Well final cuts will be coming down in the next 24-36 hours as Buffalo’s 53-man roster will be set… at least for the time being. Below we get to some of your more pressing questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Chris,
Pro scouts generally agree that E. J. Manuel has excellent athletic ability but concern about his judgement as a QB. Both Rob Johnson and J.P. Losman were good athletically but lacked judgment as a QB. While judgment is difficult to coach, how is the coaching staff doing it differently this time to ensure success?
With rookie coaching staff and the departure of some top players, what is the realistic expectation of the Bills record for this coming season? Recent statistics seems to indicate 3 to 5 wins for the season.
What is the target set forth by the Bills front office?
CB: Manuel is not going to be Rob Johnson or J.P. Losman. He already has demonstrated more poise and good decision making than both of them in two preseason games. What helps Manuel is his dedication to the game and to improve. Johnson and Losman did not possess the same work ethic. They both wanted to excel, but didn’t put the work in to make it happen.
Decision making is something that can be coached and improved and there are lessons that Manuel certainly still has to learn. But he’s way ahead of where those two quarterbacks were at this stage of their career.
As for the target set forth by the Bills front office it’s the playoffs and you typically need 10 wins to qualify.
2 – Chris,
If the other outside corners struggle that are stepping in for Gilmore, do you think it is at all likely the Bills will try Duke Williams as the other starting outside corner?
CB: While I wouldn’t rule it out as an option down the line, I don’t know if it’s the first option they would turn to. The coverage assignments I expect to see out there for Duke is on slot receivers and tight ends.
3 – Hi Chris
Thanks for all your hard work keeping all Bills fans updated on Bills news and information. I have a question about Kendall Gaskins. He looked real good from what I was able to see about his performance. My question is in regards to his position. He is listed as a RB, but he did pick up some blitzes pretty well. If he continues to distance himself and becomes a player that the coaches will want to keep, with a crowded RB position, do you see him being moved to a more blocking/power position like FB? Or do you see him in a returner/RB backup role? His height is in range of a prototypical FB, and at 238 can be a big obstacle in the way of the defense. Thanks
Larry in Tucson
CB: I think Gaskins has put together a nice camp and preseason, but the backfield is crowded as you said. Coach Marrone does want a back that offers a different style to that of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and Gaskins is more of a power back.
I think the roster decision comes down to Gaskins, Brown and Choice for the third RB role. If Gaskins doesn’t get it I see the Bills trying to get him or Brown on their practice squad.
4 – The receiver position is deep and we can’t keep them all. What is your best guess on how many receivers will be kept on both the 53 man roster and the practice squad? And who are those players?
I say 7
Thanks and Go Bills
Mike in Dallas, TX
CB: Unfortunately I think seven is not going to happen. Six is probably the number.
10, 11, 13 and 88 are locks. I think after that it’s down to 15, 16 and 81 for the remaining spot or two. My thinking is 15 and 81, especially after the injury to Brad Smith last night (ribs).
5 – Chris:
Please thank the crew for all the hard work they put in getting updates and stories for the fans.
I have 3 things I would like your input on:
1. Why are teams going to the trend of dressing only 7 Offensive Linemen for games? This is a dangerous practice, especially considering 5 play the entire game Offensively and some on Special Teams (if they stay healthy). The linemen make contact every play of every snap, the other players can’t say the same on Offense. Now with the Bills planning to snap the ball 75-80 times per game this increases the potential for injury. Isn’t that a concern and something to consider in the day of analytics?
2. How does coach Marrone feel about scrimmaging and practicing against other teams? Wouldn’t the coaches get a better evaluation on their own players in this situation?
3. With you being at practice every day watching and asking interview questions to Coach Hackett, doesn’t it seem as though he has many of the mannerisms of John Gruden? Is he as hands on and enthusiastic as Coach Gruden was on the field?
CB: The practice of dressing 7 linemen has been around for years. With the ability to only dress 46 players total and with there being far more rotation on the defensive side of the ball, they have to make seven work. More plays are solved by better conditioning the linemen though I don’t disagree every added play adds risk for injury.
I’ll have to ask coach Marrone about preseason scrimmaging. In year one however, his staff has so much to get in order and figure out that a scrimmage would complicate that process.
In terms of enthusiasm and being hands on, Hackett mirrors Gruden. But Hackett is always happy. Gruden is always ornery on the practice field.
Tags: Doug Marrone, Duke Williams, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Jeff Tuel, Jon Gruden, Kendall Gaskins, Nathaniel Hackett, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
The battle for the third running back spot on Buffalo’s roster has been tight. Tashard Choice is widely seen with the edge going into tonight’s preseason finale, but Kendall Gaskins and Zach Brown are in close pursuit. Here’s a look at how the reps through the three preseason games have played out, knowing Brown and Gaskins figure to get a big dose of work tonight.
Gaskins, who has the fewest offensive snaps to this point, is hoping extra snaps will allow him to get into the flow of the game more effectively.
“(With more work) the coaches will be able to see a lot more rather than just a short period of time,” Gaskins told Buffalobills.com. ”I have to be able to get into the rhythm of the game the whole time. So I’ll be able to show more than what I’ve shown before.”
RB offense snap counts thru 3 games
Tashard Choice 58
Zach Brown 50
Fred Jackson 46
Frank Summers 38
C.J. Spiller 37
Drew Smith 34
Kendall Gaskins 30
RB special teams snaps counts thru 3 games
Frank Summers 29
Tashard Choice 19
Kendall Gaskins 5
Drew Smith 4
Zach Brown 3
C.J. Spiller 0
Fred Jackson 0
Tags: 2013 preseason, Kendall Gaskins, Tashard Choice, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills
Preseason game number two tonight against the Vikings and a big night for Kevin Kolb. Here are some of your latest questions for this last edition of Fan Friday before the end of training camp. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I’m sure your sick of comments and questions about Jairus Byrd but my question I didn’t hear many talk about is this: did the Bills (or Byrd for that matter) consider that Byrd may have a tremendous year and increase his value even more next year leading to an even high price tag? If the Bills do what they are hoping he will do during his franchise year did they not cost themselves more money by not coming up a little higher to sign him this year? Or, if that was a consideration, does that not tell us there will be no attempt to sign Byrd long term after this season and this season is nothing more than a bridge to get one of the Williams’ ready?
CB: Bills GM Doug Whaley has gone on record saying they will still pursue a long term contract agreement with Jairus Byrd after the regular season concludes. At this point you have to take Whaley at his word as the team’s new GM. In my experience Whaley usually means what he says.
Now all that being said there is some merit to the argument of signing a player to an extension a year prior to their contract being up. If for example, the Bills are convinced that Alex Carrington is going to have a monster season in this the last year of his contract, they might opt to try to sign him before this season starts.
Is there a risk? Absolutely. He could have a down year or sustain a career-threatening injury. But there’s a risk in every decision an NFL GM makes. That’s why their salaries are where they are. When there’s a significant call to be made, they’re paid to make significantly more right decisions than wrong ones.
2 – Hi Chris,
I am a former season ticket holder (tunnel endzone) from the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s now living in SC. Thanks for all you do to keep out of town Bills fans up to date. I’m intrigued by the Bills corps of receivers. I have heard about the speed of Graham and Goodwin. Do you think either has the route running ability to be the next Victor Cruz inside? I have heard about the route running ability of Woods. Does he have the potential to be a Wes Welker inside bracketed between Stevie, Graham, and Chandler? Da’ Rick is also interesting. Where do you see him in this mix?
As far as team analysis I see our biggest areas of need as the O Line (need a tackle and two guards), an outside linebacker that can rush and compliment Mario, and a second corner to pair with Gilmore as I feel McKelvin is too small and better suited to slot defender. Your thoughts?
John in SC
CB: Woods is a polished route runner, but he’s not a Wes Welker. Welker’s quickness in and out of cuts is rare. Woods is a sharp route runner, but he wins more on hesitation, change of speed and shoulder fakes than pure quickness. Stevie Johnson is the primary slot receiver. Woods would be the number two.
To say one would have similar production to Victor Cruz has more to do with the quarterback throwing him the ball than their own exploits.
Da’Rick Rogers is strictly an outside receiver. Big and physical with soft hands, he needs more discipline with his route running, but when he gets it he could explode.
McKelvin right now is the best option to line up opposite Stephon Gilmore when healthy. At 5’10” 185 his size is adequate and his arms are long, which helps in coverage. Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers and Nickell Robey are considerably smaller in stature and better suited inside. McKelvin is probably best as a boundary corner.
3 - @ChrisBrownBills
What is up with Mario? How come he doesn’t interview after practice? Did they ever say what it was with his foot?
CB: He does usually once a week during the regular season and occasionally during training camp. Last night he did not stop for an interview because he had to get treatment with the athletic trainers. Head coach Doug Marrone did not say it was his foot that needed treatment. During camp there is typically an assortment of bumps and bruises that players experience that needs attention, especially linemen who endure more physical contact than other players.
I’m not trying to be a Mario apologist here, but even if it was his foot that necessitated the treatment I’d at least take comfort in the fact that he’s trying to take care of what’s nagging at him.
4 – Chris,
I appreciate the work you do on the Bills site, nice job.
A few points – when it comes to Byrd I think the Bills want to let this season play out and let some of their young safeties get some game reps (I.e. Searcy, A Williams, D Williams, Meeks) and see where they stand at the end of the year. While I think Byrd is a very good all-around player, the one thing I think he lacks, is that he is not a particularly big hitter, and I think that can change a defense when their safeties will hit.
The O line position that I think is more important than left guard is right tackle. Who do you think the right tackle will be, and how good of play do you think the Bills will get from that position?
We hear so much about the Bills up tempo offense but to me, that is not really an offense. Conceptually, in terms of routes, blocking schemes and personnel groupings, what do you think the Bills offense will look like?
Do you think the Bills need a legitimate big back? Certainly, CJ is a supreme talent, but to me, he is a space player, and to me 20 touches a game would be ideal. To me, Fred is a good all-around player, a good pass protector, a good screen game back, and a runner who makes his yards on a combination of vision, balance and using his blocks. But I think the Bills would benefit from a legitimate big running back. I think such a player could help on the goal line, third and short, and be a good complement to CJ and Fred. What do you think?
CB: Okay a lot to cover here. First, I disagree with your assessment that Jairus Byrd is not a hitter. He absolutely is a hitter. Evidence of that comes from the fact that since the 2009 season, no other safety in the league has more forced fumbles than him. He’s got 10. That being said the bigger hitters of the current contingent are Da’Norris Searcy and Duke Williams.
Right now I think the right tackle will be Erik Pears, who finally appears recovered from groin and hip problems the past two seasons. He’s moving as well as I’ve seen him and he’s as tough as they come. Chris Hairston, who is still on PUP, may very well miss all of training camp as he has not been moved onto the active roster yet.
Couple that with the fact that Sam Young and Thomas Welch have been unable to unseat him and it looks like Pears’ job to lose.
Concerning the Bills offense yes it will be up tempo, but it is a unique system that no one else is running. So I’ll give you the details that won’t give up the brilliance behind it. The easy identification is that it’s fast, but it’s also multiple personnel, slightly more run than pass (probably 52% to 48%) with stretch the field components. It has West Coast system roots with a physical edge to it.
It won’t be complicated, just fast and multiple in terms of looks.
If Fred Jackson is not the kind of goal line back you want because you don’t think he’s big enough Kendall Gaskins is the only back in camp (who isn’t a fullback) that is bigger. He’s 6’1” 238 and he can lay the lumber. He’s had a nice camp, but whether he can unseat Tashard Choice remains to be seen.
5 - @ChrisBrownBills
how’s Carrington doing? Was projected as breakout player but haven’t heard much about him?
CB: If you haven’t heard or seen much you might be living under a rock. He’s been a routine component of our highlight reels on Bills Roundup every evening we cover the day that was in training camp. I’ll let defensive coordinator Mike Pettine give you the assessment of the kind of camp he’s had (high praise).
“He’s a guy that we have a saying where we talk about playing like Bill, tough, competitive, productive, relentless, all the traits that we’re looking for in our guys,” said Pettine. “You go right down the list and he’s every one of them. He’s a guy that loves football, wants to get better, wants to get coached hard, asks the tough questions and it just shows up in his play.
“He’s probably our most technically sound guy up front. We emphasize to our guys that we want to get knock back on the offensive line and he’s probably our most consistent guy doing that, but the position he’s in I don’t think he’s going to show up on the stat sheet as much from a scheme standpoint. But to me he’s going to be one of the more important pieces of our defense.”
Tags: C.J. Spiller, Chris Hairston, Da'Norris Searcy, Da'Rick Rogers, Doug Whaley, Duke Williams, Erik Pears, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Jairus Byrd, Kendall Gaskins, Leodis McKelvin, Mario Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Robert Woods, Sam Young, Tashard Choice, Thomas Welch
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills undrafted rookie RB Kendall Gaskins got a lot of work in the spring practices. During his preparation for training camp, Gaskins went back to his University of Richmond campus to train and sat down for an interview with Spiders TV, where he revealed what the coaches have planned for him position-wise at camp.
Gaskins laid out how the latter rounds of the draft unfolded and that the Bills called him long before the draft was over.
“I got a call around the fifth or sixth round from the Bills and it was Tyrone Wheatley the running backs coach and he was telling me that running back wasn’t a position of need, but they really wanted me,” Gaskins told Spiders TV. ”It’s a good fit for me. Tyrone Wheatley likes big backs and I’m only going to be playing running back, not fullback as well. So it was an overall good choice for me and a good fit for me.”
It’s interesting that Gaskins will not be used as a fullback at all. That essentially leaves a fullback role if Buffalo deems it necessary to have one to Frank Summers, essentially the only true fullback on the roster. Gaskins was one of the eight training camp sleepers listed in our Top 25 Countdown to Training Camp feature on the unknown players to keep an eye on.
Tags: Frank Summers, Kendall Gaskins, Tyrone Wheatley
Posted in Inside the Bills
University of Richmond FB Kendall Gaskins is the latest undrafted rookie free agent to announce that he’s agreed to sign with the Bills.
Proud to announce that im officially aBuffalo Bill. #blessed
— Kendall Gaskins (@KGpolo_5) April 28, 2013
Gaskins even got a welcome from fellow Richmond alum and Bills CB Justin Rogers.
— Justin Rogers (@Rogers_5) April 28, 2013
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Justin Rogers, Kendall Gaskins, Undrafted rookie free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills