Inside The Bills

Bills roster by position 2006-2014

Posted by Chris Brown on August 31, 2014 – 8:42 am

With the 53-man roster reached on Saturday here’s a look at the position breakdown not only of the team this season, but the last eight seasons prior to see how some of the position numbers have varied over the years.

For the third straight season the Bills have chosen to carry a kickoff specialist. In 2012 it was 7th-round pick John Potter. In 2013 it was Dustin Hopkins, but he suffered a groin injury in the week leading up to the opener and never kicked. In 2014 it’s Jordan Gay.

Buffalo goes into Week 1 with just five linebackers knowing that Nigel Bradham is unavailable for Week 1, and does not count toward a roster spot. Counting Bradham there will be six LBs, which is the same number Doug Marrone and his staff went with last season despite playing more four linebacker looks in their defensive front in 2013.

The linemen count on both sides of the ball went up by one from eight to nine and the RB/FB group numbered five for the first time since 2007.

Pos.       2006       2007       2008       2009       2010       2011       2012       2013       2014
QB            3              2              3              3              3              3              4              2              2
RB            4              5              4              3(1 sus)   4              4              4              4              5
WR          6              5              6              6              5              5              4              6              6
TE            3              3              3              3              2 (1 sus)  3             3              3              3
OL            9              8              9              8             9              8              9              8              9
DL            8              10           9              9              7              7              8              8              9
LB            7              7              6              7             10           11             7              6              6(1 sus)
DB           10           10           10             11             10           9                10           12           10
ST            3              3              3              3              3              3              4              4              4


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Punt coverage on point

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2014 – 12:57 am

The Bills punt coverage unit had a solid night as the three punts they sent at the Panthers resulted in no return yards for Carolina in the game.

Brian Moorman’s first punt was downed by Nigel Bradham at the Carolina 12-yard line and not returned. His second was fielded by Kenjon Barner, but Ron Brooks dropped him for no gain. Then in the second half Chris Hogan and Jacquies Smith teamed up to stop Barner again after a long punt by rookie Jake Dombrowski. Head coach Doug Marrone was pretty pleased with the effort.

“Our special teams have done a very good job of tackling,” said Marrone. “Obviously we had the missed play on the ball with Nickell, but I think special teams-wise Nickell had a nice play earlier that he made. T.J. Graham had a return. We don’t even have the first team returners out there, but we’re tackling well which is a good sign.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bradham addresses league decision

Posted by Chris Brown on July 30, 2014 – 6:36 pm

Bills LB Nigel Bradham, who was suspended by the NFL for one regular season game Wednesday for an incident stemming back to last summer, was caught off guard by the league’s discipline. One of the main reasons why was because all charges were dismissed.

“It’s related to what happened last year,” said Bradham following Wednesday’s practice. “The commissioner said I wasn’t disciplined from the NFL last year so I guess it rolls over into this year. Everything was dismissed and I’m not in a substance abuse program or anything. Since everything was dismissed it’s kind of shocking and kind of disappointing that it came back again. I tried to appeal it but the appeal was declined.”

Bradham said the denial on his appeal came back just last week. He was initially informed that he was facing a one game suspension back in March.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate, especially since Nigel has been playing very well,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Like I said before, I’ve probably seen the biggest improvement in him. And when I say that I’m not just talking about him as just a football player, but just maturity. I think, now when you look back and you think about what happened, maybe it took something like that for him to grow. Obviously, you learn from your mistakes. I think he’s learned to make better decisions and I hope it’s from that and I hope it’s something we don’t have to go back on. Especially with the way he’s been performing on and off the field.”

Bradham while disappointed is not going to let the league’s decision drag down his plans for a big season. He insists he’s learned his lesson and promises to be ready to come Week 2 when the Bills host Miami in the home opener.

“My whole thing is to stay positive,” he said. “It’s something that followed me from a decision I made last year. I regret it and I made a mistake. I apologized to my teammates. I’m sorry that we have to go through this again. And hopefully I just get past it and come out for game two ready. I’m just going to keep working everyday out here at training camp and get better.”

 


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Bradham, Rivers flanking Spikes

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2014 – 6:18 pm

As the defense prepares for their first practice two veteran linebackers are flanking MLB Brandon Spikes.

Nigel Bradham and Keith Rivers are lined up on either side of him with Rivers in Kiko Alonso’s spot.

Rookie Preston Brown is rotating in with Spikes at MLB.


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Analytics point to LB Bradham as star in waiting

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2014 – 12:29 pm

Even before the devastating ACL injury suffered by Kiko Alonso Tuesday in an offseason workout, which will likely cost him the 2014 season, there was some buzz about Bills third-year LB Nigel Bradham. ProFootballFocus had Bradham listed as their Secret Superstar for Buffalo in 2014. Now Bills fans are hoping that becomes the case now more than ever.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this spring, PFF writer Peter Damilatis explained why they expect Bradham to have a breakout season in 2014.

“The one thing I like about Bradham is I feel he can sit in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, but I think he can be a solid 4-3 strong side linebacker,” Damilatis said. “He has a fearlessness in attacking the run at the point of attack. We would see a lead blocker like a fullback coming in to clear the way and Bradham would stick in there and stonewall him and blow up the entire play.

“Despite playing a quarter of the snaps of a lot of other guys like Kiko Alonso and Mario Williams he actually had the best run defense grade of any linebacker on the Bills roster and the eighth best run defense grade of any inside linebacker in the NFL, which is pretty remarkable for someone who played just 26 percent of the team snaps.”

Bradham lined up mainly as a strong side linebacker in Buffalo’s defense under DC Jim Schwartz in the spring practices, and that job could be his to lose with Keith Rivers expected to replace Alonso on the weak side.

Damilatis said that Bradham’s numbers for tackling efficiency and yards allowed in coverage also indicate the third-year linebacker is in for a big season in 2014 if he gets on the field more.

“When you add it up his tackle rate is among the top 10 linebackers as well. He’s a very sure tackler,” Damilatis said. “One thing I also saw from him is he have some pretty good coverage skills too. He was in the top 10 for yards allowed on coverage snaps. Buddy Nix talked about Bradham being a capable three down linebacker and our metrics indicate that.”

 


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Most likely void fillers for Kiko

Posted by Chris Brown on July 1, 2014 – 9:24 pm

With GM Doug Whaley’s announcement that Kiko Alonso sustained a serious injury while working out, there could be a void to fill. Here are some likely candidates to step into the weak side linebacker role.

Nigel Bradham and Keith Rivers are the most likely candidates. Rivers has lined up at all three linebacker positions through the spring while Bradham has been use in multiple packages.

Other outside linebacker candidates include largely unproven players like Ty Powell and seventh round pick Randell Johnson.


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Fan Friday 11-1

Posted by Chris Brown on November 1, 2013 – 2:21 pm

The Bills face a Chiefs team that has not won in Buffalo at the Ralph since 1986. Here is your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

 

1 - Chris,

The Bills are playing much more aggressive defense, and yes the sacks and interceptions are up.  However, the Bills run defense is still vulnerable. In addition, even though the Bills offense is putting 20+ points up per game, the defense is giving up more.

Is the Bills D-Line overrated and in need of an upgrade to shutdown the run ?

Let’s GO Buffalo
Randy C
South Florida

CB: The run defense has not been up to snuff. Coaches and players have cited sound fundamental tackling as the main culprit for this. Arthur Moats had a good explanation for me this week. Here’s what he said.

“When we’re making that initial contact we have to continue to drive our feet,” said Moats. “That’s the technique part of it I was talking about and not letting those guys fall forward for extra yards, not letting them leak out after getting hit initially. I feel like once we start doing that more consistently we’ll definitely see better results.”

 

2 – Chris,

Thank you so much for the information that you provide, especially to us fans who aren’t in the Buffalo area.  In regards to the Buffalo-Miami game.  There were 4 sacks and a lot of qb hits.  I can’t remember how many.  I believe I read where you reported that during the week Coach Marrone spent extra time working with the Offensive Line.  It seems to me that there were more sacks and hits in this game than in previous games.  What more can be done to increase the protection?

Buffalo fan in Virginia

CB: I think the Bills will need to turn to a quick passing game more often as they face defensive units that can successfully rush the passer. They’re going to need to turn to three and five-step drops and deliver the football on timing patterns. Seven-step drops against teams like the Chiefs for example are a death wish.

I think short drop timing throws would be good go-to plays, especially for the inexperienced quarterbacks Buffalo has had to put in the lineup. Then when DBs start squatting on routes, work the middle of the field like they did last week and take a few deep shots.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

After looking at the statistics, it appears that among the linebackers, Kiko Alonso and Manny Lawson are making many tackles and that Nigel Bradham is not experiencing the production that Lawson and Alonso are. Is it because Bradham is not strong against the run? The Buffalo Bills defense is decidedly better than last year’s version in terms of making plays, but would they go after another linebacker in April’s draft? It seems that the defensive line is strong, and the secondary is strong, but maybe they need one more playmaking linebacker. Your thoughts?

Tony, Ormond Beach, FL

CB: Bradham’s lack of production is directly tied to his lack of playing time. Through the first eight games of the season Bradham has 104 snaps logged on defense. Lawson has 344 and Alonso 626. You can’t expect the same production from a guy playing one third or one sixth of the time.

As for drafting another linebacker I think that there’s a good chance they look to add another LB next April.

 

4 – Chris:

The Bills did not seem to be using Fred Jackson and CJ spiller in the game at the same time very much when they were both healthy this season.  Do you think we will ever see them utilized in a pro set or veer formation?  I just could see that as a great asset to utilize in a fast paced offence.

Thanks,
Chris

CB: Both haven’t been 100 percent healthy almost all season so the opportunity to run a split backfield has been limited. They did do it a bit earlier this season and it is contained in the Bills playbook. I just don’t think we’ll see much of it until both backs are fully recovered from their injuries.

Making use of that formation also depends on the caliber of opponent and what they do well.

 

5 - @ChrisBrownBills
Thanks for the updates this week on EJ. Can you tell me how EJ looked or did?

bucketscheung

CB: EJ threw the ball very well, but his injured knee is not all the way back yet. His right knee is on his back leg on drop backs. Planting that leg firmly in the ground at the top of his drop cannot be enjoyable if he’s still experiencing pain in that knee where he had the LCL injury.

He hasn’t been cleared medically to play in a game and until that happens he’ll just be throwing in practice. EJ hasn’t really done any team work. Head coach Doug Marrone said that there’s an outside chance he plays in the Jets game in two weeks.


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Bradham on punt coverage

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2013 – 12:49 pm

Bills LB Nigel Bradham is also a member of Buffalo’s punt coverage unit. Buffalo allowed a 29-yard return in overtime that led to Cincinnati’s game-winning field goal. Bradham explains what’s been ailing the Bills coverage unit.

“Sometimes they just find a seam,” said Bradham of the opposing returners. “I feel like sometimes we have great coverage, but if someone gets held up at the line a little too long and the other person gets off fast on their release it kind of creates seams and gaps because you’re expecting the guy to be in the lane right beside you, but they’re further back. They’re in their lane, just further behind. We just all have to get off of our releases quicker.”

Bradham said there are no excuses, they just have to execute better.

“We’ve got to do something about it for sure. We always want to get down there at the same time. We’ve just got to make the play. That’s it,” he said.


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Moats gets quality snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 9, 2013 – 12:41 pm

Bills ILB Arthur Moats did not win a starting job out of training camp at one of the two inside linebacker positions. Those belonged to Nigel Bradham and Kiko Alonso. But in Sunday’s opener, Moats got more snaps than some may have anticipated.

It may have just been a byproduct of the defensive packages defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had in Sunday’s game plan, or the fact that New England’s offense was on the field for 89 plays, but Moats got 24 snaps to Bradham’s 19.

While the difference in playing time is negligible, it’s probably more playing time on defense than most expected for Moats heading into the season.

Moats had three total tackles, including one for loss. Bradham had one tackle and a pass defensed.

Both Moats and Bradham got 19 snaps on special teams.


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Bradham, Moats busy in preseason

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2013 – 4:37 pm

Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham and Arthur Moats sit atop the snap count board for defensive players thus far this preseason. Here’s a look at the linebacking corps and the action they’ve seen through the first three preseason games.

LB defensive snap counts thru 3 games
Name                                    Snaps
Nigel Bradham                  102
Arthur Moats                     98
Jerry Hughes                      82
Marcus Dowtin                  70
Kiko Alonso (2 gm)            69
Manny Lawson                  63
Bryan Scott                         62
Brian Smith                         49
Jamaal Westerman            29
Keith Pough (2 gm)            19

LB special teams snap counts thru 3 games
Name                                    Snaps

Arthur Moats                     41
Bryan Scott                         33
Marcus Dowtin                 30
Nigel Bradham                  27
Brian Smith                         24
Jerry Hughes                      22
Manny Lawson                 14
Kiko Alonso (2 gm)           11
Keith Pough (2 gm)          5
Jamaal Westerman          2


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Whaley: league is reviewing Bradham incident

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 20, 2013 – 2:25 pm

The Buffalo Bills now wait for the NFL to decide whether the recent incident involving LB Nigel Bradham is a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, and whether any sanctions might be imposed.

That’s the word from Bills GM Doug Whaley, who met with the media at noon Tuesday at St. John Fisher College.

“We take these situations seriously,” Whaley said. “We don’t condone these actions. It’s something that’s unfortunate and we’ll deal with it as it comes.”

Early Saturday morning, Bradham was charged by Tonawanda police with unlawful possession of marijuana after a traffic stop. He was issued a ticket for possession of marijuana and a traffic ticket for having illegal tinting on the windows of his car.

Whaley says the incident is covered by the NFL’s Personal Conduct policy for players and “it’s under review as we speak.”

According to the Bills GM, Bradham has already met with Head Coach Doug Marrone and the team’s Director of Player Engagement, Paul Lancaster, to talk about the incident. Whaley says he plans on meeting with Bradham once the NFL issues its’ decision.

Whaley also says the Bradham incident should serve as a reminder to the rest of the players what’s expected of them from the franchise.

“The message is, when you’re in this league, it’s a privilege, it’s not a right,” he said. “You have to respect the shield, you have to respect the Buffalo Bills, you have to respect your teammates, the whole organization.”


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Bradham: “I try not to be a distraction”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 20, 2013 – 1:48 pm

One day after word came out that Nigel Bradham was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, the Bills linebacker met with the media at training camp.

Bradham told reporters at St. John Fisher College Tuesday morning that he regrets the incident, and he does not want it to be a distraction to his teammates.

“Obviously, I had a matter that happened to me,” Bradham said after the Tuesday morning walk-through.

“I have to abide by the rules and I know there are some legal issues. I pretty much just have to take them as how they come and see what the league does. I’ll try not to be a distraction to the team.”

The Tonawanda News reported Monday that Bradham was stopped by Tonawanda police early Saturday morning and issued an appearance ticket for possession of marijuana and a traffic citation for having illegally tinted windows in his vehicle.

“It’s a legal issue,” Bradham said Tuesday morning. “I made a mistake. That was it.”

Bradham later added that he was disappointed in his conduct.

“Oh, yeah, most definitely,” he said. “It was a bad decision.”

Bradham says he’s awaiting word from the NFL on whether his actions violate the league’s personal conduct policy. He expects to hear from league officials in the next couple of days.


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Defense still not satisfied

Posted by Chris Brown on August 6, 2013 – 12:06 am

Though the Bills defense certainly had its share of the play in Monday night’s live scrimmage, they were far from satisfied.

LB Nigel Bradham, who had a stuff during live goal line work, believes they’re making progress. He just thinks they’ve still got a lot of ground to cover.

“I feel like it’s coming along well,” he said. “We just have to keep getting better, that’s the main thing. We’re not where we want to be yet. We’ve got to get more turnovers, force more turnovers. We just got to keep working and keep coming together as a defense.

“The offense has a lot of hype. We’re just going to keep working, we don’t need a lot of hype. We just have to go out there and prove ourselves.”


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Players in thinking phase with schemes

Posted by Chris Brown on May 30, 2013 – 4:11 pm

Players when working to learn a new offensive or defensive scheme go through a process. Through the early stages players often have to think about their assignment as they read the play and then they react. Eventually they want to get to a point where they feel so comfortable in the system that they’re no longer thinking about the assignment, they’re just executing. As Nigel Bradham sees it they’re not at that point just yet.

“I feel like we are kind of thinking a little more,” said Bradham. “We haven’t gotten to the point where it’s all instincts and reacting yet as a team, as a defense. We’ve haven’t gotten to the point yet where everybody knows what they’re doing or everybody knows each other’s position so we know where our help is at or where is the weakness of the defense. We haven’t got to that point yet, but we’re definitely working at it and getting better.”

It’s difficult to say exactly when the offense and defense will be just reacting as a unit knowing players absorb and learn at different rates, but with the work being put in the learning curve shrinks with each passing day.


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Bills on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2013 – 4:17 pm

A Bills linebacker will be on the local radio airwaves Thursday morning.

LB Nigel Bradham will be making an appearance on the Howard Simon show Thursday morning at 7:30 AM ET on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. You can listen online.


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Pettine’s defense puts premium on versatility

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 29, 2013 – 8:20 pm

The Bills pulled off a rare player-for-player trade Monday, sending third year LB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts in exchange for fourth year LB Jerry Hughes.

And while both the Bills and Colts are willing to part with young defensive talent, the trade seems to be more a product of finding a right fit for the defense. At least that’s what Bills GM Buddy Nix said, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show.

Nix was asked if Sheppard was not a good fit in the new defensive scheme being installed by Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine.

“I think that’s part of it,” he said. “Kelvin is a true middle linebacker–a guy that’s going to play from C-gap to C-gap and he can do that downhill.”

“But Mike Pettine made this statement during the draft,” Nix told host John Murphy. “The days of the Mike linebacker and the strong safety have just about fallen by the wayside. Everything has moved over. You’ve taken the Mike now, and he’s moved over. You’ve moved Will to Mike. And now you walk up Bryan Scott as a nickel linebacker, and he’s now the Will. Those guys got to be able to run and cover.”

Nix says the Bills have stressed versatility in the linebacker moves they’ve made in recent months.

“We got Moats there in the middle-he can play two spots. We got Kiko Alonso in there–he can play two spots. Nigel Bradham can play Will or Mike. That is what we’re coming to.”

The entire interview with Bills GM Buddy Nix is available at Buffalobills.com\johnmurphyshow


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Fan Friday 4-12

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

The 2013 NFL draft is closing in. Pre-draft visits have wrapped up today. Let’s get to this week’s edition of questions from you the fan from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - CB,

Buddy had mentioned following the way the Bengals drafted AJ Green and Andy Dalton. Do you seen a scenario where the Bills go QB in round 1 and WR in round two? What do you think of the possibility of Geno Smith and Justin Hunter? I think these two are the might be the best players available when the Bills will pick in rounds 1 and 2. What are the scouts saying about Hunter, can he separate from DB’s at his size/speed?

CB: I’m at a point now where I getting the sense they don’t like any of the quarterbacks enough to take one at 8. I think that Buffalo doesn’t take a quarterback for sure at 8 if Geno Smith is off the board. So your scenario I believe is unlikely to transpire even though Buddy Nix did mention the desire to make those kinds of additions. I think a receiver is certainly a possibility in round two.

The value at the receiver position is very good between rounds two and four, so there’s also a window of opportunity there for Buffalo to wait on a receiver and address quarterback in round two and receiver in round 3. So what you’re proposing may happen, just in rounds 2 and 3 as opposed to 1 and 2.

As for Hunter specifically there’s no denying his deep speed, but he’s a straight-line speed guy. Having the combination of speed and quickness makes you a killer at wideout. He doesn’t possess both of those qualities, which is why he’s a second round prospect. He is a good route runner, which is what gets him separation. My only concern with him is his slight build. It makes me wonder if he’ll struggle early in his career with press coverage and the physical corners in the NFL. That also concerns me in terms of battling for the ball with DBs in the air.

 

2 – Chris,

Since Chris Kelsay has retired do you think Mario Williams will want his old number back? If so does the new Nike contracts require Mario to pay for all his unsold number 94 jerseys?  Or how does the process work for changing numbers?  Thanks for everything you do Chris!

-Fred M, Scotia NY

CB: It is my understanding that Mario is keeping number 94, but yes if Mario had changed to 90 he would’ve had to cover Nike for the outstanding inventory in terms of money.

 

3 – Chris,
Chris,
With Levitre will the Bills get draft picks this year or next year, from Tennessee, for guard Andy Levitre?
If so, what round picks?

Thanks,
Lee D

CB: The Bills will qualify for compensatory picks if they first and foremost have a net loss of free agents (sign fewer than they lose). That equation can prove difficult because some free agent signings and losses qualify, while others do not. I can say the size of Levitre’s contract would play in Buffalo’s favor, but again only if the Bills have a net loss of free agents or are even.

Determining the rounds is almost impossible at this point because the situations of the other 31 NFL clubs would have to be factored in.

 

4 – Chris,
Do you see the Bills taking Geno Smith or an OG over one of the very talented OLBs (Jarvis Jones or Dion Jordan) or one of the top tackles (Lane Johnson) with the 8th pick?  Just don’t see the value of taking a QB at 8 with the inconsistencies shown by the current candidates.  Also, what do you think of Nigel Bradham possibly moving inside?  Adding his athleticism and speed inside might add significant flexibility as the team moves to a Hybrid structure.

Thanks
Jim from Allentown Pa.

CB: I’m not convinced they like Geno Smith enough to take him at 8. I obviously do not have an expert opinion like the members of the Bills scouting department, but I do like Geno Smith a lot and would not have a problem with them taking him at 8 at all. I’m just doubting he’ll be there.

With that in mind I think the best defensive player on the board is the most likely outcome at 8.

Your assessment of Nigel Bradham is very astute. He has experience playing inside from his days at Florida State. So I would almost anticipate him moving there and being the three down linebacker.

 

5 – Chris,

With the new defensive coaching change, do you feel this will benefit A. Moats who lost his LB spot and then late season played some DE? What position do you see him competing for? Also, with Wilson and Levitre gone, any ideas for who’s going to be the next Show host? Do the fans have a say? Thanks again for all you do Chris!!

Dan in LA

CB: I anticipate Moats lining up in a couple of places, both OLB and ILB. Inside might be the best fit for him, but there is competition there. It’s a wait and see quite frankly.

As for our programming on Buffalobills.com concerning player involvement we’ve reached out to a couple of players, but feel free to provide suggestions. Obviously, participation in such a program is a commitment that a player has to make. We leave it up to them to decide if they want to do it, so please understand if your suggestion is not honored there’s usually a good reason why. Thanks for your viewership of our player programming on Buffalobills.com.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What Lawson add means for Bradham

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2013 – 11:21 am

With the Bills signing free agent OLB Manny Lawson to presumably play on the strong side at linebacker it will likely mean Nigel Bradham is on the move.

Bradham, who showed a lot of progress as a rookie as the 2012 season wore on, is a very athletic linebacker in his own right. He appeared in all 16 games, but started at strong side linebacker the last 11 games of last season.

While Lawson is a solid coverage defender in the pass game, so too is Bradham, which probably makes him a very good candidate for the weak side where Nick Barnett used to line up.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone has said that every position will have competition, so Bradham could very well compete with Lawson on the strong side, but it’s seems more likely that Bradham is moved to the weak side where his range will serve him well to make plays in Mike Pettine’s defense.


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Bradham gets start again

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2012 – 12:48 pm

For the second straight week rookie LB Nigel Bradham gets the start at SLB.

Bradham got his first career start last week against the Cardinals.


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Bradham to start

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2012 – 2:42 pm

It’s official Nigel Bradham is starting at SLB.

Bradham will replace Arthur Moats in the lineup.


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