Inside The Bills

Bills-Broncos inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on December 21, 2008 – 7:45 pm

Buffalo Bills
33-Jabari Greer
58-Teddy Lehman
71-Jason Peters
77-Demetrius Bell
81-James Hardy
79-Jonathan Scott
87-Jonathan Stupar
7-J.P. Losman – 3rd QB

Denver Broncos
16-Chad Jackson
20-Marlon McCree
26-Jack Williams
38-Andrew Pinnock
46-Spencer Larsen
53-Niko Koutouvides
72-Pat Murray
96-Tim Crowder

Buffalo Lineup Changes
28-Leodis McKelvin will start at cornerback in place of Jabari Greer.
73-Kirk Chambers will start at left tackle in place of Jason Peters.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-19

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2008 – 6:31 pm

Well only a couple of more games to go. We’ll continue Fan Friday in the offseason of course so keep those questions coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Merry Christmas everybody and happy holidays.

1. Hi Chris,
I just had two quick questions for you. The first is why can’t Trent Edwards get more opportunities to create plays outside the pocket. He showed that he had the skills and quickness to do so against KC. Also, are there plans to upgrade the offensive line in the draft at all?

CB: I think the staff sees Trent as more of a pocket passer. He does have the ability to make plays on the run, but I see the offensive staff only making use of that when the time and score and down and distance make it prudent to do so. I don’t believe it will ever be a featured part of Trent’s game.

As for the offensive line, I would anticipate the Bills will look to strengthen the center position and draft prospects to improve the depth.

2. What do you think of this idea? This year in the offseason we sign Haynesworth, Suggs, and Matt Birk and switch to a 3-4.

CB: I like your idea a lot. Do you have $150M to offer in contract money? The Bills will not be able to compete for Haynesworth or Suggs on the open market. Plus there are more glaring needs than DT right now.

I like the idea of Birk. I’d sign him for two years to get a veteran to settle things on the interior. Then I’d draft a guard/center type in the draft that you can groom to succeed Birk.

3. Who are they keeping among their own FAs? I think Jabari Greer, Kirk Chambers, Corey McIntyre and Preston(at the right price).
Steve in Rochester

CB: I think Chambers and Preston are the most likely to be re-signed. I don’t know that there’s an urgency to re-sign McIntyre. The only thing that could affect Chambers is if the staff believes that Demetrius Bell is ready to handle his swing tackle role next season. Bell is very athletic and has come along quickly.

Greer I fear will cost too much to keep. After the Corey Webster deal (5-$43.5M $20M guaranteed) with the Giants, who has very comparable numbers to Greer, I think Greer stands a good chance of commanding $8M a year.

With all the money invested in Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee’s contract set to expire after the 2009 season, I don’t know if the Bills can afford to invest big money into another cornerback. It’s unfortunate in light of how the Bills groomed Greer into a solid starter, and in a league that’s passing more and more every year it’s advantageous to have three proven cornerbacks. I’m just not convinced he’ll be back. Ashton Youboty is also up after the 2009 season, so it will be interesting to see the choices the Bills make at that position over the next two seasons.

4. Hi Chris,
 
Can you provide a better understanding of how the Bills spend their week practicing for cold weather games?  The fact that we practice indoors has really bothered me since the Browns game last year as I really don’t think we have that big of an advantage anymore when it comes to cold weather football in Buffalo.  Guys like Trent, Roscoe, Leodis and Marshawn have very little experience in cold weather games and I believe the weather in games such as when the Pats come to town in week 17 will actually favor the visitors.  Thanks for clarifying.
 
Steve

CB: Up until this past Thursday the Bills had not practiced outside for a month. Dick Jauron when asked about it said it’s not worth it to practice outside unless you can effectively match the conditions to what they’re supposed to be on game day. Thursday this week was similar to what it’s supposed to be like on Sunday in Denver, so they practiced outside.

I personally feel there’s a psychological edge practicing outside in it all the time especially when you play seven of your home games in those very same elements. Why they didn’t practice outside prior to the San Francisco game I don’t know.

But they don’t practice outside much once the weather turns, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the elements present as much a problem to some of their warmer weather players as their opponents when they come to Buffalo.

The elements are part of the game especially here, so you might as well get accustomed to playing in them all the time with almost half of your games here. Just my two cents.

5. Chris,
It seems that we aren’t hearing Poz’s name much during the telecasts.  Is he playing hurt?  If not, it seems his play has dropped off significantly.  Your thoughts.
Thanks,
Ed White

CB: I think Poz has been pretty consistent. More often than not Kawika Mitchell’s number is called for blitzes, so getting to the quarterback is not something Poz will be seen doing a whole lot. I feel he’s been pretty sound with his run reads and is in the top 10 in the league in tackles among linebackers.

He’s capable of the big play as evidenced by his heads up INT against the Jets. I think ‘solid’ is a fair way to describe his play this season.


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Fan Friday 11-28

Posted by Chris Brown on November 28, 2008 – 7:35 pm

Fan Friday 11-28

Here’s the latest edition. If you have a question you’d like answered just e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Why haven’t we been utilizing James Hardy in the red zone, more specifically inside the five? 
GO BILLS,

Anil

CB: That’s a good question. While it’s been no secret that Hardy is still working on grasping the playbook, having him run a fade pattern in the end zone doesn’t appear to be something that requires a lot of playbook retention. I saw Hardy on the field in the red zone on one occasion last week at KC, but he did not run a route into the end zone.

I understand that he might be coming along slowly in terms of the entire offense, but there’s no denying he’s a physical mismatch in the red zone and would create coverage dilemmas for an opposing secondary.

2. What do you think the chances of Teddy Lehman eventually stepping in for Ellison to provide more strength are?
 
Adam

CB: I think they’re remote unless Ellison is injured and Lehman is healthy. Right now Ellison is nursing a lingering ankle injury and will be a game time decision for Sunday. Unfortunately for Lehman he’s not healthy to fill the void if called upon because he has a hamstring injury of his own. Right now Bryan Scott would be the next guy to step in at linebacker.

Ellison is a heady player with a bit more athleticism than Lehman and it appears that is what the coaching staff covets at that position especially with stouter linebackers alongside Ellison already in Poz and Mitchell.

3. Dear Chris,
 
The offensive line appears to have regressed significantly this season.  It seems to me the biggest change has been Coach Jim McNally’s retirement; your thoughts?
 
Thanks,
Dick Sheehy

CB: There’s no question the offensive line has had its share of problems this season. However, I don’t think coach McNally’s retirement is the only change. Peters was a holdout curbing his development into an elite tackle, Butler was out for three games and they got so thin inside at one point that Kirk Chambers had to play guard. Now I’m not completely excusing the offensive line of criticism because of injuries, but they do play a factor.

With all due respect to coach McNally, the run game and effectiveness in short yardage were issues for this line last year. Marshawn Lynch only has four 100-yard rushing games in his career counting his day against the Browns. So it’s not like they were ripping yards off in huge chunks last year either. And on 3rd-and-1 last season Buffalo was one of the last teams in terms of conversion percentage in the league.

I actually think they have some of the same problems from last year to be honest.

4. Chris,
 
I was wondering if you had a complete and up-to-date list of Buffalo’s free agents for 2009. I did some research and here’s what I’ve got so far:

CB: Here you go
Unrestricted free agents – Angelo Crowell, Kirk Chambers, Melvin Fowler, Jabari Greer, J.P. Losman, Teddy Lehman, Corey McIntyre, Duke Preston, Jason Whittle.

Restricted free agents – John DiGiorgio, Keith Ellison, Dustin Fox, Gibran Hamdan, Justin Jenkins, George Wilson

5. Hey Chris, i was wondering, from everything that i’ve read so far, tolbert is saying that steve has a better grasp of the bill’s offense and that he’s better at adjusting to the defense he’s seeing, if that’s the case, why has it taken so long to get him involved in the offense? i’m not saying replacing reed (when healthy), but being in there in place of hardy earlier in the season.

Ryan

CB: I think it’s due primarily to the fact that the grasp of the offense only started to happen for Johnson these past couple of weeks. Only in the past couple of weeks did the light bulb really go on for Johnson is how I understood Tyke.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Peters, Scott, Greer not doing much

Posted by Chris Brown on November 19, 2008 – 5:52 pm

Jason Peters, Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner were not participating in practice during the open media portion.

Peters was going in and out of the training room during that time. Scott and Greer were spectators.

Not in attendance at practice were Jabari Greer, Aaron Schobel and Marcus Buggs.

Lining up at strong safety in place of Scott and Whitner was George Wilson. McKelvin was at RCB in place of Greer and Kirk Chambers was at LT in place of Peters.


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Injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2008 – 5:41 pm

Out for Buffalo on Sunday are G Brad Butler, WR Josh Reed, DE Aaron Schobel, S Donte Whitner and CB Ashton Youboty.

Questionable for Sunday are G Jason Whittle and LB Kawika Mitchell. Both practiced on a limited basis throughout the week. Dick Jauron wouldn’t elaborate on the likelihood of them playing on Sunday.

Odds are that Kirk Chambers will play right guard on Sunday. We’ll have more details on that on the home page later this afternoon.


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Chambers at guard

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2008 – 3:59 pm

Bills swing tackle Kirk Chambers was lined up at right guard with the first unit during the portion of practice that is viewed by the media. There appears to be a chance that Chambers will line up there for the Bills on Sunday if Jason Whittle and Brad Butler are both not fit to play.

Both Butler and Whittle were out on the practice field, but have been limited in practice all week. We’ll have an update on their status for Sunday following practice.

Not practicing were Donte Whitner, Ashton Youboty, Aaron Schobel and Josh Reed.

Reed is the only one of that group in attendance.


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Bills driving, Peters hurt

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 5:51 pm

Bills just moved into San Diego territory with 13:51 left in the 2nd quarter on a 9-yd rec. by Fred Jackson for a 1st down at the Chargers 41. Peters was slow to get up after the play and Peters is walking off under his own power. Hopefully just was shaken up. Kirk Chambers in.


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Fan Friday Q&A

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2008 – 6:57 pm

Don’t forget if you have a question just e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and I’ll do my best to get all your questions answered.

Let’s get to it.

1. I know each opponent is different and handle things differently. It seems over the last couple games the Bills are not blitzing as much. Is that because they think just rushing four is getting the job done?
Adam Janik

CB: The Bills did blitz Arizona early, but according to the coaching staff they were just outexecuted by a very sharp Kurt Warner. The quick passing game is the popular offensive answer to defeating an effective pass rush and it’s worked at times against the Bills. It’s not anything that the Bills front four aren’t doing so much as it is what the opponent is doing.

That being said I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more press coverage to keep opposing quarterbacks from going so quickly to their first reads. With signal callers like Phillip Rivers, Chad Pennington and Brett Favre coming up who know how to execute short passing games and make quick decisions, more bump and run may be in order to help the pass rushers up front.

2. Chris,
The thought crossed my mind that we have a lot of potential offensive weapons sitting on the sidelines most games.  Has there been or will there ever be talk about using McKelvin like the Bears used Hester on offense? What about trying a few of the circus tricks like bring Morman in as a Receiver or put Losman out wide (with a non-green dot helmet) like Atlanta would do with Mike Vick at times.  Based on the success Ronnie Brown had against the Patriots I can’t help but think a lot of teams are going to entertain the idea of using gadget plays to throw opposing defenses off or, at the very least, force them to burn a timeout.  Any of this possible?
 
Eric in Maryland

CB: While the Bills are not opposed to pulling the occasional surprise (see: special teams) Dick Jauron as a matter of philosophy is not a big fan of trick plays. He believes you do what you do best and challenge the opponent to try to stop it.

Now don’t think that Jauron is narrow-minded. Quite the contrary. Jauron just doesn’t believe you win consistently by using trickery, and I think he’s right. That being said Jauron is open to an unexpected play at the right time (e.g. Denney’s TD catch vs. Seattle), but putting McKelvin on offense would be putting too much on the rookie’s plate and Losman at receiver is a bit far-fetched as I see it.

3. Through the last three games, how has Ellison graded out at LB? Also, why does he play the strong side backer, when as I recall, he played the weak side for much of his earlier time in Buffalo?
 
Dick from Florida

CB: You are right. Ellison did play on the weak side last season, but this past offseason he was moved to the strong side to serve as Angelo Crowell’s backup. Ellison has been steady as far as I see it and he only has a couple of missed tackles by my count on the year. He’s good in coverage and a smart player. I know he’s not the biggest linebacker around, but playing alongside Posluszny and Mitchell and with a player like Stroud up on the line his size is not an issue.

4. Hi Chris,
 
What’s up with the letters “GU” on the players’ jerseys?  Thanks.  Gerry, West Virginia

CB: That patch is to honor Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association Gene Upshaw who died right before the regular season from pancreatic cancer. On opening week you may have noticed that each NFL home field had a giant GU symbol painted onto the field. Now for the rest of the season every NFL player jersey will have that patch on the shoulder.

5. Sorry to see Roscoe go down as he was off to a productive season and look forward to his return. With Parrish sidelined any chance of the Bills going with Evans and Reed as the wideouts and having Steve Johnson take that slot position? I think this kid has great hands and can run some nice routes. What do you think?
 
Randy C

CB: I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Steve Johnson since OTAs in the spring. He’s got a pro body already and is only going to get stronger in an NFL strength and conditioning program. I agree his hands are good. He doesn’t drop much of anything. While I certainly think he’s capable of playing the slot, at his size I’d anticipate seeing him outside a bit more. At 6’2”, 202 he’s a nice target out wide.

All that being said getting playing time is going to be tough for him. You don’t want to have too many inexperienced players on the field at once. So knowing they’re trying to get Hardy more involved each week, Johnson is probably not going to be on the field at the same time. Both rookie wideouts have made progress, but having them play important roles right away is probably not going to happen unless there’s another injury at the position.

6. Hi Chris-
I always like to look ahead to the draft, and I was wondering if you had thoughts on the Bills’ biggest needs.  Perhaps you could shed some light on the impending free agents, etc.

Michael
Bethlehem, PA

CB: I don’t like discussing draft needs during the season because one major injury could change the whole draft picture for the Bills (e.g. Kevin Everett). So I’d prefer to wait until the end of the season on that.

As for impending free agents, the unrestricted ones are as follows, Kirk Chambers, Angelo Crowell, Melvin Fowler, Jabari Greer, J.P. Losman, Duke Preston and Jason Whittle. As for restricted free agents on first glance I have John DiGiorgio, Keith Ellison, Corey McIntyre and George Wilson.

7. Dear Chris,
 
During the game against St. Louis I was thinking they might put Omon in to finish off the clock (no sense in letting Lynch or Freddy get hurt), however I noticed he was inactive.  With Barnes also out for the game who would carry the ball if Lynch or Jackson went down?  Only 2 RB’s on game day seems a little risky.  Thanks again for all your hard work.
Sincerely,
Travis Van De Water
 
CB: I don’t know this for sure, but the most likely candidate in my opinion would be Josh Reed. He was recruited by LSU as a running back before being transitioned to receiver. So I would be willing to bet he would be the emergency running back option if both of the top two backs succumbed to injury in a game.

8. Hey Chris,
 
Have you heard any talk of a possible trade with KC for Tony Gonzalez?  I hear chatter on the message boards, but don’t know if there it trully any legit talk going on.  I believe he has 3-4 good years left, and would be an outstanding addition to our offense.  Your thoughts?
 
Jason
“Bills fan in Kansas”

CB: The trade rumors have surfaced due to an NFL Network blog on Gonzalez from a few weeks ago. Could he be traded? Sure, for the right price. What that price is would likely be a high draft pick and probably another as the Chiefs are looking to rebuild. I don’t know if you can get one of the highest-paid tight ends in the game for anything less than a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Jeremy Shockey, who came with behavioral baggage and an injury history, got the Giants a 2nd and 5th round pick from the Saints.

Gonzalez is one of the most durable tight ends in the game, so I think it would take at least that much compensation and probably more. Despite the price it would cost to land him, his base salary is pretty palatable. He’s only slated to make $1M in base salary this season before it jumps up to $4M in 2009, $4.5M in 2010 and $5.75M in 2011. Now $17 million of his salary was guaranteed when he signed a five-year extension in Jan. of 2007, so some of that base salary might be guaranteed.

If I’m the Chiefs I’d consider it knowing how much help they need at several positions, but Gonzalez is still very productive and the biggest help in taking attention off the Chiefs’ run game.

As for whether the Bills are interested, I think any team would be interested in adding Tony Gonzalez to their roster. I just think the cost to land him would scare a lot of teams off along with his age 32. Teams often fear paying a big price for a player that could be close to hitting the wall and not getting the proper return on their investment.

Buffalo’s most likely answer for that position could be in the draft with Missouri’s Chase Coffman. At 6’6”, 245 the guy is a mismatch in the passing game. He’s also got good bloodlines with his dad a former NFL tight end for the Green Bay Packers. Waiting to address that position further would be worth it if they can land this guy in late April.

9. I am curious about the release of Darian Barnes, as are many others.  How badly was his foot injured and how long until he would be 100%?
 
McIntyre looks to be a hard nosed guy that would work well with April and the ST forces, based a couple interviews I read when he was a Falcon.
 
Any other reason than injury to move away from Darian???
 
Thanks,
Bryan Vince

CB: I didn’t get the feeling from Darian when I asked him about his foot that it was going to be a lingering problem. I doubt his foot was why he was released. I just think they were looking for a more versatile special teams fullback. Yes, Barnes spent time on the kick return unit, but I think Barnes was a fullback first and a special teamer second. McIntyre from what I understand is equally good in both areas. He made his bones on special teams and can play on all four units. This was a way to upgrade special teams and not really lose anything at the fullback position. I don’t think injury played a role at all in that move.

10. It seems to me that for the last two weeks our offense is “cold” in the first half. They struggle to find a rhythm. Have the coaches considered going with the no huddle for the first series of a game?  Especially in a game like the Chargers. It might get Trent in the zone and throw off the defense.
 
I’d call Dick personally and suggest this but I misplaced his number.
 
Best,
John

CB: Good one John. I think what you’ve suggested is a great idea. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it sooner rather than later. It wouldn’t shock me if the Bills are waiting to use that for some of their more important AFC Conference games. I don’t know that, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself in light of the slow starts we’ve seen at times this season.


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