Inside The Bills

Duke learning from & competing with Searcy

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2014 – 10:43 am

Positions battles are commonplace in every NFL training camp, but the dynamics with the one for the strong safety role with the Bills are a bit different. One of the candidates for Buffalo’s strong safety job alongside Aaron Williams, Duke Williams explained how the circumstances of the competition between himself, Da’Norris Searcy and Jonathan Meeks give the battle a different vibe.

“Me and Meeks came in as rookies and Da’Norris has been here three years before we have,” said Duke Willaims. “So we try to learn from him and compete against him at the same time.”

Williams has taken that learning part to the next level as he’ll often sit in with Searcy to study film.

“Me and Da’Norris are neighbors so we go to each other’s house and watch film together and go over plays and just talk football together,” said Williams. “It’s a great competition and a healthy competition and we’re all trying to help each other and in the end the better guy is going to take the position.”

As we profiled in our Camp Countdown the strong safety job looks like it’s Searcy’s to lose heading into camp.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-4

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:24 pm

The 2014 draft is just over a month away and the pro days are winding down. Among the big ones left are Penn State (April 8), LSU (April 9) and Georgia (April 16).

For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

If a scenario happens where say the big 3, Clowney, Mack and Watkins were gone and either/or Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel fell to the Bills at #9. Do you see any chance the Bills would have interest? I’m of the mind that we need to give EJ Manuel a healthy and fully educated season to see if he’s the man. That being said if a team sees a potential franchise QB drop into their lap I guess you do have to consider it.

Enjoy your work Chris,
Thanks Wally James
Fredericksburg ,VA

CB: That’s an interesting scenario you’ve painted. I think the Bills have been clear that they are all in on EJ Manuel as their franchise quarterback. As tempting as it may be to draft Johnny Manziel if he is there at nine, you have to look at this the way the Bills or any other NFL franchise would.

They invested more than a year of research, scouting, testing and projecting to make their determination that EJ Manuel is fully capable of being their franchise quarterback and excelling for them on the field. That kind of commitment mandates that you do everything you can as an organization to help him succeed. Drafting a quarterback ninth overall this year, no matter who it is, does not achieve that mandate.

If the value at nine is right for a player who can more effectively help EJ Manuel on the field this year on offense then another player will be the pick. Not Johnny Manziel. If the value is not right then I see the Bills moving back to allow another club to trade in to take Johnny Manziel and gain valuable picks in the process, not unlike they did last year (See: Kiko Alonso).

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all you do. With all of the cuts of high priced veterans (Revis, Peppers, etc) do you anticipate Mario Williams to survive the length of his contract in Buffalo?   Or do you anticipate the Bills parting ways to free up $16+ million in cap space.

-Jim

CB: High-priced players sometimes do not see the end of lucrative contracts, and you’ve provided more than one example above. When contracts aren’t guaranteed, as is the case in the NFL, there are no guarantees a player will see the end of it with the club that signed him.

That being said the Bills are among the most fiscally responsible teams in the league and rarely put themselves in a position of having to fire sale the roster. The last time it happened was in 2000 when late GM John Butler, being so tied to Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed compromised the team’s salary cap health until he unfortunately had to cut all three on the same day.

It served as a lesson to this organization to not fall into such a situation again.

So while I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a day coming when the Bills do decide to part ways with Mario Williams prematurely, I think they also try to maintain a measure of responsible spending to allow for a couple of lavish contracts on the roster.

 

3 – Chris,
As always thank you and everyone who help to inform Bills nation. My question is on the defensive side,  now that Byrd is gone for sure who do you see stepping up next to Williams? I know Searcy saw a good deal of time last season in spot duty for Byrd early on(along with Leonhard), but do you see him as a full time starter? I really like him as a third safety you can put in the box and play on special teams personally.

Do you think Duke Williams could be the next guy or Meeks maybe? Or maybe a replacement could be found in the draft. Also what do you make of the defensive end position as a sleeper positional need? Do you see any of the “tweeners” (Hughes or Lawson among others) possible switching to or back to the d-end position? Or do they stay at linebacker? Look forward to hearing what you think thanks again!
Will

CB: Doug Marrone has given indication that Corey Graham will be given an opportunity to play safety alongside Aaron Williams, so he’ll be part of the competition and I like the open-minded thinking there. He’ll be in direct competition with Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. I really liked what I saw from Williams in both the practice setting and the preseason last year. I think his athleticism caters well to the versatility you need nowadays at the safety position. He played corner at Nevada so coverage assignments down on the line aren’t an issue for him.

We just didn’t see enough of Meeks last year with the injury to know what he can offer. Searcy while capable of playing safety really carved out a niche for himself as a nickel LB. He had a very productive season there so I’m not sure the coaches will want to mess with that.

As for defensive end, I think the priority is getting Jerry Hughes signed to a long term deal as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Provided they can get a deal done they should be okay there.

With coach Marrone saying at the league meetings last week that they’ll primarily be a 4-3 front defensively I do see Hughes and Lawson joining Mario Williams as the primary defensive ends in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Whether they decide to add through the draft remains to be seen, but that’s a pretty darn good trio.

 

4 – HI CHRIS,
I am absolutely delighted that the Bills have re-signed K Dan Carpenter,but I am perplexed as to why the Dolphins released him. Was he a problem in Miami or was it a money situation??
Regards from
Richard
Los Angeles

CB:
The Dolphins found him expendable because they drafted a kicker in the middle of the fifth round last year in Caleb Sturgis. Miami was apparently disappointed in Carpenter, who had struggled a bit early in the 2012 season and was hurt for the last two games that year. The investment in Sturgis practically predetermined how the “competition” was going to turn out in Miami last summer.

What I enjoyed was watching Carpenter succeed on almost 92 percent of his attempts, almost half of which came from 40-yards plus. He finished tied for 10th in the NFL in field goal accuracy and only two kickers ahead of him (Gostkowski, Tucker) had more attempts from 40-yard plus than him.

Meanwhile Sturgis finished 29th in field goal accuracy at 74.6%.

From 40-yards plus last season Carpenter was an impressive 14-for-17 (82.3%) including 4-for-6 from 50-yards plus. Sturgis was 11-for-17 (64.7%) and he played half his games in Miami. Carpenter had seven games in Buffalo.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a hypothetical question for you. If Sammy Watkins was still available when the Bills are picking do you think they may pass on him because he is reportedly to be represented by Eugene Parker? I think it would be a fair observation to say that Eugene Parker is developing a reputation for causing the Bills front office grief when it comes to contract negotiations with Jairus Byrd and Jason Peters being prime examples.

From an outsiders prospective if the Bills were to select Watkins and he performs as expected, then we would only have him for the length of his rookie contract before he ventures off to “greener pastures”. Do you think teams are impacted by who the players selects as their agent when deciding who to draft particularly in the first round?

Regards
Matt
CB: I don’t believe that NFL clubs factor in the agent for the player when assessing their grade for the player on their draft board. Knowing that I tend to believe the Bills and every other NFL team chooses a player based on his ability on the field, potential, character makeup, passion for the game and fit for their team. So if Sammy Watkins is on the board at nine, which I don’t think will happen, then I see the Bills running the card up to the podium with his name on it.

Your point is a valid one, but the opportunity to get one of the best prospects in the entire class at a position of need trumps any concern you might have about him staying with the team for his second contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-28

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2014 – 11:56 am

Franchise tags and free agency is up next this offseason, but let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,
Love all the great work you do in keeping those of us who root for the Bills but no longer live in WNY up to date on the pulse of the organization.  I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bills Backers here in Portland OR.

My question is what do you think the chances are of the Bills making a real push to go after Jimmy Graham in FA? The talk is that the coaching staff wants to add a big target and a pass catching TE for EJ.  With Graham you get both (and maybe the best receiver in the NFL outside of Megatron).

I know he won’t come cheap and they have many TE on the roster but wouldn’t adding him be a major coup for the offense just like Mario was for the defense?  It sure looks like the new regime in buffalo is trying to change the culture and this move would be another big step in that direction. He won’t be cheap and we would have to overpay (see Mario again) to get him but WOW.  Do the Bills have the cap space and upcoming FA room to swing such a deal?

Norm

CB: I don’t anticipate Graham being available on the open market. The Saints know their offense takes a crippling hit without him and will do whatever they have to in order to keep him in the fold.
2 – Chris,

Obviously there is not a Bills fan out there that can thank you enough for all the hard work you do. It shows you love what you do.
Question: I am hearing a lot of talk about drafting a WR come May. I am on board with this pick. With Bills brass bringing in tall WR’s this offseason, I can assume they might want to address this in the draft as well. What I do not get is all the talk about S. Watkins. He is a true top WR, but I already see the same skill set he has in Goodwin, Woods, and Graham. What would be the benefit of adding another receiver of his capability when we the Bills need a tall jump ball receiver?

Dan
Cottonwood, AZ

CB: As outlined by Bills GM Doug Whaley their definition of a big receiver is not based solely on height. We covered this in our NFL combine feature story on Sammy Watkins, who is an example of a big receiver, even though he stands just 6’1”. Here was Whaley’s exact quote in explaining a phrase he likes to use, ‘big wins.’

“At the wide receiver position ‘big wins’ means a guy that plays big,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he’ll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that’s 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn’t play big. So it’s not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.”
3 – Hey Chris ,

Here’s a quick one for you . Seeing as most all of the experts last year saw the QB class as not very good & the pick of EJ as a reach for the Bills (all but Marrone, Nix, Whaley, & Brandon) do you see us taking a QB if a good one falls in our lap in the later rounds ? Especially seeing as the supposed experts see this years QB class as being a very good one filled with candidates !

Thanks again for your time

Mr T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility knowing the Bills subscribe to the best player on the board philosophy. Of course we’ll have to see what Buffalo does in free agency beforehand.

I’ll also say we need to be mindful of the fact that three of the four quarterbacks on the roster are all young and inexperienced. I’m not sure adding another, unless he’s one of extraordinary value, is of interest to the Bills.

 

4 – Hi Chris, thank you for all the coverage you provide for the Buffalo Bills fans all across the country.

I have two questions for you:

As per the last question I sent you regarding Eric Decker going to the Bills, you said that he would not be a good fit. Ok, I buy that, but how about Kenny Britt or Darius Heyward-Bey? The Bills do need size at the receiving position, and either of these two would provide that.

Also, It has been publicized that the Buffalo Bills will need a veteran backup quarterback to back up E. J. Manuel, in case of another injury. particularly one that can win football games. Two names that come to mind are Chad Henne and Kellen Clemens.

What are your thoughts? As always, I am looking forward to reading your response.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Kenny Britt is a talent no question and has size, but his injury history is undoubtedly a concern. The Bills and other NFL clubs will investigate that thoroughly. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a tall and fast receiver, but I’m not sure he’s the bona fide answer the Bills are looking for at the position. We’ll see.

As for the QB free agent market I wouldn’t mind Chad Henne as a backup option. Kellen Clemens is another story. Matt Cassel wouldn’t be a bad option either.

 

5 –  Hi Chris,

Thanks for the coverage.
Q- After watching the Super Bowl seeing Kam Chancellor blow up Denver’s big wideouts and thinking that we might lose Byrd. Do you think if a big receiver is taken in the draft what would it take to get Marcus Easley a look at safety. He was great on special teams and if he’s not being used at receiver why not?
Thanks, Andy (Rochester)

CB: I really doubt that would ever be an option mainly because Buffalo has some young safeties on the depth chart already. I think Duke Williams is a very talented and underrated prospect and will be a good player in this league. I think Jonathan Meeks also has a lot of potential, so there really isn’t a need to move Easley to the other side of the ball.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Clowney just part of Rock Hill football factory

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2014 – 9:00 am

Jadeveon Clowney is going to be a top five pick in the 2014 draft in May. He won’t be the first top 10 pick to hail from Rock Hill, South Carolina. That town in the Palmetto State has churned out pro level football talent for years.

Bills former first-round pick Jeff Burris is from Rock Hill, as well as top 10 pick Stephon Gilmore. And last year Buffalo drafted safety Jonathan Meeks, who is also from Rock Hill.

So what’s in the water in Rock Hill?

“I don’t know. Growing up that’s all we know is football,” Gilmore told Buffalobills.com. “It’s a big town, it’s bragging rights, it’s everything. If you play football in Rock Hill you’re playing it as soon as you come out of your mom. So it’s a great thing to do.”

Rock Hill, which has a population of about 70-thousand, has three 4A high schools in town, Southpoint, Rock Hill and Northwestern.

“I went to the newest high school Southpoint,” said Gilmore. “So did Clowney, and you’ve got Northwestern and Rock Hill high. Meeks went to Rock Hill. All the teams are good. I think Northwestern won the state championship again in football so there’s a lot of talent in Rock Hill.”

Meeks went to Clemson while Clowney and Gilmore played at South Carolina.

meeks-gamecock-cp

Gilmore has been counseling Clowney through the pre-draft process. He was his former teammate in both college and high school.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

S Meeks back practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on November 25, 2013 – 10:56 am

Bills rookie safety Jonathan Meeks is back practicing for the first times in six weeks.

Meeks was placed in injured reserve, but with the designation to return label. That meant he could begin practicing again six weeks after being place on I-R if healthy enough to do so.

He can practice for two weeks and at that point the team can put him back on their 53-man roster if they so choose.


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Rookie S Meeks to I-R, designated to return

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2013 – 1:55 pm

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.


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Bills 5th round pick visited

Posted by Chris Brown on April 27, 2013 – 2:30 pm

The Bills went with another safety in round five taking Clemson SS Jonathan Meeks. Meeks was one of the players that the Bills had in for a pre-draft visit.

Meeks visited the Bills on April 3rd.


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