Inside The Bills

Robey ready to be aggressive again

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2015 – 4:08 pm

Bills nickel corner Nickell Robey saw a big change from his role as a rookie in 2013 as the team’s nickel corner to his role in 2014. Though his position on the field was the same, what he was asked to do was not. It left him wanting to do more. With Rex Ryan and DC Dennis Thurman bringing in a defensive scheme similar to the one Robey played in two years ago, the third-year corner will get his wish.

Robey, who was a frequent blitzer in Buffalo’s 2013 scheme, said he’ll get the chance to do that again this fall.

“Just scheme-wise doing a lot more blitzing,” he said. “I’m playing a lot more aggressive coverages, but most of all doing a lot more blitzing. I love it. Coming off of Mario or coming off or Hughes it’s a great switch up because they’re all going to be keyed on them and then I just slide underneath them. It’s like a giveaway. It’s real easy.”

While there may be similarities between Ryan and Thurman’s scheme to that of their former colleague Mike Pettine’s system played by the Bills in 2013, Ryan maintains there’s plenty that’s different too.

“You guys want to paint it as the same scheme, but it’s not,” Ryan said. “Some things are similar but it’s a new defense. There’s a lot of things that we ask. Ours is more of an audible defense than he’s been in in the past. He picks it up well.  He’s going to have a big impact. He’s a little man with a big impact on the game. I’m glad he’s our nickel.”

Robey sees some of those differences.

“It’s a lot more aggressive,” he said. “I feel like the coverage is more aggressive on the back end and the D-line is able to rush more aggressively so it helps out better. Last year I was more just coverage basically and softer coverage too. I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted to do as far as being aggressive and being able to play like I really wanted to play. This year Rex is allowing me to do that.”


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Ryan on addition of Buchanan

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2015 – 8:25 am

Bills newest DE Michael Buchanan got his first practice in on Wednesday with his new Buffalo teammates. He got some time with the second unit at defensive end as he begins to get a handle on the playbook. Head coach Rex Ryan explained why Buchanan was an appealing player for their defensive scheme.

“He’s a guy that’s got length, he’s got some pass rush ability,” said Ryan. “In our system he can be flexible. We’re looking for a guy who can compete to be the backup behind Jerry Hughes in particular. I think he has that. He has some pass rush ability and it’s kind of a—a guy has to have pass rush ability, drop ability, and length, and that’s hard to find—but he has those things.  The young man will be given an opportunity here.”


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Ryan: QB race still three-man competition

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2015 – 5:08 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan thinks a lot of new QB Matt Simms, who he had on his roster in New York. Quarterbacks coach David Lee, who also worked with Simms while with the Jets, believes in his abilities as well. But according to Ryan it’s not going to make the offensive staff change the current three-man quarterback competition into a four-way battle.

“(The competition) is what it is right now,” said Ryan. “Three guys are going to be working at it, they’re splitting the reps.  Don’t kid yourself, Matt will get opportunities.  Will he get as many as the top three guys, probably not. One thing about Matt, I know he’ll take advantage of the opportunities he gets and I’m not saying he can’t make this team.”


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Fan Friday 5-29

Posted by Chris Brown on May 29, 2015 – 11:44 am

OTAs are underway and the pace of practice is crisp. Players are getting a ton of work in during these sessions. Let’s get to your latest round of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills where’s Henderson lining up??

BlackArtVision

CB: In the first week of OTA practices Seantrel Henderson spent most of his time at left tackle with the second unit. Cordy Glenn was the starting left tackle with Cyrus Kouandjio manning the right side. Head coach Rex Ryan and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer have both stated that there will be a lot of rotation in these OTA practices between those top three tackles.

Buffalo has only four true tackles on the roster, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add another before training camp just to have enough at the position to put on the field.

 

2 – Chris

Very disappointed that the Bills are willing participants in limiting access to one of their games, namely, the upcoming game in London. Sure, put it on digital, but also allow for normal distribution so fans less tech savvy or without internet access can have a nice big screen HD experience.

My specific question deals with the TV distribution: will the game just be on in Buffalo, or will other New York markets which normally see Bills’ games—Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton,e.g.—be able to watch on their televisions as usual.

Thanks for the info.
Sincerely,
James Delaney

CB: As it’s been explained to me the London game will be broadcast much like a Monday Night football game. Locally in Buffalo (and Jacksonville) it will be carried by CBS, but everywhere else it will be on a digital platform.

Those rights will be sold in the near future so for those folks in Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and other upstate locales will have to keep an eye out for which digital platform landed the broadcasting rights. Some outfit like Apple, Facebook or Google figure to bid on it.

It will not be available on Sunday NFL Ticket on DirectTV.

It’s already been speculated that the NFL will probably look to strike a deal with one of those digital carriers who have the ability to stream on mobile devices. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s where the technology is headed.

 

3 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering if u knew what Rex thinks of Jeff Tuel? I liked what I saw and wonder how far along he currently is and if he is going to be given the same chance to win the job.

Thanks
jmcabral86

CB: Coach Ryan has been pretty candid that it’s a three-man competition for the starting QB job and that Jeff Tuel is not one of those three candidates. He has not shared much about his view of Tuel as a quarterback, but to answer your question, no I do not believe, based on coach Ryan’s comments, that Tuel will be part of the competition at any point in this process.

 

4 – Hey Chris, my question is regarding the Bills offensive line.  As much as I am worried about it though, I do think without the draft in the books that we have some good competition.  I especially like the idea of Henderson moving to left tackle and Glenn moving to left guard.  Hopefully with all the work Kouandjio has put in he could work out and be the guy at right tackle with Incognito being at right guard.  My question to you is do you think this is a possibility? I wonder if our line wasn’t successful over the past two years because of the coaching and maybe they tried to force players to fit their scheme and not work to the players strength.  I notice that the coaches we have in place now like to play to the players strengths.  I would love your take on this.

Thanks for all your hard work as always,
Jillian

CB: While I don’t think you can rule out a Henderson to LT and Glenn to G move, I think it’s unlikely. The main reason why is because this team is down in numbers at the offensive tackle position. They have just four true offensive tackles on the roster with the fourth being undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler.

As I mentioned earlier I think they’ll keep an eye on the waiver wire to see if there’s a vet they can add for depth at the tackle position. But if nothing substantial develops on the open market, Glenn is probably the team’s best option at left tackle and Henderson and Kouandjio can fight for the right tackle gig.

 

5 – Chris,

I love reading your Fan Friday column on Twitter.  The coaches have talked about using 2 fields during training camp for the offense.  This is probably to get as many reps for all 4 QBs.  Would Greg Roman consider parking himself on a scaffold in between fields and call the plays using headsets just as in the game?  Thanks for considering my question.

Barry

CB: Rex Ryan addressed this very subject on the John Murphy Show this week. Essentially he said trying to watch both team sessions simultaneously is impossible. But that doesn’t mean they miss anything because they’ve got it all on tape to review. I suppose if he was up on scaffolding he’d have a better vantage point to watch both, but knowing all the pre-snap alignments and shifts that go on coaches want to watch the whole play. Trying to watch both units execute would prove supremely difficult according to Buffalo’s head coach.

“I tried to (watch both team sessions), and your heads on a swivel, you don’t see anything,” said Ryan. “You will pick it all up on tape, though.”

Ryan said this is the first time he’s implemented it as a head coach. He took it from offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who made use of it in San Francisco.

“We said, ‘Let’s give it a shot right now.’ It makes sense for development, especially for the younger players, and also about giving the reps to your quarterbacks,” Ryan said. “As we know, it’s a three man competition, they all need work. It’s not a true competition if you’re not going to give them work. I liked that today.  And I can understand the drill. I’ll be excited to watch the video, too, because now you get twice as many snaps (to evaluate).”
 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rex visits training camp

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2015 – 8:36 pm

With the release of the Bills training camp schedule, head coach Rex Ryan also went out to visit the camp site at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford Thursday. Not surprisingly, Ryan was encouraged by the facilities, the layout of the campus and the people.

“First rate for training camp,” Ryan said. “It starts with the fields because our greatest asset is our players and their health. Fields are great, the way the dorms are set up, cafeteria, meetings rooms and the people I’ve met here have been over the top. So I’m excited about it.”

Ryan said the big difference for him with Bills training camp is the number of night practices, but there will be changes for players who were on the roster under the previous coaching staff.

“I think with us it’s going to be more reps than what they’ve done the last year or so,” he said. “We’re going to continue to two spot (run two units simultaneously). I think we’ll have more night practices than I’ve had in the past, which will be good for the fans out here. And for whatever reason the night practice picks up the intensity a little bit and that’s always good.”

While with the Jets they would usually have just one per training camp.

Ryan also said they’ll make more use of the two grass fields than the previous coaching staff.

“We want to use the grass as much as possible. You want to keep the guys’ legs fresh and make sure the fields are top rate,” said Ryan. “Not that we have a problem with the turf field, it’s great too and we’ll use it too.”


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Kouandjio putting himself in tackle mix

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2015 – 12:32 pm

Bills second-year tackle Cyrus Kouandjio has put in a lot of work this offseason after admitting his mindset was not right for pro football as a rookie in 2014. All that work is beginning to pay off as Kouandjio has put himself in the mix at offensive tackle.

“Right now he’s getting a ton of reps, but there’s going to be competition there, no question about that,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “He’s looked good. He’s had a good offseason, so we’ll see what happens when the pads come on.”

Kouandjio lined up at the starting right tackle position this week in OTAs, while fellow second-year tackle Seantrel Henderson manned the left tackle spot with the second unit.

“We’re just rotating guys through, they’ve been switching left-right, even with Kouandjio, even with all three of those tackles we’ve been switching them,” said Ryan in reference to the pair of 2014 draft choices and veteran Cordy Glenn.


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Texas floods keep Goodwin away

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2015 – 2:25 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin was one of the few players who was not in attendance at OTAs on Wednesday. Head coach Rex Ryan explained how the flooding in Texas the last few weeks have kept planes on the ground in the Lone Star state.

“Unfortunately, we know the weather out in Texas and man, oh man,” said Ryan. “I saw the pictures in today’s paper and it’s like, wow, it’s hard to fathom being out here where it’s nice out. But man, what they’re dealing with is something. He’s been detained.  We’ll see how long that goes, I know he’s trying to get here, but obviously there are much more pressing needs than him being here in a voluntary camp.”

Ryan has not been in touch with Goodwin personally, but the club has spoken to him about his situation.

“I know he’s in touch with our guys,” said Ryan. “The main thing is obviously to take care of home first and then get back when everything is taken care of. Hopefully everything is OK, but I’m not sure.”

Chris Williams is another veteran player who has not been in attendance.


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McCoy, WRs sit with nicks

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2015 – 2:23 pm

On day two of Bills OTAs, RB LeSean McCoy and a couple of wide receivers sat during practice. Head coach Rex Ryan provided an update following Wednesday’s practice.

McCoy along with rookie WR Dezmin Lewis, WR Tobais Palmer and WR Marcus Thigpen were all sidelined.

“We had a couple of issues at wide out,” said Ryan. “Thigpen went out with a hamstring. Lewis with a hamstring. Palmer had a groin, so those two were real limited today.”

Thigpen began practice, but left early. Meanwhile McCoy was a spectator due to a neck ailment.

“He’s got a little thing in his neck or something like that, but it’s not serious,” Ryan said. “It’s one of those things where we don’t need him out there.  He probably didn’t even have a helmet, he might have but I’m not sure.


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Rex on day 1 of OTAs

Posted by Chris Brown on May 26, 2015 – 5:20 pm

Day one of OTAs for the Bills was a closed practice, but head coach Rex Ryan provided his take on how things went Tuesday. 

“Well I liked the tempo of practice and I like the…you can tell that the guys are progressing from the mental part of it which is phase one and phase two and then putting back on the field not just against air, but they’re working against each other eleven on eleven so I think we’re doing pretty good that way from a mental standpoint,” he said. “I was impressed with some of the guys conditioning.  The tempo was good.  Pressing guys into two spots drills so you get almost twice as many reps but our team seemed to handle it pretty well.”


The team worked 11-on-11 at both ends of the field to maximize reps for all players according to Ryan, who said all but two players (Marquise Goodwin, Chris Williams) were in attendance at the voluntary practice Tuesday. 

 


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Whaley comments on EJ, Cassel

Posted by Chris Brown on May 23, 2015 – 8:32 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley made an appearance on the Jim Rome Show this week and naturally was asked about the quarterback competition, which will ramp up again when OTAs start on Tuesday.

First, Whaley was asked about the speculative story that Manuel was potentially on the outs with the club this season absent improvement or if he’s unable to win the starting job. Much like offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Whaley dismissed that notion.

“I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,” Whaley said. “The more controversy that you can drum up then the more interesting people are going to be with whoever brought this idea to the lexicon of thinking. So for us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys. It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL.”

As for his expectations for Manuel heading into the throes of the competition as more of the work moves to the field this spring, Whaley is only anticipating Manuel’s best.

“I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job,” he said. “Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start. It’s exciting for us.”

Whaley also had good things to say about how Cassel has transitioned to Buffalo following the offseason trade from Minnesota.

“He’s been exactly what we expected,” said Whaley of Cassel. “A veteran force who can galvanize the team and he can teach the young guys the intricate things that quarterbacks do that doesn’t take place on the field. Bringing receivers in and talking about preferences and what he’s seeing. Basically a lot of the things that people on the outside don’t see. He’s done that and he’s not afraid of the challenge. He’s ready to compete.”

Whaley also confirmed that the quarterback competition is more than just a two horse race between Manuel and veteran Matt Cassel, mentioning both Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel. Head coach Rex Ryan has made sure to mention Taylor when asked about the competition as well.

“The way they’re structuring practices everyone is getting a run with the ones,” said Whaley. “So it’s a fair shake. In this system that we’re trying to figure out who is going to be the number one it’s all about competition. That’s why everybody involved is excited about it.”


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Rookie G Miller angling for starting role

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2015 – 10:46 am

Last week we mentioned how Rex Ryan confirmed that rookie third-round pick John Miller has been seeing work with the first unit during the team’s on field practice sessions without any opposition, which is the rule this time of year for field work. In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan took his outlook for the rookie guard a step further.

When asked if Miller stands a chance of being a starting guard when training camp opens, Ryan confirmed it’s a strong possibility.

“He might be the opening guy there,” said Ryan. “He’s been very impressive. I think right now that’s the most important thing just because we’re not going up against anybody. But this guy has a big, wide, square body and we are hitting bags and his technique is pretty good. He has really been impressive. For a kid you just took out of college, he jumps right in and he doesn’t make mistakes. So I think that’s going to give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do physically and I think he has the right makeup to be an outstanding player.”


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How QB competition is progressing

Posted by Chris Brown on May 19, 2015 – 9:43 am

The Bills have a quarterback competition that has already begun in earnest even though the team’s first set of OTA practices is still more than a week away. Here’s how things have been working in their sessions on the field knowing that the offense cannot have any opposition working against them.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan explained how they’re running two offenses at the same time at opposite ends of the field and how Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are all rotating through with the first team offense.

“How we run things, we have a two spot drill going on at all times, so we’ve got two offenses going,” said Ryan. “What we do, because in this phase two you can’t have any type of opposition, we actually put lines on the field, like a big ‘V’ showing the defensive line and the linebackers and all that. And we get our plays in and we move it from the hash to the middle, left hash, right hash, all the way down the field. It is sharp with guys communicating and things like that. So there you can definitely get a feel for who these guys are and I’ve been impressed by all the quarterbacks. As far as the true evaluating that’s going to come in training camp and snapping the ball for real.”

With respect to the competition, Ryan insists it’s a legitimate three-way battle.

“Three guys for sure will be getting shots with the ones,” he said. “We’ve been doing it each day. Let’s say the first offense is running out there and it’s Matt Cassel the first day, then it’s EJ, then it’s Tyrod. All three are getting opportunities to lead and to be with that first group. It’s not like we’re going to just throw Matt Cassel in there every day or EJ every day. Tyrod is getting as many shots with the ones as the other two.”


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Rex on the radio

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 6:09 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be on the WNY airwaves Tuesday morning. Here’s where you can find him and when. 

7 am – WCMF

7:15 am – WGR 550

7:30 am – 103.3 The Edge

 

 


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Henderson: Miller looks the part

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2015 – 2:03 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan volunteered the information earlier this week. During their on the field walk through sessions the offensive staff lined up rookie John Miller at one of the starting guard positions. Though it was far from real football Ryan said Miller didn’t miss anything and look like he belonged. His teammate Seantrel Henderson felt the same way.

“He’s ready,” said Henderson of Miller. “I feel like he’s a little more ready than I was last year and he’s been picking up on things ASAP. I’m excited to see him play.”

Out of Buffalo’s draft class Miller likely has the best chance to compete for a starting role.


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WR group has stiffest competition in a while

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2015 – 1:12 pm

The first OTA practice for the Bills is just under two weeks away, but it’s readily apparent that the competition at wide receiver might be the stiffest that’s been seen at One Bills Drive since the early 90’s clubs. Head coach Rex Ryan was asked to assess how he and his offensive assistants will whittle the candidate list from its current number of 13 down to five or six.

“We have a deep group of talented guys,” said Ryan. “Percy Harvin, I’m not willing to say there’s something that he can’t do that someone else can. I’m not so sure that’s possible.

“Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins those guys are pretty decent. (Chris) Hogan, he’s a talented guy, good athlete, catches the football, smart, productive, so it is going to be tough to make this team, there is no question about it.”

When asked if he will try to mix and match skill sets to cover all possible needs at the receiver position, Ryan maintained that keeping the best players is the best way to go.

“Different roles for things, yeah possibly, but I don’t want to limit anybody and say this guy is strictly a slot receiver,” he said. “Let’s have it work out and in the end if that’s the case then so be it. I just want to see it with open eyes and believe what I see.”


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How Rex wins players over

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 3:29 pm

Boobie Dixon might be one of the easiest sells for head coach Rex Ryan when it comes to winning a player over. Dixon’s approach to the game is much the same as Ryan’s. Do everything you can to win, but have fun doing it. Both also like to joke, which is perhaps why Ryan felt comfortable poking fun at the big back in one of the team meetings.

First, Ryan praised Dixon’s game both on offense and special teams. Remember it was Dixon that blocked a punt against Ryan’s Jets last season that Manny Lawson recovered for a touchdown in a 38-3 blowout win. Then he cracked on Dixon.

“He was just saying that he liked me and that I’ve got a nice style,” said Dixon. “He was telling all the guys that I might not be the prettiest guy in the room, but I get the job done. I’m not a super model so I was cool with that. We were just having some fun man and that’s what it’s about, having fun, winning games and building chemistry with your team. I have no problem with that.”

It’s how Ryan wins the locker room. Even when he’s cracking on a player he’s giving them credit in the same breath.


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Rex won’t rule out having 2 FBs on final roster

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2015 – 2:38 pm

With the signing of free agent FB John Conner Wednesday, Buffalo now has two of the better fullbacks in the league. But will there be enough work for both to be on their 53-man roster. Head coach Rex Ryan isn’t ruling it out as a possibility.

“Doug Whaley and I talk about it all the time—keep the best players,” said Ryan. “If that means two fullbacks, then so be it. Both Felton and John (Conner) can contribute on special teams as well. Clearly we brought Felton in to be the guy (at fullback), but it just so happens John Conner is still sitting out there. I know John, he’s a heck of a football player, he’s an excellent teammate, so let’s bring him in and let him compete. I would not be surprised if John makes our team.”

With the running back talent on the roster that you’d anticipate Buffalo keeping on their 53-man squad it is difficult to see both fullbacks sticking, but numbers could be sacrificed at perhaps another position if the coaching staff feels an exception is warranted.

Either way both fullbacks will be putting their best out on the field in training camp and the preseason and should make for one heck of a physical display.


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Report: Undrafted OT Collins signs with Dallas

Posted by Chris Brown on May 7, 2015 – 2:24 pm

LSU OT La’el Collins, who was taken off many draft boards last weekend due to his name being part of a murder investigavtion in Louisiana, has reportedly signed with an NFL club.

Per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Collins has signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, which is fully guaranteed. The Bills had expressed interest in Collins. Head coach Rex Ryan confirmed on Wednesday that he had dinner with Collins. That dinner reportedly took place Monday night.

Buffalo, Miami and Dallas reportedly showed the most interest in Collins, who was forecast as a first-round pick before the news of the murder of Collins’ ex-girlfriend surfaced right before the 2015 NFL draft.

What’s strange is why Collins to go to a club with one of the best offensive lines in the league rather than join a team with a better chance to get on the field sooner.

 


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Hughes creating havoc in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2015 – 3:37 pm

Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes knows only one speed when it comes to playing football. It’s called full tilt. His speed off the edge was so good in minicamp practice Wednesday that head coach Rex Ryan had to pull him out of the lineup.

“This just in—I am really happy we signed Jerry Hughes,” said Ryan with a grin. “It’s rare that you have to pull a guy from practice because he’s ruining your practice. But I had to pull him today. If we were keeping track he might have had five-six sacks. It’s one of those deals, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s pull him out. Let’s get a pass off or something like that.’ He really did have that kind of day today.”

“He’s just got a tremendous motor and physical set and he really understands what they’re trying to get accomplished with their rush lanes,” said Matt Cassel. “Again when you come out and see it in person it’s pretty impressive.”

Ryan believes Hughes’ effectiveness comes from his ability to play bigger than his stature would indicate.

“He plays bigger than his frame. He’s like 255 or something, but he plays much bigger,” Ryan said. “You can put him anywhere too. He plays an end, plays outside backer. But he’s definitely a physical player. He’s a good athlete. Your great pass rushers have a feel for it, when do go inside, when to set up guys and all that—and he has it.  He’s kind of like a pitcher,  a starting pitcher, with about four or five pitches. He’s one of those nightmares to go up against.”


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Ryan: We’re not going slow

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2015 – 3:16 pm

It was day one of veteran voluntary minicamp for the Bills Tuesday, and though it’s a new offense and new defense for the players, the coordinators weren’t going slow.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said with veteran play callers on both sides of the ball, they’ll be operating at a healthy tempo and installing at a good clip, within reason.

“No, I think we have a veteran coaching staff,” said Ryan when asked if they’ll take things slow at the outset. “We’ve been there and done it, from Greg Roman and Dennis Thurman-we’ve implemented defenses before and offenses before and you know the steps it takes. What you’re seeing right now are the proper steps going into it, where you’re not overloading it. Maybe if it’s a first year coordinator or something like that, I could see your point. But not here. And we are excited, there’s no question about it. But we also understand the process.”

The players said the tempo was good and things were run quickly on the first day on the practice field.


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