Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 9-12

Posted by Chris Brown on September 12, 2014 – 12:29 pm

Perhaps the most anticipated home opener in a long time and it’s Miami on top of it. It’s been a heck of a week for Bills fans with all the positive news. Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

My question to you:

Could you see the Bills putting Cordy Glenn at LG because it seems like they are deeper at tackle than they are at guard? I know they have experimented with him there a few times but it just seems like they don’t have an answer at LG at all even with the Williams signing. I would go from left to right: Henderson, Glenn, Wood, Urbik (or Richardson or Williams) and Pears. With an injury to a T you could then slide Glenn back to LT and put Henderson at RT. I think this gives you the best 5 up front.

Thanks!
Dave
twitter: DTaylor716

CB: I think the way things looked in Week 1 the front five that coach Marrone has put together looks pretty good and should only get more and more comfortable together as the weeks wear on. I think the key thing to remember here is to have your two most athletic linemen on the edges now that most NFL clubs have speed rushers on both sides, which the Bills will see this week with Miami’s Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.

I did an in depth piece on this regarding how important the right tackle has become in the league now knowing NFL defenses are putting speed on both sides.

Buffalo’s two most athletic linemen by far are Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson. So putting them at the two tackle positions is the best way to go as I see it.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

My question regards the slot position- both how we plan to defend it and attack other defenses with it.

I’ve read recently about the “big nickel” package- subbing out the nickel corner for a third safety to better match up against the monsters that are being put into the slot now-( see Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski).

Do you see Nickell Robey’s stature as a liability against these bigger slot receivers and is there a plan in place to get a better matchup if we need to? Would this involve Corey Graham coming on potentially or having Searcy Williams and Williams all out as safeties at once? As much as I love Robey- he’s incredible- I just forsee a long day for him trying to cover Gronk in the slot.

Conversely- do you think there is a plan in place to attack smaller nickel corners with our offense? I notice that neither Hogan nor Woods are exactly giants- I wonder if we will see Mike Williams or one of our bigger guys slide inside to slot to take advantage of some potential mismatches.

Thanks for everything you do for the Bills and us fans!

Tim
Ovid, NY

CB: I think what you saw last week was in Buffalo’s nickel at times they’ll make use of Duke Williams as a hybrid linebacker. Similar to the way Bryan Scott and Da’Norris Searcy have been used in years past, Williams has the physical game to help in the run game, if there’s a draw play or something on third down, but also possesses the cover skills and physicality to handle coverage assignments.

Aaron Williams has the size and physical style to match up with a bigger player in the slot too as does Nigel Bradham, who is back this week. So I think Robey can still serve in his role and should a size mismatch present itself Buffalo has enough options to deploy against a larger slot receiver/tight end.

 

3 – Hi Chris!!

First of all, thank you for your great work keeping us Bills fans always well informed. Quick question. Are the Bills planning to wear their white alternate jersey this season? If so, which game?

Thanks Chris & take care!
Luis Estrada
(Puerto Rico)

CB: The only other jersey being worn is the white throwback jersey this Sunday for the home opener along with the standing red Buffalo helmets.

 

4 – Chris,

Love the coverage year round. Helps for a non-local Bills fan. Can you explain the reasoning behind Pears playing RG? He only practiced a few times there and has zero game experience at guard. In the preseason game, he look lost there. Why don’t they keep him at tackle. You had Robert Woods as your camp MVP, so why has he slid down the pecking order at WR? I see him more as outside threat instead of slot. I would like to see him on the field every play.

Thanks
Josh P.
CB: Pears did have some limited experience at guard from his days with the Raiders, though it was only a few games about five years ago. Still I think aside from his first snaps there against Tampa’s Gerald McCoy in the preseason he’s fared well. Pears is also great snap by snap counsel for rookie Seantrel Henderson. Henderson has told me having Pears there is invaluable for him.

Head coach Doug Marrone knows offensive line play, so if he believes this is his best five then I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see how it plays out.

As for Robert Woods, he was my camp MVP because he brought it every day and outperformed the other receivers on a more consistent basis. Yes, Sammy Watkins turned in the highlight reel plays, but Woods is a guy who is going to get you first downs more consistently. In the NFL it’s about keeping the offense on the field with first downs. That’s where Woods helps you most.

And don’t worry Woods will be moved around a lot this season because he’s the most versatile receiver on the roster in my opinion.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills

First day of practice every week is Wednesday. So what does the team/players do Monday Tuesday? Chill or group watch film or ??

RealBryanWatson

CB: Usually on Mondays injured players come in early for treatments. At 9 in the morning there’s a designated weight lifting group. At 10 am there’s a stretch and run conditioning period. Then there’s a second weight lifting group later in the morning. That’s followed by a team meeting at noon. Then they have a special teams meeting followed by offense, defense meetings. That’s where they review game film from Sunday and make corrections.

On Tuesday most players get a jump on the upcoming opponent by studying film while the coaches spend the day putting together the game plan for Sunday. Generally though Tuesday is the players’ day off.  


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Stepping in for starters

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 4:00 pm

Here are the players who will be stepping in for the starters who are not playing for the Bills against the Buccaneers this afternoon.

Cyril Richardson will start at left guard for Chris Williams
Corbin Bryant will start at defensive tackle for Kyle Williams

As expected Erik Pears will start at right guard with Seantrel Henderson starting at right tackle.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Pears performing well

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-27

Posted by Chris Brown on June 27, 2014 – 11:42 am

We’re in the quiet period of the offseason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues about the team to discuss. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,
My question is about the defense and new DC Jim Schwartz.  I know Marrone has said that they will keep the terminology the same for the players, but what does that exactly mean?  I know Schwartz and Pettine have different philosophies but do you foresee Schwartz maybe trying to become more innovative with his D?  In my opinion I think that Rex Ryan and Mike Pettines defense is spreading into the league and can be a new look for NFL defenses.  I know the Chiefs acquired Bob Sutton who has a Jets backround and the Saints have Rob Ryan.   I really like the way Pettine disguised plays and also the way he looked for players that can be versatile.  It just seems like it’s a defense that is spreading into the league and it is very aggressive style, something that needs to match the explosive offenses that are continuing to evolve.  So I guess my question is do you think that Schwartz watched film and talked with Marrone about keeping some of the same looks and ideas that Pettine installed last year and maybe just putting his flavor on it?  What are your thoughts about it?

Thanks, Jillian

CB: I think coaches inherently trust the elements of their schemes that made them successful coordinators or coaches in this league. Jim Schwartz was a coveted head coaching candidates a half dozen years ago because of the way he ran his defense. It’s a scheme that has a long running track of success on third down and against the run, two of the chief problem areas for Buffalo’s defense.

In speaking with Schwartz on a couple of occasions it’s my belief that he’s been in the league long enough to know that you have to adapt to changing trends in the NFL or you’ll be left behind. I do believe some of his defensive scheme has adopted some of the language from Pettine’s scheme for the sake of continuity, but Schwartz believes in his system and he should. The Lions finished sixth against the run and first in third down defense last season.

So while I think there is a healthy respect for the schemes run by Pettine and the Ryans, there are other ways to be successful on the defensive side of the ball. Knowing Schwartz’s scheme is likely to address the two most glaring problems of Buffalo’s defense leaves me feeling encouraged that the team’s new defensive coordinator will have the right answers, they may just be different from what you witnessed here last season.

 

2 -  Hey Chris,

I love your work.  Everyday I look forward to the latest Bills news.  Thanks for keeping us updated.  Living in Dallas, all I get is Dallas Cowboys news.

Here is my question for you, “Can you give any insight on exactly what and how players are graded during the OTA practices?”

Thanks
Shawn Sieracki
Dallas, Texas
CB: Happy to help Shawn and thanks for the compliments. I’m going to turn this one over to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who I believe effectively explained what’s evaluated in the spring practices when there are no pads.

“The only thing we’re really evaluating with players now is their ability to grasp scheme and things like that,” said Schwartz. “The stuff that you’re seeing on the practice field, we’re not judging players on how they finish plays.  It’s a non competitive situation.  We want to learn, we want to learn their role in the defense.  We want to learn how everything fits together, and they are being judged on that and their work ethic.  But the on field stuff, it’s all about technique right now.  When we get to training camp, we’ll start judging them more on wins and losses.  Wins-whether it comes to a coverage or a pass rush or things like that—you have to be careful about judging too much on that stuff out there.  It’s non-contact; it’s not really football.”
3 - Chris

Thanks for your coverage of the Bills.  Is Buddy Nix still affiliated with the Bills? What is his role and did he have any input in the recent draft?

Regards,
Ron Jacobs

CB: Yes, Buddy is still affiliated with the Bills. He no longer works in the office, but is a special assistant to the personnel department. I know that GM Doug Whaley called on him a few times in the pre-draft process to scout a few prospects near his region where he lives in Tennessee.

He was also present in the draft room for all three days of the 2014 draft, sitting in the first row. Having been in the draft room for the whole weekend, Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon went to speak to him on about a dozen occasions.

Many of them appeared to deal with the conversations that Whaley and Brandon had with other NFL clubs concerning trade talks, and as you know Whaley made a handful on draft weekend. It’s clear to me that Nix is still a respected veteran voice in Buffalo’s personnel department.

 

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

CB: Here are the things you need to consider when weighing this question. Will the Bills simply have EJ Manuel carry the offense and throw it all over the field? It’s unlikely. Doug Marrone is a head coach who believes in a run game. Unless he’s got an all-world quarterback that will be his approach. The only difference is Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett will run it at a pace that no one can keep up with.

The pace of the offense last season was compromised by inexperience when injuries struck at quarterback and a new signal caller was starting seemingly every week. All three quarterbacks are a year invested in the system so that is no longer an issue.

So provided they gain the yardage they believe they on the ground consistently, it’ll translate into more first downs, more plays, more yardage and ultimately more points. With more plays there are more carries to go around.

Running as much as Buffalo did last season (they had more total rushes than any team in the NFL in 2013) they’d like to run more this year, as they only ran the ball 48 percent of the time. Keeping the injury factor in mind (See: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson in 2013), Buffalo now has the depth at running back to carry on should one or two of their backs suffer injuries.

The offensive line has also been beefed up with size and strength not only among the starting unit (Chris Williams), but among the reserves (Seantrel Henderson, Cyril Richardson, Chris Hairston, Cyrus Kouandjio). Pass protection is part of it knowing the Bills gave up the fourth-most (48) in the league last year, but it’s about being able to run the ball even when the opponent knows it’s coming.

C.J. and Fred will be the principal players in the run game, but Spiller and Jackson are both versatile talents and will be utilized in the passing game as well. With the depth at running back as well it wouldn’t surprise me if there are multiple backs on the field at the same time.

Hackett always talks about putting the five best skill position players on the field with the five linemen and the QB. One would think that Spiller and Jackson more often than not would be among that group with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon not far behind.

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

What is the competition for RT looking like right now between Pears and Cyrus?#bills

Z_bass10

CB: It’s hard to really make a call on it before the pads are on in training camp. I will say that early in the OTAs, the coaches rotated Kouandjio in with the first unit for a bit less than half the snaps. By the close of OTAs, Kouandjio spent most of his time with the second unit outside of a day when he spent a practice at left tackle due to a lack of numbers on hand.

Kouandjio has to adjust to the speed of NFL pass rushers. He found going against the likes of Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes challenging as you might understand. Pears held his own in the spring practice setting.

For me it’s a competition that’s going to have to wait until St. John Fisher when the pads are on and perhaps well into the preseason.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills take OT Cyrus Kouandjio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 8:07 pm

The Bills with their second-round pick have addressed their offensive line with Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Kouandjio is a big offensive tackle at 6-6 1/2 and 322 pounds. He played left tackle at Alabama, but likely will try to challenge incumbent right tackle starter Erik Pears.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-7

Posted by Chris Brown on March 7, 2014 – 11:50 am

Free agency negotiating opens Saturday, Tuesday afternoon deals can be signed. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills’ fan an update about Chris Hairston? Is he injured? I would like to see him compete for right tackle. What do the coaches think of him? Do you see RT as a position of need?

CB: The Bills have not provided a medical update on Hairston to this point, however, when asked by a Bills fan as to whether he’ll be ready for spring workouts in April, Hairston said he would be (see below).

@C_Hairston75 Are you full go this spring? #Bills

— Bernie Lomax (@Welborn9) March 4, 2014

@Welborn9 yes

— Chris Hairston (@C_Hairston75) March 4, 2014

 

Hairston was on the non-football illness list last season, but he appeared to have a physical ailment in training camp. Whichever cost him his entire 2013 season is unclear. Even if he is cleared to resume his career in the spring I think the Bills will be a bit leery in counting on him and putting all their eggs in his basket as right tackle competition for Erik Pears.

So in the end I think they do look for offensive tackle help in free agency or the draft.

2 – Chris,

Why does it seem like everyone thinks we need  a WR and a TE ? What`s wrong with the core we have now? All our WRs except Stevie have 2 yrs. or less experience with room to grow. And Scott Chandler may not have the speed, but he can block, catch and find ways to get open. He may not be high profile, but he`s a guy that comes to work every play. If anything we need some run stuffing LBs.

Thank You!
Mike

CB: A lot of fans naturally gravitate to the playmaking positions so it’s not surprising that many of the Bills faithful are focused on a big WR or game breaking TE. Of course GM Doug Whaley has said more than once that a receiving talent that plays big would be a huge help to the passing game and EJ Manuel.

I don’t think that focus means fans don’t think some reinforcements need to be added at linebacker. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills add a linebacker in free agency and another in the draft.

3 – Chris,

With all the talent at the offensive tackle position this year in the draft, many draft analysts have the Bills selecting one with their first round pick.  In my opinion, this would be a mistake.  Offensive tackles are not nearly as valuable in the NFL as they were 20 years ago, and do not directly affect the outcome of a game like WRs, LBs or Safeties do.  With that said, I think the Bills need more game-changing playmakers (like WR/LB) of which many of the best are found in the first round of the draft.  So my question is do you think the Bills are better off with an offensive tackle round 1 or someone at a skill position like WR?

Thanks,
Eric from Hamburg

CB: I think both OT and WR are positions that need to be addressed by the Bills in the draft. Fortunately for Buffalo they are two of the deeper positions in the 2014 class.

In determining the better option at ninth overall, a lot will depend on what falls to them at nine. There’s only one, possibly two receivers worthy of the pick at nine. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and some are now making a case for Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. I’m not certain the value is there for Evans as a top 10 talent, but he’s close.

If one of the top three offensive tackles is there for Buffalo at nine it’d be hard to pass up as I see it. Those players being Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.

I wouldn’t rule out Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio provided his knee checks out. I think he’s underrated.

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that offensive tackles aren’t nearly as valuable now as they used to be. I think they’re more valuable because offenses are passing more than ever and with offenses going to more spread formations offensive tackles need to be able to pass protect one-on-one more effectively than ever.

So I think it is a worthy pick at nine for Buffalo if the value is there with who is available.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

When the Browns raided the Bills coaching staff I was afraid we lost valuable pieces of the puzzle. Coach Marrone  not only found great replacements but quite possibly upgraded the staff not to diminish the wonderful job done by Mike Pettine. Does it show the respect Doug Marrone has garnered around the league that he’s able to bring in such quality coaches?  It must send a signal that Buffalo not the worst landing spot for coaches.  As a longtime fan I always remember the woeful staff Kay Stephenson put together back in the 80’s. Is it a telling story on how head coaches are able to put together his staffs?  Thanks for the good work……..
Wally in Fredericksburg , Va

CB: I think Marrone is a respected coach and I think the talent that’s on this roster helps sell the job of defensive coordinator as well.

Your point about the Stephenson staff is duly noted. Unfortunately that’s been repeated by other head coaches who came after him, most notably Gregg Williams and Dick Jauron. Both did not hire strong staffs and it hurt player development, which is perhaps more important than ever in the league now.

Marrone is a refreshing step forward in that respect.

5 – Hi Chris

I follow the bills everyday on the mobile app, diehard fan who grew up in Buffalo, but reside outside of Indianapolis, and watches every game via the Sunday Ticket.

My Question- I know we have a lot of young receivers on the roster, and this past year was a year of developing and see who we got. I remember Chris Hogan catching my eye in the pre-season and the broadcasters talking about how they call him 7-11 because he was always open, in which he was, and he seemed to be catching majority of what was thrown to him. That was the first game against colts. Then I didn’t see him much out there til later on in the season, and again, when he finally got a chance, they referenced him as 7-11, always open, and he would get open and catch the ball. Very curious to why they wouldn’t play him more and mix it up more if he is “always open”. I don’t remember him not contributing much when he did get to line up. Seems like any time his number was called, he truly did get open and caught balls. But his number barely got called.

Thanks, Dustin
Indianapolis

CB: Thanks very much for you insatiable interest in everything Bills. With respect to Hogan, the good news is he was just tendered by the Bills as an exclusive rights free agent, so once he signs his contract tender he’ll be back on the roster for 2014.

Hogan does have reliable hands and runs consistent routes. The fact of the matter is there are receivers ahead of him on the depth chart that have simply been blessed with more talent.

The 7-11 thing comes from a nickname he picked up while with the Dolphins in training camp when Miami was the featured team on the HBO series Hard Knocks.

A lot of times receivers get caught up in a numbers game at the position and often don’t make the 53-man roster. Then if they do finding consistent playing time is an even bigger hill to climb. This is where Hogan finds himself on Buffalo’s roster.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Carrington and Pears back practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2013 – 11:47 am

After sitting out Monday’s practice, Buffalo got two of their starters back at practice Wednesday.

Starting RT Erik Pears and starting DE Alex Carrington are both practicing as they each return from sore ankles.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Carrington, Pears updates

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2013 – 2:49 pm

Alex Carrington and Erik Pears were both held out of practice Monday. Head coach Doug Marrone explained why both missed Monday’s session with their teammates.

Marrone said both players were dealing with sore ankles and were held out today. Part of the benefit of holding them out was it would give them both two days to heal up instead of just one.

“(Their) ankles were sore today and it’s good because tomorrow we’re off so we just wanted to give (them) two days off,” said Marrone. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”

Stephon Gilmore and Doug Legursky were the only other players that did not practice.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-16

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2013 – 12:30 pm

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?

Thanks,
Ron

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?

Thanks,
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?
Thanks
jvsafy

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?

Chris

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?

TerryBdattd

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.”

 


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Fan Friday 7-12

Posted by Chris Brown on July 12, 2013 – 11:57 am

Training camp is closing in. Be sure to stay close to Buffalobills.com as we address the most pressing questions facing the team as they get set for the 2013 season under new head coach Doug Marrone. Here is the latest edition of questions from you the Bills fan from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris:

There were several players still rehabbing during the minicamp. What is their prognosis for the start of training camp? Kyle Williams, Leodis, Chris Hairston come to mind. What was Chris Hairston’s injury? Also, how is Zebrie Sanders doing with his rehab and where is he being slotted along the line? Finally, are Erik Pears, Mark Anderson and Torell Troup 100% yet?

Thanks,
Gerald in Rochester

CB: The following players are expected to be full go that were not 100 percent recovered from offseason rehabs and surgeries.

Kyle Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Chris Hairston, Lee Smith, Erik Pears, Scott Chandler and Marcus Easley.

Obviously, a setback in preparations for training camp could change things. To our knowledge Hairston had a lower body injury.

Mark Anderson participated on a limited basis in the spring. It’s expected that his workload at training camp will be incrementally increased as camp wears on.

Zebrie Sanders and Erik Pears did participate on a limited basis in the spring practices. All signs point to them being full go for training camp as well. They’ve both lined up exclusively at offensive tackle.

Torell Troup was full go in the spring and worked mainly with the second team at defensive tackle.

2 – Hey Chris,

Looking at the situation with J. Byrd this year & going back as far as Jabari Greer, & even as recent as Andy Levitre situation , the Bills have seemed to almost drag their feet when it comes to re-signing their future star players. Sometimes waiting till their contracts are up (like Greer & Levitre) to try & re-sign them we wind up losing said players that would be corner stones of the team for years to come.Yet others they sign way to prematurely (?)  Also if signed before, we may be able to get them at a better price rather than wait & let them test the market.

With all that being said, C.J. being the dynamic back that he is, also given the fact that everyone is thinking he will be even a bigger presence in the new offense, do you see the Bills possibly trying to extend him next year ? I think if we follow the same path taken in the past with other good players mentioned earlier, if he gets the chance to get anywhere near the FA market he’s gone for the big bucks !!

Thanks as always for your insight & keep up the great work we all appreciate you !

Mr. T from Ft. Myers via Nashville

CB: I think your point is an astute one. Of course said player has to be willing to negotiate a new deal and some players have agents that want to wait for the price tag to rise. Now while you’re right in mentioning the players that did get away, Buffalo has also taken a proactive approach in retaining some players long term by signing them to extensions sooner rather than later. Kyle Williams is one example. Kraig Urbik is another.

Your point with C.J. is well taken. I think another player that should merit this kind of ‘sign them early’ consideration is Alex Carrington. It’s clear that the defensive staff believes he could do big things in this defense, and he’s entering the final year of his rookie deal before he becomes unrestricted. Why not lock him up long term now before he performs like the Bills defensive coaches believe he will?

3 – Chris:

I was surprised that EJs contract was for 4 yrs instead of a 5-year contract that is permissable under the CBA terms. This means that his contract and Gilmores will expire the same year.  Do you have a reason why the team did not sign EJ for 5 years, considering the confidence they appear to have in him?   Conrad in Elma

CB: First of all, Gilmore signed a four-year rookie contract with the Bills and will be a free agent after the 2015 season. Manuel under his four-year deal will be a free agent after 2016.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, all NFL first-round draft picks can have four-year contracts with a non-negotiable fifth-year option, although not all will receive it. Since the new CBA went into effect four-year contracts for first-round picks have been the rule, not the exception.

Proof of that comes in the fact that of the first-round picks signed to this point, only Ziggy Ansah, the fourth overall pick to the Lions has a five-year deal among them.

In the grand scheme of things if Manuel pans out as expected, he’ll be re-signed at least a year before his rookie contract expires.

4 – Hey Chris –

Very simple question…Who would win in a foot race between CJ, TJ and Marquise Goodwin?

Thanks!
— James

CB: I think Goodwin has both of them beat.

5 – @ChrisBrownBills @buffalobills Do you expect a No1 Quarterback to be decided before the start of the season? #bills

CJAugarde

CB: I’ll first let coach Marrone take a shot at answering this question since he addressed in a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com.

“As a coach the earlier it can get done the better,” Marrone said. “I’d be a fool to sit here and say otherwise. The earlier the better, but again if you make decisions early and no one can see those decisions with the team then you wind up hurting your football team. So I’m hoping the decision and the timeline really relies on the players that are in competition and they have to separate themselves. And when you give people enough reps they will separate. At what point? I don’t know.”

Personally first-year coaches know that’s a position where a starter needs to be entrenched at least a couple of weeks before the regular season. I believe by the close of the second preseason game, the third preseason game at the latest we’ll have an answer from Marrone and his staff.

 


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Fan Friday 5-31

Posted by Chris Brown on May 31, 2013 – 4:31 pm

Time for the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris

Concerned that the offensive line went unaddressed so far in this off season. Seems we lost 2 of our 3 best guards to free agency. Do you know of any plans to address this?  If not I sure hope EJ can run as fast as reported as he might be running for his well being.

Ray
The only bills fan in New Hampshire

CB: I think there will still be time to address the offensive line in the summer if the Bills personnel department and coaching staff feels it needs to be addressed. I believe with the team not playing real football yet with pads on, it’s been difficult for the staff to assess whether or not an addition needs to be made. I believe the team is in good shape at the tackle position. Obviously the guard position saw two players that played an awful lot of football walk out the door. I’m confident if a position needs to be addressed it will be by this front office.

 

2 – Chris,

We need our receivers to be at top speed by opening day. We need them working with someone like Jerry Rice right now. Like Eric Moulds did on the offseason. Remember the difference that made with Eric?

CB: The receiving corps is young agreed. The comments from the coaches are that this offense caters to aiding younger receivers so they can contribute sooner. You talked about the team needing someone that’s been successful in the league. The Bills already have that in receivers coach Ike Hilliard. In fact Coach Marrone tipped his hat to Hilliard based on how the young receivers performed during OTAs.

“I think a lot of the credit goes to Ike Hilliard and knows what it takes for a young player to make a team because he’s been through it before,” said Marrone. “Those types of experiences with some of our coaches that have an NFL background, we talk to our players all the time about it. But I think it means a little bit more when it comes from a coach that has already done it.”

 

3 - Hi Chris,
Now moving forward to the 2013 season, I have a few questions: why did the bills swap linebackers with Indy, and pick up Jerry Hughes? Is Hughes better than Kelvin Sheppard? As far as the coaching staff, do you feel that the Marrone regime will hold players more accountable than the Gailey regime did? Do you anticipate EJ Manuel being the starter when the regular season commences?

As always, looking forward to your input.

Tony, Ormond Beach, FL

CB: The Bills made the trade I believe for one major reason. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said the strength of his defense is its versatility. Jerry Hughes is a more versatile player than Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard in this kind of defense would probably have been just a two-down linebacker. Hughes is a better athlete that can line up at more than one position and might be more effective in the impact he can make for this defense than Sheppard would have been.

Marrone has been all about accountability since he got here, not only with the players being accountable to one another, but he wants the players to hold him and his coaches accountable too.

Projecting EJ Manuel as the starter is a bit premature. Though he has coach Marrone encouraged, I think we really won’t know how ready Manuel is until we see how he performs in the preseason games.

 

4 - Hey CB

How is Pears looking in practice!!, I here he is getting healthy and should be in good shape by pre-season!!

clickrjp – a fan

CB: Pears over the past week or so has slowly worked his way in to the team portions of practice. It’s been a long road back for Pears after injuries slowed him in 2012, but he saw his most extensive work in team portions of practice Friday. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for the right tackle come the mandatory minicamp next month.

 

5 – Chris,

First off you & John Murphy are my only means of Bills info(all the way in Memphis). Keep up the good work guys. My question is with the acquisitions of 2nd rd Robert Woods,3rd rd Marquise Goodwin,& Undrafted FA Da’rick Rodgers, which I’m excited about especially Woods & Rodgers, so with us getting Goodwin to possibly be the slot guy. Where does that leave T.J. Graham?

He’s a layover from the last coaching staff & not Marrone’s guy. Where does he fit? & throw a talented a Brad Smith in the mix. How are they get all of this talent on the field with Stevie? Is it gonna be a rotation or what? Man I really wanna know.

Draper Jackson
Patiently waiting in Memphis,Tn

CB: I think T.J. Graham has been the most consistent receiver in the OTA practices. He looks like a player that’s ready to take a sizable jump in performance this year despite the new offense. Brad Smith was another consistent performer with Stevie Johnson missing most of the OTAs, it afforded them a good deal of snaps in practice.

I would tend to believe that the Bills keep six receivers on the roster. All of the aforementioned wideouts are firmly in that mix. It’s not going to be an easy call when it comes to picking the fifth and sixth receivers, but Graham is not one you need to worry about. Heading into the mandatory minicamp he’s positioned himself well for a notable role in the offense.


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Fan Friday 5-17

Posted by Chris Brown on May 17, 2013 – 12:31 pm

Time for the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

I don’t see how anybody can say that the Bills are good on the offensive line. The loss of Levitre left a gaping hole there. RT is a question mark, since Pears was injured all last year, and Eric Wood seems like he might be injury prone.

CB: I think your concerns about left guard are legitimate, but beyond that Buffalo has capable players for the starting roles and depth behind them. At tackle you have Cordy Glenn on the left and Chris Hairston on the right. Erik Pears is still limited, but when healthy more than capable himself on the right side.

Kraig Urbik is your right guard with Wood in the pivot. Depth-wise you have Zebrie Sanders as a tackle guard option once healthy. Beyond that it is a green group in terms of playing experience, but that’s the case for most of the league.

 

2 – Chris,

With the new high tempo offense, can we expect Doug Marrone to try to take a lead by choosing to receive this year?

Please say it is so,

Len in NYC

CB: I’ll have to ask him about that to be sure, but most NFL head coaches have found that the research shows if you choose to defer you typically wind up with the last possession of the first half. Obviously by deferring you also get the first possession of the second half. Those back-to-back possessions are seen as valuable in the eyes of many coaches. However, if your defense is substandard it might be wiser to choose to receive first if you win the toss. I’ll see if we can get an answer on coach Marrone’s philosophy on that.

 

3 – Hi Chris:
Now that the draft is over and we still need some positional fills, who do you  think the Bills will go after in FA to fill those voids (like OL, LB, CB)?

Thanks for delivering!
Mike from Orlando

CB: I think cornerback could prove to be the most pressing need. Buffalo has some interesting young talent at corner among the undrafteds, but there’s already a good deal of youth at the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added a veteran to that group at some point.

 

4 – Dear Chris,

My questions are about Brad Smith, I have heard he has looked good this spring as a WR. Is this his only role now or could he still be a wildcat/#3 game day QB? Will coach Marrone even employ the wildcat? If not could Smith be on the trade block at some point this off season?

 

Either way I wish him the best the coming season. He’s a real asset as a triple threat and that seems to be something this new staff seems to value.

I hope to hear from you soon on this as I’m sure I’m not the only fan to be wondering about Brads future here. As always GO BILLS!!!
Thanks,

Scott Kane,
Seneca,Pa.

CB: Yes, Brad Smith is strictly a receiver and a return man at this point. Based on coach Marrone’s comment on the Wildcat after the draft, I highly doubt we’ll see it as any respectable part of Buffalo’s offense.

Smith to his credit has performed well in OTA practices. He and T.J. Graham have probably benefited the most from the absence of Stevie Johnson on the practice field.

As for the trade block, I think we’re a bit ahead of the game at this point. There’s a lot of evaluation that needs to be done by this coaching staff.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Firstly, thank you for your coverage. As a Bills fan since 1986 living on the other side of the world, I am more than appreciative of all informed coverage.

Two quick questions: have the Bills had talks with Brandon Moore. if not, why not?

Secondly, it is all but impossible to follow college football from here. However, I have watched Keith Pough’s highlights. Admittedly, highlights can be very misleading, but he looked terrific. Why was he not drafted? What chance does he have of making the team?

Thanks,
Jeff Wallace,
Sydney, Australia

CB: Thanks for the kind words. To my knowledge the Bills have not talked to Brandon Moore. Obviously, Bills head coach Doug Marrone knows him extremely well. He was the Jets assistant offensive line coach, who turned him from a defensive lineman to a very successful guard on the offensive side. So there’s a relationship there. At age 33, he’s probably not what the Bills are looking for knowing they want to build this roster from the ground up with players that will be here for the long haul.

However, if they do not like what they feel they are getting from the guard spot you can’t rule out the Bills making a phone call to the veteran.

As for Keith Pough, he’s a bit undersized and did not perform well at the Combine, especially when it came to his 40 time (4.87). He also played at a lower level of college competition at Howard. That doesn’t mean he can’t make an NFL roster, but it discourages NFL clubs from taking a chance on him with a draft choice. Signing him as an undrafted offers less risk. I do know that the Bills are high on him among their undrafted group.


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McGee, Pears to each have another surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2012 – 2:42 pm

Terrence McGee and Erik Pears were both placed on I-R Tuesday, and they are each looking at another surgical procedure.

That according to head coach Chan Gailey, who confirmed that both need additional surgeries.

“Just not able to get back,” said Gailey on why both were placed on I-R. “Them not feeling completely well. They both would fight like everything to get on the field and do what they could. Physically it’s just going to be hard for them to be productive players with where they are right now.”

McGee’s current knee problems center around swelling in his knee after activity, but his second surgery is said to be minor in nature. He’s expected to make a full recovery now that the new problem can be effectively addressed. The nature of Pears new procedure is not known.

As for their futures McGee enters the last year of his contract in 2013. Pears has two years remaining on the three-year extension he signed last year.

“I think that all guys reach some point where they ask the question and you ask the question and you sit down and you see can a guy get healthy enough to help your football team,” said Gailey. “That’s a truism in our business. There does come a time. Whether that’s Terrence’s, time, I don’t know. I mean, let’s let him get completely well, see how he feels and make a decision when the time comes. But that’s not something … we’re not even talking about that right now. I just want him to get well, see where he is as we go into next year.”


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Bills could use OL, CB

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2012 – 5:25 pm

Buffalo moved some hobbled players to their injured reserve list Tuesday in Terrence McGee and Erik Pears. Now they’ll have to find players to replace them.

The Bills now have two vacant roster spots, but both will presumably be filled by a cornerback and an offensive lineman. With McGee now on I-R it has left Buffalo’s secondary very, very young. The Bills secondary now consists of veteran Leodis McKelvin, second-year men Justin Rogers and Aaron Williams (injured) and rookies Stephone Gilmore and Ron Brooks.

With just four healthy corners, knowing Aaron Williams is out a few weeks, Buffalo will need to add a corner, preferably with some NFL years under his belt. The most obvious choice is Stanford Routt, a veteran cornerback, just cut by the Chiefs.

He was the first free agent visitor of Buffalo’s offseason this past spring, so clearly the Bills had an interest then. Routt has two interceptions in his first seven games with Kansas City this season. He was inactive for the Chiefs game last Thursday night against San Diego. Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said their “relationship was not progressing” as a reason for the release. 

As for offensive linemen Buffalo has some young prospects on their practice squad. OT Andrew Jackson (6’5″ 299), OT/G Reggie Stephens  (6’3″ 320) and G Keith Williams (6’5″ 330). Buffalo has lost Erik Pears and Chad Rinehart to I-R in less than a week leaving them with just C/G David Snow and G/T Sam Young as their only reserves.


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Pears update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 5:43 pm

Last week, Erik Pears was downgraded to out after seeing a specialist for his ailing hip. The team is waiting to see how Pears’ hip responds to some treatment performed by the specialist before they lay out a timetable and allow him to practice.

“They’re telling us from a few days to a couple of weeks is what we’ll need to figure that out and exactly where he is and what he’ll be able to do for the rest of the year basically,” said head coach Chan Gailey.

Gailey said he doesn’t expect Pears to practice this week, but that a definitive prognosis could be determined by week’s end on Pears. So it’s a virtual lock that Chris Hairston will make his second straight start at right tackle Sunday in New England.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Pears downgraded to out

Posted by Chris Brown on November 3, 2012 – 1:08 pm

Bills starting RT Erik Pears has been downgraded from doubtful to out for Sunday’s game.

Pears did not travel with the team to Houston due to a hip injury that kept him out of practice all week

Chris Hairston will start at right tackle for tomorrow’s game against the Texans.


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Pears not in attendance

Posted by Chris Brown on November 2, 2012 – 11:22 am

A day after seeing a specialist for an ailing hip, RT Erik Pears is not in attendance at practice here on Friday.

Pears is not practicing along with DE Mark Anderson, who is working on the side and OL Chad Rinehart. Both of those players have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Pears status will be determined following practice today.


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Glenn looking good for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 1, 2012 – 12:51 pm

Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, but was a full participant Thursday making it likely that he starts on Sunday for the first time in three games.

“It went very well,” said Gailey following Thursday’s practice. “He did everything today.”

Glenn was pleased that his ankle responded positively when he woke up Thursday morning after putting it through the paces Wednesday at practice.

“I’m very encouraged by it,” Glenn told Buffalobills.com.

Glenn appears to be returning to the starting lineup just in time knowing Chris Hairston may have to start at right tackle if Erik Pears (hip) is unable to play Sunday.


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Pears not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on November 1, 2012 – 11:14 am

The Bills may have their starting left tackle back this week but their starting right tackle is not practicing today.

Erik Pears, who was limited Wednesday with a hip injury, is not practicing here on Thursday.

Chris Hairston is taking reps in his absence at right tackle.

DE Mark Anderson and G Chad Rinehart are also not practicing.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Attitude of O-line evident

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2012 – 7:44 am

It’s always been there, but it wasn’t until the Chiefs started trying to take some cheap shots on Buffalo’s playmakers that fans saw just what kind of attitude the Bills offensive linemen have when it comes to protecting their own.

“Attitude starts with Coach Gailey and it continues with (offensive line coach) Joe D’Alessandris, but it starts with guys like Eric Wood that is a highly competitive and he’s got the temperament you want in an offensive lineman,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “Erik Pears has quietly got the same kind of stuff and Cordy doesn’t back off. Andy and Urbik those guys will scrap you so that’s exactly what we’re trying to get.”

“It starts with Joe D,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “I think that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s a no nonsense hit them in the mouth kind of coach. I think we have players that have the same attitude and they take that into a ball game. You’ve got to have that. I’ve said it 100 times, It’s a tough game for tough people and we’ve got some tough guys up front.”


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