Inside The Bills

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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Watkins tops Kiper’s rookie rankings

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2014 – 3:57 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper watches the rookie players who were drafted and ranks them through the course of their rookie seasons. Perhaps it isn’t a surprise to most, but Sammy Watkins tops his list.

Watkins was ranked first by Kiper with San Diego CB Jason Verrett ranked second and Miami RT Ju’Wuan James ranked third. Here’s what he wrote about Watkins.

1. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo

I didn’t like how much Buffalo gave up for the right to draft Watkins in a draft loaded with WR talent, but it’s not like I was ever down on the player (as you can see). So far Watkins has been really good, leading a surprising, 2-0 Buffalo team in catches (11) and targets (15), and he already has three plays of 20-plus yards. If drafting Watkins was about helping second-year QB EJ Manuel, so far it’s clearly been a smart strategy. If I’m watching one thing, it’s whether Watkins can stay healthy. Hopefully he will.

Fellow Bills rookie Preston Brown was ranked 10th.

10. Preston Brown, OLB, Buffalo

The third-rounder out of Louisville has been called on to play right away in part due to the injury to a preseason ACL injury to Kiko Alonso, and while he’s looked a bit over his head so far, he’s making tackles for a defense that has played well and he’s not coming off the field. He currently leads the Bills with 20 tackles.


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Bills high on LB Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2014 – 11:40 am

He’s starting in place of suspended LB Nigel Bradham this week, but looking beyond the opener the future is bright for rookie third-round pick Preston Brown. Though Buffalo’s personnel department deserves the majority of the credit for targeting Brown in the draft, they didn’t get any argument from head coach Doug Marrone on Brown’s abilities.

That’s because Marrone faced him in college while he was the head coach at Syracuse in the Big East conference. Buffalo’s head coach was impressed with him then and he’s impressed with him now. In fact Marrone believes Brown’s rookie training camp was on par with that of Kiko Alonso’s rookie camp last year.

“When I first watched the film, my impression was this reminds me of how Kiko was last year,” said Marrone. “I know that’s saying a lot, but when Preston first came out on the field, he was doing that—running around, making plays, like Kiko was. That was my first impression.  Having played against them (Louisville) for a couple of years in college, I knew a lot about him. I thought he moved a lot better in person here than I thought he did when I was coaching against him. Those cats (at Louisville) were good on defense now.”

The Cardinals under Charlie Strong in fact were the top ranked defense in the nation one year, with Brown the team’s leading tackler his last two seasons.

“He’s a very good tackler, obviously, he has all those tackles,” said Marrone. “He matched up on some of our better players well in  man to man.  We tried to match up with him and he shut us down.”

Brown will make his first NFL start Sunday.


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Brown, Powell vying to be Wk 1 starter at LB

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:10 pm

The Bills know they will be without Nigel Bradham in Week 1 of the regular season at Chicago as he serves a one game league-imposed suspension. Over the past week or so they’ve begun to narrow down who their best option might be to replace him in the lineup. Right now it’s down to two candidates according to head coach Doug Marrone.

“For the first game? Yes. Both [Preston Brown] and Ty [Powell] will play in there,” said Marrone.

Brown got first crack at playing in Bradham’s weak side linebacker position and did it alongside the other starters on defense Saturday night. Powell came in with the reserves and saw reps there as well. The defensive staff is expected to make a final decision in the next week.

“The more things I can do to help the team I’m just trying to do that,” Brown told Buffalobills.com. “Going out as SAM, WILL, mike, whatever it is I’m willing to do it.”


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Bills LBs listed as one of two elite units

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2014 – 11:32 am

We’re a long way from regular season football when Buffalo’s linebacking unit can prove it, but they’re getting an awful lot of pub as one of the top groups in the NFL.

SB Nation in putting together their top linebacking corps in the league list the Bills as one of two “elite” units along with the 49ers. Here’s what was written about Buffalo’s group, which has new faces in Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers and Preston Brown.

Buffalo Bills
MLB/WLB Kiko Alonso, MLB Brandon Spikes, SLB Manny Lawson, WLB/ILB Nigel Bradham, OLB Ty Powell, MLB/OLB Keith Rivers, MLB Preston BrownThe Bills already had a very nice group of linebackers in 2013 featuring Nigel Bradham, Manny Lawson, and highlighted by Kiko Alonso’s Defensive Rookie of the Year performance. Alonso racked up an impressive 159 tackles while adding 11 passes defensed and four picks in his premiere season out of Oregon. Alonso is an instinctive, fast-flowing and aggressive linebacker built in the “new-school” mode which asks for more speed and coverage ability.

Because of this, he will now play on the weakside in base downs his sophomore season with the addition of Brandon Spikes in free agency. Spikes, a fearsome old-school run stopper that has yet to prove he’s a three-down player, will likely rotate a little bit with Bradham and Alonso in nickel or third down looks, as both are strong in pass coverage. Alonso in particular

With the selection of Preston Brown in the Draft, Buffalo’s linebackers group gets another talent infusion, and with Ty Powell and Keith Rivers for depth, I like the group they’ve built there.


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Winning arms Bills picks with mental toughness

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2014 – 9:30 am

This morning on Buffalobills.com we profiled how the Bills personnel department saw added value in drafting prospects who also happened to come from winning programs. Each of Buffalo’s first five draft choices came from winning backgrounds in college. It’s not the end all, be all characteristic, but being used to winning has its advantages.

One byproduct of winning regularly is mental toughness. Teams that win a lot more than they lose aren’t affected by adversity or a sizable deficit in a game.

“It made us really mentally strong just knowing that you can always win the game, and when you’re up you can’t ever let loose because you never know that other team might end up coming back,” Bills third-round pick told Buffalobills.com. “You just have to stay focused.”

And that unwavering belief that comes from winning stretches beyond the playing field and the faith one would have in his teammates. Fourth-round pick Ross Cockrell says the belief stretches to the sidelines as well.

“You have to stick in there and believe in your head coach and the process that he’s setting out for you,” he said. “Back at Duke we did that. We believed and made it happen. I believe in coach Marrone and the staff here that we can get that done.”


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Brown sees himself as every down LB

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2014 – 10:35 am

Bills third-round pick Preston Brown has heard the critics. In fact he heard opinions directly from NFL clubs in interviews at the NFL combine back in February. Some teams don’t believe he’s capable of being a coverage linebacker at the pro level. Brown disagrees.

“You can’t get upset or take it personally,” said Brown of the critics. “They have a right to their own opinion. You’ve just got to go out there and prove to them that you are better than what they think you are. I just want to prove the doubters wrong any way I can.”

Brown, who ran a 4.78 at the combine and also had 23 reps on the bench along with a 33-inch vertical.

The hard hitting linebacker credits tough coaching at Louisville with helping him to improve his all around game.

“Going to Louisville I had five coaches screaming in my ear all day with coach Strong and Bedford so I’m used to it,” he said. “I take it in and really analyze it and try to get better at what they say I need to work on. (Can you cover at the next level?) I consider myself a four-down linebacker. I play special teams. I’ll be out there on third down covering. I feel I can do it all. I’m excited to show that.”


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LB Preston Brown is Bills 3rd rd pick

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 10:02 pm

The Bills addressed their defense for the first time in round three of the 2014 NFL draft and took Louisville LB Preston Brown. Brown (6’1 1/4″ 251) is a prototype middle linebacker in a 4-3 system.

Brown was yet another pre-draft visitor of the Bills last month. All three of Buffalo’s choices were pre-draft visitors this spring.


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