To make room for the signing of QB Matt Flynn on the 53-man roster, the Bills placed S Jonathan Meeks on injured reserve, designated to return.
Meeks suffered a lower right leg injury. He was seen in Buffalo’s locker room Monday morning with an immobilizer boot on his right foot. The rookie was injured in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Bengals on a special teams play and did not return.
Meeks was Buffalo’s fifth-round pick this past spring and has appeared in all six games mainly on special teams.
Under the rules of I-R designated to return, Meeks can return to practice with the team in six weeks at the earliest, which would be Week 13, following the team’s bye week.
The earliest he would be able to be placed back on the active roster is in eight weeks, which would be Monday Dec. 9th.
Tags: injured reserve, Jonathan Meeks
Posted in Inside the Bills
Week 2 on tap and a win is pretty much a must. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - @ChrisBrownBills
What are the chances Gilmore is back by the Thursday night game in Cleveland?
CB: Gilmore has made good progress since his surgery on Aug. 26th for his fractured wrist. The cast is off and he’s just wearing an immobilizer brace at this point. But the pins are still in his wrist and there is a lot of rehabilitation in front of him. Head coach Doug Marrone said he felt Gilmore was on the short end of the six to eight week timetable provided from the outset. If he is then, six weeks would put him at Oct. 7th, with a return to practice probably taking place in Week 6 in advance of the Oct. 13th game against Cincinnati.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
You can only use the IR-Return once, on one player. Correct?
CB: Yes, that is correct. The I-R designated to return can only be used once a season. At this point in the season if a player goes on injured reserve and the club wants to make him their designated to return player, it has to be declared as soon as he’s placed on I-R.
I thought the Bills might make use of the DTR tag on Ron Brooks this week, knowing he was the DTR player last season when he broke the same foot. But head coach Doug Marrone said they don’t believe his situation or that of Marquise Goodwin necessitates the use of the I-R DTR.
3 – Hi Chris,
Always like reading your material & watching your short videos. Keep ‘em coming. As a transplanted Buffalo guy living in Reno, I can’t help but be curious about Duke Williams. He’s either been below the radar, or not showing much in preseason. Any observations/thoughts? I watched him play a bunch at Nevada, and was hoping he’d be able to make a go of it at the next level…
Hope the weather in WNY is treating you well. The only time I get nostalgic about it is the fall–leaves changing, and football.
CB: Duke has done well throughout the course of the offseason and typically ran with the second unit defense through the preseason. He got four snaps on defense in Week 1, but is going to be spending most of his time on special teams. He played 15 snaps there last week.
Moving forward he’s likely to see more time on defense in certain subpackages as the season wears on.
Say hi to the folks at Black Bear Diner in Reno. Best milkshake I’ve ever had! Thanks for the compliments.
4 – Chris
Thanks for all of the fine coverage of the Bills. From the outside looking in, the whole attitude of the team seemed the change when J. Byrd showed up, is he a poison in the locker room?
Going with the assumption that the quarterback is the most valuable piece on the chess board, do you believe it was a critical error for our former GM to not draft a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds every year. If you hit on a few, more value at the most important position.
Lastly, even if Manuel plays well, should the Bills draft a quarterback in the 1st round in the upcoming draft.
Thanks for everything from Bills fans in Nevada.
CB: I think your characterization of the locker room is a bit off the mark concerning Jairus Byrd’s arrival.
With respect to the philosophy of drafting a quarterback every year, I’m not opposed to it if you are a team with good quality depth at most positions where you can afford to spend a draft choice on a QB prospect every year. The Eagles have traditionally made a habit of this and have shrewdly traded some of those QBs for future draft choices in return (See: A.J. Feeley trade).
If Manuel pans out as most in the organization expect him to, I don’t believe drafting a quarterback in round one will happen. Not only because the team will already have their franchise signal caller, but also because they’re very pleased with who they have behind him in Jeff Tuel.
I don’t think you could completely rule it out, but I would say highly unlikely if Manuel’s career track shows good progress through the course of this season.
5 – Hi Chris,
It was noted that Jamal Westermann made the roster, however i know very little about this athlete. Can you provide a bit of information as to how he made the team.
Thanks & regards
Richard in Los Angeles
CB: He’s a fourth-year player that is wholly familiar with coach Pettine’s defensive scheme having played for him with the Jets in New York from 2009-2011. He’s an OLB by trade. Here’s a bit more on him when he initially signed in mid-August.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Jairus Byrd, Jamaal Westerman, Marquise Goodwin, NFL Draft, Ron Brooks, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills over the last five years have averaged just over 15 players per season on injured reserve. Despite the fact that Buffalo added a pair of players to I-R over the past two days, including Chris Hairston today, their total this year fortunately falls short of the recent trend.
Counting Hairston, Buffalo now has nine players on injured reserve, and two of those players were designated for that list at the start of the year before any games were played in Zebrie Sanders and Torell Troup.
The hardest hit position has been offensive line with three tackles (counting Sanders) and a C/G (Colin Brown) all on I-R.
Tags: Chris Hairston, injured reserve
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
The accuracy required to play QB in the NFL is on another level entirely–and at some point, talent is as important as work ethic and practice. Is it possible that Fitz is turning into a “head case” with all of these adjustments with David Lee and his throwing mechanics? What, if anything, are the coaches and Fitz doing to try and stem this problem? The Bills will only go as far as Fitz will take them. And I fear if he doesn’t revert to something close to what we say early last season, this team won’t improve much or go very far, no matter how much the defense improves or how much talent they put around Fitz. It’s a QB driven league. And while there are examples of teams winning SBs with a less than elite QB, it’s not very common. And his current level of performance certainly will not be sufficient. What, if anything, can be or is being done?
Thanks again for your coverage of the team.
CB: Ryan Fitzpatrick even agrees with you that his first half of the season has not been what he thought it would be. His completion percentage is admittedly down (61%) from where it was at this time last year (67.7%). I think we should be encouraged by what we saw in the Tennessee game, save for the late INT.
What went by the board in that disappointing loss was the fact that it was clearly Fitz’s best passing game of the season. He even got off to a fast start, something that doesn’t always happen in games for Fitzpatrick either.
He finished that game 27-35 for 225 yards and three touchdowns with the INT and a passer rating of 109.8. The interception aside, that’s the way Fitzpatrick needs to play for this team to have a chance to win every week. His completion percentage of 77% was the highest single-game completion percentage since the Washington game a year ago this week (77.8%).
So I think the hope is that Fitz has begun to rediscover his rhythm in the passing game. Now we just have to hope that the bye week didn’t disrupt that rhythm and he can have a second half of the season, like he had the first half of last season.
2 – Hi Chris,
When a player goes on I-R does he still receive 100% of his pay while he is unable to play?
Thank you again.
CB: I’m not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of the injured reserve rules so I tapped into the expertise of Bills Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf. So with respect to a player getting his full pay when he goes on I-R, the answer is it depends.
A player who has a split contract (meaning he gets a lower amount if he is on I-R) will get the lower amount of pay if he goes on I-R (there is a league minimum that corresponds to the number of credited seasons). Split contracts are more commonly seen in rookie contracts and with street free agents.
It’s rare to see a split contract for a marquee player (e.g. a first or second round draft pick). Most rookie contracts do not include the third year as a split amount. So those players more often than not will receive full pay. However, that full pay may be at a lower amount if it has been negotiated in the deal.
3 – Hi Chris,
Just wondering when the Bills are going to turn T.J. Graham loose on some fly patterns. I know at the outset the Bills brain trust wanted Graham to have a better knowledge of the playbook, but with his blazing speed, when will they test defenses? The vertical game will just help Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones more. I know the spread offense is predicated on short and medium range passes, but showing the opposition some danger cannot hurt. What are your thoughts?
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I think it’s something that bears watching. The deep passing game is not a common focus in Chan Gailey’s offense. He’d rather get the ball out quick and let the playmakers get yards after the catch. That being said Gailey does want to have a role for Graham week in and week out. How big the role gets will likely depend on what Graham does with the opportunities he gets. But stretching the field is certainly something he can do.”
4 – Hi Chris,
I was wondering if you have an update concerning Tarvaris Jackson and how he is progressing. Is there any chance he will overtake Tyler Thigpen as the #2 QB or is the task of learning the system a case of too much too soon? The reason I ask is actually the potential return of Ron Brooks to the 53-man roster at the end of the month. His expected role as a gunner on the punt coverage team (not to mention adding an extra CB to the mix) means someone will have to be cut. Could it be Thigpen?
CB: I don’t know what the chances are that it happens this year. Chan Gailey has said time and again that with no time during the practice week in preparation for a game to get him reps in the offense, Jackson is pretty much relegated to third QB status.
I will say that he did get some reps during the bye week practice this past Wednesday, but I don’t know how much weight should be put on that.
As for Brooks they can elevate him to the 53-man roster Wednesday. If they do they have to move someone else off the roster, but I’m not going to speculate about a guy getting released or not. I don’t think it would be Thigpen however, since his contract is guaranteed by virtue of being on the roster through the first week of the season.
5 – CB,
Many fans are simply upset that the Bills haven’t drafted a QB. Why don’t they go after a developmental raw QB, though he might not pan out, it worth having one for either next year. Buddy Nix has passed on too many quarterbacks that are now successful (Andy Dalton). Buddy said he would want to draft 1 QB every year but only drafted Levi Brown in the 7th round. A QB on the squad could be developed in time by Chan. Both Ryan and Tyler were 7th round picks as well both learned under Chan.
CB: I respect the frustration. Buddy Nix did say at one point that he’d like to draft a quarterback every year, but he had a roster with a plethora of positional needs that he had to fill out first. Perhaps now that the roster is a bit deeper at a good number of positions he can afford to take a QB in the draft.
Philadelphia has made a habit of this, taking a QB almost every year. Nick Foles is their latest example and he’s the team’s backup QB this season.
Tags: Fan Friday, injured reserve, Ron Brooks, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Graham, Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen
Posted in Inside the Bills
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to allow teams to pull a player off of their injured reserve list during the season and re-activate them in 2012. Here are the restrictions for the new I-R rule.
Following the cutdown to 53 players, the new Reserve/Injured rule will work as follows:
1. Only players with a “major injury” who are placed on Reserve/Injured after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, September 4, or thereafter during the season, will be eligible to be reactivated at a later time.
2. A “major injury” is defined as an injury that renders the player unable to practice or play football for at least six weeks (42 calendar days) from the date of injury.
3. Each team may reactivate only one player placed on Reserve/Injured after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, September 4. That player must be “designated for return” at the time the club places him on Reserve/Injured, and such designation shall appear on that day’s Personnel Notice.
4. Such player is eligible to return to practice if he has been on Reserve/Injured for at least six weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve. He is eligible to return to the Active List if he has been on Reserve/Injured for at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve.
Tags: Bills 2012 season, injured reserve
Posted in Inside the Bills
As we took a closer look at Buffalo’s injured reserve list from this past season for today’s home page story at Buffalobills.com we found that knee injuries were the most prevalent. Below we break down the injury totals.
Injury – number
Knee – 5
Shoulder – 3
Achilles – 2
Ankle – 2
Leg – 2
Back – 1
Groin - 1
Medical – 1
Tags: injured reserve
Posted in Inside the Bills
Time for your weekly questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Enjoy the holiday weekend Bills fans!
1 - Hi Chris,
Thanks so much for keeping us continuously updated. I have a question regarding Fitz: I still think he can be a top 10 QB — he reads things quickly, unlike some of our past QBs who perhaps had better physical attributes. But he has to be more consistent and cut down on the turnovers. To me, a top QB knows when to throw the ball away and go on to the next play, especially on 1st or 2nd down. I don’t recall EVER seeing Fitz do this. Do you know whether it is something that has been brought up to him, or whether they work on it in practice?
Thanks, Ray P.
CB: You’re right Fitz rarely throws the ball away, but in the words of Chan Gailey it’s a fine line that you walk with your quarterback. You want him to be aggressive, but you also want him to understand when to pick his spots. I think later in the season when Fitzpatrick’s interceptions became more numerous he was trying to compensate for the loss of talent around him. It’s my contention that he felt he had to try and make more plays. That led to him taking more chances in the passing game than he had earlier in the season. Eventually it’s going to come back to bite you. Like Buddy Nix and Gailey have both said, if they surround him with a deeper talent base and build a better defense on the other side of the ball, it will help to take the playmaking burden off of Fitz, thereby making him a more efficient and less turnover prone QB.
2 - Hey Chris,
Just one question. With the season now coming to an end for Buffalo I believe one of the topics on most Bills fans minds is our free agents and none seem more important than Stevie Johnson. Do you see any scenario where Stevie doesn’t get re-signed? He seems very adamant about staying here and it would seem crazy for the Bills to let him go.
Thanks again for all the good work! GO BILLS!
CB: Thanks for the kind words. I think the Bills recognize their quarterback is a better player with Johnson on the roster and I think Johnson realizes he’s a bona fide number one receiver here, which might not be the case in several other places. I’m going to remain optimistic that a deal get done especially in the wake of Buddy Nix’s comments this week that the end zone issues are behind them.
3 - Hi Chris,
Many thanks for keeping Bills fans informed over the course of the season. Your insight into many of the happenings often clears up things for those of us on the outside. Look forward to receiving your continued reports as this season comes to an end and we move into 2012. With that in mind what do you see the Bills going for in the early draft rounds? I expect them to continue to build on the defense as well as continue to get “bigger” in the draft. Also any free agents you feel they may go after?
Again many thanks.
CB: Glad you appreciate our coverage of the team on Buffalobills.com. Early rounds I see the Bills addressing their pass rush in the form of a defensive end because I’m of the belief that the defensive scheme will lean more heavily toward the 4-3. I see offensive tackle getting addressed early along with outside linebacker and cornerback.
4 - Chris,
Thank you for keeping us “Texas” folks updated on our Bills! Do you think that with the early season success, that free agents are more apt to sign with Buffalo? Will Buffalo have to continue the trend and pay above market value? It seemed that several of the newer veterans did some politicking to get other free agents to think about signing with the Bills. Your thoughts on this?
Seeing hope for 2012.
Kevin S. in Keller, Texas
CB: I could see the early season success being used as a selling point on behalf of the club. Chan Gailey tells it like it is to prospective free agents when they come and visit. He doesn’t sugar coat things. Players appreciate straight talk instead of ‘pie in the sky’ propaganda. Though the final record did not show it I think the Bills can convince some free agents that this team is on the upswing.
You’re right that Shawne Merriman did successfully recruit Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison. Hopefully there will be others.
I think the Bills still view free agency as a process by which they can supplement their roster to fill holes. It’s not seen as the primary means of building a team. Knowing that’s the case I anticipate the Bills may make one notable impact signing along with a couple of tier 2 free agent type acquisitions. Buffalo’s front office typically does not like to get into bidding wars with other NFL clubs to sign players. They target specific players, contact them early in the process and hope to get a deal consummated as quickly as possible before other suitors come calling.
5 - Chris:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of putting players on Injured Reserve especially late in the year? I am curious as to why the Bills didn’t put certain players on IR late in the year when they knew the player/players were unable to play the rest of the year?
CB: You’re right that Kraig Urbik and Demetrius Bell, who both suffered knee injuries (torn meniscus), remained on the active roster for the final week of the season. With one game to play however, the need to subtract three players from the active roster and place them all on injured reserve to put it simply was unnecessary. Buffalo I-R’d TE Mike Caussin who had an even more serious knee injury and promoted OL Mike Jasper from the practice squad.
The Bills had a starting O-line at New England in Week 17 of Hairston, Levitre, Brown, Rinehart and Pears with Sam Young and Jasper on the bench. You usually only dress seven linemen for a game at the most anyway, so there was no need to I-R them with one game left in the season.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Fan Friday, injured reserve, NFL free agency, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
With K Dave Rayner going on injured reserve the Bills now have 17 players on the season-ending injury list. That matches the total the Bills had in 2007 when Kevin Everett unfortunately highlighted a year in which the club was snake bit with serious injuries. Surprisingly, it’s not the high water mark for Buffalo’s I-R list over the past five seasons.
In 2009, Buffalo had 20 players on injured reserve by season’s end. This week Buffalo arguably could’ve placed Kraig Urbik and Demetrius Bell on injured reserve after both suffered serious injuries this past weekend, which would bring the total to 19 this season.
Football is a physical sport and injuries are a part of the game. It just seems that the Bills have not had much luck in recent years in avoiding the season-ending injuries. Over the past five seasons Buffalo has had an average of just over 15 players on injured reserve per season (15.4). Here’s the five-year rundown of I-R player totals.
2007 – 17 players on I-R
2008 – 10 players on I-R
2009 – 20 players on I-R
2010 – 13 players on I-R
2011 – 17 players on I-R
Tags: Dave Rayner, injured reserve
Posted in Inside the Bills
Pro Football Weekly did an independent analysis of NFL clubs’ injury losses and ranked the 32 teams in terms of those most affected by injury to the least affected. Not surprisingly, the Bills ranked first in the league.
The devastating blow of losing their best offensive lineman and best defensive lineman as well as league MVP candidate Fred Jackson earned Buffalo the unfortunate distinction of being ranked number one. Here’s what was written about the Bills losses to injury.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a team with its best three players on injured reserve like the Bills, and it’s no coincidence their losing streak began when they lost Williams, then Wood and then Jackson. In addition to Parrish, Jones and Easley being on I.R., WRs Stevie Johnson and David Nelson have been banged up at times. OLT Demetrius Bell was very impressive early on before suffering an injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. CB Aaron Williams has suffered two injuries, curbing a promising rookie campaign. The loss of SS George Wilson in recent weeks also has hurt the secondary. He was playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Here’s the top 5
4. San Diego
Here’s the bottom 5 (least affected by injury)
29. New Orleans
32. San Francisco
Tags: injured reserve
Posted in Inside the Bills
Welcome home Bills. Haven’t played at the Ralph in a month! Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Chris,
I am really concerned about the linebackers and DB’s. Even though they have a lot of turnovers they look very inadequate in coverage. Nick Barnett is the only linebacker that shows up consistently, and the pass coverage is awful for a team that is supposed to have some good back end players. Is this a scheme problem or are we not talented enough? Turnovers are great but you still have to defend the pass! They’ve played like they were afraid to get beat instead of playing like they are trying to win.
CB: While I will agree that the coverage saw a noticeable drop off against Dallas, I felt it was better against Miami, but slipped due mainly to mental mistakes against the Jets. I believe there are a few things at work here.
First and foremost the pass rush is non-existent. This forces Buffalo’s defensive backs to cover longer, which makes their job more difficult.
Second, the last two weeks Buffalo has had three rookies in the secondary for extended portions of the game. In their nickel package they’ve got Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Justin Rogers.
Their lack of playing time in the NFL and together under live fire has compromised the consistency of the coverage down in and down out. All three of them will get better with each passing week, but we’ve seen some growing pains and without a pass rush it’s not making the job any easier.
2 - Chris,
Maybe a stupid question but why don’t they look into the long snapper as the center.. seems like they have similar tasks. I know the communication situation is different but he can obviously snap..
thanks for the work you do.
displaced bills fan in AZ
CB: I think it’s a very valid question actually. For some reason the long snapping job became a specialized role. The long snap is unquestionably more difficult and does require a lot of practice to keep accuracy and proper velocity consistent. That being said I don’t see why a center or even backup center could not have the time to get enough work in to be a good one.
For some reason quality long snappers are pretty hard to find. I recently overheard Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven speaking with one of Buffalo’s players. The player was telling him how at the Division II college level there aren’t many good long snappers and how they just usually have a guy that can chuck it back there. DeHaven responded (tongue in cheek) as follows.
“There aren’t too many good long snappers at this level. There are some long snappers in this league that shouldn’t be doing it.”
Fortunately Buffalo has a quality long snapper in Garrison Sanborn.
Thanks for the kind words.
3 - Hey Chris.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic but I got to call a spade a spade and say that the Bills will be looking at next season because chances are this one is a wrap with the immense injuries and lack of depth the team has on the o-line, wide receiving corps and cornerback.
With that being said the bills were quick to sign Fitz after the couple games he performed admirably. Would Fred Jackson not be a major part of the puzzle that the bills are trying hard to complete but haven’t for the past 10 years???? Do you feel they aren’t willing to pay him the money it looks to me he deserves and this is another cost saving move by management????? Thanks for all the great coverage you do Chris and here’s to hoping the bills get it right in the upcoming off season.
CB: First, thanks for the kind words. Fred Jackson put up undeniable numbers and listening to Chan Gailey I’d be shocked if the team didn’t make efforts in the offseason to get Jackson an extension. He’s currently signed through the end of the 2012 season, but that contract is something I think everyone would agree he has outperformed. To what degree? Well that’s up to the Bills management to decide.
I expect the Bills to do right by Jackson. Fred had a face-to-face meeting with GM Buddy Nix about six weeks ago and was encouraged by what came out of that meeting. Here’s what Fred said when asked about his thoughts on getting a new contract.
“I felt like I did as much as I could,” he said. “That hopefully will just take care of itself. It’s not something I’m going to worry about right now. I put faith in Buddy and that’s all I can do. He’s a man of his word so I’ll have faith in him and see what happens.”
I think it would be hard for the Bills to not extend Jackson’s contract to some degree. He’s not only the offensive MVP for this team, but his performance was among the league leaders in several categories including yards after the catch and the guy is a running back! Add in that this guy is the heart and soul of this team and if the organization does right by him it would also do a world of good in the locker room. If an organization takes care of a player that performs and lays it all out there on Sundays it serves as a powerful message to the rest of the players on the team. Especially one as respected as Jackson.
4 - Chris,
I enjoy keeping up with the Bills, through your column. In the games that I have been able to watch this year, it seems that Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a very strong arm. Is this something that can be strengthened and provide him with more arm strength?
Frustrated fan in Keller, Texas
CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to Fitz’s arm strength, Chan Gailey has confirmed that it is a strong enough arm to make all the throws necessary in his offense. Is Fitz’s arm an Elway arm? No, but few are. What makes Fitz so successful is his ability to diagnose and anticipate allowing him to get the ball out quicker thereby getting the ball there usually just as fast as the rocket arm passers.
I think Fitz has struggled with short stretches of inaccuracy (see Miami game). Fact is though that he’s second in the AFC in completion percentage behind Tom Brady, so I don’t know that you want to criticize a quarterback that has a pretty good shot of going to the Pro Bowl.
5 - Chris
After years of watching the Bills suffer players going down on IR, can’t the league eliminate Injured reserve? If and when a player is healthy let him come back. It is ridiculous that players like Fred Jackson, Roscoe Parrish cannot come back and contribute. Also can the Bills question why a compensatory pick cannot be given for a player like Marcus Easley where by no fault of the player or the team, we lose a draft pick and his contribution?
CB: I think the rules for injured reserve will not be changed until and if the league goes to an 18-game regular season. Then I would anticipate an injured reserve where a player would be eligible to return in six weeks or so. The decision on Fred was a tough one because if by some miracle things fall right and Buffalo qualifies for the playoffs, he’d likely be ready to play the second weekend in January.
Compensatory picks for a player lost to a medical condition is not going to garner any support as I see it. Luck of the draw is the response I’d anticipate from the league and its owners.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, injured reserve, long snapper, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
Couple of big division games here these next two Sundays. Time to fire up another edition of Fan Friday, with your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. And since I won’t be back with you until next Friday have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
1 - Chris,
Given the recent shortage of WR’s on the team, I can’t help but think about Marcus Easley, wishing he was playing. Can you give us an update on Marcus? How is he doing and have they found anything out as of yet? I know that it may simply be a personal issue that he and/or the team doesn’t want to put out there, but there are plenty of fans thinking of him.
CB: Unfortunately I can’t. I just spoke to Easley on Thursday and he is choosing to keep his medical condition private. He would not say whether the condition is career threatening or if he’ll know at some point in the future whether he will be fit to play football. Obviously the hope is that he’ll be able to play again. I think his size and speed could be put to good use on the outside. It’s just unfortunate because by this point in the season it wouldn’t have shocked me if he had earned a starting job.
2 - Chris,
During our great start to the season everyone thought the Bills would eventually fade and return to their rightful spot as a mediocre team.
I’ve seen it said on TV and posted online that the Bills are due for “market correction”. What can this team do to prove everyone wrong and
show that they really are an elite team?
Salt Lake City
CB: I don’t think it’s going to be easy. Unfortunately the depth of the team has been challenged by injuries, and if you remember Bills GM Buddy Nix was trying to calm everyone down after the fast start saying staying healthy was the key to keep things going. As the rigors of football have claimed two of the team’s best linemen for the season in Kyle Williams and Eric Wood along with some other key players (Roscoe Parrish, Shawne Merriman) with still others in and out of the lineup it’s going to prove difficult to sustain or re-gain the level of success they had earlier this season. I think they’ll still win games, but winning three in a row or four out of five is going to be much more difficult.
3 - Chris,
I suppose there are bigger concerns for the Bills and Bills fans right now, but an article about Josh Nesbitt that was linked to on buffalobills.com got me to wondering again about something I wanted to ask you back when the season began. I was intrigued that the Bills decided to keep Nesbitt on their practice squad, but to switch him from quarterback to safety. I guess they didn’t think he had enough quarterback skills to make it at this level, but saw enough general football skills to keep him around? And who’s idea was it to try the safety position? Even with all the guys coming and going on the PS as the season progresses, he keeps hanging around. Do you think he has a legitimate shot at being an NFL safety some day?
Bob in Orlando, FL
CB: Right now I think it’s too early to tell whether Nesbitt can be an NFL safety. I do know that the guy is an athlete. If George Wilson cannot go on Sunday, Nesbitt is likely to be active and see some time on special teams. He was an option QB at Georgia Tech, but has some experience as a defensive back so I believe that’s where the idea started.
4 - Chris,
The Bills “lost” Donte Whitner and POZ through free agency to other teams. Compensatory picks are sometimes awarded to teams that have a net negative loss of free agents. I know the formula to calculate compensatory picks is a bit esoteric, but do you think the Bills might have a shot at a compensatory pick higher than a 7th rounder?
I understand you start with the players and the round they were drafted. Lost [Donte (1st rounder) + POZ (2nd rounder)] – Gained [Brad Smith(4th rounder)] = Comp. pick
Then the NFL committee factors in things like playing time, production, etc. Love to see the NFL award the Bills a 5th…….we need all the picks we can get!
P.S. Correct me if I am wrong, but I left Nick Barrett out because he was waived before the Bills signed him.
CB: You’re right that the Nick Barnett signing would not count in calculating whether the Bills had a net loss of free agents. However, I believe Tyler Thigpen would count toward that total. If so it might be an even two-for-two. That being said the two contracts signed by both Thigpen and Smith don’t add up to what Poz got from Jacksonville (6-$45M). Whitner’s deal was comparable to Thigpen’s.
So while the Bills may not have sustained a net loss of free agents, Poz’s contract size present a good argument that the Bills lost better free agents than it acquired, which would also qualify them for a compensatory pick.
Last year three clubs (Oakland, Seattle and New Orleans) each received a compensatory pick even though they did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the league’s formula, the compensatory free agents lost by these clubs were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).
I think that could happen for the Bills next spring based on Poz’s salary and performance. Of course Oakland, Seattle and New Orleans were the last three compensatory picks awarded at the bottom of the seventh round, so that’s where I’d expect the Bills to be given one as well in 2012.
Also remember, last year the league also handed out 11 additional compensatory choices to the teams with the worst records in 2010. The rules state that the number of compensatory picks must equal the number of teams in the league (32). So if the regular compensatory picks distributed falls short of that number the figure is reached by giving compensatories to the teams with the poorest won-loss records. Buffalo got one of those last spring, which they used on Mike Jasper. Hopefully the Bills don’t qualify for that again this offseason, if you know what I mean.
5 – Chris,
I have three other I/R related questions: Earlier this season I read that one of the many reasons that the Colts have kept Peyton on the roster rather than put him on I/R is so Peyton would get paid his full contracted salary for the 2011 season.
1) I thought players got their full salary if they went on I/R since the players are under contract, isn’t that true? (unless they work a deal with the team to separate from the team and get released from the I/R list )
2) If players on I/R don’t get their full salary, while they stay with the Bills to play for them again next season, what type of % of their salary do they get while on I/R.
3) Do salaries being paid to players on I/R remain part of the salary cap or do they come off the cap and fall under another type of classification?
CB: First, players do not get their full salary when they go on injured reserve. The percentage to which their pay is reduced is dependent upon the player’s contract. Typically, younger players see a larger reduction in pay than veteran players and higher draft choices see a smaller reduction in pay, but it’s on a case by case basis.
The players that go on injured reserve still count towards the cap. Obviously with the salary number reduced there’s some relief provided, but NFL clubs must give themselves wiggle room so they can absorb the contract of the new player to replace them on the active roster.
Tags: compensatory picks, Fan Friday, George Wilson, injured reserve, Josh Nesbitt, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
Into the offseason we go. Let’s get to your questions for this week from firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 – Chris,
Wondering what the rules are for I-R players in terms of being able to attend team meetings, watch film, etc – to be taught/coached on techniques? Also, if they recover from their injury during the season and are cleared medically, can they participate in walk-throughs or drills? Or can they be on the field and at least listen to the coaches? Who from the Bills takes advantage of this and who tends to stay away from the team?
CB: I-R players can sit in on team meetings and watch film as much as they want. As for the practice field they can’t be out there getting instruction from coaches, even if cleared medically. Players vary in terms of who hangs around to watch tape and attend position meetings and team meetings. A couple of examples of players that did this past season were rookie Danny Batten and Marcus Easley.
2 - Hey Chris, I’m writing about the defense and where you think there is room to upgrade players. When I think about the guys we have I can’t really point to one of them and say we need to get rid of them. Do you think some of the guys who changed positions still have room for improvement as far as learning their new positions? Or are they just not physically suited for the 3-4?
Dan from Western MA (I hate the Patriots!)
CB: I think the defensive line could use another quality player either at defensive tackle or defensive end. I really like Auburn’s Nick Fairley with Buffalo’s top pick. There’s a good chance he’ll be there when Buffalo is on the clock. Linebacker needs an influx of talent as well though Shawne Merriman could be a big help there. Based on who the Bills could lose from their secondary in free agency (Florence, Whitner, Wilson, Youboty) they may need to add there as well.
I do think that some of the players that made a transition in terms of position still have room for improvement. Chan Gailey said that they plan to go with a multiple look front next season so that could change things a bit in terms of roles.
3 - Chris,
I know we aren’t really looking at WR’s but I can’t help but notice Vincent Brown out of San Diego State and the massive game he had against Navy. I was just wondering where he is expected to go in the draft…how good people really think he is.
Also, are you amazed at how well our low round and free agents are doing when our top round picks are barely blips on the screen. It makes you wonder.
CB: Vincent Brown (6’0” 195) was a dynamic receiving weapon for the Aztecs for almost his entire college career. He’s considered by many to be one of the top 10 prospects at the receiver position. That figures to change a bit once all the juniors declare, but there’s no denying his production. In that Navy game he had eight catches for 165 yards and a TD, and much of his college career read the same.
Brown caught 209 passes for 3,110 yards and 23 touchdowns in his San Diego State career. With 4.5 speed, Brown is said to have strong hands with good initial explosion off the line. Personally I have not seen him play, but he’s considered by draftniks to be 3rd or 4th round pick.
With respect to Buffalo’s later round picks, it is crazy to see that they have a 7th-round pick at left tackle (Bell), a 7th-round pick at WR (Johnson), a 5th-round pick at nose tackle (Williams) and a 7th round picks (not theirs) at QB (Fitzpatrick). I think the Bills have been very good at hitting on their late round picks. They also have to hit some more home runs on their early picks too.
4 – Chris,
Based on how well all the receivers flourished this season, will there be enough roster spots for the guys next year with Roscoe and Marcus seemingly coming back to the active roster. I’m assuming they will not keep 7 active guys. Evans, Stevie, Roscoe, David, Donald, Marcus, and Namaan. So who seems the odd man out? And how far behind will Marcus be as the undrafted guys will be 1 year vets?
CB: This is a question that a lot of people will have their eye on next summer. It’s arguably the deepest position on the roster. I think that’s partly why Chan Gailey, when asked if Lee Evans will be off their roster next year (via trade), said he doubts it, but that he’d never say anything is impossible.
I think the reason he left that door open a crack is because the Bills come next summer could have too much talent at receiver and might be in a position where they can deal from that position of strength to help their talent level at another position where they might be lacking.
If the group does remain intact however, I think that Roosevelt would be the odd man out. He’s just not quite as physical as Donald Jones, which is why Jones made the roster over him at the start of the 2010 season. Roosevelt is still eligible for the practice squad in 2011, so I would expect him to wind up there if all seven are back for next season.
Easley will be a bit behind because he doesn’t have NFL experience of any kind (preseason or regular season) under his belt like everyone else, so there will be an adjustment there. But in watching him all spring and summer until he got hurt in camp, this kid is going to be a player. I think he’ll be neck and neck with David Nelson for that 4th WR role.
5 – Do you think the Bills will get two tight ends, like the Patriots did in the draft? I’d like at least two more added. Nelson’s third year is like his first two…I don’t want to be without the two tight ends we can have by way of draft.
CB: I think you’re expecting a lot out of the Bills with that wish. What New England did was unusual drafting tight ends back to back. Buffalo has a ton of positional needs, so using two of their eight picks on tight end seems misguided despite how little pass game production they get out of that position.
On Buffalo’s roster the better pass catchers are at receiver anyway and David Nelson and Roscoe Parrish can capably work the middle of the field.
Here’s what Chan Gailey said with respect to addressing the tight end position.
“Everybody wants one,” he said of game breaking tight ends. “I like them. But what I’ve found through the years is, you don’t find any (John) Mackeys anymore – a guy that can block and can go run down the field and make plays. They can kind of do one or the other fairly well or maybe one or the other really well but you don’t find that combination very much anymore so you try to massage the offense to get the blocker in there when you want to run the football and get the receiver in there when you want to use one for passing.
“You still are searching for a way to develop that guy that does a little bit of both pretty well and we haven’t had that guy. Maybe we can find one, maybe he’s on our roster now, maybe he’s not – that can do both of those well enough that you’re not tipping off the defense what you’re doing when they go in the ball game.”
Gailey sounds as though he’d love to have one, but there is the headache of not tipping your hand offensively based on the personnel you have on the field. If the tight end is a one-dimensional player it tips off the defense, and as he said finding a complete package TE is hard these days, especially with all the spread offenses in college.
I think they draft one tight end at best and I don’t expect it to be early. If they draft any position more than once I expect it to be linebacker.
Tags: 2011 NFL draft, Bills defense, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Marcus Easley, Vincent Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
Merry Christmas Bills fans! Here are your questions this week from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - What about picking up McNabb as a back up?
CB: I really don’t see this as a viable option for a number of reasons. First, the Redskins, if they do decide to move him, will want a mid-round draft choice in return. I don’t see the Bills parting with a fourth-round draft choice for someone that will serve as their backup QB.
Second, McNabb still believes fervently that he’s a starting caliber quarterback in this league and I would tend to agree.
There are some teams in worse situations at quarterback than the Bills that I believe will pay Washington’s asking price, within reason and make McNabb their starter. But backup does not appeal to McNabb and what you’d have to give up to make him a backup on your roster wouldn’t appeal to the Bills.
2 - Chris,
I was wondering if you could tell me how the NFL determines the draft order among teams with identical records. Is it some statistical category such as conference wins, etc, or do they just automatically do the coin flip?
If it is the coin flip, what do they do if there are 3 teams with the same record?
CB: Ties based on record are broken via reverse strength of schedule. So if the Bills and 49ers are tied with 5-11 records at the end of the season, then the league would look at their strength of schedule (winning percentage of their opponents this year). Whichever team has the weaker strength of schedule picks first.
The reason this is done is because that team has what is deemed to be an easier schedule and still could win only five games, while the other team had a tougher schedule and won five games. Hope you can see the logic there.
If all the numbers come out equal then if head-to-head is applicable I believe that comes into play, but there have been instances where it has gone all the way to a coin flip. Rarely does it get past reverse strength of schedule with three teams. One almost always falls out of the tie.
3 - Hi Chris,
I am a huge Lee Evans fan and think he is a great WR. With that said he is a #1 WR but has not been putting up #1 WR numbers. Other #1 WRs get doubles up on and still put up good numbers an catches but Lee’s numbers have dropped. I am wondering if the team needs to trade Evans for a decent draft pick and try to move Steve Johnson to #1 and try to find another #2 again or draft another WR early.
I know Evans is a smaller speedy WR which being 5’10” may be the reason he doesn’t get the ball as much in double coverage but I’d like to see the team with capable guys on both sidelines that can get the ball and put up the numbers. What do you think the issue is there?
And I’m liking what I see from Justin Blackmon, I think he’ll end up being something pretty special in the NFL, I know we have some capable guys at WR but this kid may be a superstar down the line, any chance we make a move to get him? I am missing the days of the 90s bills when even Steve Tasker was making plays for us and everyone could catch the ball…. but even more recent the moulds and price days as well. I hope we get back to them soon.
Thanks – Showtime.
CB: For a guy that is a huge Lee Evans fan you have an interesting way of showing your loyalty. Yes, Evans had a down season prior to going on injured reserve with career lows in catches and yards. Moving a guy coming off a season with a downturn in production with a salary his size number one is difficult.
Second, to give up on Evans would be foolish. On a receiving corps that is still largely young you want a veteran presence that has made clutch plays. That’s Evans.
Yes, he has trouble at times with bump and run coverage, but if Johnson is your number one, Evans is a pretty darn good number two.
What confuses me is you talk up Justin Blackmon saying he be special in the NFL, and he may be, but the Bills have guys on their roster now that are making plays. Nelson, Jones and Roosevelt are only going to improve and showing that everyone can catch the ball, you know, like those days you’re for some reason longing for.
I’m not quite sure what you’ve been watching here in the second half of the season offensively, but receiver is going to be the least of Buffalo’s positional concerns this offseason.
4 – Hi Chris,
I am curious about what happens to players once they have been placed on season-ending injured reserve. Do they stay with the team, participate in meetings, workout at the Bills facilities? Or are they allowed to sit out the rest of the season at home if they choose? I know you’ve probably gotten this question before, but I am particularly curious about Shawne Merriman – is he still even in town? Thanks.
Steve from Buffalo
CB: Players typically rehab at the team facility with the training staff during the season. Offseason rehab, some players go home and fly back up periodically for progress checkups and such. I’ve seen everyone here at One Bills Drive from Reggie Torbor to Andra Davis to Marcus Easley to Danny Batten. And yes I did see Shawne Merriman here at the facility last week. Some do still sit in on meetings, particularly young players.
So to my knowledge I-R’d players for the most part stay in town. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I haven’t seen many.
5 - It’s been a gut wrenching season but I think there is definitely progress being made. Credit has to be given to Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey and the staff for there diligence and hard work. It has been great to see so many good young players stepping up and that is partly because they have talent and partly because of good coaching.
Having said that, could you please ask Fitz to shave the beard. Enough already!!! Thanks Fitz for the good quarterback play. Please don’t stop running the ball. It keeps defenses honest.
It’s just my uneducated opinion but I want the Bills to keep Eric Wood at center. With two new offensive linemen and Wood at center the O-Line played great against Cleveland.
CB: There’s no doubt that Coach Gailey has gone a long way in ridding the team of its losing culture, which we have said here many times was probably his most challenging task in year one. Nix and his personnel department have been astute in culling together some talent that holds some good promise through the course of the season (Urbik, Chandler, Rinehart).
With respect to Fitz’s beard you’ll be happy to know it’s going to be clipped after the season is over.
Wood at center is an intriguing option for the team moving forward. He had a solid game against Cleveland, but there were some mental mistakes against Miami in the run game. This week will likely be his last start at center because Hangartner figures to be back for the season finale.
I don’t know if three games is enough to convince the coaching staff that he’s a much better option at center than Hangartner, who knows his stuff. But at the very least it’s a great backup plan for Buffalo’s offensive line.
Tags: 2011 NFL draft, Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Donovan McNabb, Fan Friday, injured reserve, Lee Evans, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills
Let’s get right to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hi Chris,
I just wanted to know what you think about Ryan Fitz’s play and should the Bill really take a QB with now a guaranteed top 10 pick or could they take an OT with a 1st round pick. Also is there any really OL men that have you have seen that they could take with a top 10 pick. And lastly, could the Bills take Adrian Clayborn DE or Cam Newton QB.
CB: There’s no question Fitz has made Buffalo’s offense remarkably more efficient (see third down percentage, red zone TD percentage) and more productive (points per game). I don’t think his play precludes the Bills taking a quarterback in the draft. The only one however, that I believe they would take at the top of the draft would be Andrew Luck. If he stays in school or is off the board, I believe they go in another direction.
That being said I’m not anticipating OT to be the play there. It’s not a strong year for offensive tackles. It’s much stronger at DE and OLB so I’d expect them to lean that way if Luck is not an option.
2 - Hey Chris,
With such a talented backfield (even with the trade of Marshawn Lynch), why aren’t we seeing more two back sets with Jackson and Spiller? I think that either split-backs or even Jackson at fullback would be extremely effective. Remember Fred-Ex’s pancake leading for Marshawn vs. San Diego last year?
CB: Obviously it hasn’t been part of the plan because Spiller has been hurt and I don’t anticipate it being part of the plan this season. Lynch and Jackson were a better fit for that because both are very capable blockers. Spiller never really was asked to block in college because they were too busy putting the ball in his hands, and understandably so.
So if Spiller is out there in a split backfield most defenses are expecting him to get the ball because it’s very unlikely that he acts as a lead blocker for Fred. Basically there’s less of an unknown for opposing defenses, which is why offenses employ that set to begin with.
I will say that as Spiller gets more accustomed to blocking in pass protection as his career moves along, that could be a more realistic option down the road for him.
3 - Hey Chris,
Can Roscoe Parrish , Marcus Easley , & others put on I.R. that are still under contract with the team , still go to the games & be on
the sideline to root on their team mates , or is there a rule in the NFL that says they can’t participate in any game type activities once
put on I.R. ?? I know i’ve seen them in some stories posted on BB.com about them doing things around town but was just wondering about game day ??? I would think they wouldn’t be able to do road games because of travel expenses but what about home games ??
CB: Typically I-R’d players watch games from the press box with the inactive players if they choose to do so. A lot of times not being able to play due to an I-R designation makes it too frustrating for players to watch in person, so in many instances they don’t go to the games at all.
I’m not aware of any kind of rule that says they cannot attend.
4 - Hello Chris,
I agree with you that Carolina is destined to get the number 1 pick in the draft ahead of the Bills. The Bills may even leap frog another team or two and really fudge up the works for Luck. My feeling on Luck is whoever picks ahead of the Bills is going to take him regardless of their current QB situation which leaves the Bills in a sticky situation. My second choice for a QB would be Mallett but is he worth the money at that high of a pick? I think the Bills look elsewhere (different position) if Luck is gone. Your thoughts???
CB: I think Luck is really the only lead pipe lock in terms of quarterback prospects. Most of the others are giving NFL talent evaluators pause, at least ones that will be drafting in the top 10. Now a guy with Jake Locker’s physical tools may get someone to bite early. We always see quarterback value get inflated right before the draft. That’s also why quarterback is the position with the most first round misses in draft history.
I’d lean against Mallett being a top 10 pick. The lack of consistency is an issue for me.
5 – Chris,
Marcus Easley was put on IR for a knee injury prior to the start of the season. At the time Gailey gave no specifics on the injury, only that he did need surgery.
Do you have any information on what the injury was? How is he coming along?
I think if he can develop, then our WRs look good heading into next season with Evans and Johnson.
Cleveland, Ohio Bills Fan
CB: I don’t know the exact nature of Marcus Easley’s knee injury, but I do know that they found more damage in there once they performed surgery than they had anticipated. Easley is coming along well, he’s running (straight line) and he’s doing low impact agility work with the trainers here at One Bills Drive.
The positive is he’s going to be full go for spring workouts when the offseason conditioning program begins provided there’s a new CBA agreement.
Knowing how well he performed in the spring camps earlier this year and the plays he turned in at camp before the injury, he’ll almost be like an extra draft pick, and I think he holds a lot of promise for this receiving corps which suddenly looks pretty deep.
Tags: Andrew Luck, C.J. Spiller, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, injured reserve, Marcus Easley, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett
Posted in Inside the Bills