 8:07 pm

When football is played in helmets and shorts it really lacks the physical element, which is probably the signature element of football. So keeping that in mind and knowing more of the skill position players had a greater opportunity to shine, here are the top young performers from Buffalo’s spring workouts that could do a lot more for the club come the 2009 season.

Stevie Johnson – The second-year wideout made the most of his reps, which at times were more frequent than they’ll likely be at training camp with veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. But his route running was sharper than as a rookie and his hands were consistent. Johnson will have a role on this team in the fall despite the depth at the position.

Derek Fine/Derek Schouman – The reason I list them together is because they worked off each other throughout the spring workouts. Fine looked really good through the first half of the spring schedule while Schouman was on the shelf and then when he returned Schouman was the main target at the tight end position. It should be one of the more interesting position battles come training camp with one being the starter.

Reggie Corner – The second-year cornerback may have had the best spring of any player on the roster. Turning in plays day in and day out, Corner is in the midst of making that big leap in improvement from year one to year two that coaches look for in a player. Based on spring performance he’d be the favorite for the nickel corner role heading into camp.

Ellis Lankster - The consistency isn’t there yet in his game, but what rookie with all of 18 NFL practices under his belt in a new scheme is a consistent player? Lankster made plays on the ball often enough to open some eyes. If that continues in camp he could have a legit chance at the 53-man roster.

Aaron Maybin – Most of his reps came against the second team offense, but Maybin’s ability to bend the corner was apparent even in a non-contact setting as he flushed quarterbacks from the pocket several times during OTAs and minicamp.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

49ers give Bills contract parameters for rookies

Posted by Chris Brown on June 11, 2009 – 4:59 pm

The San Francisco 49ers have been very proactive in signing their draft picks early. And what that has done for the Bills is provide some fairly concrete contract parameters for a couple of their own players.

The Niners have signed a handful of their draft picks already including fifth-round pick Scott McKillop (reportedly 4-$1.94M-$192,250 signing bonus) and seventh-round pick Curtis Taylor (reportedly 4-$1.8M-$59,880 signing bonus).

The reason I mention those two players specifically is they were drafted exactly one spot ahead of both Nic Harris and Ellis Lankster, and they both play the same position as McKillop and Taylor, linebacker and defensive back.

Teams and agents often haggle over the percentage increase from the exact draft spot in which they were taken the previous year, but when a rookie is slotted by other players that sign early right in front or right behind them in the draft, it sometimes can get the process moving a bit quicker. We’ll see.


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Just some observations

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2009 – 8:31 pm

Just thought I’d pass along some of my notes from Saturday’s practice regarding some of the Bills draft choices.

Eric Wood is put together real well. The guy is not even in pads yet and he looks like he’d win most battles in the trenches in the NFL. The guy has done well in one-on-ones (no pads mind you) with fellow offensive linemen.

The linemen were doing some cut blocks in which they lunge out at an angle, leave their feet and throw their inside arm at the defensive lineman’s thigh. Wood was getting some major air and distance. Just a lot of power in that frame of his.

Andy Levitre is more of a technician. He likes to mix it up too, but he doesn’t have the same build as Wood. More squatty and square Levitre holds his own, but is real quick with his hands.

Shawn Nelson is very flexible. There have been several times where he’s had to twist behind his body to make a catch. He bends very well. He’s already made a few shoe top catches on the run. Coach Coiner is getting on him about sharpening up a few of his routes, but he’s been real smooth in the pass game.

Nic Harris is making a nice transition to LB. He has no problem handling coverage assignments. He’s got a lot of confidence in his ability to adapt mentally and physically to linebacker and this scheme is a perfect fit for a guy that runs as well as he does. Had a nice pass breakup in the morning practice today.

Cary Harris looks like he’s hurting. He put on some supportive knee pads today. Didn’t have a chance to ask him if his knees are bugging him, but he’s not running well. He gave up a long touchdown pass today, though he did have a pass breakup in the morning. It just seems like he’s fighting his way through practice.

Ellis Lankster hasn’t made any plays, but he runs well and looks like a decent cover man. I don’t know if that means he makes the roster, but he’s held his own here in this camp.

Jairus Byrd is a sharp tack. The guy is already directing his other DBs and linebackers somewhat pre-snap during 7-on-7 and team work. It’s clear that he’s on a higher level mentally in understanding the nuances of the game. Be nice if that translates into INTs.

Aaron Maybin showed his athleticism during individual position drills. Coach Bob Sanders was doing in pass tip drill, where the player first in line tips the pass and the second defensive linemen intercepts it (or tries to).

When Maybin was the second guy on the drill (the interceptor) he leaped up high and simply snatched the ball out of the air with one hand for the INT palming it like a basketball.


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Posted in Inside the Bills