Bills receivers Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley saw the most action at receiver early in the win over Minnesota Friday night. Hogan finished as the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 34 yards on seven targets. Easley was targeted five times and had three catches for 46 yards. With just one or possibly two open spots left at receiver, Hogan and Easley could be the pair with a slim lead on the rest of the competition.
It’s widely believed that Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are locked in as the top four wideouts.
That leaves one, possibly two (if the team keeps 6 WRs) spots open for players like Hogan and Easley, who have been among the more productive reserve receivers to this point in camp and the game.
Head coach Doug Marrone has certainly noticed.
“Those guys have done a nice job in training camp, they’ve done a good job in special teams,” said Marrone. “They got a lot of looks out there, so again the more we can put them on tape the better they can get and develop. Marcus was out for a bit of time (in the spring). Hogan has been very productive for us, so I just think it’s a matter of having those guys out there. It’s going to be some tough decisions to make down the road on the receivers with the numbers. We’ve got some pretty good players and guys that are playing well at that receiver position.”
Tags: Chris Hogan, Doug Marrone, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
It seems as though the top four receivers slots are pretty much set with Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin manning those roles. Beyond that however, the battle for spots five and possibly six is heating up in the wake of the team’s preseason opener.
Chris Hogan was targeted three times and made a pair of receptions for 11 yards. That included a third down conversion on a 3rd-and-3 that led to a field goal for Buffalo. In fact all three times that EJ Manuel targeted Hogan was on third downs as Hogan worked primarily out of the slot Sunday.
Da’Rick Rogers was targeted just once in the game, but made the most of it earning praise from head coach Doug Marrone on his six-yard touchdown reception.
“Da’Rick Rogers really set the guy up nice, pushed him outside, ran the slant, scored the touchdown,” said Marrone.
Marcus Easley not only led all receivers in Sunday’s game with seven receptions for 94 yards, but now stands tied for the league lead in receptions after preseason Week 2 with Miami’s Chad Bumphis. He’s also second only to Bumphis in receiving yardage. Bumphis has 111 receiving yards.
Three of his receptions came on the first touchdown drive of the second half that was capped by Rogers. They went for 9, 29 and 13 yards respectively. He then caught four more balls on the next drive as Jeff Tuel was locked in on him for another 43 yards, good for more than half of the 68 yards on the drive.
“There were a lot of routes that we won. Easley made a couple of nice plays,” said Marrone.
And Brandon Kaufman tried to make himself a part of the conversation with a pair of catches for 34 yards, including a difficult grab along the sideline and a touchdown reception.
“I thought those guys were winning quite a bit out there. It’s got me interested moving forward,” said Marrone. “The one thing is those guys are going to have some opportunities and when they have those opportunities they’ll be able to separate themselves and we’ll keep evaluating. The good thing about it is that may be a tough decision down the road for us in how does that break up with those receivers? But that’s not a bad thing. I think we’ve got guys where all those guys I know can play at this level.”
Tags: 2013 preseason, Brandon Kaufman, Chris Hogan, Da'Rick Rogers, Doug Marrone, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
There aren’t a lot of surprises on the Bills first unofficial depth chart. At receiver though where there will be a lot of jockeying for position and roles, it worth noting how things are laid out here at the outset.
The top four receivers listed on the depth chart are Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. The next sets of pairings are as follows.
Brad Smith and Chris Hogan
Marcus Easley and Kevin Elliott
Da’Rick Rogers and DeMarco Sampson
Brandon Kaufman and Terrell Sinkfield
There are obviously still four preseason games to be played so these positions are likely to be shuffled somewhat before the preseason is over. Just knowing there are eight receivers in the mix for one or two of the final receiver spots should make for some heated competition.
Tags: Bills depth chart, Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Da'Rick Rogers, Marcus Easley, Marquise Goodwin, Robert Woods, Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
The media and players talk a lot about enthusiasm and things they love about the new coaching staff being brought in. Is it any MORE enthusiasm than any other new regime that you’ve seen take over? Or is it the same kind of enthusiasm you get when the coaching staff gets replaced for a new one?
CB: I would say that the enthusiasm witnessed here is greater than any new regime I’ve covered, which numbers six counting Marrone. I think Marrone and his staff have done an excellent job of developing a completely different approach from that of the past. The coaches are for the most part younger and more energetic, which enables them to relate to the players more. I also believe the staff is cutting edge and the players know it.
These coaches sound as though they have a plan for everything that can or will come up through the course of a football season. The players feel like the coaches have the answers. Of course executing those answers out on the field is the most important thing, but these players have come to quickly believe that they’ll be put in the best position to succeed.
2 – Hey Chris,
First off, I want to thank you for your in-depth coverage of the Bills. It’s really great for us fans living in other parts of the world!
My question is why are the kickers only taking 6 to 7 kicks a practice? Seems like so few “reps” when there is such a stiff competition at the position. Also, who do you see as the leader going into voluntary workouts?
CB: The kicking statistics I would periodically provide in my OTA and minicamp practice notes were only the kicks that were attempted during the team portions of practice for special teams. During practice the kickers and punters typically go on a neighboring field to kick when the offense and defense are working on the main practice field.
Since I need to track the goings on during the team portions of practice with offense and defense I don’t have the option of going to view the kickers at that time. So yes, they do kick a good deal more than just those handful of attempts that occur during team segments.
3 – Hi Chris
I was wondering about your interaction with players on a personal level. Over the years, have you ever made friends with any of the players to the point where you kept in touch once they left? Have there been any players who really liked to ‘give you a hard time’ in a teasing/joking around way?
Just curious as to their interactions with you when the cameras are off, any insight would be great.
Brad in Rochester
CB: I’ve obviously come to know players that have been around a bit longer than others. I don’t really strive to know players on a personal level because it makes things awkward on both sides in light of my role with the team. I certainly know there are some players with whom I have a lot more rope when it comes to joking around, but it’s important that the players know they can trust me to fairly report on their play and performance. Befriending players muddies the waters.
As for players that would yank your chain, Sam Adams often tried to mess around with me. Aaron Schobel was another, but he did that with everyone.
4 – With Tarvaris Jackson being released it makes me think. We gave up a, what 3rd round pick this year for a player that didn’t dress for a game all last year? And didn’t make it to training camp.
After just re-signing him to a new contract. What a waste of time & money. Sure make Buddy look silly. Is there more to this story? ie attitude, poor performance, lack of effort..
Thanks Gary in Indy
CB: The Bills gave up just a seventh-round pick for Jackson, and yes there is more to the story. The Bills coaching staff quickly discovered that the combination of three quarterbacks vying for the starting job while also trying to install a new offensive system with three new signal callers was a bad one.
As important as it was to find the best quarterback for the job they also needed to provide enough reps to each of the QB candidates in the spring and training camp to ensure that any one of them would be ready to play come Week 1. That wasn’t going to happen with three of them splitting the snaps in practice.
So the coaching staff made a difficult decision to pull the odd man out, which was Jackson. Now whether it’s Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel that’s the starter, they’ll both have enough reps in the system where they and the staff will feel comfortable with them running the offense when the games count.
5 – Chris,
Great work covering our Bills, as always.
As far as WRs go, I heard you and Murph on Wednesday night talking about the top 5 being Stevie, Woods, Graham, Goodwin and Rogers and it being hard to unseat those guys. Then after that, you lumped 3 different WRs fighting for that #6 spot. I noticed that you did not mention Easley into that top group of WRs. In all that’s happened in the last few years, does Easley have an uphill battle to make the roster?
Is the talent that deep that we may not see him make the roster this year? I believe his practice squad eligibility is over, but it’d be a shame to lose him completely from the roster (and possibly the NFL) without seeing what his size and talent could bring to this team.
-Nate in Rochester
CB: I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of Easley over the years. I believe he does have a skill set that could succeed in this league, but his body just won’t cooperate. This spring he again missed a good deal of the practices due to an undisclosed injury.
His inability to stay healthy has been a hurdle that’s proven difficult for him to clear. Knowing the Bills made sizable investments in Woods and Goodwin with day 2 draft choices and knowing that Easley is a player that is now being inherited by the current staff without any measure of production at the NFL level he’s in a tough spot.
I’m not saying the challenge he’s facing is insurmountable, but he has to be healthy and get through the entire camp and preseason to even have a shot. After pure talent the second most important quality in a player is arguably availability. That’s something Easley has unfortunately struggled with the most.
Tags: Aaron Schobel, Doug Marrone, Marcus Easley, player enthusiasm, Sam Adams, Tarvaris Jackson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Got to tip the hat to those that led and were a part of the Allied invasion on this D-Day. Our thanks to you all. Now for the latest edition of of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
I love the speed we’re assembling, especially on offense. If you had to rank the fastest offenses, where would the Bills fall?
I think the criticism Nix has received is largely unfair. Not even the best GM can hit on every pick and the way he approaches building a team is smart. I have a lot of respect for how the Giants built their team and I feel like Buddy is very similar in style. I wish we could have had Nix for 10 years at the helm! What will be his actual duties going forward? I know he’ll still be involved with the team but how much is the question.
Thanks for everything you do! Dave.
CB: Your speed question is an interesting one. I would certainly put the speed on Buffalo’s offense at the top of the division, though Miami has made a point to add speed as well in Mike Wallace and their top back this season Lamar Miller can move. Still, he’s no C.J. and I think the addition of an athletic tight end prospect in Chris Gragg tips the scale in Buffalo’s favor over the Dolphins.
Beyond the division I think other teams with top flight speed on offense that numbers more than two players include Philadelphia (McCoy, Maclin, Jackson), Denver (Demaryius Thomas, Trindon Holliday, Welker) and Minnesota (Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Pattterson, Peterson), but that’s about it.
As for Buddy Nix, I agree with your assessment. He’s patiently built the roster filling in a great number of holes the past few years and finally added one of the final pieces in quarterback EJ Manuel. The roster is not loaded, but he certainly left the team in much better shape than the one he inherited.
He’ll be a special assistant for the team moving forward, kind of like a sounding board for the organization on personnel matters, but he won’t be involved in the day-to-day grind.
2 – I think a lot of Bills fans are wondering about Marcus Easley and how he looks in practice this year. Any insights?
CB: Unfortunately Easley has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury. No word on whether he’ll be able to participate in the upcoming mandatory minicamp. We’ll know more next week.
I’ll admit it’s tough to watch his career get interrupted time and again by injuries. It’s never had a chance to truly develop.
3 – Hi Chris:
I have one simple question to ask you, why did the Bills NOT sign Karlos Dansby after his visit to the Bills?? Who did not like him well enough to try to sign him? Was it Buddy Nix?? I await your answer. Thank you.
Bills fan in TN
CB: My interpretation on the whole Karlos Dansby situation was the Bills were interested in signing him at a designated price tag. If Dansby sought more money or felt there was a better opportunity for him elsewhere, that was his prerogative.
I never got the sense that Buffalo was desperate to sign him. There was interest, but they weren’t going to overpay for a linebacker who was capable, but not an ideal fit because he lacked versatility.
4 – Chris:
Long-time reader, first-time writer. Congrats again on the Manuel call. I heard the idea from you first, so credit where credit’s due!
Quick question about the Ralph renovations. What’s the timetable? Has any work started? As a season-ticket holder, I’m excited about the planned changes, and I wanted to know if anything will be different come the home opener. Thanks, and keep up the great work.
Will in Philadelphia
CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to renovations there will be some work done this year, but it won’t be all that noticeable to the fans attending the stadium. That’s because it’s a lot of the guts of the stadium that will be upgraded. The more cosmetic projects like the east end scoreboard additions and big west end pavilion project will not get going until 2014.
5 - Hi Chris:
Love your coverage of the Bills!
Low priority for you…do you know what type of visor Coach Marrone wears?
I can’t find it…?!
Thank you for any info you can get.
Go Bills! 8 – 8 this year and playoffs next year! ???
CB: From what I have been told that visor is currently not available, but with Coach Marrone wearing it I understand that there are efforts being made to make the visor available in the future. If I hear anything new I’ll let you know.
Tags: Bills store, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Karlos Dansby, Marcus Easley, Ralph Wilson Stadium renovations, team speed
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well Bills fans, it wasn’t the season we all were hoping for, but let’s hope for bigger and better in 2013. Know that’s not what you want to hear, but from where I sit that’s the best I can do for you. Remember Fan Friday runs year round, so keep those questions coming this offseason AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 - Hey Chris,
Here’s my question of the week. We have a very large investment in a player at the WR position being Marcus Easley. He came to us via the draft & there was very high expectations on him from the time he was drafted. Illness put his career on hold for the last few years, now he has been deemed healthy. The guy has been in meetings learning the offense.
So by now he should know the offense really well. The Bills have invested all this time in him why won’t they give him much if any playing time?
I have heard that they were concerned about how many ft it takes for him to get to full speed & that he was working on that. I know that you have seen guys that play faster than their times show. Is Easley’s game so far off that he can’t unseat someone like R. Martin or even B. Smith, he hasn’t really showed a lot for the paycheck? Easley can run kick returns, is much younger than Martin, put that with the fact of the investment I don’t see why the guy has been in the recent past inactive & then when he is active he’s not on the field with the offense to prove his usefulness.
Thanks for your insight on all of my questions as always !
Mr. T from Fort Myers Via Nashville
CB: All I can tell you is it seems that Easley’s inability to get quick separation in his routes hurts him in this offense. The offense is a quick passing game so early separation is key. Easley has good speed, but it’s build-up speed, not explosive off the line speed.
That being said I understand your position, that the team made an investment in him as a draft choice, but has lined up other receivers before him on offense. What I gave you is really all I have to go on.
2 - Chris,
Hi my name is John I’ve been a bills fan for the longest time. I wanted to know if the bills plan on drafting a quarterback do you have any idea towards who they will consider drafting? Also I think we need a tall receiver that can jump up for those deep balls. What do you think of them drafting a qb and wr combo
like cincy did two years ago? Thank you again.
CB: I have no idea who they would consider drafting at the quarterback position. I will say that GM Buddy Nix specifically referenced what the drafting of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green did for the Bengals, who have now qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Here’s his comment from an interview on the radio.
“Wide receiver is certainly on our radar,” said Nix. “Last night I’m watching Cincinnati and there’s Marvin Lewis and he’s been there 10 years. I don’t remember their record the first six or seven years then they take A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and that duo has really turned them around and made them a playoff contender. I think you’ve got to have a guy that’s like Andre Reed was when he was here and Jim Kelly and Andre Reed and Thurman produced a lot. You need those three guys and we’re aware of that and we’re certainly looking at wide receiver.”
3 – Hey Chris,
I just wanted to ask a question about our QB situation. Kirk Cousins performed admirably in the Ravens comeback game for the Redskins, and then followed up with a very impressive performance in his first game as a starter. My question for you is: Is there any way the Bills trade a 2nd rounder for Kirk Cousins? I’m not one to jump on the backup QB bandwagons (Kolb, Flynn, etc.), but Cousins just seems like a guy who can be great one day. I know he was a fifth rounder, so it seems silly to trade a 2nd rounder the next year for him, but with our need at linebacker, Wide Receiver, and possibly safety opposite Byrd, do you see this as a possibility for the Buffalo Bills this offseason, while addressing the previous needs in the first round instead?
Thanks for all your work.
CB: I do know the Bills liked Cousins going into last year’s draft and if memory serves he did make a pre-draft visit. It was recently reported that Washington would be open to entertaining trade offers for Cousins. What the cost would be remains to be seen and I’m not sure that just a single second-round pick would get it done.
I will say this. I think the Bills being interested in acquiring Cousins, could, and I stress could, materialize if the scouting department deems him far and away better than any quarterback prospect in the draft.
4 – Hey Chris,
Also, you definitely see Fred Jackson returning with the Bills next year right? I know he signed a contract extension last year or maybe it was earlier this year. I just remember hearing rumors that he wouldn’t be back next year due to injury and what not. However, no one can deny his leadership and mentoring to Spiller. Thanks for all you do! You make many Bills fans happy and keep them sane with your daily updates. I know because I’m one of them!
Tim West (Displaced Bills fan in Maryland)
CB: I’m pretty confident Fred Jackson will be in the fold next year. The guy is one of the unquestioned leaders in the locker room. I think he also was the victim of never being fully healthy this season and it led to the lowest yards per carry average for a season in his career (3.8). His legs are young for a 31-year old back.
A fully healthy Fred Jackson is still a valuable back and I expect him to recapture his game breaking ability in 2013.
5 – Chris,
I saw that new scoreboards were part of the new lease agreement. Being that the new board was just installed a few years ago, is it safe to say that this means a long awaited second board will be installed in the tunnel end zone? If so, any idea of the specs or where exactly it will be put? Thanks for all you do to cover the team.
CB: Yes, it would be the tunnel end zone for the second video board. I don’t have any details on the size of the board or its exact location, but from what I understand it wouldn’t be installed until about the end of 2014. Appreciate the kind words.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Kirk Cousins, lease agreement, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
There were a host of injured Bills that either missed last week’s game or were injured this past Sunday. Fortunately a bunch of them are well enough to practice here on Wednesday. Head coach Chan Gailey ran down the list of guys that will be able to get back on the field today.
Gailey began with Dorin Dickerson, who was carted off the field last weekend, but will practice.
“Looks like he’s going to be able to go and practice today. So it looks like he’ll be okay,” said Gailey. “(Marcus) Easley is going to go. He’s going to try to do some things in practice. Chris White is going to try to do some things in practice today. I don’t think any of them will be what we term practice, but limited practice.”
When asked about Mark Anderson’s season long knee rehab, Gailey said Anderson would practice, but they still don’t have a clear picture for him on Sunday.
“We’ll see what he’s got,” Gailey said. “We’ve almost kind of hit a wall with him coming back, but he’s going to try to go and he wants to. It’s not from lack of want to, it’s not coming as fast as we had hoped at this point. It went very fast for a while and it’s kind of hit a wall.”
Tags: Chan Gailey, Chris White, Dorin Dickerson, Marcus Easley, Mark Anderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Just two non-participants at practice Thursday.
Marcus Easley (hamstring), who has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game and LB Chris White (hamstring) is also sidelined for practice for a second straight day.
Tags: Chris White, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills CB and primary return man Leodis McKelvin was inactive for last week’s game against Seattle due to a lingering groin injury. He also won’t practice here on Wednesday.
“No, I don’t think he’s going to make it today,” said head coach Chan Gailey.
When asked if he’d make it back to practice this week, Gailey did not sound optimistic.
“Maybe,” said Gailey. “Outside chance.”
If McKelvin is unable to play again this Sunday at Miami, expect Justin Rogers to return punts. Rogers and Brad Smith would presumably be back to return kickoffs, much like they did last week. Marcus Easley also helped return kicks last Sunday, but injured a hamstring and was declared out for Sunday’s game by Gailey on Monday.
Tags: Brad Smith, Chan Gailey, Justin Rogers, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
In addition to the loss to the Seahawks Sunday, Buffalo also lost a couple of special teams players in the game.
Arthur Moats was carted off the field in the first half after a kickoff play. Marcus Easley was also injured on special teams. Head coach Chan Gailey provided an update in his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550.
“(Easley) got a hamstring yesterday and I don’t know how bad it is,” said Gailey. “(Moats) had an ankle and I don’t know how bad it is either.”
Moats did have the left ankle immobilized after the game Sunday night.
It’s expected that the Bills head coach will provide an update at his afternoon press conference at 3:30.
Tags: Arthur Moats, Bills Radio Network, Chan Gailey, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 - Hi Chris,
Short passes are good if the QB makes good throws but that is not the case with Fitz. He is having trouble on possession throws and deep throws as well, perhaps playing tight with all changes made to how he throws? Which begs the question how does the coaching staff change their coaching and change alignments to get optimal results from their players so fans do not have to read every week that the loss is on us from the players? The results when repeated over and over are on the coaching staff and how they drill, align, condition, and make things as easy as possible for players to understand and use on the field. We are in last place, do you see this changing? Do we now have to win the division to get to the playoffs?
CB: Actually Ryan Fitzpatrick’s accuracy is up considerably. Over the last four games he’s completed more than 68% of his passes (96-140 – 68.6%) with five touchdowns against two interceptions, which translates to a passer rating of 94. He’s raised his completion percentage on the season over those past four games from 58.9% to 62.5%.
As for alignments, Chan Gailey is a master at altering alignments to get defensive players to cheat ever so slightly to enhance the potential gains on plays that often catch that defensive player paying for cheating to one half of the field or the other.
Both the offensive and defensive staffs drill proper alignment and assignment, but they can’t go out on the field and execute too. That’s why the players have put the blame on themselves primarily. They insist that their game plans that they get from the coaching staff are sound, but the execution is not.
Last week against the Dolphins, the run defense was as sound as it’s looked all season. The players chalked it up to fitting up gaps and holding them effectively along with sound, fundamental tackling. All of those elements have not been consistently present for the defense, though it looks like it’s on an upswing looking at the last few outings.
As for the AFC playoff race, catching the Patriots looks to be a difficult task. They’re three games back and New England has the series sweep head-to-head. The Wild Card is what should be targeted first, knowing there is still a cluster of teams between 4-6 and 6-4, which right now is good enough to hold a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
2 - Hey Chris,
Big fan of the Bills down in Staten Island. We are rare down here but we are strong. My question is about Tarvaris Jackson. Why did we trade for him if he never dresses for games? My thought was that if he doesn’t play at all it impacts the draft choice that we have to give Seattle. I know Fitz is Chan’s guy, but I feel his confidence isn’t there and a shake-up might help him. Any thoughts?
CB: As I mentioned above, Fitzpatrick has been much more consistent in the last four games, but Jackson’s status as an inactive player each week to this point has frustrated more than just you. I get several emails each week about fans wanting to know why Jackson doesn’t even dress. I’m still working to confirm this, but we believe that if Jackson is dressed for six games or more this season, Buffalo’s conditional seventh-round pick which was sent to Seattle to acquire Jackson, becomes a sixth-round pick. With six games left in the season, we’ll see if Jackson is suddenly active in a couple of weeks.
3 - Hi Chris,
Regarding the Bills offense, when they go against teams, why don’t they open up with the no huddle, score a couple of touchdowns, then go to the two tight end formation and control the football? Obviously, in terms of opponents, they cannot open up the same way with every team, but why not incorporate a portion of that for most of their games? Success with either approach would be a key, but I just think that if they approached their game planning a little smarter, they may in better shape than they are in right now. Obviously, the spread offense is the main objective, but a wrinkle here or there could mean the difference between a win or a loss. They have two very good running backs, which are being underutilized. Even if a team shuts down their running game, a short pass attack all the way down the field mixed in with runs would work too.
Regarding the defense, I think Dave Wannstedt needs to blitz more. I know his reasons for not doing so, but teams are never going to be afraid of our defense unless we show more aggression. We have good talent all the way around, I think our coaching on both sides of the ball is the problem.
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I would not be surprised if we so a no huddle approach used in the coming weeks as a surprise element, whether it’s to start a game or to start a second half. I think the struggles of the defense in the first half of the season forced Chan Gailey and the offensive staff to move away from it. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing better football and the defense more consistent of late I think there’s a greater likelihood that it’s utilized at some point in the near future.
Your call for the defense to blitz more is a common one among fans. We saw some run blitzes against the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, but if the front four continue to improve blitzing might not be as necessary a change-up as it may have been just a few weeks ago.
4 – Chris,
Since the Bills offense is predicated on quick passing and short routes. It seems a few of their WR’s are ill suited for this offense (Graham and Easley) who are more speed guys and less polished on short routes. It seems to me a Naaman Roosevelt, although not a huge special teams contributor, would do well in this offense with good routes and great hands. David Nelson also thrived in our offense and he won’t be confused with a speedy WR. It seems as though if Roosevelt was running that post route rather than Graham, the Bills may have beaten the Pats. Your thoughts whether our we’ve been drafting truly fit our schemes
CB: I think your question is a valid one. Roosevelt is a good fit for the quick underneath stuff that the Bills employ, but they already have those kinds of wideouts on the roster in the form of Nelson (though he’s on I-R) and Donald Jones. Even Stevie is that kind of wideout. The idea of drafting Graham is to further diversify the offense. They just have to wait on Graham to develop before that happens.
So that’s really the approach there with Graham on the roster. Easley is another example of that, deep speed to stretch the field and diversify the offensive approach.
5 – Chris,
I wanted to address the “Fitzpatrick Situation”. A few weeks ago, Buddy Nix acknowledged the need to upgrade the quarterback position, which was in stark contrast to his and Chan’s position on the issue 11 weeks ago. My fear is this seems to be set in motion more by public opinion than cognitive thought and, given the incoming crop of potential rookie quarterbacks, a draft pick may be sacrificed to appease the fan base rather than invested on more pressing needs in the secondary and linebacking corp.
Thanks for all you do.
CB: To be clear Buddy said they’re in a position now where if there’s a quarterback prospect they like that can be a franchise type quarterback that can play for the next 10 years, they’re in a position now where they can afford to sacrifice draft choices to get that guy.
Nix has also said that even if they draft one early it doesn’t mean he’s going to be thrust into the starting lineup right away. He’ll compete and play when he’s ready. The Bills GM gave no indication that the team would be turning away from Fitzpatrick as the starter next year. I believe everyone incorrectly assumed that if the team drafts a QB high that it automatically means Fitz is out when I think the opposite might be true.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey, Dave Wannstedt, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
Alright Bills fans, here’s the latest edition of Fan Friday courtesy of your questions sent to AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills on Twitter.
1 – Chris,
Don’t you think maybe it is time to have an offensive coordinator instead of Chan so he can concentrate on the real problems and evaluate first half problems? I think maybe he has too much on his plate. The head coach needs to evaluate all aspects of the game and talent. I don’t believe he is doing that.
CB: I think there is merit to your comment. When Chan Gailey was first hired he did say that eventually he would turn over play calling duties on offense to his coordinator Curtis Modkins. When eventually is remains to be seen. It certainly won’t be any time this season. I believe coach Gailey has to get the offense to a point where execution is so consistent that he feels a coordinator and the unit can work in concert effectively week in and week out.
2 – Chris,
Here is the dreaded Marcus Easley question. With Ron Brooks back and assuming the special teams gunner, could Easley replace Martin. Martin only plays special teams. It’s time to see what Easley’s got. Martin really doesn’t add to the passing game. Easley has potential and with Nelson out for the year they need to add another WR
CB: Easley did play there some in training camp. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Easley line up outside in this offense. I think what has held him back to this point is while he has 4.4 speed, it’s build-up speed. What that means is it takes 8-10 strides for him to get up to full speed. This quick timing offense is predicated on the receivers getting quick separation to make receptions.
Easley has improved in this area, but because his strength is deep speed and not quickness in short areas, it doesn’t make him an ideal fit for what Chan Gailey wants executed in this attack. I think he can be an NFL receiver, but I don’t know how much his game can expand and progress in this offense.
I’d be inclined to use him in the red zone knowing he’s capable of elevating and making plays on jump balls.
3 – Chris,
What are your thoughts on why the Bills don’t run the ball with conventional offense at times? With QB under center and use of fullback now and then as blocking back. SF has a middle tier QB (similar to Fitz) and they’re successful using the run to set up the pass with play action. It seems the Bills still utilize the pass to set up the run with most of their running plays coming out of shotgun. Also, with use of so many empty backfield sets, there is 0% chance of a run, and now defenses can tee off on Fitz. Have been pleased with Gailey as play caller until now, it seems like we could show more looks and keep keep defenses off balance more.
CB: The Bills run a spread offense and their line works best with a hat on a hat approach. Their inside zone run game is their bread and butter and works very well. I’m not sure why you would want to change a run game that ranks second in the league in yards per carry. Also San Fran, while they do line up a fullback more than the Bills, a good portion of the time they move that FB out of the backfield as a receiving option or to seal the edge.
4 - Dear Chris,
I have been a Bills fan for years now and know we have struggled over the years. I have noticed that we have been doing terrible against the run, especially up the middle. We have done a great job ont blocking runs to the outside. On defense we have also not did that great in disturbing the pass, mostly in man coverage on the outside and zone coverage in the middle of the field. On the blocking the run should we start have more corner or safety blitz’s while disguising them at the same time? Also, while disrupting the pass, should we try putting some corners in different areas of the field, and who?
CB: I think we saw some of this against the Patriots in Week 10. There were some run blitzes with the safeties that worked well. Dave Wannstedt doesn’t call blitzes a whole lot. The numbers this season have proven that. Changing things up couldn’t hurt knowing the unit’s relative lack of success overall this season. We’ll have to see what happens down the stretch.
5 – Chris-
Just wondering if Justin Rodgers has been or will be considered to start opposite Stephon Gilmore? Leodis seems to have really settled into his role playing special teams and an occasional appearance in nickle or dime packages. He has had plenty of chances on that corner, and be it lack of ball skills or whatever, it just looks flat out like it’s not the spot for him. Rodgers on the other hand, from where I’m sitting, seems to have at least earned a shot out there. He has been making plays from the moment he stepped on the field in his 1st training camp. I realize that doesn’t mean he necessarily will be able to handle a starting CB spot, but by now, having seen both his, and Leodis’ body of work, doesn’t it at the very least earn him a chance? Is there something else holding him back that we as fans are unable to see?
CB: I think Rogers has had an up and down season working in the nickel since unseating McKelvin there. I think they want him to focus on playing the slot receiver knowing his quickness and great change of direction ability caters to playing inside. He’s also on the smallish side so matching up with the larger outside receivers would prove to be a stiffer challenge, both off the line and on jump balls. He’s a better fit inside.
Tags: Chan Gailey, Fan Friday, Justin Rogers, Marcus Easley, run defense, Run game
Posted in Inside the Bills
Sorry for the delayed posting of Fan Friday. Got bogged down with some extra work this week and some Friday roster moves. Here is the latest edition of questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills on Twitter.
1 – Hey Chris,
I have three things that I am very curious about and am interested to see what you have to say.
First off I wonder every week why when the defense is struggling so badly why Chan has not approached Dave Wannstedt about being on the sidelines during games. It may seem like a small matter,but when you look around the league the top defenses seem to have their coaches very invested in the games as well. I mean isn’t it beneficial for the players to be able to come off the field, and sit there with Dave and say look this is what they’re doing?
Secondly, I don’t understand why Chan seems to not believe in the idea of putting Hairston on the right side when Cordy comes back. Hairston has done a fine job on the left side, and Pears play has been fairly poor. It just seems like it would really benefit the team to have five young guys in there playing together for the long term.
Thirdly, the offense seems to have trouble on third downs largely in part to the absence of Nelson. His big body was always a safe play for Fitz. So I wonder where is Marcus Easley at? He has the size and hands to be very helpful in the middle of the field. Donald Jones has done a nice job in the slot, but his small stature seems to make it a less viable option, and the team has struggled to convert those 3rd and 7,8 that Nelson would often convert.
Thanks for your time,
Colt in Sacramento
CB: A lot of stuff there. I don’t know that moving Wannstedt’s location is going to make him call a game any differently.
With respect to Hairston he’s at right tackle right now. In Erik Pears’ defense he had been playing at less than 100 percent from the beginning of the season and only got worse physically as the season wore on. I feel it affected the consistency of his play this year. Hairston is a great option at right tackle moving forward.
There’s no question that the offense needed an adjustment period without Nelson. The guy was the second leading receiver on the team last year. Easley got called up to the active roster this week so you’ve got your wish.
2 – Hey Chris,
Have you talked to Chan about more opportunities for Dorin Dickerson & T.J. Graham? Dorin could be utilized in two tight end and would be a match up nightmare for a linebacker or safety. T.J. could be employed on end arounds & quick slants, as well as the deep ball to strech defenses. Even if not completed, at least it could back the safeties up for the run game as well as for Stevie & the boys. What are your thoughts on this. Thanks,
Tommy P. Buffalo Bills fan 4 life
CB: As a matter of fact I have asked Coach Gailey about both players. So here are his answers for you.
First on Dickerson and why he hasn’t been a bigger part of the game plans.
“It’s been a matter of the teams we’ve played and the defenses that we’ve played and what we’re trying to get done offensively,” Gailey said. “He’s not done anything wrong and he’s not done anything bad. It just hasn’t fit to this point. We’re hoping as the season goes on it does fit.”
“The one thing you can’t do is force things. I go back to the analogy I used earlier in the season. C.J. was in the same spot, lots of talent, just hadn’t quite learned all the nuances of the game yet,” said Gailey. “You try to put him in there too much then you’re putting him in a bad situation. With the passing game it’s even more so because now not only are you putting him in a bad situation, but if the understanding isn’t there you’re putting Fitz in a bad situation. You’re trying to get the ball here and T.J. doesn’t understand what you’re trying to get done with a route or a concept and it doesn’t come out right. You want to involve him and we want to keep trying to work with him, but we’ve got a ways to go.”
“He’s very talented, he’s going to be a very good player, but he’s not there yet. We’ll continue to work with him.”
3 - Hi Chris,
As a long time Bills fan, I knew (just like most Bills fans) that the Titans were going to score. WHY didn’t Gailey call time out and save 40 seconds of clock? That would have made a big difference and given Fitz a chance to methodically move down the field. Has anyone asked him about that decision? We also need to start blitzing more, and Chan need to say that Wannstedt.
CB: Chan was in a tough spot, calling timeout saves time for the opponent that’s trying to score. As a coach you’re hoping your defense gets a stop, knowing they need a touchdown to win and can’t settle for a field goal. In that spot you’re up six and you’re using the clock almost as an added means of pressure.
4 – Chris,
A lot of Bills fans have been excited about Marcus Easley since he was drafted. Now that he’s on the 53 man roster will he dress for games, let alone have a role on offense? If they found a way to get him involved he would be a tough player to defend with his measurables. We need a player like him that can go up and get it.
Ryan from Colorado
CB: I think the thing with Marcus Easley was he has build up speed and is very fast and can get behind defenders deep, but with this offense predicated on short timing routes they need receivers to get open and create separation quickly. That’s not the greatest asset in Easley’s skill set. I think that’s ultimately why he didn’t make the 53-man roster at the start of the season.
Obviously he’s improved in that area to the point where the Bills want to give him a shot in games now that he’s on the roster, but I would expect his role to be rather limited down the stretch.
5 – Hey Chris,
Any chance that Matt Flynn will be available this season or next? And if he is would the Bills be interested?
CB: I don’t really see that as a match for the Bills. He certainly could be available with the way Russell Wilson has been playing. There’s a chance they may not want a backup that’s pulling down over $5M in base salary with a cap hit of $7.25M. The problem here is unless someone wants Flynn as a starter, and I’m not sure anyone does in light of how lukewarm the free agent market was when he was a free agent last offseason, moving that contract off their books to another team won’t be easy.
I think Seattle may see if they can renegotiate his deal first. If he won’t take a pay cut they’re probably going to have to release him outright. If he were to become a free agent I still don’t see the Bills being interested. GM Buddy Nix has said the plan is to add a future franchise quarterback in the draft.
Tags: Chan Gailey, Chris Hairston, Dave Wannstedt, David Nelson, Dorin Dickerson, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, Matt Flynn, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills head coach Chan Gailey was asked what the impending roster move would be with David Nelson soon to go to injured reserve. The question is whether they add a running back or wide receiver.
“We’re still in the decision making stage about how exactly we’re going to handle that scenario,” said Gailey late Monday afternoon.
Buffalo does have capable receiver talent available with knowledge of the offensive system in practice squad receivers Kamar Aiken and Marcus Easley. Naaman Roosevelt, who has spent two years in this system is on the street and is capable of working out of the slot, which was Nelson’s primary role.
It should be mentioned that Donald Jones got a ton of work in the slot this past spring and summer and is expected to fill that role at least in the short term.
When asked if they might add a running back with the open roster spot, Gailey said it’s “possible.”
Buffalo currently has no running back on their practice squad, and they might just bide their time on adding a running back until they know the exact prognosis of Fred Jackson coming off his knee injury.
Tags: Chan Gailey, Donald Jones, Fred Jackson, Kamar Aiken, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt
Posted in Inside the Bills
Today is final cutdown day to get to 53 so stay tuned to Buffalobills.com for the latest on the final roster. For now we’ll get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and @ChrisBrownBills on twitter.
1 - Hi Chris,
I was wondering if there has been any clarity on the TD celebrations over the offseason. Especially after the Steve Johnson TD in the Patriots game last year. I know Chan Gailey was asking the league for a clear cut of cans’ and can nots’ after SJ was flagged. I’d hate to see him have to sit or any of the other Bills for celebrating again.
Thank you for your time
CB: Here’s what I found in the NFL rule book concerning excessive celebration.
Under Section 1 – Article 3 of the rule book for Prohibited play it reads as follows in subsets d-f.
(d) Prolonged or excessive celebrations or demonstrations by an individual player. Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground. A celebration or demonstration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate or demonstrate after a warning from an official.
(e) Two or more players engaged in prolonged, excessive, premeditated or choreographed celebrations or demonstrations.
(f) Possession or use of foreign or extraneous objects that are not part of the uniform during the game on the field or the sideline, or using the ball as a prop.
The exceptions to it being a foul are if it’s between periods (end of quarter or half) or if a timeout has been called.
It goes on to further state that for (d) it is a penalty if it occurs anywhere except the bench area. (This is why Chad Ochocinco when still with the Bengals retreated to the bench area to do his celebrations)
Furthermore nowhere in the rule book does it state that a celebration that takes place in the stands with fans would draw a flag. Stevie has hinted at going into the stands after scoring a touchdown at the Ralph and sitting in a seat and having some popcorn and watching the extra point play.
As long as no other teammates join him in the stands (group celebration would draw a flag) I don’t know that they could flag him for it. Of course knowing he’s a marked man in the eyes of officials they might deem taking a seat in the first row as excessive and flag him anyway.
2 – Chris,
Question, obviously the NFL is a business and teams have to manage their finances. Do you think that the Bills will cut veteran talent at the D-line and CB position that is behind on the depth chart to maybe utilize money elsewhere? I see us stacked at both positions. Also, would Chan and Buddy try to trade during the season if we needed depth at say LB or WR positions? I know Buddy likes his draft picks, but
wondering if he would give some up mid season for a trade if the Bills are making a run at the playoffs. Thanks for all you do CB!
Dan in LA
CB: I think the number one priority for any coach is to keep the best 53 players. Yes, Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson make good money for being second wave defensive tackles behind Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, but they’re also very dependable and proven players. Knowing how much rotation takes place on the defensive line in the course of a game, I would think they could justify their value to the club.
At cornerback I would disagree with your depth stance. As Buddy Nix always says you can never have enough corners. And as we see now with McGee suffering a bit of a setback in his recovery this past week and Ron Brooks now hurt (foot) suddenly your depth is gone. So again at that position I would say no to thinning the herd so to speak.
With respect to the trade idea, I think they would tend to keep players like the ones mentioned to make a run at the playoffs rather than get rid of them.
3 – Who’s the player with most potential to open some eyes this preseason?
Clifton Park, NY
CB: As I stated in my training camp awards, Arthur Moats is the most improved player. I also think Nigel Bradham has the potential to surprise some people, and I think Donald Jones can really take a big step this season.
4 – Hi Chris,
Is Marcus Easley eligible for the Practice Squad? Since he hasn’t played a down in the regular season, I would have thought so, but I am not sure that this being his third year eliminates that option for the Bills. It would be great if you could let us know what the exact qualifications are.
Los Angeles, CA
CB: Yes, Easley is eligible for the practice squad. I put the full list of eligible players on this blog last week. Players can serve up to three years on the practice squad. What eliminates a player from being eligible for the practice squad is if they have played in nine regular season games or more in any one season. That’s why Naaman Roosevelt is no longer eligible since he played in 10 games last season.
5 – Hey Chris,
Just a question about Terrence McGee. Is he still best suited to be a corner? Wouldn’t it be easier for him to play at the safety spot? He would be a great backup free safety to Jairus and corners at his age (Champ Bailey comes to mind), sometimes make the switch to safety. This would help fill a hole at safety and open room for another one of the young and talented undrafted corners to make the roster. Just a thought.
Tommy of Pittsford
CB: Yes, McGee is still corner material. In fact when healthy I would argue he’s one of the two best outside cornerbacks on this roster. Healthy obviously has been the problem. I realize fans are down on him because of his injury history the past two years, but he is still a very capable cornerback.
What fans need to realize is this organization made a decision on McGee when they released Drayton Florence. They decided he was the guy to keep so there’s a commitment there and I anticipate they’ll be patient with his recovery.
Tags: Arthur Moats, Drayton Florence, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, practice squad, Ron Brooks, Stevie Johnson, Terrence McGee
Posted in Inside the Bills
As a wide receiver one might look at Marcus Easley’s receiving line and see just a single catch for 20 yards. What they’ll miss are the back-to-back plays that gave the Bills the lead to erase what was a 21-point deficit Thursday night, and potentially have an impact on his roster status.
Down 31-24 early in the fourth quarter the Bills were set to receive following a Lions’ field goal drive. A penalty on the initial kickoff moved the ball back five yards to the Lions 30. Easley fielded the second kick and did not hesitate. With a gaping hole on the right side of the return formation the tall receiver hit it and was at top speed by the time he reached his own 40.
Very quickly it was a one-on-one match with the kicker, 41-year old Jason Hanson. Easley cut to the sideline and it was over. A 100-yard kick return to pull Buffalo to within a point.
An extra point would’ve tied it, but the Bills went for two. After a false start penalty, Tyler Thigpen took the snap from the Lions’ seven and fit a pass into Easley’s bread basket on a quick slant to give the Bills the lead (32-31) as Easley fought to break the plane of the goal line.
“I just tried my best, I fought as hard as I could,” said Easley. “First and foremost, make the catch, and then try to push my way in—use my size to my advantage at that point. I just fought as hard as I could and tried to get in the end zone.”
Though the lead was short lived, those two plays weren’t lost on Bills head coach Chan Gailey.
“Huge,” said Gailey. “That’s a great lesson for our kickoff coverage team. They gave us a second chance and from five yards back we returned it all the way.”
Easley isn’t sure of the significance of the plays he made against the Lions in the final opportunity for evaluations.
“I mean, it can mean all kinds of things,” he said of his game Thursday. “It was definitely a sigh of relief—I wish it would have happened a little bit earlier. I wish I had been a little more consistent. I’m just glad it happened, and it’s all in the coaches hands now. I’m just hoping for the best. But, like I said, I felt really good about the game, so whatever happens happens.”
Tags: Bills preseason, Chan Gailey, Marcus Easley
Posted in Inside the Bills
Buffalo’s wide receivers are all jockeying for defined roles in the group for the 2012 season. Through the first week of camp things are still packed pretty tight from one wideout to the next.
“We’ve got some good players,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “Nobody has distanced themselves from the other group greatly. It’s close in a lot of places. We’ve got some receivers, every time I look up somebody else is making a play which is good. It makes the decision tougher, but at the same time it’s good to have people making plays. It’s better to make a decision from people making plays than having to decide who to keep and nobody makes a play.”
Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones were most noticeable the first couple of days of camp. Then David Nelson and Derek Hagan turned in some plays, followed by Kamar Aiken and Naaman Roosevelt. Then Marcus Easley and T.J. Graham on Sunday, so Gailey’s assessment is very accurate.
Tags: Chan Gailey, David Nelson, Derek Hagan, Kamar Aiken, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt, Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham
Posted in Inside the Bills
The last Fan Friday before training camp begins at St. John Fisher. Crazy that it’s here already! Here are the last set of questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net prior to the team hitting the field for final preparations for the 2012 season.
1 - Hi Chris,
About Marcus Easley – I can see him being the “#2″ WR, if not to open the season, at least by the bye. However, I suspect that not many outside of Buffalo even know who he is. In fact, I think that Buffalo’s WR corps is underrated in general… if Easley solidifies the #2 spot, I think the Bills could blow up a lot of teams by running 3-wide or 4-wide.
My question is, in general, how long does it take other NFL teams to get a “book” on a WR, and do you think that Marcus has the game to adapt and succeed?
CB: I’m a big believer in Marcus Easley’s skill set. His work ethic is impeccable. He’s just been the victim of a knee injury and an unforeseen medical condition. I think his game is good enough to succeed at this level.
As for how long it takes an opponent to get a book on a receiver, it depends on their amount of time on the field. If Easley becomes a regular and wins the outside receiver job opposite Stevie most opponents would have a book on him by Week 4. If his playing time is more intermittent then it would take a bit longer because there would naturally be less film on him.
2 - Chris,
I am a little confused about NFL roster limits these days. As I understand it NFL teams can suit up 45 players each game day. That means there are 8 players on the 53 man roster who can’t play on Sundays. Now are these 8 players what is called the practice squad? Or is the practice squad another separate group of 8 players?
CB: NFL teams can dress 46 players on game day, leaving seven players from the active 53-man roster who are inactive for that particular game. In addition there are eight other players that make up the team’s practice squad. The practice squad is made up of players that are not on the active roster. They would need to be called up to the active roster to be eligible to dress and play in a game.
So in essence a team has 53 players on the active roster and an additional eight practice squad players for a total of 61.
3 - Hi, Chris,
First, I’d like to thank you for all the work you do to keep Bills fans informed. My question concerns the linebackers. I’ve seen some people ask you about how many WRs we’ll keep; I’m wondering about the LBs. How many do you see ending up on the roster? Has McKillop shown anything so far? Thank you for your time.
CB: I think with the team moving to a 4-3 defensive scheme that there will not be as many kept on the roster as last season. Buffalo kept 11 linebackers on the 53-man roster last year and 10 the year before. Knowing a couple of those spots have to go toward the defensive line with it being a four-man front I think the number could be trimmed to seven or eight this time around.
McKillop has proven to be a heady middle linebacker. I think his speed still isn’t what it once was coming off of a major knee surgery. We’ll see if he’s faster in camp. This is a fly to the football type defense so speed is a big key for the linebackers.
4 - Chris,
After watching Ryan Fitzpatrick through OTAs and mandatory mini-camp have you seen a marked improvement in his accuracy since he has been working with new QB coach David Lee? I believe this is the most important key to the Bills success in the incoming NFL season. Your comments will be appreciated.
Optimistic Bills Fan
CB: In our one-on-one interview with Fitz he affirmed that his accuracy numbers were as high as they have ever been through the spring workouts. David Lee said Fitz has bought in completely to what he’s teaching and because of that his accuracy has been ahead of schedule in terms of when he thought he would see a difference.
People forget that prior to taking a shot to his chest in the Washington game that Fitz’s completion percentage was 67.7%, which was among the league leaders. And even with a disappointing second half of the season he still had a completion percentage of 62% for the season. So knowing it’s very likely to go up from there should have you encouraged about Fitz’s prospects for 2012.
5 - Chris,
Thanks for all the updates on the Bills, it is appreciated very much! I know the Bills haven’t done any work in pads yet, but how does Alex Carrington look so far as a DT? Also, is there a timeframe for when Torell Troup is expected back? Thanks!
CB: Carrington is not foreign to playing defensive tackle as he played there some in passing situations over the past two seasons, albeit sparingly. In the spring practices he ran with the second unit at defensive tackle, and also saw time with the first and second nickel subpackages as an inside rusher.
What has to be remembered heading into camp was during the spring Torell Troup was not part of the equation since he was still recovering from back surgery. Troup is expected to get full clearance at training camp this week. Once he is back in the mix, he and Carrington could very well be competing for the same role in Buffalo’s defense.
Tags: Alex Carrington, Bills roster, David Lee, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Scott McKillop
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
Are we assuming Kyle Williams will be his old self? Most players don’t return to form until 2nd yr after major injury…what say u?
CB: Williams’ surprise participation in OTAs and minicamp can only be taken as an encouraging sign. I think a lot of fans forget that Williams (and Shawne Merriman for that matter) did not rupture his Achilles. He only had to have it repaired. The rehab on such a surgery is 4-5 months. By camp he and Merriman will be 8-9 months removed from surgery.
After seeing Williams in action in the team setting the past month, though his reps were only 5-10 a day, I’m encouraged that you’ll get the old Kyle Williams come training camp, the preseason and the regular season. The sudden burst off the ball was there and knifing through gaps was evident. Get ready.
2 - Hey Chris,
Thanks so much for your daily updates on Bills mobile, one of my favorite things to wake up to! Anyways, I need to ask about the running back situation. Fred recently signed a contract extension, I know this, but when will Spiller be the official starter and get his chance? Even though Fred had a breakout year, I think people tend to forget Spiller was a top ten pick, and I feel as if were completely wasting away his talent.
CB: Chan Gailey has been asked this question in one form or another often. Spiller certainly showed he’s ready for primetime with his performance over the last six games in place of an injured Fred Jackson. As good as C.J. was I think you’re forgetting that prior to the game that Fred got hurt he was first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league, third in the NFL in yards per carry average (5.5), had the second-longest TD run of the season at the time (80 yds) and was 5th in the league in receiving yards for running backs with the second-highest yards after catch average among RBs in the NFL (12.8).
In terms of total scrimmage yards he was second only to Matt Forte, who had him by 15 yards at the time (1,391 to 1,376).
You don’t toss that production aside because you have a top 10 draft choice on your roster. Chan Gailey and his offensive staff know they have to get both players on the field a lot and get them both involved in their attack. This is where having a veteran offensive play caller and designer is an advantage.
I think you’ll see a good number of split backfields with both Jackson and Spiller out there simultaneously. I think there will be a good amount of pre-snap motion with either Fred or C.J. motioning out of the backfield and lining up somewhere else. And while game to game the amount of work each of them get might not be in perfect balance I believe come season’s end, barring any injuries, that both will be integral components in the offensive production.
Coach Gailey has told me it’s impossible to keep everyone happy with the amount of touches they get, but his focus is doing what’s best for the team to win games. What that translates into could change week to week based on the opponent and based on player performance. Just know as a fan you’ve got a good situation no matter which one of them has the ball in their hands.
3 - Chris,
With the drafting of TJ Graham, do you expect Marcus Easley to be a factor in the Bills passing game?
And what are his chances of securing the position of the Bills No. 2 receiver?
CB: I think Easley’s situation certainly wasn’t made any easier by the addition of Graham. Graham is clearly the fastest wideout on the field. It’s not even close by my eye. He’s very, very explosive. That being said he’s still trying to master the base concepts of the offense.
He was however, given a ton of reps with the first unit through the spring workouts for a reason. They want him out there to stretch the field vertically. I just think when the pads go on it may prove to be harder for Graham to make plays consistently because he may get knocked around a bit.
I still believe that Easley has the best physical skill set of the entire receiving corps for the outside receiver role they’re trying to fill opposite Stevie Johnson. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are other players on this roster that are capable of holding down that job (see: Donald Jones). I just believe if Easley can put it all together he’s the clear choice out there at 6’4” 225 pounds and running a 4.4 40-time.
He clearly impressed the coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp because in minicamp Easley was given more reps with the first unit.
He plucks the ball out of the air, rarely body catches, can make plays with DBs hanging on him or in traffic. Really the only thing that has stopped him is his body (injury, medical condition). Having three years of exposure in this offense will be an asset, but he’s got to get through camp healthy and not miss time.
I’m confident if he does that he’ll be right in the mix for that outside job opposite Stevie.
4 - Chris,
Shawne Merriman says he has never felt better coming of surgery for his Achilles injury. Considering how he was a force with San Diego when he was healthy, could he be a sleeper factor in the Bills’ newly revamped pass rushing attack?
Mike in Rochester
CB: After what we saw in OTAs and minicamp I think you can be encouraged that Merriman is as close as he has ever been to his former self when he was terrorizing quarterbacks all over the league and a three-time Pro Bowl talent.
Now there’s still another bridge to cross in training camp when the pads go on, but nothing in the spring workouts gave any indication that he could have a setback. His first step burst has been impressive and his power game looks to be back as well. We’ll know more when the pads are on and the football gets far more physical, but the arrow is pointing up right now on Merriman’s outlook for the first time in a long time.
5 - Hey Chris,
First off thank you very much for all the great Bills coverage you provide us loyal Bills fans every day. My question to you sir is about the QB position and how you think it might pan out. With the signing of Vince Young do you think that Brad Smith will stay listed as a QB?
I would think that Vince Young having the same kind of running QB wildcat potential, and if he wins the QB 2 job I can see it making sense to have him run the packages that were originally designed for Brad Smith allowing Brad to focus on WR/KR and be listed there on the depth chart, relegating Thigpen to the QB 3 roster spot, it’s an intriguing situation and was hoping to get your thoughts, thanks again.
Las Vegas, NV
CB: Appreciate the sentiments. Chan Gailey made it clear that Brad Smith is his third quarterback and will run their Wildcat package. So Vince Young is essentially in a quarterback competition with Tyler Thigpen for the #2 job going into camp.
Through the last week of OTAs and minicamp Young and Thigpen rotated in and out with the second unit and I anticipate that to be the case when we all get to training camp as well. So although Young is athletic Smith is the better option for that Wildcat package.
Tags: Brad Smith, C.J. Spiller, Fan Friday, Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams, Marcus Easley, Shawne Merriman, T.J. Graham, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young
Posted in Inside the Bills
OTAs wrapping up today with only mandatory minicamp left before the break. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris,
With all the attention the Bills off-season moves garnished (and deservedly so), I feel the Bills special teams are getting overlooked. I was hoping that you would provide some insight on what you see the Bills doing with the gunners? I am really intrigued at the prospect of having Leodis McKelvin on one side and Ron Brooks on the other. McKelvin looked outstanding in the latter part of the year as a gunner and I read Brooks performed very well as a gunner in college. With that kind of speed and athleticism on the outside I would think the Bills would see a lot of fair catches on punts (even Moorman would have a hard time “out kicking his coverage”).
Displaced Buffalonian in Santa Barbara, Ca
CB: In the OTA setting players like McKelvin and Brooks have been focusing more on defense than anything else, though McKelvin has been in the rotation as a punt returner with C.J. Spiller and Justin Rogers.
Some of the gunners that I’ve seen line up to this point have been Kamar Aiken, Naaman Roosevelt, Ruvell Martin and even David Nelson. Now Roosevelt and Nelson are two players I don’t anticipate seeing out there come the season. They’re probably just being used as bodies for walk through type drills because none of them are running 40 yards down the field live in OTAs.
I could however, see Aiken and Martin as a part of the competition at gunner. I think your suggestion of Brooks is a good one, but we’ll have to see how he handles things when the pads go on and the play gets a lot more physical. But no question he can fly. Other candidates that I would put in the gunner category are David Clowney, Prince Miller and Isaiah Green.
2 – Chris,
Am I beating a dead horse wondering what Merriman’s role will be? Has he ever played in a 4-3 defense? My football knowledge only goes so far, (not very) but I don’t see him being able to play OLB in a 4-3. So It would seem their options are, play him at DE as part of a rotation, use him like Dallas used Charles Haley, or release him. I’m wondering about a forth option, playing him inside at MLB. What does his future look like to you?
CB: I think the Bills are hesitant to give Merriman a prominent role coming off of Achilles surgery. As such I anticipate that he’ll be a part of the team’s nickel pass rush package and other pass rushing personnel groupings. Basically I expect him to be a situational pass rusher to start the season and if he shows he can take on a bigger workload he might begin to factor in more on run downs. It’s truly and wait and see situation. And no, he’s not a middle linebacker.
3 – Chris,
Dorin Dickerson would be the perfect short yardage / red zone RB with his size and speed. I wonder if that could be in the works?
CB: Dickerson is going to be used as an H-back if he makes the squad. I think he’s done very well in these OTA practices to carve out a niche for himself in this offense. He’s at least given the offensive staff something to strongly consider as a new option in their offense as a ‘move’ tight end/H-back. At 227 pounds however, he’s not a short yardage guy.
Your best short yardage player on this roster is Fred Jackson, who can earn a yard just about whenever you need it.
4 - Hi Chris,
A lot of fans are worried about the #2 WR spot. We have several guys that can play over there. I think we missed on that spot this offseason as far as getting that big guy that is not covered even when he is covered, but I think we are still ok and can work on that in the coming years. I do like the drafting of Graham. I could see a bunch of guys playing there, but I think the main guys will probably end up being Easley, who looked great last preseason and Brad Smith who played really well during the season. My question is how do you feel about the #2 WR spot, and these guys going forward and also do you think Brad Smith would be willing to go to WR full time? Would the coaches like that or do they want him for wildcat plays only? Also do you think Jones will shift inside now to the slot to share time with Nelson now that Graham is here as well?
Thank you for your time
CB: Unfortunately for Brad Smith I don’t foresee a full time role for him anywhere. He could factor in at wide receiver, but not as a full time #2. I think his presence in a Wildcat type package at QB will be expanded.
The main candidates I see for the number 2 receiver job, removing primary slot receiver David Nelson from the equation are Donald Jones, Marcus Easley and Derek Hagan. I believe unless Easley grossly outperforms Jones and Hagan it will eventually be a two-player race. Jones being the incumbent from last year stands a good chance of remaining in that role.
I do believe long term that Easley offers the best physical skill set for what they want outside opposite Stevie Johnson, but he has to deliver on a consistent basis for that to happen.
The offensive staff wants to be able to move Jones around, particularly inside as the second slot receiver opposite Nelson in the four wide sets. So there will still be opportunities outside for guys like Easley and Hagan.
It’s certainly going to be one of the most intriguing position battles in camp.
5 - Hi Chris,
How many receivers do the Bills plan on keeping on the roster for the start of the regular season? Obviously, you have Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley, Derek Hagan, and Ruvell Martin. Will another one be in the mix? As always, looking forward to your response.
Tony, Ormond Beach, FL
CB: I think six receivers are a lock for the roster knowing how much Buffalo makes use of the four wide sets. In your listing you omitted Donald Jones, who will make this team barring a complete collapse in training camp. There’s an outside chance that seven receivers are kept if the position numbers allow it, but I’m not anticipating that. I think they keep a couple on the practice squad in the event of injury and keep six.
Tags: Brad Smith, Dorin Dickerson, Fan Friday, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Easley, Ron Brooks, Shawne Merriman, Special teams
Posted in Inside the Bills