Inside The Bills

Robey hoping for more PR reps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 9:15 pm

They were the first live punt return reps in a game that he’s had since his junior year at USC. For Nickell Robey it felt good to have the ball in his hands again.

Robey did have the muffed punt in the Carolina game Friday, but he also had a good 15-yard return and a 10-yard return.

“I just stayed relaxed and tried to make good decisions,” Robey told Buffalobills.com. “I had a couple of good returns. I misjudged one of the balls and it got away from me a little bit. I’ll just try to get better and the more reps I get the better I’ll be.”

Head coach Doug Marrone despite the muffed punt by Robey thought his defensive back did make a good play on his 15-yard return.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-6

Posted by Chris Brown on June 6, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Two weeks of OTAs are in the books with a week to go beginning this coming Monday. As always we’ll have full coverage here on Buffalobills.com. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I liked what Bills did in rounds 1,2,3 however they did not address DE. Manny Lawson has never played end and Wynn is a bubble player at most. Hughes is more of a situational pass rusher. I’m a bit concerned what they are doing. Since they won’t blitz as much the DE’s are more important under Schwartz. This puts more pressure on young DB’s as well. What do you think the future is at DE for 2014?

CB: I don’t know that you can assume that this defense under Schwartz won’t blitz as much. From what I’ve witnessed in OTAs with the blitz packages going in there are an array of packages that Schwartz has in his playbook. How often he uses them remains to be seen.

Lawson and Hughes will likely split the right defensive end role with Lawson in on more obvious run downs and Hughes on passing downs.

What you might need to consider is how often Schwartz’s defenses in the past have put an opponent in a situation where blitzing is not necessary.

Knowing that Schwartz’s Detroit defense last season finished first in the league in third down conversion percentage allowed (30.3%) and were second in the league in red zone defense (Bills were 14th and 6th) I’m going to give Buffalo’s defensive coordinator the benefit of the doubt that he’ll know when to blitz and how often to do so.


2 –
Hi Chris
I’m a long time Clemson fan and enjoyed watching C.J. Spiller returning kicks. He is one of the best I have ever seen at it and I billeve he could challenge Devin Hesters records. With the need at special teams, Do you think the Bills should try C.J. returning kickoffs? He does hold the FBS record for kickoff return touchdowns with 7.

Thanks, Chris Gerland

CB: It’s funny that you bring this up. As I wrote in our OTA practice notes column earlier this week C.J. Spiller was one of the kick returners in practice along with T.J. Graham and Leodis McKelvin. Spiller hasn’t returned a kick for the Bills since 2011, but it looks as though he’s at least being considered for the 2014 season. That being said I wouldn’t get excited about this possibly happening until we see it in a preseason game.


3 –
Hi Chris,

With the new additions at cornerback, and a new defensive coordinator, it almost seems like Nickell Robey has been getting lost in the mix, after a productive rookie campaign.

I’ve been wondering, has their been any talk about trying him out at safety as a possible replacement for Byrd?

Between his solid tackling and his playmaking ability, I think he could transition well into the role, which would also serve to reduce his height concerns. Jim Leonhard has had a decent career at FS for a shorter defensive back.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Thank you,
John
CB: I don’t think you have anything to worry about with Nickell Robey. First, Robey has looked solid in his nickel corner role. Yes, he will have competition, chiefly in the form of Corey Graham, but knowing how much New England goes four wide as well as other opponents on Buffalo’s roster like Denver, Detroit, Kansas City and Green Bay chances are Buffalo will need to make use of both of those slot defenders.

To help you breathe easier about Robey’s role on this team I’ll refer you to a recent quote by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Robey.

“If you measure heart, if you measure things like that, he’s six-foot ten,” said Schwartz of Robey. “He’s been a guy that’s been impressive and it hasn’t just been from watching practice here.  Watching last year’s tape.  He’s very unique in some of the quickness he has.  He’s got great anticipation, sees the game very well and he’s certainly going to have a role. He’s been one of best players through our OTAs so far.” 


4 –
Hi Chris,

Thank you for all you do. Let me start by saying I’m extremely happy with our draft this year! My question is regarding our depth at the receiver position. I think it may be difficult for a guy like TJ Graham to make it on the field. Another guy I like is Marcus Easley. I know Easley helped out, and excelled on special teams last year. Do you think that they might keep a guy like TJ, and utilize his speed on special teams? If not I’m afraid I don’t think he’ll make the roster. I look forward to hearing your opinion!
Thanks,
Dan Edel
Buffalo native, teaching English in Thailand

CB: I do think T.J. is in for an uphill battle due mainly to the fact that additions like Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams are automatically ahead of him on the depth chart. Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were draft choices deemed as fits by this coaching staff. Graham was inherited.

Add in the fact that the staff likes Kevin Elliott, who could carve out a role on special teams as well and both Graham and Easley will be battling for one of the final spots on Buffalo’s roster with players like Elliott and Chris Hogan, both of whom have shown well thus far in OTAs.


5 -
Chris;
With the trade of Stevie Johnson to the 49ers do they Bills have any financial obligations remaining from his contract?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Howard
Rochester Hills, MI

CB: The figure I have is $10.225M in dead money, which the Bills can spread over the next three seasons, which is the length that Johnson’s contract ran.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

New nickel competition healthy for Robey

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2014 – 5:07 pm

Last year at this time undrafted rookie Nickell Robey was well on his way to locking down the starting nickel cornerback role for the Bills. This year he’s got some veteran competition in free agent signee Corey Graham. But Robey is going to school on Graham’s experience and he believes it’s helping his game.

Graham has been first in the rotation at nickel corner in Buffalo’s defense followed by Robey. Other players have been rotated in here and there, but in all likelihood it’ll be a two horse race come training camp. Robey instead of feeling threatened by Graham is soaking up any knowledge Graham can provide either through his play or the time they spend together in the film room.

“Just learning from him. He’s been in the league going on eight years,” Robey told Buffalobills.com. “Basically I’m just taking in what he says and his experience from other places and learning the offense as well as he can. He knows how the offense operates, so trying to learn from him and take in the knowledge and experience he has as far as the wisdom part of it. That relationship is great. Having him here it definitely makes things a lot better for us nickels because he knows what he’s talking about.”

Robey had a pass breakup and a sack in Tuesday’s practice.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-11

Posted by Chris Brown on April 11, 2014 – 12:53 pm

The Bills pre-draft visits were in full swing this week. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for more visit updates in the weeks to come. For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,
Thank you for keeping me informed for the last  decade. Before I only had the newspaper to go by and it was very slow and incomplete.

Three or more of these eleven  players Jake Mathews, Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron, Mike Evans, Kahlil Mack, Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Justin Gilbert and Jadeveon Clowney will be avilable to the Bills for sure. If any of the top three QB’s are added to the mix then Buffalo can even be more selective.

I think the top 9 will go like this 1) QB/DE, 2) WR/DE, 3)&4) QBs, 5)QB/LB ,6) OT, 7) OT/LB,8)QB and Buffalo will choose Mack, Lewan, Watkins or Evans in that order depending on their availability.

I actually think the Bills will take an OT because it affects the most players. Players such as the RBs, the QB and the WR/TEs directly. No other position does this. I hope they get Lewan but if Mack is available I would go with him first because the defense wins FB games and Mack would push our “D” past Seattle in my modest opinion.

How do you see it at this point in time?

Thanks
Ken

CB: It’s hard to know exactly what will fall to the Bills at nine as the teams in front of them, for the most part, need a lot of different building blocks. That means they could go in a number of different directions with their top pick. Knowing the QB class is far from intriguing outside of Manziel the popular speculation now is that only two QBs will go in the top 8, with Teddy Bridgewater looked upon as the QB falling out of the top 10.

Jacksonville at three is one of those pivot type picks, where what they do could largely impact the teams right behind them. They’re now thought to be considering a QB in round two rather than round one and will look to add a difference maker at another position on offense (Sammy Watkins?) after loading up on defense in free agency. I still think they’re still considering a QB, especially if Bortles is still on the board.

Mack will not make it to nine, no way, no how. So cross him off your list. Cleveland is unpredictable as to what they might do as are the Raiders at five. Atlanta is expected to go OL or DL and it will depend on which player is ranked highest on their board among those two positions. Tampa Bay is a virtual lock to receiver and take Mike Evans. Minnesota is likely to take a QB knowing the mess they had at the position last year and it could be Manziel there.

So what should be there for Buffalo? Probably one of the top three OTs (presumably Lewan), Ebron and C.J. Mosley. I don’t see Justin Gilbert or Anthony Barr as part of the equation there. Whether the Bills have another player or two ranked as high is unclear.

The most talented of the three I mentioned (Lewan, Ebron, Mosley) is probably Ebron, who one could argue also has the most upside. Lewan and Mosley kind of are what they are. They’ll both be very solid pros and should be in an NFL starting lineup right away, but Ebron has a chance to be special and that could give him the edge there. We’re all guessing, but the most important factor is how things play out in front of Buffalo.

 

 

2 – Chris,

Pardon me, but my brain is working overtime on the Bills.  With Carpenter in the fold where does this leave Hopkins?  Thought he was supposed to be the new guy with the strong leg.

Jim (Skaneateles)


CB:
It puts Hopkins in a tough spot. First of all he’s trying to come back from a bad groin injury on his kicking leg side. Second, he’s competing with a veteran kicker who put up the second most accurate FG kicking season in team history. With the money invested in Carpenter by the Bills, Hopkins is going to need to have the training camp of his life to unseat Carpenter.

Now head coach Doug Marrone is not opposed to carrying a second kicker as a kickoff specialist, which is a role that Hopkins could most definitely fill. However, the roster numbers have to work out right to keep a second kicker for such a luxury. We’ll see how it plays out this summer.

 

 

3 – Hey Chris,

Huge fan of yours and the Bills obviously. Just wondering about the Corey Graham signing. Will he be competing for second cornerback position with Leodis?  And if not, how will that affect Nickel Robey’s playing time, if at all?  Do you think it was a big contract for a potentially 3rd string corner or will his special teams play make up for it?

Thanks,
Brendan

CB: As I’m sure you and most other fans have seen coach Marrone has said he intends to make Graham a part of the safety competition with Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy to fill the spot left by Jairus Byrd. He’ll also be the first guy in on the boundary at corner if McKelvin or Gilmore are sidelined by injury. As for Robey he will hold onto the role if Graham lands the safety spot next to Aaron Williams.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

I was just curious, if team a wanted to trade a player for a pick in the draft, and the traded player ended up failing the physical for team b, what would happen?  Would the player(s) selected with the traded pick pick(s) go to team b and the player that failed the physical would return to team a?  Or would something else happen?

Thanks,
Tommy

CB: Yes, if a player did not pass the physical for his new team the trade would be nullified and any and all assets exchanged in the deal would revert back to their original clubs. That’s what happened several years ago when the Bills tried to trade John McCargo to the Indianapolis Colts. He failed his physical with the Colts due to a back problem they cited and the trade was nullified.

 
5 – Hi Chris,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Bills seemingly not attempting to keep Carrington or Moats. There was so much talk last summer about how well Carrington was coming along and now they could seem to care less about keeping him. I wouldn’t imagine it’s because of competition from other teams as he hasn’t proven himself on the field for any stretch of time.

Also looking at Rivers career he hardly seems like an upgrade from Moats. They both seem to be in the same kind of position as fill in LB’s struggling to get more snaps. Also what is the deal with Chris Williams? NFL.com says he graded out terribly last season. To be honest I’m less than pleased with where the offensive line has gone under Marrone. In Gailey’s last season we had the fewest sacks and CJ’s yards per carry were through the roof. Marrone’s supposed to be a line guy and during his first year we were at the bottom of those stats and seem content to downgrade from Levitre to Williams at LG. Do you know anything we dont about where this might be going?

Dan

CB: I have it on very good authority that the Bills offered Carrington a contract extension before the 2013 season, but he and his agent (the same one as Jairus Byrd) turned it down. Three weeks later Carrington tore his quadriceps tendon and went on I-R in a contract year. Moats was presented with a contract offer this offseason and he chose not to take it thinking he could do better. Whether he did or not we may never know, but he signed a one-year veteran minimum deal with a $65K signing bonus.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Graham signing done with Pats in mind

Posted by Chris Brown on March 19, 2014 – 8:45 am

The signing of Corey Graham may seem like an innocuous one on the surface, but its significance goes far deeper than that. The addition of Graham was done with the sole intention of trying to further neutralize a division rival’s potent and productive passing game.

As pointed out by ProFootballFocus’ Steve Palazzolo, the Graham signing was done in part to give Buffalo to dependable slot corners, pairing Graham with Nickell Robey. It was likely done to help increase the defense’s effectiveness in slowing Tom Brady and New England’s quick strike aerial game. Here’s how he assessed Buffalo’s personnel in the secondary now with Graham on board as it pertains specifically to the New England Patriots passing attack.

Graham has spent much of his time in the slot the last two seasons with the Ravens surrendering 1.18 and 1.01 yards/cover snap in the slot in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both of those numbers put Graham near the top of the league, but it’s what Buffalo already has on the roster that make him an interesting addition.

Current slot cornerback Nickell Robey is coming off a strong season as the undrafted rookie graded at +2.8 in coverage while surrendering only 0.87 yards/cover snap, good for sixth in the league. The Bills also have a pair of outside cornerbacks on the roster in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, so the addition of Graham gives the Bills two viable slot cornerbacks.

Why the redundancy? Look no further than the New England Patriots whose passing game generally runs through the slot. The Bills appear to be matching up with their division rival with hopes of finally overtaking the annual AFC East champion. There’s also a bit of added versatility in Buffalo’s secondary with Aaron Williams, a former cornerback, playing safety. When you throw in linebacker Kiko Alonso, one of last year’s top coverage linebackers at +11.3, the Bills will feature one of the most intriguing coverage units in the league.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schwartz excited about DBs as much as DL

Posted by Chris Brown on January 27, 2014 – 6:41 pm

While Bills new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz took notice of the talent on Buffalo’s defensive line just by watching last weekend’s Pro Bowl, he’s also excited about the talent that sits in the Bills defensive backfield.

“In order to win in the NFL you need your front office and organization to all be on the same page and that impressed me right away,” Schwartz told Buffalobills.com. “After that it’s about players. Obviously the Bills have some good defensive players. They have some pieces in place that can fit very well in what we want to do. Not just up front. A lot of attention is paid to those guys up front, but I’ve been very impressed with the secondary also.

“You talk about guys like Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin. Those are some top notch players and I really look forward to working with those guys.”

One thing Schwartz’s defenses lacked in Detroit was continuity in the secondary with a lot of player turnover each and every season. With Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin and Nickell Robey locked up for the next couple of years one can understand why Schwartz is encouraged by that talent he’s walking into his first season with in Buffalo.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey up for Pepsi NEXT Rookie of week

Posted by Chris Brown on December 24, 2013 – 10:09 am

robey-row-cp

Bills CB Nickell Robey is up for Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the week after his impressive Week 16 performance against Miami.

Robey had two sacks, four tackles and a pass breakup last Sunday as he was instrumental in the Bills dominating defensive effort against the Dolphins, who were shut out by Buffalo 19-0.

Robey is the only defensive player nominated for the Rookie of the Week award for Week 16.

The Jets Geno Smith, Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy, St. Louis’ Zac Stacy and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell are the other nominees.

You can vote for Robey up until Friday this week.

If Robey were to win the award he’d be the third Bills rookie to win the honor this season. EJ Manuel (Week 2) and Kiko Alonso (Week 4) have already won Rookie of the Week honors.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey knows what Stevie is feeling

Posted by Chris Brown on December 21, 2013 – 9:45 am

Stevie Johnson has already been declared out for Sunday’s game after the sudden and unexpected passing of his mother last Saturday. Losing your mother might be the most difficult of them all, but Johnson’s teammate Nickell Robey knows exactly what Johnson is feeling right now.

That’s because Robey lost his mother, who unexpectedly passed his senior year in high school. Robey didn’t have a chance to talk to Stevie before he left to be with family in his native California and attend his mother’s funeral services, but he can absolutely relate to the range of emotions Johnson is undoubtedly experiencing right now.

“His mom was 48 and my mom was 44, I kind of know how he’s feeling right now,” Robey told Buffalobills.com. “The only part that’s different is he’s in the NFL and I was headed to college, but I know where he’s at right now as far as mentally and how he’s evaluating himself and his life.

“He’s probably just thinking by himself and the future and the hardest part is accepting it. I know once he gets past accepting everything and where it’s at he’ll be better coming through that whole process.”

Robey said it will be a struggle. After having your mother as a part of your life since you were born, it’s hard to adjust to life without her.

“You’ve got to accept that you will never see that person again,” Robey said. “I still can’t even get my head wrapped around my mom being gone. Your mind isn’t programmed to switch over that fast that your mother is not around anymore. So what you have to do is take all the memories and stuff and keep it with you. You have to make sure that you’re okay with it all on the inside.

“It’s not easy, but it’s do-able. I know Stevie is a strong-minded person. He’s been in the league for six years, so I know he’s equipped for it and can get through it. It’s just about going about it the right way.”

Being a rookie Robey admits he’d be hesitant to approach Johnson when he sees him again, but if he does talk to him he’ll tell him how he got through the loss of his mother.

“I would tell him to never stop fighting and build a bigger hunger for himself and his family and his life,” said Robey. “It sent chills through my body because I respect Stevie a lot so for me to come up to him it would make me a little apprehensive. I’d just tell him to never stop fighting. Whatever he does do it as if your mom was right there. Live in the footsteps that you lived in when your mom was here and work to fulfill that.

“You can still make her happy by doing what you’re doing. She’ll always be happy for you. Always have good energy and good vibes about overcoming the whole battle and this is a battle right now and I know he’s battling. He’s vulnerable and when you’re vulnerable you’ve got to really keep a strong mind. He’s going to get through this. One day at a time.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiko still atop Kiper rookie ranks

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2013 – 4:43 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper has been ranking the rookies all season long and Kiko Alonso is still atop his rankings after a solid game again last Sunday.

Here’s what Kiper wrote about Alonso’s play this season.

1. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo Bills
While he doesn’t stay at No. 1 if you want to measure his value on impact per play, the total return is pretty significant here. Alonso has been on the field for well over 1,000 snaps this season because he plays all three downs, is third in the NFL with 137 total tackles — and given that tackle totals don’t tell you a ton, remember that Alonso is as good as almost any LB in the NFL in coverage. He need not apologize for a lack of dominance given the total return.

Kiper also listed EJ Manuel 26th among the rookies. Earning honorable mention were Robert Woods and Nickell Robey.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-6

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2013 – 11:49 am

It’s the final quarter of the 2013 regular season. Buffalo will try to post a winning record in these last four games, three of which are on the road. Here’s your latest edition of queries on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thank you for all your coverage of the Bills for us fans! I have two questions for you. First of all, it seems as though as of late the Bills offense has been pretty successful on the deep Go routes from TJ Graham and Marquise Goodwin. Do you think that Coach Marrone and Hackett would consider getting Spiller more involved in some deep plays in the passing game?

Last year it seemed to work pretty well and it would give another added dimension to the offense given his speed and talent in the open field. My second question is, so far we have not seen many “trick” plays like fake field goals, fake Punts, flea flickers etc. Do you feel that this coaching staff just doesn’t feel comfortable running those plays, or is it just the fact that the situation to use a trick play just hasn’t come up yet?

Thanks, Eileen in Ontario

CB: I think the Bills will continue to work on pushing the ball down the field to take advantage of the speed that T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin bring to the offense. Those plays have been successful at times, but we all need to realize that those are not high percentage plays. Any coach will tell you the NFL is more about getting first downs than touchdowns, because the better an offense is at getting first downs, the more successful they are at scoring touchdowns.

The offensive staff has made a concerted effort to go with high percentage plays in an effort to keep the offense on the field.

As for trick plays, I think we will see a few before the season is over, but again the coaching staff is trying to build a foundation on consistent plays that are productive. There is a time and place for trick plays, but they are not something that any coach wants to hang his hat on.

2 – Chris,
First off, thanks for doing an awesome job covering all the Bills News. My question for you is in regards to the Bills Defense. I feel that Jim Leonhard really played well, especially with his takeaways while he was filling in during injuries. Why don’t the Bills sub him in on obvious passing downs? I think he could be a strong player in the backfield and result in more turnovers for the Bills D.

Secondly, do you feel that Nickell Robey has the intangibles to eventually be considered to play a boundary corner as well as nickel? He seems to be excelling and really playing good football and seems to just keep getting better every week.

Thanks, Tim in Niagara

CB: There’s no question that Leonard’s playing time on defense has suffered since Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore returned to the lineup. Gilmore’s return allowed Aaron Williams to return to safety with Byrd manning the other safety spot.

I like Leonhard as a player, and he is a heady player when it comes to anticipating and making big plays (INTs). That being said, Byrd and Williams offer better coverage ability by virtue of both of them being former cornerbacks. Byrd was a corner in college and Williams was a corner in college and his first two season in the NFL.

That provides DC Mike Pettine with a lot of versatility in coverage assignments in his defensive scheme and as Pettine himself has said the strength of his defense is its versatility.

That’s not to say that Leonhard, if needed, could not be a productive player in this defense. He’s proven that already this season. But Byrd and Williams offer more versatility and that helps to keep opposing offenses off guard.

As for Nickell Robey, he has done very well as the team’s nickel corner. At 5’8” and 165 pounds that’s his position. He would be hard pressed to be as successful on the boundary as a cornerback. The receivers on the outside in this league are just too big and too physical. Robey based on his body type alone, would be a target out there for fade passes and jump balls.

His best fit is as a slot defender and he can play for a long time in this league in that role.

 

3 – Chris:
EJ’s decision making, release time and downfield accuracy appears to have room for improvement.  This may be explained by his lack of NFL experience.  Since there is no QB coach in the organization and Offensive coordinator Hackett’s collegiate playing experience is defensive orientated, how is EJ be coached up in a professional manner?
Conrad in Elma
CB: I understand your point about Hackett’s playing experience, but he has been working at the elbow of a host of offensive coaches at the position since he was a kid. He knows how to school quarterbacks on footwork and throwing technique. Decision making is something that should improve the more he plays and gets accustomed to defensive looks.

I’ve wondered about how challenging it has been for Hackett to balance the responsibility of getting an offensive scheme implemented and executed effectively in year one while also helping a rookie quarterback make strides in his first year in the league. That’s a big ask.

Add in the fact that he had to get a second rookie QB and another young signal caller ready to play at different points in the season and you see the demands that were placed on Hackett this season.

 

4 – Chris,

What is the status of Carrington? He was playing great before he got hurt. Hope he is doing well.

Michael J. McCarthy
Pittsfield, MA

CB: Alex Carrington had successful surgery on his torn quadriceps tendon that landed him on injured reserve. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he told me he’s progressing well in his rehab. He’s working here at One Bills Drive on a daily basis with the trainers on his rehab regimen. The rehab timetable is typically 7-9 months and he’s just 11 weeks removed from suffering the injury, so he’s got a long road in front of him, but he’s walking under his own power.

5 – Chris,
Something that I noticed during the Falcons game about EJ. Do you remember back in the day when Dan Marino would get behind center? He would always lick his hands and you knew was going to be a pass.

During Falcons game I noticed that EJ would leave his mouthpiece in his helmet during running plays, and put it in during passing plays…. I’m wondering if anybody else is noticing this?? like the opposing defense….. if you could pass it along :-)

Thanks,
Mike bills fan
Longwood Florida

CB: To clear this up for everyone. I saw that it was a popular topic on Twitter during the game last week, but there was no merit to it. There were run plays executed during the game when his mouthpiece was tucked into his helmet facemask instead of his mouth.

There is no absolute situation in terms of play calls when it comes to the location of EJ Manuel’s mouthpiece.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey had ankle tweak, but good to go

Posted by Chris Brown on November 27, 2013 – 2:58 pm

On Monday and Tuesday in practice this week, Ron Brooks was seeing the majority of the work at slot corner with the starting defense. On Wednesday we found out why.

Nickell Robey had a minor ankle injury last week prior to the team leaving on a four day weekend for the bye.

“He had an ankle, he rolled it really during the last practice (last week) on Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m not even sure,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “All I know is he didn’t miss any time. We limited him one day, but he’s been out there the whole time he’s been 100 percent.”

Robey was back with the first unit in practice Wednesday full time, so it appears he’s all systems go. Brooks told Buffalobills.com he’s ready to step back into the role he used to man before his broken foot knocked him from the starting lineup if needed.

“It’s something that I’ve always done, went through a similar situation last year,” said Brooks. “It’s just part of the game, you learn to deal with it and learn to get back into the swing of things so I really haven’t missed a beat.”

It’s nice to see some depth in the secondary this late in the season.

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey up for Pepsi NFL Rookie of Week

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2013 – 10:37 am

The Bills have had two other nominees this season already in EJ Manuel and Kiko Alonso. For his Week 7 performance in the win over Miami, undrafted rookie CB Nickell Robey is now up for the Pepsi NEXT NFL Rookie of the Week.

Robey had three pass breakups, an interception return for a touchdown, a pair of tackles and a quarterback hit. He’s going up against some good competition this week so here’s where you can vote for the latest Bills rookie making plays.

As his rookie campaign approaches the midway point, Robey’s game has finally reached critical mass where he trusts what his eyes are telling him and is going to make a play instead of being afraid to screw up.

“Coach always talks to us about really just saying to yourself that you can trust yourself back there in the secondary,” Robey said. “You tell yourself, ‘I see it on film, so I really have got to go get it and let everything go.’ One script it’s not like practice where you go over it three or four times. It’s one play and when that opportunity presents itself you’ve got to seize the moment. That’s what I think we did a better job doing and I felt yesterday I did that. My teammates congratulated me and that was the biggest feeling that I could feel from my teammates and the coaches.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey explains end zone flip

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2013 – 4:15 pm

Thad Lewis wasn’t the only one playing in front of his family on Sunday in Miami. Frostproof, Florida native Nickell Robey also had family in attendance at Sun Life Stadium and his interception return allowed him the opportunity to do the kind of end zone celebrations he did in high school.

“I got a little flip in the end zone. It was fun. I was having fun,” said Robey of his celebration following his 19-yard interception return for a TD. “In high school in Florida that’s what we always do. We always hit a flip into the end zone for our first touchdown. I did that and it’s called a Florida grind. You go in there and you hit a somersault in the end zone. I was home, my family was there. I was happy that I performed well so it was a great day.”

Robey said he visualized his interception in the days leading up to Sunday’s game.

“I actually told myself I was going to believe what I saw and go get it and I played it in my head and in the hotel room I watched a little film,” Robey said. “Coach always tells us to visualize yourself making plays. I do that on my own. If you’re any athlete you’re going to visualize yourself making plays so then to go out there and execute it was great.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey ‘finally’ robs one

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2013 – 10:50 pm

Manning the nickel corner position ever since Ron Brooks left the lineup in Week 1 with a broken foot, Robey has played admirably. The only thing missing in his first five starts was an interception. That changed on Sunday in Miami when he took a 19-yard pick to the end zone for a touchdown.

“I told myself if I get some hands on some balls soon enough, the interceptions will start popping up,” said Robey. “Sure enough, one came to me.  Coach is telling us  to expect it. Interceptions and fumbles, because in training camp I was accumulating interceptions. When I came out here my number was called. I went out there and executed it. I believe what I saw and went and got it.”

Robey jumped the route as Tannehill turned and fired on his pass attempt to Brandon Gibson.

For fans the expectations were understandably low for undrafted rookie Nickell Robey. So seeing him post a pick-six was great. For head coach Doug Marrone it’s something he had been waiting too long for in his opinion.

“He’s been really close and he’s been getting closer and closer,” said Marrone. “You’re all probably saying great play and I’m like, ‘Shoot it’s about time.’ He’s been really close, he really has. He has very good instincts. There was another play in the game he was close too. That’s why he was able to come in, you’re talking about a guy that was a college free agent and earned his way on the team and earned a spot in the nickel and is playing well.”

Robey said he saw that route several times on film during the week, which helped him anticipate the throw he took the other way Sunday.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other encouraging McKelvin numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2013 – 12:22 pm

As we profiled today on Buffalobills.com Leodis McKelvin is off to a solid start as one of Buffalo’s starting cornerbacks this season. Here are some other promising figures connected to his play.

Through two NFL games, no other cornerback has played as many snaps as McKelvin according to ProFootballFocus and despite being on the field for more plays than any other cover man, McKelvin ranks in the top 15 in passer rating allowed.

McKelvin is holding opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 51.9. That’s good for 14th best in the league.

Also encouraging is nickel corner Nickell Robey’s passer rating against is just 64.1, good for 19th, but he’s only been targeted nine times in two games. McKelvin has been targeted more than any other cornerback in the league with 26, yet he’s allowed just 10 completions.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Undrafted makes roster again

Posted by Chris Brown on August 31, 2013 – 4:48 pm

It was somewhat of a forgone conclusion knowing that Jeff Tuel was going to make the 53-man roster, but for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons an undrafted rookie has made Buffalo’s final roster for the regular season.

Tuel along with CB Nickell Robey made the 2013 roster with both surviving the final cutdown to 53. Here’s a look back at the undrafted rookies that made the roster over the past 12 seasons.

2002 – RB Joe Burns, DE Grant Irons, OL Mike Houghton
2003 – LS Jon Dorenbos, WR/KR Antonio Brown
2004 – S Rashad Baker, CB Jabari Greer, DE Constantin Ritzmann, RB Shaud Williams
2005 – S Jim Leonhard
2006 – LB John DiGiorgio
2009 – LB Ashlee Palmer, LB Garrison Sanborn
2010 – LB Antonio Coleman, OL Cordaro Howard, WR David Nelson, WR Donald Jones
2011 – LB Robert Eddins
2012 – S Delano Howell
2013 – QB Jeff Tuel, CB Nickell Robey


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey to start at LCB

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2013 – 6:11 pm

Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey is the starter at LCB tonight.

With McKelvin and Crezdon Butler inactive Robey has been given the nod.

Ron Brooks started opposite Stephon Gilmore last Sunday but Doug Marrone wants to get Brooks more work in the slot.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

5 performances you might’ve missed

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2013 – 11:54 am

There were a number of quality individual performances in Buffalo’s first preseason game that made the highlight reel, but there were some that flew under the radar Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the better play turned in by some players you might not have noticed watching the game live.

Crezdon Butler – The cornerback was noticed on his second quarter interception off a tipped pass by Manny Lawson that led to a Bills field goal, but Butler had two other pass breakups in the game to lead the team with three. Those other two both came on third downs. One was on a 3rd-and-6 play at the Bills 26, which forced the Colts to settle for a FG. The other was on a 3rd-and-5 at the Colts 13, which forced a punt. He also had a third down tackle on a 3rd-and-2 bringing down Nate Palmer for no gain to force another punt. A really nice effort for the corner that’s been running with the second unit.

Jarron Gilbert – The reserve defensive lineman wasn’t dominant, but turned in a few plays that helped the defense get off the field. He had a quarterback pressure on a 3rd-and-5 that led to a Colts punt. Gilbert also had a tackle for loss on a pass to Colts back Kerwynn Williams out of the backfield dropping him for a loss of two. He had a pass breakup to his credit too.

Shawn Powell – Powell, who was coming off his best practice of camp, punted very well Sunday. He only kicked twice, but boomed a 55-yarder to the Indianapolis 15. Accomplished return man T.Y. Hilton unfortunately had a 15-yard return on the play. His other punt from his own 28 he launched out of bounds at the Colts 26 on a 46-yard effort. His best work however, may have come on his holds as he had to reach outside his body frame to get a couple of field goal snaps down in time for the kick attempts.

Nickell Robey – Robey had just a couple of tackles on defense holding receivers short of moving the sticks on both, but more importantly he proved himself capable as a punt returner. He looked elusive on his three return attempts. He had a long of just 14 yards, but he averaged 11.7 yards a return and made coverage players miss. Anytime a punter can average better than a first down (10 yards) you’re considered very productive.

DeMarco Sampson – Sampson got 28 snaps, but only 15 were pass plays. He had four receptions for 49 yards late in the game. Three of his catches went for first downs. He also drew a pass interference penalty that gave the Bills a first down on a third-quarter TD drive.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

USC products back at practice

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2013 – 11:16 am

The Bills got some of their rookies back on the practice field with their college classes finally graduating this past week.

USC products Robert Woods and undrafted CB Nickell Robey were both back practicing after missing last week’s OTAs.

Cal’s Aaron Tipoti was also back at practice after missing last week.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Robey, Woods all too familiar

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2013 – 6:05 pm

It was a scene that had played out a countless number of times in the practice setting at USC. Cornerback Nickell Robey lined up opposite wide receiver Robert Woods. The only difference was they were doing it as NFL players more than 2,000 miles away from the USC practice field Saturday.

Woods, a second-round pick of the Bills and Robey an undrafted rookie corner, were lined up opposite one another on a handful of snaps Saturday at practice. Robey has lined up almost exclusively in the slot in rookie minicamp, and Woods saw some time inside as well.

Woods, who made six receptions in practice Saturday, got lucky on one play when Robey, attempting to make an INT, only got a fingertip on the ball, and Woods pulled in the pass for a reception and a run after catch.

The two former Trojans have talked a lot about repeating their college practice battles now at One Bills Drive.

“That’s exactly how it feels and we talk about it all the time,” Robey told Buffalobills.com. “We’ve been in different meetings, but we talk about the same thing that we did as USC. It’s good to see things come together and see him out here healthy running around and seeing me out here healthy running around. So all in all it’s great.”

Robey, who has some of the quickest feet among the rookie DBs, did have an interception return for a touchdown on the very next play after his battle with Woods.


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Posted in Inside the Bills