Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-25

Posted by Chris Brown on December 25, 2015 – 11:48 am

Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?

Ethan_Diep

CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?

XKC4338

CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.

I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.

Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.

Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.

I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?

TheGreatMikesby
CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.

The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.

To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.

What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.

But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.

Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).

In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.

 

4 – Chris,

Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant?  I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.

In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.

Randy Culp

CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.

All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.

For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).

And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.

Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.

 

5 – ​Hi Chris,

I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM.  As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity.  Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented??  Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else).  When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time.  More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together.  Your thoughts?

Chris
St. Louis
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.

As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.

If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.

As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:

“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

WR Woods added to Bills injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2015 – 2:33 pm

The Bills had another new addition to their injury report on Thursday as WR Robert Woods made the list.

Woods was listed as a limited participant with a hip injury. Head coach Rex Ryan believes Woods along with LB Preston Brown and Jerome Felton are all expected to play Sunday.

“I believe all of those guys will play,” said Ryan. “I know Preston is fighting through that hamstring, but he was able to do a little more today.”

Here’s the full practice participation rundown for Thursday.

DID NOT PRACTICE
Mario Williams – illness
Charles Clay – back
Seantrel Henderson – illness
Bacarri Rambo – knee

LIMITED IN PRACTICE
Ron Brooks – concussion/neck
Aaron Williams – neck
John Miller – ankle
Karlos Williams – shoulder
Jerome Felton – back
Nigel Bradham – ankle
Preston Brown – hamstring
Robert Woods – hip


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Brown: Sad to see that happen

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2015 – 9:46 pm

Preston Brown and his teammates were embarrassed, disappointed – attach whatever forlorn description you want. They are fully aware of what their penalty-filled performance did to their playoff hopes on Sunday in the loss to the Eagles.

“It’s definitely a setback. We know it was a game we had to win,” said Brown, who finished with five tackles and a QB hit. “We need tons of help now to even try to get a shot. We just got to go out there and try to finish the year right.  Try to keep getting wins.

“It’s sad. It definitely sad to see that happen. They’re going out there and doing what they need to do and we’re not. They’re the teams that deserve to be in it if they keep playing, and we’re not. We’ve got to find a way to win, just keep going.”


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Rex gets game ball

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2015 – 4:30 am

It’s usually the head coach that hands out game balls after a big win, but on Thursday night at MetLife stadium the roles were reversed in Buffalo’s locker room.

Although Rex Ryan refused to make the matchup with his former team the Jets about him and his history with the rival AFC East club, the players knew what a win would mean for him.

“He was just excited, he didn’t say much,” said Preston Brown of the postgame locker room atmosphere. “We know how proud he is for us to get this win. It was a big moment for him, so for us to go out and get that win I’m sure he’s happy.”

Handing Ryan his game ball after the victory was Eric Wood.

“I just said welcome back to the Big Apple, man. And I just gave him a hug,” Wood said. “I leave the talking to Rex.  He’s a lot more talented speaker than really anybody I’ve been around.”


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Dolphins won’t quit on run like last time

Posted by Chris Brown on November 8, 2015 – 8:18 am

Early this season the Dolphins would spread the field and throw the football, often using the pass game to set up the run. Since interim head coach Dan Campbell has taken over that philosophy has done a 180.

Miami is using more two tight end sets and they’re staying committed to the run longer in games even when they’re behind on the scoreboard.

“It’s different because the last time we played them they kind of wore down and they were trying to pass the ball,” said Preston Brown of the matchup with the Dolphins in Week 3. “We kind of had them in a one mentality kind of thing, but now it seems like if they’re down they’re still going to run the ball. They’re kind of setting that as a mindset that they’re going to run the ball no matter what the score is. So hopefully we’ll still try to get them down on the scoreboard and if they’re going to run the ball, they’re going to run the ball and we’re going to get off the field.”

Miami feature back Lamar Miller is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.


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Brown on where Bills ‘D’ is different

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2015 – 11:39 am

Most Bills fans who have watched the games at Ralph Wilson Stadium can see it for themselves. For fans who watch the team mainly on TV it might not be so readily apparent. LB Preston Brown took the time to explain how Buffalo’s defensive front is playing things differently than they did last season.

“I mean, they see it on film where we’re not always rushing our four like we always used to, a lot of guys are dropping nowadays, so it’s different now,” Brown said. “They have more time when they see certain blitzes coming, they know they have a little more time with somebody dropping out, so they’re doing their due diligence and making plays.”

This was Brown’s explanation for why the pass rush doesn’t appear to be as fierce as it was last season through the first six games. DE Jerry Hughes would only say that they can only execute the plays that are called.

 


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Beckham fined $9K for punches in Bills game

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2015 – 1:07 pm

A few Bills players claimed that Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. was throwing punches at them on the back end of plays away from the ball. The film never lies, so after looking into it the league has reportedly fined Beckham Jr. nine-thousand dollars for his actions.

ESPN is reporting that Beckham addressed his actions against the Bills with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin today.

“Odell actually came to me. I was disappointed, because I think he’s above and beyond that type of stuff,” Coughlin said.

Game tape shows that Beckham threw a punch at the helmet of Duke Williams after Stephon Gilmore’s interception. Preston Brown also accused Beckham of throwing a punch on another play.


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Defending the Dolphins spread attack

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2015 – 9:45 am

The Bills defense gave up the most passing yards in team history to Tom Brady last week, and they have no intention of repeating some of their mistakes from that game last Sunday. They are however, facing a Dolphins offense that likes to flood the field with playmaking targets.

“I mean they spread you out,” said Preston Brown. “It’s like going back to college for a week. I mean they do a zone-read, they spread you out, so they try to get their playmakers in space, which they have a lot of.”

As Brown sees it the key is sure tackling and getting multiple players to the ball.

You just have to stay on your feet,” Brown said. “If you make one guy miss, it could be a big play, so we can’t allow that to happen because they try to get some space, try to make some moves, so we just have to stay on our feet and crowd the ball.”


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Brown: Sunday was a reality check

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2015 – 9:02 am

After giving up more passing yards in one game to a quarterback in team history Sunday, Buffalo’s defenders aren’t lacking in confidence. They’re just fully aware that they’ve got some ground to cover as a defensive unit.

LB Preston Brown called the results of Sunday’s game for Buffalo’s defense a wake up call.

“I’m not sure it’s a blow to our confidence; it’s just something we need to improve on. It really showed to be a reality check. It shows that we’re not the best. We act like we are, but we aren’t right now, so we have a lot to work on.

“Just too many mistakes. We gave up way too many passing yards, that’s something we can’t do. If you want to go out and beat Tom Brady you have to shut him down in the passing game. We allowed him to get away with way too much.”

Brady threw for 466 yards, the most in a single game against the Bills in team annals.


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Pre-snap communication a focus for ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2015 – 10:16 am

There are always areas of a unit’s collective performance that can be improved. Buffalo’s defense is looking to be tighter with their pre-snap communication Saturday against the Steelers.

Bills ILB Preston Brown referenced last week’s game against Cleveland and how they got caught before they finished their pre-snap communication a couple of times.

“A lot of teams are trying to no huddle us a lot through the preseason which is different, but we’ve got to hurry up on the ball and on that 4th-and-1 they caught us so we’ve got to make sure we’re lined up and ready to go because there’s so much communication that sometimes we’re not ready so we’ve just got to get the talking down early,” Brown said.

Overall team communication has been good according to Brown, but having a sense of urgency in getting every pre-snap check called and executed before the play is where they want to be better.

“Each day were getting better in communication because that’s the biggest thing, you don’t want to have a miscommunication that leads to big plays,” said Brown. “So we’ve been working on it each day, getting better at communicating, and we’ve been doing well throughout camp.”


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Buffalo’s run ‘D’ impressive

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 9:28 am

They didn’t have Kyle Williams, Alex Carrington or Stefan Charles available in Friday night’s lineup. It didn’t matter. Buffalo’s run defense was extraordinarily stout against the Carolina Panthers ground game. In fact two of their first three carries went for negative or no yardage.

Top RB, in the absence of Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker had gains of one, zero and negative three yards on his first three carries. He finished the game with five carries for three yards. Those three rushing yards were all the Panthers could muster against what was largely Buffalo’s starting defense.

Conversely, Buffalo’s offense had 126 yards rushing at the half and 206 by game’s end.

“We had 206 yards rushing to their 73,” said Rex Ryan. “I think they had three (yards) at halftime, so when I said we outplayed them we did. There’s no denying that. So that was pretty good. I thought the execution went really well until the end there.”

“We did well,” said Preston Brown. “We shut down the run and that’s the thing we want to do.”


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Bradham stunned by Alonso trade

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2015 – 4:19 pm

Knowing the Bills trade opportunity for LeSean McCoy even caught GM Doug Whaley off guard, it’s not surprising to know that Bills LB Nigel Bradham was floored by it as well. The only difference for Bradham however, was his close friendship with Kiko Alonso.

“It’s a tough business man,” said Bradham. “Obviously he’s a close friend of mine and we still talk. I just wish the best for him. He’s going to excel, we all know that he’s a great player and just keep wishing the best for him.”

Bradham said he was surprised by the trade, but understands why the move was made.

“It’s all about making our team better, but it’s just something we’ve got to deal with that,” he said.

On the bright side Bradham understands that with the front office feeling comfortable enough to move Alonso in a trade it was also a direct reflection on the talent the personnel department feels they have in Bradham and Preston Brown.

“It says a lot. It definitely says a lot,” said Bradham. “Obviously that was probably one of the main reasons why they did it. But me and Preston we’ve just got to keep stepping it up and keep getting better every day.”


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DE/LB Mauldin tried to mimic Preston Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on April 2, 2015 – 9:25 am

Louisville pass rushing prospect Lorenzo Mauldin, profiled on Buffalobills.com today (Thursday), overcame a lot to make an NFL career a reality. He also gravitated to a few senior teammates when he first joined the Cardinals roster as a freshman. One of them is current Bills LB Preston Brown.

“When I first got to Louisville Preston (Brown) was one of the first guys I looked at,” said Mauldin. “I wanted to look at all the veterans and Preston was there along with Marcus Smith. They taught me how to play the game. Watching Preston each game and each practice and see him go 110 percent in practice. They make you want to go so you try to mimic them to impress the coaches and get on their good side.”

Mauldin is forecast as a mid-round draft choice.


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Louisville DE used Bills LB Brown as example

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2015 – 4:46 pm

Louisville DL Lorenzo Mauldin is here at the NFL Combine. He’s listed as an outside linebacker since he’s probably a tweener at the NFL level. He had 20.5 sacks in his three years with the Cardinals. He also spent two seasons as a college teammate of Bills LB Preston Brown, and Buffalo’s former third-round pick had an impact on him.

“When I first got to Louisville Preston Brown was one of the first guys I watched and looked at,” said Mauldin. “The veterans taught me how to play the game. Watching Preston play his game and watching him go 110 percent in practice made me want to go 110 percent. So trying to emulate them as a freshman I thought would convince the coaches that I was ready to go 110 percent too.”

Brown led the Bills in tackles as a rookie last season.


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Bills LBs exceeding expectations

Posted by Chris Brown on December 3, 2014 – 12:06 pm

There were some promising new additions and a hold over who hadn’t shown much in his first two NFL seasons, but without Kiko Alonso, what the Bills were going to get from their linebacking corps in a new defensive system offered a bit of the unknown. The hope was just that the run defense would be better and someone would be able to fill the pass coverage role of Alonso on third downs. Through three quarters of the season Buffalo’s linebackers have exceeded expectations.

Preston Brown has been a highly productive rookie, Brandon Spikes has helped the run defense and Nigel Bradham has put together a breakout season.

“I really like our linebackers,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Each one of them brings a lot to the table. Nigel Bradham is having an outstanding year. Preston is almost the equivalent to what we had with Kiko last year. A three down player that can do a lot. Brandon Spikes has brought leadership and toughness to our group. I’m happy with how we’re playing at that position.”

Marrone admitted this week that he wasn’t certain at the beginning of the season whether his linebacking corps would come together as well as it has in light of the new faces and scheme.

“I thought it would be a challenge,” he said. “I don’t think it’s like before when we were talking about Jairus Byrd. When you lose somebody like Kiko and the year he had you wonder where do we go and who do we have to replace him? And then all of a sudden Preston Brown really pops. Two years in a row we’ve popped the draft with two linebackers that are three down linebackers that are two outstanding football players. Along with Nigel Bradham really doing a 180 and turning around and playing lights out in comparison to what he did in the past.”


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LB Brown gets PFF All-Star nod

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2014 – 8:26 am

Each week the film grinders at ProFootballFocus assess who performed the best and hand out All-Star nods to players on offense, defense and special teams. One Bills defender earned such recognition for his performance in Week 8.

In the win over the Jets last Sunday, rookie LB Preston Brown had nine tackles and an interception. It earned the following review from Pro Football Focus.

Linebackers: Preston Brown, BUF (+5.9) and Demario Davis, NYJ (+4.9)
Excellent in coverage? Check. Good against the run? Check. Brown, a third round rookie from Louisville had by far the best outing of his career so far. Davis was almost as impressive on the opposite sideline, with five tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

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LB Brown emerging as starter

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2014 – 11:13 am

At the outset of the season he was starting to fill in for suspended or injured linebackers like Nigel Bradham and Keith Rivers. Now with the top four backers healthy Preston Brown is remaining in the starting lineup.

The Bills third-round pick last spring has done nothing but impress so far this season and has logged more snaps than any other player on defense through seven games. It somewhat mirrors the heavy use of Kiko Alonso as a rookie last season.

Right now Brown is starting at outside linebacker alongside Brandon Spikes and Nigel Bradham in the team’s base defense. He also plays in the team’s nickel package, but Brown isn’t assuming he’s a permanent starter now.

“I just take it week by week, day by day,” he said. “So right now they have me in the starting lineup, so that’s what I’m doing right now. Just go out there and try to get better each day.”

Head coach Doug Marrone didn’t cement Brown as a full-time starter when asked about it as well.

“He’s playing well,” said Marrone. “Matchups are a big part of it and his snaps have increased over Keith.”

Brown leads the team with 50 tackles so far this season.


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Lions getting it done on 3rd down

Posted by Chris Brown on October 5, 2014 – 10:30 am

The Lions are far from productive on first and second down, but it hasn’t seemed to matter when it comes to converting on third down. Detroit stands fourth in the league in third down conversion percentage at better than 52 percent (52.4). In third-and-short situations they rank fourth as well (75%) and third-and-medium they rank second in the league with a 73.3 percent conversion rate. So why have they been so successful?

Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who coached Matthew Stafford, believes he’s scrambling more this season in comparison to past years, but doesn’t believe Stafford extending plays is the reason for the high conversion percentage.

“Their percentage on third down comes from 3rd-and-2 to 3rd-and-6,” Schwartz said. “They’re about 80 percent in those areas. They’re really efficient. The ball is coming out quick. He’s always been a quick trigger guy, but the ball is coming out fast and they’re keeping the chains alive.

“They’re over 50 percent on third downs. That number drops significantly when they get over seven yards. That’s the job of our run defense to put them in third down and long calls, to give time for Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus to get home to the quarterback in those situations.”

Bills LB Preston Brown agrees with Schwartz on Stafford’s ability to get the ball out quick.

“Their quarterback he just has a clock in his head to get the ball out,” said Brown. “They’ve got really good timing with the receivers with Calvin Johnson and those guys. They really get the ball out quick and they run the routes to the sticks and they get the first down.”

“We’ve faced some outstanding quarterbacks this year, starting with Cutler, Philip Rivers,” said Schwartz. “We’ve faced similar quarterbacks and we’re going to have to play our very best to come out with a win.”


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Bills’ LB Brown has familiarity with Winn

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2014 – 5:32 pm

The Lions will be down to just Reggie Bush and fourth string back George Winn at running back Sunday with Joique Bell (concussion) and Theo Riddick (hamstring) both out with injuries. Winn was just called up from the practice squad, but Buffalo rookie LB Preston Brown knows Winn pretty well.

“I played against Winn, the guy they brought up from the practice squad because he’s from the University of Cincinnati and I played against him college,” said the Louisville product. “He’s a one-cut downhill runner so I’ll be able to tell the guys about him. So we’ve got a little info about him if he gets in the game. We know what type of scheme they run and how they’re going to attack us. We know what plays they run out of the formations that we’re going to get.”

Winn, a first-year player, rushed for 1,334 yards for the Bearcats in his final season in college with 13 touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards a carry.


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Keeping Reggie inside the goal for Bills ‘D’

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2014 – 5:27 pm

When defenses play against Reggie Bush the last thing they want to do is let the quick and elusive back get outside on the edges of a defense where he can outmaneuver defenders. So here’s Buffalo’s plans to keep Bush from getting outside on run plays.

“Just in the run game you’ve got to set the edges, keep him from getting outside and keep him inside the tackle box, a place where he doesn’t want to be,” said Preston Brown. “So you want to keep him corralled and make sure he has to take one cut and go downhill so you can get some hits on him.”

Unfortunately in the pass game getting on the edges is easier with swing passes being a popular way the Lions get Bush involved on the perimeter.

“In the pass game he’s going to get outside and just try to option you out there, “ Brown said. “You just have to be sound and hopefully you have help over the top so you won’t be getting beat deep. Just make sure you don’t let him get inside and run right past you.”


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