Inside The Bills

Jasper update

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2012 – 9:44 pm

Head coach Chan Gailey was asked for an update on how G Mike Jasper is faring in camp and the preseason. Here was his response.

“Michael is struggling,” said Gailey. “Michael has got to learn his assignments. He’s got to learn to play physical every snap. A big, strong guy that’s got a lot of talent as we all know, but he’s got to be more physical and he’s got to continue to push through on assignments.”

It’s certainly going to be an uphill battle for Jasper to make the roster. Chad Rinehart is the primary reserve guard. Then there’s second-year man Colin Brown, who plays guard and center, sixth-round pick Mark Asper who plays guard and center, but has had his ups and downs too. Keith Williams is another guard who spent time on the team’s practice squad as well. There’s a lot of competition there.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-8

Posted by Chris Brown on June 8, 2012 – 11:14 am

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…looked like good tackles in draft to go with dareus..what say u….

Steve

CB: What everyone needs to remember regarding Kyle and Shawne Merriman for that matter is they never ruptured their Achilles. When a player ruptures their Achilles (like Takeo Spikes) the rehab is a year. Williams and Merriman had their Achilles repaired, which required it being detached and then laid back down and re-attached again. That rehab is 4-5 months, less than half the time.

Both are already on the field practicing and seeing time in team work (11 on 11). Come training camp, barring any setbacks, they’ll be good to go. So I see Kyle Williams being back to his old self come Week 1 this year.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all of the offseason updates – it really helps give me my much needed Bills fix especially outside of the Buffalo market. I had a question for you about the HBO show Hard Knocks. Several teams declined. My question is, what do you think the chances are that the Bills would be open to participating in the program? I think it would be great for selling tickets and creating a buzz around the team. Wanted to see your thoughts.

Chris F. in Manhattan, NYC

CB: By now we all know that Miami will be the club on Hard Knocks this summer. As long as Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey are running things I think the chances of them appearing on Hard Knocks are zero. The two men are old school football men and if they can minimize any possible distractions they will. So as exciting as it might be for fans to get an inside look I don’t see the decision makers signing off on it. And as far as buzz around the team goes it hasn’t been this good in quite some time leading up to a season.

 

3 - Hi Chris,

My name is Deron and I corresponded with you regarding Willis McGahee’s return to Buffalo in 2007.  I flew from Long Beach, CA to Buffalo to watch that game and boo in person.:-)  I just wanted to know your perspective on the Bills’ potential win total this season.  Las Vegas has them at 7 wins.  I personally believe this is quite low.  With the bolstering of the roster through another solid draft and free agent acquisitions, combined with stability and continuity in the same system, I see the Bills with 9 wins easily.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the playoffs.  They’re getting Kyle, Fred and Merriman back from injury and Mario will open things up tremendously for all of the other super talented linemen.  This will create a chain reaction and the linebackers and defensive backs will benefit as well.  The offense is primed and, if Glenn starts and plays effectively, they should be in the top half of the league in terms of production. 

I just cannot see the Bills going 7-9 or worse.  Even with the normal amount of injuries, the Bills are deep thanks to Buddy Nix.  Just curious to know your thoughts since you’re so close to the pulse of the team. Keep up the great work and thank you.

-Deron Redding
Long Beach, CA

CB: I’m no betting man, but seven wins is conservative as I see it. I usually like to see this team in pads at training camp before making a true assessment of a team’s fortunes for the upcoming season, but seven does seem low. The team has vastly improved their talent on defense and they’ve got better depth at a lot of positions.

Depth at left tackle and middle linebacker are still concerns and those are two pretty important positions. After Stevie Johnson there is little in the way of proven talent at wide receiver. These are probably factors in the predictions that you’re seeing.

I certainly think nine wins is possible and perhaps even 10 with a little luck, but don’t hold me to that yet. I’m reserving judgment until August.

 

4 - Chris,
 
I hear the criticism of Fitz all the time that he can’t throw the long ball.  I know we haven’t hit on a ton of them recently, but i’m not convinced it’s because of his inability to throw it.  My recollection of the year when Terrel Owens was on the team, he hit a few of long balls that year.  Given that you have greater access to the team, could you put together a breakdown of Fitz’s history throwing the deep ball vs. the league average at quarterback.
 
Thanks,
Tim
Rochester

CB: Courtesy of ProFootballFocus’ Signature Stats last year Fitzpatrick ranked 18th in the league in deep passing, which PFF characterizes as passes attempted over 20 yards. The quarterbacks were ranked by completion percentage. Fitz completed 32.2% of his deep ball passes. Aaron Rodgers (60.7%), Tony Romo (54.1%) and Drew Brees (52.1%) were the three best in the league last year.

Bills new quarterbacks coach David Lee has already recognized Fitz’s deep ball accuracy as an area in need of improvement. He basically indicated that part of the problem for Fitz on these kinds of passes is that he will look off the safety a bit too long at times, thereby not giving himself enough time to re-focus and deliver the ball to his intended target on the other side of the field. So he’s working with Fitz on shortening his look-off ever so slightly to give him more time to judge his throw to his intended target.

He’s also working with Fitz to open up his left hip more on throws so he can put more of his core strength and right hip torque into his throws so they don’t fall short.

Here’s what’s most encouraging about how much Fitz can improve in this area. Lee is responsible for completely revamping Tony Romo’s throwing motion in terms of release point. He had a very low release point and he worked with Romo an entire offseason to fix it back when he was the Cowboys’ third quarterback. So to see that Romo ranked third in the league in deep ball accuracy is an encouraging sign as to where Fitz can take his game in that area with Lee assisting him.

 

5 - Chris 
 
I remember the Bills putting Michael Jasper on the practice squad to transition him to O-line.  How is his progress, and where on the line will he play?  The roster on Bills.com has him listed as a guard, but with some guys pretty well entrenched at the LG, C, RG positions, is there any chance he could get outside at LT?  I know they liked his athleticism when he was drafted,  but I wondered if he was athletic enough to play LT.
 
Chris Sykes, Webster, NY

CB: Jasper has been running with the second unit at left guard in OTAs thus far. I think he’ll battle for a spot there. He still has practice squad eligibility so that’s always a secondary option if he can’t land a roster spot. I’m not Chan Gailey, but I’d be surprised if he’s seen as an offensive tackle option. He played guard in college and I think that’s where they see Jasper as a prospect.


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Fan Friday 11-11

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2011 – 1:32 pm

First, a salute to all our veterans on this Fan Friday. Thanks for your service. It does not go unappreciated. Now on to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 - Why are the Bills not throwing the ball down field? They would open up the run game with some long pass plays. Even when they have a 3rd and 5+ they are throwing 2 or 3 yard passes. Teams will be looking at this and reacting if the Bills don’t strech the field.

B. Gately

CB: While I don’t deny that the Bills do have a lot of faith in their receivers to get yards after the catch, you also have to remember what this offense is designed to do. It’s an anticipation offense built on timing to neutralize an opponent’s pass rush. I’ll let Chan Gailey explain in his own words.

“Really that’s our offense, getting the ball out. It doesn’t matter who we play we’re trying to get the ball out. If the team had three sacks on the season we still are going to run our offense. We understand problems and issues, but we’re trying to get the ball in somebody’s hands to make the play.”

Now that doesn’t mean the Bills won’t go deep. Heck they went deep on Darrelle Revis for the longest pass play of the season against the Jets Pro Bowl corner to Stevie (52 yards). But if you’re expecting the Bills to air it out 10 times a game it’s not happening. A half dozen maybe, but not more than that.

2 – Hey Chris,

Through all of the early success for the Bills this season, one of the factors that seems to be flying under the radar is the lack of penalties. I’ve followed their games closely and, compared to recent years, this team seems to attract less penalties. If so, I’m sure it’s attributed mostly to coaching – but is there some other factor that goes into it? Perhaps a mental focus that wasn’t there in previous years amongst the players or maybe they’re just becoming more solid in their fundamentals? Just curious. Go Bills!

Thanks,
Mark V.
Lancaster, OH

CB: Buffalo has 44 penalties at the midseason mark so they’re averaging about 5.5 penalties a game, which is good. Chan Gailey detests unforced errors, so it is a big focus in the practice setting with the players. I think with most of the players being in the second year of the offensive and defensive schemes helps as well. They’re less worried about their execution so they’re more focused on snap counts and such.

3 – Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your excellent coverage on the Bills.  I really appreciate it no longer living in the Buffalo area (now living in Brooklyn, NY) and it’s my primary source for all things Buffalo Bills.  
In lieu of what the Jets did to us and a few other teams these past two seasons, why don’t the Buffalo Bills try moving back to a 4-3 as their primary base defense?  I think the combination of Kyle Wiliams and Marcell Dareus on the inside (with troup and heard as rotational players) and Chris Kelsay and Alex Carrington (with Dwayne Edwards and Spencer Johnson as rotational players) at defensive end would help us stop the run.  We woud then be able to play Barnett at ILB, with Sheppard and Moats/Batten at OLB.  
Do you foresee us making this change anytime in the future?  Have the coaches entertained this idea in an attempt to stiffen up our front 7?
Thanks,
Jae
Brooklyn, NY
 
CB: I’d be surprised if it happens in light of the time and investment into the current system. Chan did say the Jets were the more physical team and it would be hard to disagree, but that doesn’t mean the Bills aren’t capable of playing that way. I think the pieces that are needed have less to do with the three down linemen. They have enough size, girth and talent up there, though losing Kyle Williams hurts. Losing Merriman for the year and Kelsay for stretches also has compromised the scheme.
The run ‘D’ is improved from last year, but it needs to take another step. With improved depth and another draft class, I think they can make the 3-4 work.
 
4 – Hi Chris,
Do you know if the team has even considered giving Mike Jasper a shot on the D-line, especially with Kyle going down?
JerryCB: Jasper has been switched to the offensive line since he was added to the practice squad and there’s no need to switch him to defensive line. Buffalo has some depth at nose tackle with Torell Troup and Kellen Heard both capable players in addition to having Marcell Dareus, who can also play the nose. Add in the fact that the Bills have a pair of defensive tackles on their practice squad in Jay Ross and Lionel Dotson and they have options should they get shorthanded due to injury.

5 – Hey Chris,

With the signing of FITZ where exactly are the Bills in terms of the salary cap?  Also, after the Bills re-sign and extend Stevie and Freddy how many of the other Bills free agents do you see us also keeping?  Bell, Pears, Chandler, Parrish, Lindell, and Urbik (restricted) are among the biggest names.  Do Bell’s and Parrish’s injury problems make them expendable? 

Bryan
Grosse Ile, Mi

CB: If you wanted me to guess which players would be re-signed first I would lean toward Erik Pears and Rian Lindell. I’m not sure if Lindell’s injury complicates things, but those contracts would presumably be easier to complete than those of Jackson and Johnson. I don’t see Jackson getting done until the offseason knowing he still has another year left on his current deal. Johnson is probably going to have to wait until the offseason as well. I heard they spoke at the beginning of the year, but were far apart and haven’t spoken since. So regrouping at the end of the year seems more likely. Bell is a tough call. I think the staff and organization really likes Hairston and wouldn’t be surprised if they choose to tab him as the new left tackle as early as next season, which could leave Bell looking for other options, but that’s just a guess on my part at this point.

 


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Fan Friday 9-9

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2011 – 12:46 pm

Hey Bills fans, we’re finally here! The 2011 opener. Hard to believe after the wacky offseason we had. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 – Chris, Coach Gailey admitted the Bills lack of depth on the offensive line. Bell isn’t even a top half of the league LT and if he gets injured, we are really sunk. Is there any chance Buddy picks up a veteran tackle like a Flozell Adams or Max Starks as insurance? I just don’t see us being very successful right now due to lack of experience on the depth chart.

Bryan Grosse Ile, MI

CB: Adding a veteran tackle does not appear to be in the cards. Max Starks is coming off neck surgery and is not on any roster. Adams is still out there, but on his last legs. Buffalo added Sam Young off waivers to back up right tackle with Hairston on the left. Not experienced depth mind you, but depth with potential for sure. I understand your concern because even coach Gailey said they don’t have any experienced depth and that it must be developed. Let’s just hope injury doesn’t require the Bills to call on that green depth any time soon.

 

2 - Hi Chris,
My question is about the Bills quarterbacks. I think that the Bills are in a great situation. I really like Fitz for now because we know he can play but also because he can be a mentor to the younger guys. I think Thigpen and become good, but I am really interested in Levi Brown. I think he has the skills and just needs more reps. Do you think the Bills see him as the potential quarterback of the future? Go bills!! Michael

CB: I think it’s hard to say that they see him as the Bills quarterback of the future. He’s on the practice squad here for 2011 and the Bills made long term investments in both Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith. Now Brad Smith is not a full-time quarterback, but he and Thigpen are ahead of him in the pecking order. That makes it difficult to see Brown suddenly ascending and surpassing both of them come next season.

 

3 - Jim Leonhard has been a starter ever since he left the Bills. Could you please explain to me why he was ever released by the Bills. The decision to let him go made no sense. Please advise.
Go Bills
Richard

CB: Jim Leonhard was unfortunately in a bad spot when he was released by the Bills in 2008. He had been a contributor at free safety appearing in 38 games and making 7 starts at free safety in 2006 and 2007. He split time as the starter at free safety with George Wilson in 2007, a player he largely taught how to play the position after George flipped over from receiver.

Come 2008 however, the Bills had added Bryan Scott in free agency, still had Whitner and wanted to give Ko Simpson a chance to develop at free safety after he missed almost the entire 2007 season with a leg injury. Dick Jauron believed in Simpson’s abilities and chose to make him the starter in 2008. Wilson was his backup and Scott and Whitner were the strong safeties. It left Leonhard as the odd man out.

Of all the safeties Leonhard was the best return man with respect to special teams, but the team already had Roscoe Parrish for punt return duties and the other safeties could help more on coverage teams, so he became expendable in Jauron’s eyes.

 

4 - Hi Chris,
Now that Lee Evans is a Baltimore Raven, who will be the Buffalo Bills deep threat? Roscoe Parrish is a slot receiver, who has very good speed, but beyond him, who else is there? Stevie Johnson had a great year last year, but he is not a burner. What is your take on this?

Tony,
Daytona Beach, FL

CB: I think for this season Stevie Johnson will be making the highest number of plays down the field. The offensive staff is hoping Jones develops into more of a downfield threat. Come 2012 I think Easley will emerge into more of the team’s downfield threat. It’s possible if he comes on strong that Easley could provide that for the offense as early as the second half of the season. But being that this is essentially his rookie year I’m not sure the staff or fans can count on that taking place.

 

5 - Chris thanks again for keeping us so well informed. My question is, could Michael Jasper not make a heck of an offensive tackle, similar to the way Jason Peters was converted after his first year as a tight end/defensive lineman ? Also as I seem to recall Howard Ballard was pretty much a project when he was a rookie. As you’ve reported Jasper has a lot of athletic talent for such a big guy.

Ron from Greensboro,NC

CB: You must’ve read the mind of Buddy Nix and the personnel staff. All along they felt that Jasper was a better offensive line prospect than defensive line prospect. According to Nix, Jasper felt the same way. So the question is why line him up at nose tackle all summer? My feeling is they wanted to develop him on the practice squad this year and groom him without the risk of having him catch the eye of another team. This past week he’s lined up at tackle and guard. He played guard his last two seasons at Bethel.


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OL Young adds to depth

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2011 – 4:40 pm

The Bills are trying to develop their depth, particularly at offensive tackle. That’s why in the last two days they’ve moved a defensive lineman on the practice squad to offensive tackle and added another in Sam Young, who was claimed off waivers.

Rookie Chris Hairston is the only reserve lineman that played at tackle extensively this preseason, until today’s (Tuesday) addition of Young, who was claimed off waivers from the Cowboys.

Practice squad player Michael Jasper was flipped over from nose tackle to offensive tackle on Monday.


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Gailey on Jasper switch

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2011 – 3:34 pm

Bills head coach Chan Gailey explained why the coaching staff chose to flip seventh-round pick and practice squad player Mike Jasper from nose tackle to offensive tackle in practice this week.

“We think he’s a very good athlete,” said Gailey. “We like Mike Jasper. We like his work ethic and athletic ability. We just think he’ll be a better offensive player in the long run. We moved him over there and he was agreeable to it and he actually was looking forward to it and I think he was excited about the opportunity.”

Jasper lined up at right tackle in practice Monday.


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Jasper working with O-line

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2011 – 1:08 pm

Bills practice squader Michael Jasper has flipped sides of the ball.

After working all preseason at nose tackle Jasper is working on the offensive line. He’s currently working at right tackle.

Jasper has offensive line experience having played his last 2 seasons of college ball at guard.


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Fan Friday 6-17

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2011 – 11:51 am

Well Bills fans for the most part the news has been positive for football of late. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime let’s get to your questions and Happy Father’s day to all you dads out there.

1 - Chris,
Any updates on Michael Jasper? The last it seems we’ve heard from him was all of the post-draft stuff. I’m curious if he’s continued to drop weight and he’s now below 377. I’m curious how his strength and conditioning are going to.

Thanks,
Elliott
McLean, VA Bills Fan

CB: Unfortunately with no contact between the team and the players during this labor situation there really are no updates. Based on what I’ve read from local newspapers in Tennessee online, Jasper has been working out in Georgia and Tennessee and sounds committed to coming to Buffalo in the best shape of his life when we get back to football.

 

2 - Chris,
I was wondering how the teams are able to keep selling the jerseys with the players names on it. Doesn’t the lockout make it illegal? Or is there some kind of exception to the rule. Also, if the lockout is still in effect, what’s the plan for the uniform unveiling?

Usually we see several players in full uniform. Will the alumni be dressed up in full uniform to unveil the new uniforms?

Thanks for answering our questions.
Michael J. Thomas

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know all the licensing rights with respect to the jerseys. The league incurs the cost to have the jerseys produced and the players get a cut for the jerseys with their name or number on it that are sold. I can only guess that remains intact despite the labor situation.

As for the plan for the jersey unveiling, you’ll have to just wait until the 24th. Sorry Mike.

 

3 - Hey Chris,
How do unrated rookies and free agents get on a team like a non collegiate player trying to make it like Kurt Warner and what’s an NFL work out regiment consist of?

CB: As you mentioned they’d probably have to work out for a club at this point and if the team is interested enough they’ll sign them. Most NFL workouts vary by position. A defensive lineman for example would go through different drills from that of a defensive back, as you often see at the NFL combine if you’ve watched that coverage.

No longer is there NFL Europe for players to further develop like Warner did, but there is the UFL and CFL where some younger players can hone their skills in the hopes of making their game attractive enough to NFL franchises.

 

4 – Chris,
In your opinion, who will be the two starting tackles at the beginning of the season???
Best,
Richard

CB: I think barring any major player addition leading up to the season that it will be Demetrius Bell at left tackle and Erik Pears at right tackle for the 2011 season. Obviously the Bills coaching staff will have a lot more to say about that than I will.

 

5 - Chris,
I was wondering that since the Bills don’t have their franchise quarterback, what do you think the chance of the bills trading for someone like Tebow? I mean especially if the Broncos don’t think he can win than do you think the Bills will try him? He’s a winner and I think that he will be good. So do you see anything like that happening within the next two years?

Thanks
Michael

CB: I’m not a mind reader so to know what the plan is by the Bills front office with respect to the quarterback position long term is impossible. We do know based on their comments leading up to this past NFL draft is they’d like to get a prospect or player that can capably fill that position for the next 8 to 10 years.

I believe they really want to see how far Fitz can take them now that he’s the entrenched starter and has the benefit of the system under his belt for a year. They believe he can get them to the playoffs and win in the playoffs. 2011 will go a long way in confirming whether that is the case. So essentially it’s a wait and see.

As for Tebow, the guy is not available. The quarterback that’s available in Denver is Kyle Orton, not Tebow so I don’t think he’s a realistic option for trade.


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Michael Jasper footage

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2011 – 9:03 am

For those of you Bills fans that are intrigued by Buffalo’s seventh-round draft pick, who played his senior season at 430 pounds, you’re going to be surprised by his athleticism.

Bills GM Buddy Nix said that NT Michael Jasper has a vertical leap of 33 inches, a 9’5″ broad jump and can dunk a basketball. He’s also now down to 378 pounds. Here’s a video of his training to get an idea of how athletic he is, basketball dunk included. Enjoy, it’s impressive.


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Final pick is a DT

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2011 – 6:05 pm

Bills took a defensive tackle with their final pick, a very big defensive tackle. Michael Jasper out of Bethel has about 60 pounds on Bills top pick Marcell Dareus.

Jasper (6’4 1/2″, 378) played in 2010 at 430 pounds (according to him), but with the Bills scout Matt Hand practically stalking the small school prospect over the past year, he was motivated to drop the weight for a shot at an NFL career.

“They showed the most interest,” said Jasper. “For them to put it into action with a draft pick is a big deal.”

Jasper said the heaviest he ever weighed was 448 pounds. Here’s a photo of the big man when he was in training getting his weight down these past four months.


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