Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 10-21

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2016 – 11:28 am

Big division game this week. Good to see McCoy practicing here on Friday. Let’s get to your questions from email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

What is the plan for Zach Brown after the season? He’s played at such a high level, any plans to re-sign him?


CB: At the rate he is performing I would be stunned if the club didn’t make efforts to re-sign Zach Brown. He’s currently on a one-year contract. Brown has proven himself as a valuable every down player. Even though Reggie Ragland will be back in the fold next season, Brown is simply too versatile and plays well off of Preston Brown inside.

Even if the team was to start Ragland next year, I would expect Brown to play a role in the subpackages knowing how strong he is as a coverage player. So I’d look for the Bills to make every effort to keep him in the fold.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any plans to get Justin Hunter more involved in the offense?

Natalie Roberts

CB: I would say that’s a given more out of necessity than anything else. Hunter is a big target who can run. As the offensive coaches have said they’re working on Hunter’s sense of urgency, more so in practice, to do everything the same way that he does in a game so he’s as prepared as possible. As he gets more and more familiar with the offensive scheme I would expect his role to increase provided he continues to perform.


3 – @ChrisBrownBills

With Sammy out and Woods being banged up, any chance Bills make a deal for a WR before trade deadline? Alshon Jeffery?


CB: While I would never rule out a trade knowing Doug Whaley’s willingness to listen to just about any offer, I don’t see Jeffery as a viable option. First, he’s way too expensive. He’s playing on the franchise tag this year at $14.55M. So he’s going to be expecting giant money after this year.

I would also expect the Bears to ask for a king’s ransom knowing they need to rebuild that roster with talent. Chicago has one of the weakest rosters in terms of talent in the NFL (San Fran and Cleveland are the others). And to trade away assets for a guy you may only have for 10 games is not a wise move.

Buffalo is winning right now with the pieces they have. If that changes pursuing a trade might become a more realistic option for them. They have until Nov. 1st with the trade deadline pushed back a couple of weeks from where it used to be.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Good lord! This is week 3 for Dareus and the hammy? Is it really the hammy or is he just badly out of shape? Weird

Joe bach@jbach127

CB: I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor or an athletic trainer, but I have pulled my hamstrings multiple times in my more athletic days as a college athlete. I can tell you that hamstring pulls can sometimes take up to four or five weeks before the muscle tissue has healed to the point where they can withstand the burst in acceleration needed in athletic competition.

Here’s what you have to understand. A hamstring pull or strain will feel fine when a recovering player is jogging or slowly builds up their speed. That doesn’t happen in an NFL game, maybe ever. It is a game played in five to 10 second increments where linemen go from an idle stance to 100 miles per hour in a second.

Dareus’ entire game as a defensive lineman is based on explosion or instant acceleration.

A hamstring pull becomes vulnerable when the athlete makes a sudden burst to get to a ball or take down a ball carrier in Dareus’ case. It’s the demand put on the hamstring muscle when a burst of speed is made that it can pull again if not completely healed.

Dareus has to explode out of his stance about 50 times a game, so his hamstring muscle has to be healed number one, and then have enough strength and endurance built back into the muscle before he can go out and play 50 snaps at top speed. Otherwise it will pull again and you’re looking at another three to five weeks with him on the sideline.


5 – @ChrisBrownBills what can we expect from Shaq?

Adam Smolka

CB: I think we can expect to see Shaq Lawson play a decent amount of snaps, maybe 20-30 if I had to guess. He’s apparently been pretty impressive in practice this week. I know he had an interception on a pass to the flat in practice Wednesday. If he comes out like a house on fire, it could be more.

Knowing Lerentee McCray is coming off a knee injury I would anticipate that Lawson could get some of his snaps that he gets rotating in for Alexander and Hughes, even if McCray is dressed and able to play.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What to expect from WR Justin Hunter

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2016 – 10:45 am

New WR Justin Hunter is expected to be dressed and play Sunday against the Rams. Here’s an idea of what offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has in mind for the tall and fast wideout.

“Yes, we do envision a role for Justin,” Lynn said. “(Receivers coach) Sanjay (Lal) has done a hell of a job working with him and trying to get caught up to speed. But he’s been here just for a few days, three practices, you know I’m not sure how much he’s going to be involved in the game plan this week, but down the road I do see a role for him.”

Lynn did hint that this week Hunter could have a role in a red zone package of plays against the Rams.

“You know, that’s why we brought him in,” said Lynn. “We like his presence in the red zone, but we like him as just a wide receiver in general and if we can get him going, I think he can help us.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-7

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2016 – 11:33 am

The first of three west coast trips for the Bills this season for Sunday’s game at L.A. Let’s get to your questions from email at and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Does Justin Hunter have a chance to play? He is big and fast

Vince Tracy@theturk47

CB: I expect Hunter to be active on game day Sunday. You’re right he is tall and fast. Having only practiced with the team for four days, and only being exposed to the playbook for about a week, I would anticipate just a package of plays for Hunter against the Rams. Perhaps just the red zone if they get down there or some other situational parts of the game. A full workload I think is a little ambitious with as new as he is to the club.


2 – @ChrisBrownBills How are the Bills able to bring Lawson & Sammy back from IR? I thought u could only bring 1 from preseason IR.

Chet Spoonley@chetehc

CB: Lawson was on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, which carries a completely different set of rules for returning to the active roster. Beginning in Week 7 the Bills have a three week window in which they can take a player on PUP and let him begin practicing. The first day he practices starts the 21-day window in which the team must decide whether to add him to the active roster or leave him on said reserve list for the remainder of the season.

Watkins being on injured reserve can be chosen as a player to re-activate to the 53-man roster after he’s been on I-R for eight weeks. I’m not overly optimistic that will happen, but we’ll see where things stand in about a month.
3 – Chris,

It seems to me that we’ve heard almost nothing about John Miller this off-season. Normally this is a good thing for offensive linemen. Your opinion please.

William S.

CB: Miller has fared well for the most part this season. His teammates acknowledge he is making progress and improving his consistency. He’s got a supreme test this week in Aaron Donald, who will line up opposite both him and Richie Incognito at times. Low to the ground and quick, Donald can wreck a game. A matchup worth watching this week.


4 – Chris,

My question is about Jonathan Williams. He really impressed me in the preseason, reminds me a little bit of Fred Jackson. When do you expect him to make a push for some carries? I really think he would make a great compliment to Shady now. To me, if Reggie Bush isn’t returning punts or kickoffs we don’t have much of a use for him.

Joe Roberts

Orlando, Fl

CB: Jonathan Williams did have an encouraging preseason. Had great contact balance and usually falls forward. Underrated as a pass catcher. This season, much like it is for Cardale Jones, might be like a redshirt year. He’s got guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s got to master all the responsibilities of being a running back, including blitz pickup more than anything.

Coaches have to know they can trust him and he’s got to show he can do more and offer more than the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.


5 – Hi, Chris —

Two years ago as a rookie Cyril Richardson (because of other circumstances) got some starts at guard and did some decent, if not memorable, work.  Last year his performance fell off noticeably and he didn’t play much.  This year he couldn’t even make the team.

Any insights into this decline?  Was he not an NFL-level talent to begin with?

Jim D.

CB: Cyril Richardson was drafted when Doug Marrone was head coach of the team and they wanted to employ a smash mouth drive defensive linemen off the ball type run game. Cyril Richardson is a player capable of doing that. But when the scheme changed with the new staff, Richardson was no longer a fit.

This is a run game that features pulling guards to kick out and lead block and get to the second level. Richardson never had the feet to execute that. He was no longer a fit for the type of offense the Bills run.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-19

Posted by Chris Brown on April 19, 2013 – 2:05 pm

Alright Bills fans this is the last Fan Friday before the NFL draft. The “hay is in the barn” as the scouts say, just got to wait and see how the board falls next week. Be sure to check out my 8th annual mock draft next Wednesday. It’ll be entertaining. Here now are your latest questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – dcap22803 Apr 17, 11:27am

@ChrisBrownBills Would #bills be willing to trade down with #falcons and take Nassib at 30

CB: It’s my contention that the Bills would be very interested in trading down. As I covered in my story this week, after asking GM Buddy Nix about trading down, there could be some players for the eighth overall pick if prospects like Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson or West Virginia WR Tavon Austin are both still on the board.

I don’t get the sense that they like the value there at eight for positions they’d like to address early (QB, WR) so I believe if they can move back to an area where they like the value better (late teens or 20’s) and add a draft choice they would do it.

2 – JackJablonski Apr 16, 1:04pm

@ChrisBrownBills Williams to Safety. Does this open up the possibility of CB at pick 8? Dee Milliner, if he falls, or Xavier Rhodes??

CB: I think with Aaron Williams moving to safety it raises the level of importance for addressing cornerback in the draft. Outside of Stephon Gilmore the Bills lack size at corner, so a tough, physical corner is needed out there. If Milliner falls to eight I wouldn’t rule out him being a consideration. At the same time I believe moving back and adding another draft choice could trump it.

But with Williams moving to safety I believe it has made adding a cornerback a necessity at some point in this draft.

3 – Chris,
With our needs at SS, ILB, OLB, WR and QB most likely to be addressed thru the draft, I find it really strange that there has been very little noise about bringing in some quality free agent guards for visits.  It seems like a glaring hole (let’s not forget Rinehart is gone as well).  Have you heard anything on Mr. Nix’s plans for this position?  I would like to see our RBs continue to run hard and whoever are QB may end up being it would be nice for him to be in one piece after a few games.

Go Bills!

CB: I’ll give you Mr. Nix’s exact thoughts about the team’s status at the guard spot. Here is a direct quote from the draft luncheon when he was asked if losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency had altered their approach in the draft at all?

“Not at all,” said Nix. “Not at all, now having said that I know people have said we’re taking one of those top two guards. Our roster in house is better than I think we get credit for especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We’ve got six guards and we think a couple of them can play. Now having said all that before you write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the old boy at Alabama (Chance Warmack) and the kid at North Carolina (Jonathan Cooper). Both of those are great players so you have to give that a lot of thought when they come up.”

When asked as a follow up if he had enough confidence in the six guards on the roster to the point where if they did not draft a guard would he be fine, he said he would be.

To be clear the players they believe offer them ability at guard are starter Kraig Urbik and Colin Brown and Sam Young. Brown and Young rotated in with the starting unit at left guard. If there are no other additions at the position those two are likely to battle it out for the starting role.

Zebrie Sanders, who Doug Marrone views as a tackle first and guard second, could potentially be a part of that competition down the road when he’s healthy.

4 –  Chris,
So I’ve been hearing that Tyler Bray has some of the best upside in the QB class I was wondering what you thought of him and if you think he’s worthy of our second pick. Also if you think that going after Patterson in the first round, Bray in the 2nd or 3rd to have some instantaneous chemistry on offense would be a good idea. Or do you see a prospect at QB worth it at eight and maybe go after the other Tennessee kid, Hunter in the second? I’d live to get some feedback on these thoughts.

Thanks, Will

CB: There’s no debating that Bray can throw the heck out of the ball. He is the only junior eligible in this QB class and is a bit unpolished. I’m a bit concerned about his capability of coming in and being a leader for your football team. He has the physical skills, but there are maturity issues that NFL clubs have been busy investigating.

I respect your thought of instantaneous chemistry, but it would be anything but instantaneous. Patterson is very green and might not be a big time contributor until his third NFL season. Likewise Bray is also not NFL ready right now. So while those two might have chemistry, I’m not sure you’d see it right away on an NFL field against NFL competition.

I do subscribe to your latter suggestion. In fact that’s what I believe will happen in this draft. I believe Buffalo goes quarterback in the first and receiver in the second. Now they may trade back in round one before taking the QB, but I believe there’s a good chance they do that and Hunter is a viable value in round two.

I’m also a fan of E.J. Manuel despite the naysayers.

5 – Chris,

With the Bills being deficient last year at WR (and getting rid of what little depth that they have by releasing Nelson and Jones) on top of not signing ANY free agent WRs this offseason, doesn’t it seem like there’s a VERY good chance they draft Cordarrelle Patterson with their 8th pick? I’m not even saying I want that, but what choice do they have? That position is looking thinner and thinner this offseason. This is assuming they can’t get their franchise QB in the first round…

PS- Go Bills

CB: I think your point is well taken. The Bills need to add an instant contributor at receiver. I believe this will happen in round two. There’s good value between rounds two and four where you can get a player that can help you sooner rather than later. The value at WR is not good in round one until the very end.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills took two receivers in the draft despite the fact that they have just six picks.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

QB Barkley coming to Buffalo as well

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2013 – 10:40 am

Just hours after Tennessee WR Justin Hunter announced that he’s en route to Buffalo, presumably for a pre-draft visit, USC QB Matt Barkley tweeted the same.

Barkley tweeted this morning that he’s got visits lined up with the Browns and Bills coming up.

The Bills held a private workout with Barkley just last week.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

WR Hunter says he’s headed to Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2013 – 10:18 am

Tennessee WR Justin Hunter was part of a private workout with the Bills on Saturday with his college QB Tyler Bray and others. Now he says he’s coming to Buffalo, presumably for a pre-draft visit.

 Hunter led the Vols and finished third in the SEC with 73 catches for 1,083 yards in 2012. His 73 receptions were second-most in Tennessee single-season history.

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Private workout for Tenn. QB & WR

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2013 – 5:04 pm

The Bills conducted private workouts with some University of Tennessee prospects Saturday.

QB Tyler Bray was the headline prospect as the Bills tirelessly cover all bases with the quarterback prospects.

They also worked out other Tennessee prospects WRs Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers and TE Michael Rivera.

Rivera broke Jason Witten’s single-season receiving yardage record for a tight end this past year with 562 receiving yards. Witten’s had 493 as a Vol.

What’s interesting is WR Cordarrelle Patterson was not part of the private workout.

Of the group that was worked out Hunter is considered the highest ranked prospect as most draft prognosticators have him as a second round pick.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-5

Posted by Chris Brown on April 5, 2013 – 12:30 pm

Another week closer to the NFL draft. Keep the questions coming at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. Here’s the latest edition for you Bills fans.

1 – Chris,

Due to the advent of a new coaching staff, at what point in time can the Bills coaches give information to existing Bills players with reference to new terminology or verbiage that will be used in calling of plays? Also the new playbook, which would take even more time to put together. Is the timing this kind of information contractually limited by the CBA or otherwise? Or is it simply delayed until all is put together by the staff?                                                         

Thanks, Bill S.
CB: The new coaching staff does get the benefit of an additional voluntary camp here in the spring. Buffalo’s additional camp will run from April 15th to the 18th prior to the draft. At that point classroom work is permitted in addition to on the field work. The offseason conditioning program began on Tuesday. Yes, the timing is contractually limited by the CBA, as well as practice time (e.g. limited time on the field per day, days per week, etc.) So it does present a great challenge for a new staff coming in with constraints put on the amount of practice and classroom time.


2 – Hey Chris,

I was wondering if you might be able to enlighten some of us on practice squad eligibility & whether or not if in any way it counts towards the cap? Or is that a cost that is separate from the cap? I know those guys have to get paid but am unsure about the inner workings of it. Last year that was where we had David Snow stashed at right & I know he went back & forth for a bit, so how much longer would he be eligible?

I do know that they are not secure with the team once they are put there & can be signed away, but can the team offer them more to stay? Or once an offer has been made by another team or are they just gone? I know that in the past we have picked up a few players from other teams squads such as Brian Brohm & have tried to pick up others that either didn’t want to leave or were offered more money by the team we were trying to get them away from to stay – I guess?

I was just wondering if you might be able to clear some of that up for those of us that aren’t as well verse on the workings of that part of the team …

Thanks as always for your time !!

Mr T from Fort Myers Via Nashville

CB: First, practice squad players do not count against the cap. Only the top 51 player salaries count towards the cap, so the two lowest paid players on the 53-man roster don’t even count let alone the practice squad players.

Players are eligible for the practice squad for up to three years provided they do not appear in nine regular season games in one year. If they are in the third year of practice squad eligibility and they’re on the practice squad, whenever there is an opening on the 53-man roster they’re the automatic promotion (See: Gibran Hamdan).

You’re right the players on the practice squad can be signed to the active roster of any other NFL club at any time. There are instances where the team that he’s been with tries to retain him by putting him on their active roster.

It’s funny you mention Brian Brohm because that’s exactly what Green Bay tried to do when they found out the Bills were going to sign him off their practice squad. They offered him the same money that the Bills were offering on their active roster, but it’s the player’s choice. He thought he had a better chance to play in Buffalo with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Hope that helps.


3 – Chris:

It would seem that player evaluations can hinge on subtle differences, to me a player who doesn’t beat or come very close to their 1st 40, may not have the competitive spirit needed to succeed at the next level. I’d rather have someone who fights to the final whistle. Some of the QB’s did not impress at this, I’d rather have a not as developed player with desire, than a strong arm and quit in him. How would you and the coaches evaluate the two 40 times?
Jim from Florida

CB: While I don’t dispute for a second that it’s better to have a player that fights to the final whistle or is supremely self-motivated, I think you may be putting a bit too much weight on a player’s second run of the 40 at the Combine or a pro day.

There are several reasons why a player might run a slower 40 the second time. First, perhaps their get off wasn’t as technically sound. Their footing may not have been as good off the line. I realize this might sound a bit unrealistic, but players will tell you there is a fatigue factor involved from the first run.

I’m sure there are instances of some prospects that don’t fight to the final whistle, but that will be far more noticeable in games on tape than in their second run of the 40.


4 – The off season though the combine has been frustrating because once again I have no clue what the defense is going to look like, so I have no idea who I should be paying attention to. OLB seems to be a glaring need, but is it? It looks to be Bradham and that’s it, but because of the uncertainty surrounding the scheme,  I’m left asking are Kyle Moore, Mark Anderson & Mario Williams DEs or OLBs? Should I be paying attention to the interior D Line guys, guys that are projected as 3-4 DEs? Right now the only projected first round front seven defender who I’m sure can fit into whatever D they run is Ogletree. I used to love this time of year. Any light you can shine on this situation would be appreciated.

Pete Howell

CB: When coach Pettine says his scheme is going to be multiple he means it. Gone are the days where you can sit in a 4-3 or 3-4 and not change things up. A perfect example of this was the way that former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt chose to sit in the same 4-3 front last season. Despite having great depth of talent on his front line, the same looks became easy to block and counter for opposing offensive line, which is why they weren’t all that effective last season.

Pettine knows to be effective you have to be multiple. Just as it’s difficult for you to not plug DEs and OLBs into roles, Pettine wants opposing offenses to have that same difficulty. He doesn’t want opponents knowing where anyone is going to line up on any given play. Keeping an offense guessing while also possessing an attacking mindset unnerves an offense.

All that being said I think they will line up more in the 3-4 than the 4-3, but roles will shift and change from week to week. Manny Lawson might be a true SLB on first down, but he might shift to a third down pass rusher in passing situations and Mario Williams might kick inside. That’s just one example.


5 – CB, 

Buddy had mentioned following the way the Bengals drafted AJ Green and Andy Dalton. Do you seen a scenario where the Bills go QB in round 1 and WR in round two? What do you think of the possibility of Geno Smith and Justin Hunter? I think these two are the might be the best players available when the Bills will pick in rounds 1 and 2. What are the scouts saying about Hunter, can he separate from DB’s at his size/speed? 
CB: I think this could definitely be a possibility in the first two rounds. Buffalo needs to add a quarterback early. And the value at wide receiver in this draft begins in round two and lasts all the way until round four. Hunter has some intriguing physical skills. He ran a 4.36 at the Combine and is 6’4”, but he’s just 196 pounds and has a lean build, which means he’ll be limited in the bulk he can add.

He also has a reputation for inconsistent hands. That’s why despite first round physical skills he’s expected to last until round two.

As for his separation ability, he’s not considered very good run after catch despite his speed because he’s a straight line speed guy. Elusiveness is not a strength.

Personally I’d prefer Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins in round two if he’s there for Buffalo.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

WR Patterson visits Lions

Posted by Chris Brown on March 8, 2013 – 3:24 pm

A day after hosting Tennessee WR Justin Hunter for a pre-draft visit, the Detroit Lions are reportedly hosting his former college teammate.

According to the team’s website, the Lions are hosting Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson for a pre-draft visit. Patterson and Hunter as widely ranked as two of the top five receivers in the draft class. Patterson ran a 4.42 at the NFL Combine to Hunter’s 4.44.

Bills GM Buddy Nix has listed wide receiver as one of the team’s top positional needs this offseason.

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WR Hunter has pre-draft visit with Lions

Posted by Chris Brown on March 7, 2013 – 4:55 pm

The Bills are in going to be in the market for a wide receiver come draft weekend, but so will a lot of other clubs. That list of teams includes the Detroit Lions apparently as they have already begun their pre-draft visit schedule hosting Tennessee WR Justin Hunter Thursday.

That according to their team website. Hunter told that he’d love to line up opposite Calvin Johnson.

“I know they have two people on (Calvin Johnson) every time he lines up and people base their game plan on him,” Hunter said. “It would be nice (playing next to a guy like that) because usually that happens to me. I know how it feels. I think one-on-one coverage would be great. I’d be excited for that.”

After the disastrous end of the Lions’ relationship with WR Titus Young, who was suspended and eventually released, Detroit is in the market for another receiving talent to complement Johnson and Ryan Broyles.

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Vols WR talent on display at combine

Posted by johnmurphyshow on February 24, 2013 – 2:45 pm

It’s an embarassment of riches at the wide receiver spot when it comes to University of Tennessee products. The Vols have both Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson on the field Sunday for the wide receiver workouts. And they both could wind up in the first round of the draft.

Patterson was in the second group of QB-WR workouts on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. And watching from the stands, he seemed a little off-kilter. He looked awkward running some routes, but did make a great adjustment on a deep pass thrown by FSU’s E.J. Manuel, and made a great catch. Patterson’s combination of size and speed make him an attractive first round target for teams in need of a WR.

It was his Tennessee teammate, Justin Hunter, who impressed most of all. In the morning session on the field, Hunter ran smooth, decisive routes with quick cuts. He’s got great size (6-4, 197 pounds) and long, smooth strides. He suffered a serious knee injury in 2011, but rebounded strongly last year with 73 catches, nine of them for touchdowns. Hunter also seemed to do a nice job catching the ball with his hands, not his body.

With David Nelson and Donald Jones knocked off the Bills roster, you’d have to think WR moves up high, maybe to the top, of their draft needs in the next two months.

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Posted in Inside the Bills