Inside The Bills

Are big WR prospects already in the fold?

Posted by Chris Brown on January 6, 2014 – 3:31 pm

Some of the more prolific NFL passing offenses enjoy the presence of a big target or targets in their receiving corps. Denver (D. Thomas, E. Decker, J. Thomas), New Orleans (J. Graham), Detroit (C. Johnson), San Diego (A. Gates, L. Green) and Chicago (B. Marshall, A. Jeffery) were the top five passing offenses in football in 2013. Buffalo figures to be on the lookout to add size talent to their receiving corps, but there are two younger prospects in house that Doug Marrone believes could progress and challenge for a role on the 53-man roster.

“We have a player here in Kevin Elliott (6’3″ 205) who was having a good camp who is a big wide receiver,” said Marrone in an appearance recently on the John Murphy Show. “At the end of the year we moved Aaron Williams to I-R and wound up signing Cordell Roberson (6’4″ 205) to the (roster) from the practice squad and I think that was important. He’s another big receiver.”

Elliott, who was making plays in training camp tore his ACL in the preseason, and was placed on I-R for the 2013 season. Roberson joined the practice squad on Oct. 29th and was called up for the season finale, but was inactive.

A Florida A&M product, Elliott was an undrafted rookie signing of Jacksonville in 2012 and appeared in 13 games making 10 receptions in a bit role for the Jaguars before he was released and subsequently signed to Buffalo’s practice squad in December 2012. He had 173 career receptions for 1,742 yards and 20 TDs in college.

Meanwhile Roberson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Cleveland, was released prior to the regular season and spent a portion of the year on the practice squad of Carolina before joining the Bills this year.

The receiver finished his career at Stephen F. Austin University (2009-12) as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (221), receiving yards (3,191) and touchdown catches (39).

“We feel we have two big targets who can both run that we can implement into our offense,” said Marrone. “But Doug Whaley if he feels there is somebody available that he feels can better our football team in that regard then I’m sure it’s something he would look at.”


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Fan Friday 11-29

Posted by Chris Brown on November 29, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Bills fans. Here is your latest edition of queries on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris
Long time Bills fan from Sacramento. First, thanks for all your hard work, you and John Murphy are a great team. You guys are my only source for my Bills fix until Sunday. My question is about the D-fence. With the Bills being bad against the run once again, why not put Alan Branch in the middle full time with Dareus. I know we want to change things and be multiple, to keep the offense guessing and confused. But it seems like we are setting the edge much better this season with Manny and company. Just curious on obvious running downs why not keep the bigs in the center.

Thanks
Jake B

CB: Hopefully you’ve seen that the run defense has improved. A big reason why is because Branch, who has stepped into Alex Carrington’s role as the five-technique (line up opposite outside shoulder of RT) is effectively holding the point of attack on run downs.

At times Dareus has been lined up at end, but that’s been on pass downs at times. With Dareus and Williams working so well off each other inside, it makes more sense to keep Branch at the strong side end position.

 

2 – Chris

As you watch the Bills games and other NFL games, do you believe the best way to build a team is to put almost all of your salary cap into the offense?  We are built to run right now and put money into the defense (which I am happy about) but if a defensive back touches the receiver- illegal contact, pull a jersey-pass interference, hits too hard – defenseless receiver 15 yards.

I now would have put the money into Andy Levitre or would attempt to draft or gain the best free agent offensive lineman in football and get blue chip receivers, tight ends.  I hope the NFL doesn’t think this arena style football is that great to watch.  It’s irritating to know that it’s this unbalanced for the defense.  The defense isn’t there to stop the offense, just slow them down until the clock runs out.

Thanks – TM

CB: I don’t debate for a second that the rules are slanted toward the offensive side of the ball, but to put the majority of your cap resources into your offense is foolish. Yes, it’s an offensive game, but that’s all the more reason to have a defense with the talent and ability to shut opponents down.

There aren’t too many one-sided teams that have won it all in the NFL. Perfect example is the 2007 Patriots. One of the most dominant offensive teams in NFL history did not win the Super Bowl. That was partly due to the fact that they were facing a team that had the defensive talent to shut them down. In the end the more balanced team won the NFL title that year.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
What’s up with K Dan Carpenter? Are the Bills happy enough to resign him to a longer contract or will they go with the injured rookie draft pick with the big leg next season?  Are we in for another kicker competition at SJF next summer?

Thanks
Lou

CB: There’s no question that Carpenter has been rock solid for Buffalo’s kicking game. There is essentially no book on Dustin Hopkins at this level. If Carpenter could be re-signed at reasonable money I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him competing with Hopkins at next year’s training camp.

 

4 – Chris,

Just wondering with the bye week this week and some weaker teams coming up, do the bills look past teams like Atlanta and Jacksonville and start preparing for the patriots or the big rivalry with the dolphins? And now that E.J. is back in the grove of things is he allowed more freedom to change his plays at the line of scrimmage?

Ron G
St. Catharines, On

CB: I think any coach or player would tell you that the minute they look past the opponent they have that week is the time when you lose a game you’re not supposed. The level of importance for each game in a 16-game schedule is so high that no team, coach or player can afford to look past any opponent.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

I have recently been reading a couple of your responses to fan posts about the possibility of adding a big (or taller) receiver to our WR corps. which brings me to a question. If we need a big receiver why didn’t we keep one of the two that we had in David Nelson or Brandon Kaufmann? Nelson wasn’t a great receiver but had proven to be useful in the red zone & has since proved to be a target for the Jets . Brandon Kaufman was talked about in the preseason to have very soft hands & he also was a taller WR that with some experience could have been put to good use in the red zone & other places.

I know that one of the WR we have now would have had to been let go more than likely & to this point TJ has been pretty inconsistent when it comes to depending on him to make the tough catches (talking prior to the last game of course) so he would have been & still would be my candidate to have let go to keep either of the 2 I have asked about especially seeing as Easley has become a ST ace .

I also know that Stevie has been fighting injury this year so his production hasn’t been that good, but if his numbers were so good at the outside position what was the reason to try him in the slot given the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” question . Because prior to this year when we had Roscoe usually the smaller WR was used in the slot & Goodwin had a very good showing in that position last week . Once again I turn to your expertise to clear up some of my questions & again I thank you for your time & what you do to keep us all informed !!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: When it comes to adding a big receiver to the roster I think that is something they are looking to develop rather than acquire via a big investment either in the draft or via free agency. Buffalo has a few “big” receivers on their practice squad and I-R. Kevin Elliott, a player I was impressed with in the spring camps, unfortunately tore his ACL, and is on I-R, but goes 6’3” 205.

Tommy Streeter (6’5” 215) and Cordell Roberson (6’4” 205) are a pair of practice squad receivers, who would add some big time size to the receiving corps.

I’m not expecting Buffalo to heavily invest in a big wideout via the draft after using 2nd and 3rd round picks this past spring.

Perhaps if some of their practice squad prospects do not develop as they hope they could sign a veteran WR with size that’s affordable.

As for Stevie’s production I blame it primarily on the very in flux situation that occurred at QB with the injuries at that position and the learning curve that EJ Manuel traveled until recently.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 7-26

Posted by Chris Brown on July 26, 2013 – 11:50 am

Training camp is here as the players will be voluntarily reporting to camp today. The official report date is Saturday with the first practice Sunday night. We’ll have full coverage on Buffalobills.com with daily video reports (Bills Roundup), daily written practice reports and feature stories both written and video. As always this Inside the Bills blog will be updated constantly each day with extra news and tidbits of Bills information that you’re always looking for.

Continue to send any question you might have during the course of training camp and leading up to the season at my email AskChris@bills.nfl.net or on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

For now let’s get to your latest edition of questions from those two places.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

Who do you think will make the bills at 5th/6th receiver?

BmoreBillsfan

CB: I think the best candidates for those roles entering training camp are Da’Rick Rogers, Chris Hogan and Kevin Elliott. Those three turned in the most plays in the spring practices. Obviously that can change because when the pads go on the game gets considerably more physical and it can change how effective a receiver is depending on his character makeup and mettle.

 

2 - @ChrisBrownBills

With the Patriots turmoil do you see us closing the gap significantly this season? Will it be a competitive game week 1?

JackJablonski

CB: Greg Bedard on the new Monday Morning Quarterback Column site did a great piece on how Bill Belichick has successfully navigated the Patriots through crises before from the QB change from Bledsoe to Brady, to the predicted revolt after Lawyer Milloy was released days before the season started and signed with the Bills, to Brady’s season-ending ACL injury back in 2008.

I think their depth of talent is thinner than it was during those setbacks, so the Patriots might slip a bit, but I don’t foresee a collapse. New England is a very consistent organization and Belichick is a master adjuster. He will only be more motivated to succeed with outsiders doubting his club.

 

3 – Chris,
Straight to the point: Of the 5 teams we play on extra rest how many of those games are played at home and by home I mean in Buffalo not Toronto? Clearly playing the Jets twice one of them will be away just curious about the rest of ‘em.

Thanks for digging into the schedule you found some pretty compelling info that truly should be addressed. I may with my spare time look at schedules past for this discrepancy. I agree this is an issue worth citing. Keep up the great work!

Dominic Spaccio
Montour Falls NY

CB: Two of the five games in which their opponent coming off extra rest is at home. Those two are the Jets and Cincinnati. The Bills also face Atlanta at home after the advantage of their own bye week is neutralized by the fact that the Falcons are coming off a Thursday night game and will have 10 days rest between games while the Bills have 14. The Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets will come off extra rest to face Buffalo in their own home stadiums. Here’s the full story for those that missed it.

 

4 – Chris,
I understand that the GM has final say on draft day, free agent signings and undrafted signings. The GM assembles the talent pool.  What about the other end of the process – cutting from 90 players to 54 (or whatever the number is)?  It seems to me that whereas the GM is in the best position to draft (having scouted all year), the coach might be in the best position to make final cut decisions having worked closely with the players.  How do the Bills handle this?

Patrick in Indianapolis

CB: Roster decisions concerning player cuts are typically handled by the coaching staff with the head coach making the final call. General managers and personnel directors assemble the talent, but the coaching staff decides who he wants to keep.

That’s not to say that a general manager doesn’t have input, he does, especially on close calls for final roster decisions. That’s when a GM might be asked to offer an opinion.

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

Can the Bills use Gragg, in a similar way the Patriots used Hernandez? Using his speed to play a TE/WR hybrid?

MBBedard

CB: I think Gragg, who ran a 4.5 40-time at the Combine, best of all tight ends, is capable of lining up in a detached role almost like a tight receiver. So yes, I think he could be a hybrid type option in the Bills passing game for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. It just depends how he fares when the pads go on at camp. He certainly flashed as a receiving threat in the spring practices.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other possible sleeper candidates

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2013 – 9:33 am

In our Top 25 questions until training camp we profile some of the top sleeper candidates for this summer’s camp at St. John Fisher today (Thursday). Here are a couple of additional names that could factor into the sleeper category as well.

FB Frank Summers – The blocking back is a bowling ball, but has some receiving ability and can play a role on special teams. With veteran Corey McIntyre no longer on the roster, Summers is the closest thing to a true fullback. It’ll likely come down to what the offensive staff feels they need and the play of profiled sleeper Kendall Gaskins.

WR Kevin Elliott – The receiver offers great size at 6’3″ and 205 pounds and has demonstrated an ability to use his body to shield defenders from the ball. Elliott runs well and looked to be a player that the quarterbacks looked for when he ran with the second and third units.

DE Corbin Bryant – Getting a fair amount of reps with the second unit as an end, the 330-pound Bryant is a sizable force that could land a role on the practice squad where the defensive staff could further develop the Northwestern product.


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