Inside The Bills

Ryan: Don’t read into QB reps at practice

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2015 – 4:57 pm

With the million dollar question at Bills training camp being who will be Buffalo’s starting quarterback, everyone is trying to gain insight on the decision making process. At Sunday’s practice EJ Manuel saw no time with starting unit players in practice. In fact for most of the session he took snaps with the third unit. That was largely the same role Manuel had in practice in the last full practice before Friday’s preseason game. When asked about the QB roles in practice Sunday, specifically Manuel being with the threes again, Ryan offered the following.

“It’s what I decided. This is what we did and again he’s going to get the majority of the game running with that group this second preseason game,” said Ryan of Manuel. “So that’s the reasoning behind it. Does that mean he won’t get the two reps? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. But this is what we wanted to do.

“Obviously we were going to put Tyrod in there (Thursday night) and mix in Matt (Cassel), but as the week goes on don’t be surprised if he does get some (time with the) twos. Again I know you guys want to look into everything, but I don’t think you need to. We’ve been working this thing for how long now, it’s been the same type of rotation for three weeks.”

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Rex: Can’t have drop off when pads are off

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2015 – 4:42 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan stepped to the lectern after Sunday’s practice and it was the first thing he mentioned. With the players understandably out of pads just two days removed from their first preseason game, Ryan was a bit disappointed that the intensity of practice fell off with the pads off as well.

“Today’s practice obviously when you take the pads off that intensity goes down a little bit,” said Ryan. “I understand it, but it’s still not acceptable because these days are running out so you’ve got to get better. Anytime you’ve got a chance to compete against each other you’ve got to do that. At the same time we’re trying to protect each other.”

Fortunately for Ryan and his coaching staff things will be dialed up over the next two days when the Cleveland Browns roll in for joint practices.

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Enemkpali gets 2nd team reps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 2:55 pm

No one even knew if he was going to suit up, but apparently DE/LB IK Enemkpali recalled enough of Rex Ryan’s defense to play Friday.

“He did pretty decent in there,” said Ryan. “We got him in there some. He had a couple of good rushes, but we lost the contain on the other side, which was unfortunate because I thought he could’ve made a couple of sacks for us. I know it’s a new system, but once you throw in something new a lot of stuff falls out. It wasn’t like he never retained the whole thing, but I thought he did a pretty decent job when he was in the there.”

Enemkpali took snaps from undrafted rookie Andrew Hudson, who wound up with the threes Friday.

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McCoy hard on his debut performance

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 1:38 pm

His stat line wasn’t overly impressive, but that’s typically the case in the preseason for starters. LeSean McCoy looked sudden and explosive at times Friday against Carolina. But in his opinion he wasn’t all that impressed with his performance.

“I think the guys up front really, really played well,” he said. “The first run, the first play, I should have had a long gain. I should of had at least a 60 yarder. But it’s the preseason…You know, you roll with it, you learn mistakes, while the pressure is little, you lock it up. We will learn and get better with it.”

McCoy said he felt rusty and wasn’t as sharp with his reads as he usually is.

As far as Rex Ryan was concerned if in McCoy’s opinion he didn’t run well, he’d like to see what qualifies as good.

“I can’t want to see when he does play well,” Ryan said. “He looked pretty good to me.”

As disappointed as he was with his own performance McCoy did see the silver lining based on how the offensive line fared.

“The guys up front, they really opened it up,” he said. “A lot of the plays, you watch em over and over again, I feel like it is going to be a big year. Especially on the ground game with the guys up front.”


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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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Rex on Darby: We threw him to the wolves

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 8:20 am

The Carolina Panthers targeted him early and often in Friday’s preseason game. Welcome to the NFL Ronald Darby. The Bills top pick, who has been playing some quality football in training camp was matched up a good deal of the night with the likes of 6-5, 245-pound WR Kelvin Benjamin and 6-4, 225-pound Devin Funchess. It was a difficult welcome to the NFL and his head coach knew it.

At the same time Rex Ryan and his defensive staff put Darby on an island an awful lot in an effort to get him accustomed to playing the big-bodied receivers.

“What we did was we fed him to the wolves,” said Ryan. “We flat played… if anything we put coverage away from him. So we put him out there by himself and let him learn. That’s why (Darby) played into the third quarter. We’ve got to get him ready.”

With the real prospect of not having Leodis McKelvin ready for the season opener and the league’s best passing attack from 2014 coming to town in the form of the Colts, Ryan and his defensive staff know they have to expose Darby to as much adversity as possible knowing he’s likely to get picked on and tested early in his career.

“You know it’s going to happen,” said Ryan. “I was hoping he’d respond. He had decent coverage, some of these guys, when you’re going against a big receiver, a lot of times you don’t put him in those situations, but tonight we did.”He never played as well as I was hoping. I think he’ll learn from it.”


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A few players dinged vs. Carolina

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 12:30 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he doesn’t believe any of them are serious, but there were some players nicked up after Friday’s game against Carolina.

Ryan addressed DT Corbin Bryant’s injury first since he was the first to exit the game Friday.

“It was a knee, so I’m not sure how bad it was, but he went out with a knee,” said Ryan. “Easley went out with a knee, I think it was a grade one MCL (sprain) on him. I’m not sure about Corbin yet. (Marcus) Thigpen had an ankle, not serious. Then (DE Jarius) Wynn had a knee so we’ll see how those things work. My understanding is none of them are serious. None of them seem to be too bad hopefully.”

Ryan also said that all the players who were inactive for Friday’s game had minor issues and would’ve played if it was a regular season game.

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Panthers coach knew Rex from younger days

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 3:31 pm

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera knew Rex Ryan from the time he was a college student. A linebacker for the Chicago Bears and playing under Ryan’s father Buddy Ryan, then the defensive coordinator for Chicago, Rivera often ran into Rex and his brother Rob during Bears training camp.

“I know being one of Buddy’s boys he was always around,” said Rivera. “I hope Rex doesn’t get made in relaying this story, but Buddy used to say, ‘I’ve got a bunch of nice boys, but I don’t want them playing for me.’

“I just remember Rex and Rob just being around training camp. They’re good dudes and good guys to hang around with. They’re a couple of guys that I run into at the combine or somewhere and we get a chance to visit and we end up talking about their dad. I know he’s still alive thank goodness, but we’ll talk about the things he did and how he developed the 46 defense. That always seems to be a subject of conversation with Rex and Rob.”

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Rivera wary of Rex’s multiple defense

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 1:56 pm

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has known Rex Ryan since he played linebacker for his dad, Buddy Ryan, in Chicago in the mid-80’s. So he’s all too familiar with the unpredictable nature of Ryan’s play calling. And in a preseason game setting with a new roster, Rivera knows Ryan is going to be even harder to figure out.

“I hate it. I really do because they can do anything,” said Rivera of Buffalo’s defense. “When that happens you’re kind of guessing as coaches. It’s hard to see the game because unless you’re hitting it right on anything can happen. Guys could be running around free, the quarterback may not have any time. Your running back may not have an opportunity to run. It’s going to be tough on our offensive line to handle it. I expect Rex to be as aggressive as he normally is.

“On the offensive side I think we feel a little more comfortable. We know what they’re capable of on the offensive side and we expect a physical running style. Coach (Greg) Roman coming from San Francisco we expect that running game to carry over.”

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Rex to Bills fans: Don’t peak too early

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2015 – 1:06 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has a very healthy respect for the impact Bills fans can make at home games. He experienced it first-hand when he was head coach of the Jets. That’s why he’s already pumped for the team’s first preseason game Friday. But much like the team has yet to peak, Ryan is asking Bills fans to pace themselves and save their best for the regular season.

“I know our fans are excited. I expect we’re going to have a huge crowd,” Ryan said. “I think that would be good. I don’t want our crowd peaking too early. We don’t need to just unload on Carolina. Let’s just save it for our first game (against Indianapolis). Let’s get in there and show excitement. I know our fan base will be in our stadium and I’m looking forward to it.”

As for what he expects from his team, Ryan is hoping players perform in a way that facilitate the efforts of the coaching staff to make accurate evaluations.

“I know it’s not the regular season games, but these games are important,” he said. “And when you look at that obviously we’re still evaluating our roster and it’s not life or death like it is in the regular season because the outcome is secondary. But that being said you still want to win. I don’t care you still want to win. I hate losing, but that’s what you look for.”

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Gilmore set to embrace Revis role

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2015 – 8:59 am

Many suspect that CB Stephon Gilmore will be pegged to take on the Darrelle Revis role in Rex Ryan’s defense for the Bills this season. When asked about it Wednesday Gilmore said he’s ready and willing to take on the responsibility that role demands if he’s asked to do so.

“I definitely feel like I can fill the role of being a great corner or the best corner in this league,” said Gilmore. “I told them whatever they want me to do I’ll do it for this team. We’re expecting big things this year, so I’m looking forward to it. So, I feel like I just got to go out and work on my game and whatever the coaches tell me to do that’s what I’m going to do and I work on my game and my technique and study film.”

Gilmore has done that by going against Sammy Watkins in practice almost every day. Even in individual one-on-one drills Gilmore will wait until Watkins is up in the rotation to go against him instead of another receiver.

“I feel like Sammy is one of the hardest players to guard in this league,” he said. “You just got to get him the ball and I feel like me and him going at it every day, I mean, there aren’t too many people as good as him.”

It’s not clear yet whether Gilmore will simply be asked to follow the opponent’s best receiver every week during the regular season, but he’s preparing as if that will be the case. He’s often lined up at both left cornerback and right cornerback in the same practice so he’s accustomed to flipping to the other side of the field, should he need to in a game when following an opponent’s top wideout.

“If they tell me to cover one guy the whole game, then I’ll do that, and play physical and just lock in and worry about my responsibility, and that’s shutting that guy down,” said Gilmore. “So just worry about that and then everything else will take care of itself.”

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Whaley on his talk with Rex about Enemkpali

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2015 – 10:20 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan expressed appreciation for GM Doug Whaley’s willingness to trust his head coach’s judgment when it came to putting in a waiver claim on free agent LB IK Enemkpali. Whaley explained how the exchange between them resulted in giving the waiver claim the green light.

“We have an extensive background from our college scouts, so we knew about everything in his college days,” said Whaley of Enemkpali. “When Rex brought up the possibility and opportunity to claim him, I deferred to him. He’s been with him for a year. He said, ‘This is a good kid. We appreciated what he did for us. We’re going to judge him on what he did for us.’ (Enemkpali’s) motto, he told me, is the guy just shuts up and works. We’ll take guys like that who work hard and want to win.”

Enemkpali is expected to arrive in Buffalo on Thursday, take a physical and then report to training camp late in the day Thursday.

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Rex ranks his Bills ‘D’ vs. his others of the past

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2015 – 2:57 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan has been hesitant to compare his new Buffalo defense with that of other defensive units he’s coached in the past. A former player of his however, put him to the test as NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson asked him to compare his Buffalo defense to those that he had in Baltimore and New York.

“We’ll see. I think in the Baltimore days, obviously that 2000 defense probably is a little different, and you go with the 2006 defense which led the NFL in more categories than any defense in the history of the game. That’s similar to what we have here,” Ryan said. “When I look back on them – my first year with the Jets we led the league but I think this is a more talented group than that. No slight to them but I believe that we’re more talented here.”

Buffalo’s defense finished fourth in the NFL last season overall. Ryan has stated repeatedly that it’s their intention to finish number one.

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Rex hints at timetable for QB competition

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2015 – 3:40 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan says it’s still early in the process for the coaching staff when it comes to deciding on a starting quarterback. On Tuesday however, he hinted that the three-man quarterback competition to be Buffalo’s starting signal caller could be close to finalized by the time they reach the team’s third preseason game.

“I think we’re going to look at it over at least a two game stretch,” said Ryan of the quarterback competition. “That’s where there will be more balance (with playing time). Each guy will get a shot. Seattle had a similar thing with (Tarvaris) Jackson, (Matt) Flynn and then the other quarterback (Russell Wilson). Let’s just hope it works out the same way.”

So Ryan and his staff will reserve judgment until at least two preseason games have been played. If it’s evident by then they’ll make a call. If not it could conceivably go right up until the week of the opener as Ryan has repeatedly said the most important thing is to pick the right guy, not how quickly they make the decision.

Matt Cassel is starting the team’s preseason opener Friday against Carolina.

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Kyle, Incognito not sure bets for Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2015 – 3:30 pm

Kyle Williams and Richie Incognito did not participate in practice Tuesday. Both could be out a few days, which puts their status for Friday’s preseason opener up in the air.

“Richie had a thing and I never saw it, but later I guess Monday one of the running backs went into him and it looked bad on tape with his ankle, but he still continued to practice,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “But his ankle swelled so that’s why we kept him out (Tuesday). That could be a couple of days.”

Williams is in a similar boat with a quad contusion suffered Monday. The injury is considered minor, but the timing of it could compromise his availability for the preseason opener as well. Ryan was asked about Williams’ status for Friday as well.

“I’m not sure, but if it’s in question then he won’t (play),” said Ryan. “We’ll see how he progresses. I know he wants to play.”

The players who stepped in for Williams and Incognito in the lineup Tuesday were DT Corbin Bryant and G Kraig Urbik.


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Cassel on why consistency hasn’t shown up yet

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2015 – 5:28 pm

Rex Ryan and his offensive staff are waiting to see day-after-day consistency from their quarterbacks in the three-man competition. To this point in camp it hasn’t revealed itself. Ryan is being patient knowing it’s early in camp. He’s also being patient for a couple of other important reasons.

First and foremost the offense is going against one of the top defenses in the league every day in practice, although Monday saw some of the best pass protection by the first unit all camp. The other point to remember is this offense is a new system for all three quarterbacks and is as varied and multiple as any in the NFL.

“I feel like it has been a little bit of back and forth,” said Matt Cassel of the quarterback competition. “And I think it has been back and forth in terms of offense. We have had production one day and the next day the defense does a good job. Its been more back and forth in that manner.

“And then when we go in we review the film and to correct those mistakes that you made and build on the successes you had and the things you did right. And that is what this time of year is built for, for everybody. I think it is one of those things you come out, you get repetitions and at the same time we are all learning. There is a lot of install going on and again this is only our third, fourth time going through all of this since spring.

“It’s a new offense so there are going to be mistakes that will inevitably happen. But its about correcting those things and like you said becoming more consistent.”

When the consistency kicks in is anyone’s guess, but new offenses, especially ones with a lot of new pieces like the Bills have (McCoy, Clay, Harvin, Incognito, Miller, Cassel, Taylor) take time to jell.

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Karlos sees carries on the increase

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2015 – 5:08 pm

When Boobie Dixon and Fred Jackson went down with injuries that will each last two weeks or more last week, Karlos Williams naturally got more carries in practice along with all the other healthy running backs on the roster. On Monday however, Williams appeared to move up in the rotation ahead of Bryce Brown.

When asked about the development, Rex Ryan didn’t dismiss it, but also cautioned that Brown should not be considered on the outs. Yes, he did have a lost fumble in the Saturday scrimmage, which can’t happen, but he’s not going to be written off with four preseason games to play.

“We wanted to see Karlos,” said Ryan. “I thought he did…he’s starting to do a lot of good things out there, but that doesn’t mean Bryce (Brown) won’t be given another opportunity. You know the fumble was disappointing, I mean to put it mildly, because he was having a nice day and then it’s like… you know every single team is going to be attacking that football and quite honestly you just can’t have it. I mean I don’t care how many… if you carry it 300 times you have to hold on to that sucker and that’s what we’re counting on as a team.”

The running back rotation the rest of the week is going to be interesting at camp and in the preseason game Friday.

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Rex keeping QB competition in perspective

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2015 – 4:57 pm

In a training camp where Bills fans and the media are obsessed with even the slightest development in the three-man quarterback competition between Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo’s head coach has yet to suffer from QB competition myopia. He’s keeping the QB race all in perspective.

Ryan was again peppered with questions seeking any hints as to who might be ahead in the race, if he’s frustrated no one has emerged yet, if he’s disappointed there hasn’t been day-after-day consistency from any one of the three signal callers. Ryan has maintained an even keel thus far.

“No, I’m patient,” said Ryan Monday. “I think we haven’t gotten to a preseason game yet, so I anticipate this thing being drawn out a little bit and to be fair. I think the big thing is to be fair and get the right guy, make the right decision. That’s what we owe our fan base and what we owe our football team.”

Even though Matt Cassel will start Friday’s preseason opener, Ryan said that the other two candidates will get to play with the first unit through the preseason as well. So there’s a strong likelihood the competition is just getting started and a couple of weeks away from getting down to the nitty gritty.

Of course one quarterback could really turn it on in the next week and separate, but it doesn’t sound like Ryan is fully anticipating that.


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Cassel: Glad plan is for him to start Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

Matt Cassel didn’t get a ton of work Saturday night in the Bills’ blue-white scrimmage. Even head coach Rex Ryan admitted that a lot of run plays were called during Cassel’s time on the field. In the next breath however Ryan indicated that Cassel would probably start in the team’s first preseason game this Friday against Carolina. Cassel liked the sound of that when he got the news.

“Great. I hope I play the whole game to be honest with you,” said Cassel. “I honestly would embrace the chance to start and go out there and play a little bit. And get into a rhythm.”



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Why Bills kept thing vanilla in scrimmage

Posted by Chris Brown on August 9, 2015 – 8:03 am

There wasn’t a whole lot of flashy plays in Saturday night’s blue-white scrimmage, but there were some big plays. Buffalo’s offense and defense were not going to lay their playbook plans for the regular season out there for a reason. As head coach Rex Ryan knows there are spies out there.

“Our guys were putting in plays, but our fans aren’t the only ones watching these things so again I think that’s something of note as well,” said Ryan. “We know there’s other teams here and so we play pretty vanilla.”

For scrimmage sessions and sometimes for just regular practice it’s not uncommon for other NFL clubs to dispatch scouts to other team’s training camps to observe what their plans might be for the regular season, especially within the division.

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