Inside The Bills

Positive reviews for Preston Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2016 – 3:56 pm

Coming out of the opener it looks like the bounce back year for Preston Brown is already underway.

The team’s mike linebacker took charge of the defense in the opener and performed admirably not only as a linebacker, but as the quarterback of the defense.

That according to head coach Rex Ryan, who was very pleased with Brown’s calls and his play.

“He did fantastic,” said Ryan. “He runs the whole show so he is literally the captain of the ship back there and he has taken to that role and you combine that with a guy who has a lot of physical talent that’s the guy we want running that defense.”

Brown is determined to make sure their defense is better than the defensive unit of the team they’re facing. He said that wasn’t the case last week. But he believes as long as all 11 guys understand the scheme they’ll continue to improve and succeed.

“The biggest thing is guys know what they’re doing,” said Brown. “I took the leadership role to make sure guys know what to do and communicate so it goes across the board. It’s been great to see.”

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Safety rotation by snap count

Posted by Chris Brown on September 12, 2016 – 9:56 am

Duke Williams got the start opposite Corey Graham at safety Sunday, but a rotation soon followed. A rotation in which all of their safeties dressed for the game (Colt Anderson was inactive) saw time on defense. Head coach Rex Ryan said it was by design, in part to get Aaron Williams back up to speed in small doses. There also seemed to be a package element to the substitutions as well. In any event here’s a look at the snap count breakdown by safety.

Corey Graham – 68 snaps – 100% playtime
Aaron Williams – 28 snaps – 41% playtime
Duke Williams – 21 snaps – 31% playtime
Jonathan Meeks – 13 snaps – 19% playtime
Robert Blanton – 5 snaps – 7% playtime

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Where to watch Rex & Rob Reunited

Posted by Chris Brown on September 10, 2016 – 2:00 pm

MSG will be airing the debut of Rex & Rob Reunited tonight. While the premiere will air in Buffalo and Rochester on Saturday night at 8:30 (Part 1) and 9 pm (Part 2), there will also be a nationwide airing wherever else MSG is carried.

MSG outside of Buffalo and Rochester will air Rex & Rob Reunited at 10:30 pm (Part 1) and 11 pm (Part 2). 

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Bills successfully expand their return options

Posted by Chris Brown on September 10, 2016 – 10:41 am

Though Buffalo is facing arguably the best kick/punt returner in NFL history, they’ve taken steps to address their own return game. After finishing 23rd in punt return average and 30th in kick return average the Bills decided to add veteran return men to their ranks.

Buffalo had some capable return men last season, but most of them were injured during portions of the season. Several of them also didn’t return to the roster (Leodis McKelvin, Percy Harvin, Marcus Thigpen).

So Buffalo signed Reggie Bush a week into training camp and this past week they added veteran returner Brandon Tate to the roster. Walt Powell is an additional option for the return game.

“We feel much better than we did quite honestly at any time last year,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We’ve got three guys that we know can catch it and return it.”

Just who handles what at the outset of the season remains to be seen, though it’s likely that Tate handles kickoffs and Bush handles punt returns. Of course based on numbers there could be weeks where one of them handles both duties.



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Cardale’s throwing shoulder still sore

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2016 – 4:00 pm

The Bills had just a few players unable to practice Thursday. One of them was third-string QB Cardale Jones, whose sore throwing shoulder has stretched into a second week.

Jones didn’t throw for a week between the second and fourth preseason games. He played in the preseason finale, but the shoulder soreness returned. Head coach Rex Ryan however, sees it at a pain issue not an injury issue.

“There’s a difference between pain and injury,” said Ryan. “We believe it’s a pain thing, not a full blown injury or we’d be treating him a lot different.”

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Colt Anderson S Foot DNP
Kevon Seymour CB Hamstring DNP
Cardale Jones QB Right shoulder DNP
Ryan Groy OL Ribs LP
Jonathan Williams RB Ribs FP

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A redshirt year for Cardale

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2016 – 10:52 am

As the team’s third QB, it’s unlikely that Bills fourth-round pick Cardale Jones ever sees the field in the 2016 regular season. His rookie year is largely expected to be the equivalent of a redshirt season. But head coach Rex Ryan maintains that they have a long term plan in place to help grow Jones’ individual game.

“I’ve got a huge plan for him, we do as an organization,” said Ryan. “We will have special projects for him. We are always going to have him up on the game plan and things. There are other things we are doing with this young man as well that I won’t get into. But let’s just say we are trying to build a quarterback.”

Throwing mechanics are expected to be a significant part of the tutoring. Quarterbacks coach David Lee is one of the best coaches in the league in teaching proper quarterback mechanics from footwork to hips and torso to arm follow through.

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Rex: strong possibility of having 53 by Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2016 – 12:06 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan and his staff have a lot of decisions to make between now and Saturday’s 4 pm deadline to reduce the roster to 53. Ryan said there’s a chance they’ll reach that number by Friday. 

“I think there’s a real strong possibility of that,” he said. “We have an initial plan to 53, but it won’t really be finalized until the following week. I think we’ll go into it that we were assuming we’re not adding anybody, and this will be our 53, but that could change we could pick up one or two guys.”

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Rex liked Gronkowski’s performance

Posted by Chris Brown on September 1, 2016 – 10:45 pm

Making an impression in the final preseason game can be make or break for players when it comes to a roster spot. FB Glenn Gronkowski’s performance may have made things difficult for head coach Rex Ryan when it comes to roster cutdown time this weekend.

“(Glenn) Gronkowski played really well,” said Ryan. “I’ve been impressed with him. That’s about the only bright spot. I’m sure there’s a few more. I was looking for some guys to make our football team. Just like this Gronkowski kid. It may be hard to keep him off our team now. We’ll see.”


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Spikes rounding into form

Posted by Chris Brown on August 29, 2016 – 10:29 am

His first week with the Bills at training camp, Brandon Spikes was falling all over himself thanks to a full calendar year away from the game. The veteran linebacker was on his couch in 2015, unable to latch on with a club. Now three weeks in with Buffalo, Spikes feels his game rounding back into form.

“Like night and day,” Spikes told “The first day I just felt out of shape and my balance I was all over the place on the ground falling down. Now I’m getting back to myself. I feel like I still have a long way to go, but as long as I can stay at it every day and keep my head in the playbook I’ll be fine. Right now I’m a little hesitant about certain stuff, but it comes with the reps.”

Spikes’ greatest asset is his ability to diagnose run versus pass. He had a couple of plays where he made tackles in the run front before offensive linemen could even set their blocks.

“I see him getting better and better and I think he’s playing more,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “He actually looks quicker. He’s taking to the defense. I love the temperament that he has. I think that’s a real positive. All the guys in that locker room, they look up to him. They all respect him and I think that’s a real positive as well.”

“I would say 75-80 percent of that is instincts and 20 percent is film study,” said Spikes of his run-pass diagnosis. “I knew what was going to happen and they did exactly what the coaches said they would do and I was able to read and react. And that’s one of the things I’m good at is stopping the run.”

Spikes still brings the wood when he hits ball carriers as well, but right now he’s hoping to finish the preseason strong so he can lock down one of the team’s 53 roster spots.


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Rex still waiting for separation at WR

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2016 – 4:30 pm

Bills head coach Rex Ryan was again asked if anyone has pulled away from the pack at the wide receiver position, one of the few legitimate position competitions for roster spots. Though training camp is over and the regular season is closing in Ryan doesn’t believe anyone has definitively staked claim to a role beyond the top two wideouts (Watkins, Woods).

“I think there is good competition there still,” he said. “You’re not just competing with our roster you’re competing with the whole league. I’ve been really encouraged by Walter Powell. I think he’s done a nice job for us in the return game and as a receiver. And I think Boykin, Little, Dez (Lewis), everybody has had their… you see things from them that they can play. I don’t think anybody has jumped out and taken a job yet. That’s something that we’ll continue to watch going into this last preseason game.”



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Cordy confident in practice speed

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2016 – 2:29 pm

Rex Ryan has no intention of playing Cordy Glenn in Thursday’s final preseason game even though he has yet to taste preseason action. Ryan insists they’ll replicate game speed in practice to get Glenn ready. The veteran offensive tackle believes that’s realistic with the experience they have on both the offensive and defensive lines.

“I think we do a good job of that,” Glenn told “Guys who have been around for a couple of years know how to do it and the young guys can just follow their lead. So I think we’ll be able to handle it.”

Glenn missed most of training camp with an ankle injury.

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Rex: The best EJ Manuel I’ve seen

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2016 – 2:19 am

Lost in the news about ACL knee injuries for Chris Gragg and Jonathan Dowling, and Rex Ryan’s decision to sit a lot of his starters in what is typically the last dress rehearsal for a team’s first unit on both sides of the ball, was another solid outing by EJ Manuel.

Manuel’s numbers don’t look great in the end, but he was the victim of spotty pass protection and some dropped passes as he played almost the entire game Friday against Washington.

He finished the game 21-39 passing for 221 yards with an interception on the last play of the game that was forced into coverage to try to get a game-winning touchdown pass to Walt Powell.

Overall Ryan has been impressed with the growth he’s witnessed in his backup quarterback.

“I thought he played really well and if we can protect him we would be in business,” said Ryan of Manuel’s performance. “That’s unfortunate. We’ve got to do a better job in protection. But I thought he played really well and he’s done that. I told you guys I feel really good about our quarterback situation including EJ.”

Manuel’s ball location on the whole was good, despite being under duress much of the game. He was also decisive when it came to where he was going with the football and though he was sacked twice his internal clock seemed to be in sync with Washington’s pass rush.

“I think every time we put him out there he’s done a great job. He threw the touchdown at the end, but sure enough, it’s OPI (offensive pass interference) so the touchdown is called back.”

Ryan was referring to Manuel’s touchdown pass to Powell two plays prior to Manuel’s final throw that was picked off. Powell was flagged for offensive pass interference.

“But I really liked the way he played. I love the way he competes. He’s got a great look in his face. He loves competing. You know what? Sometimes quarterbacks take a little longer to develop. I think this is the best EJ Manuel I’ve seen.”

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Rex looking for WRs to make plays

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2016 – 4:55 pm

Knowing how tight things have been at the receiver position, head coach Rex Ryan put the onus on a few receivers in particular to perform heading into the team’s third preseason game at Washington.

Ryan was asked for an assessment of the play in camp of a few wideouts and did not mince words.

On Dez Lewis
“I haven’t seen that big of an improvement from him,” Ryan said. “He’ll get some opportunities and he’s got to stand up if he wants to make this team. He’s got to earn it, nobody’s going to give you anything. I love having a big-size guy that should be a red-zone threat but eventually you got to come down with some plays.”

On Greg Salas
“I think he’s proven that he’s a reliable target. The thing that he hasn’t proved over his career is that he can stay healthy,” Ryan said. “And again this year, he has the hamstring, so that’s a concern. But when he’s out there, we know he’s a fine receiver.”

On Walt Powell
“I would say he’s probably not as consistent as we’d like, but you know you’re going to get great effort from Walt,” said Ryan. “He’s a courageous kid but that’s kind of what we’re trying to focus on, is him being more consistent and I’m talking about with everything. Alignment, assignment—all that type of stuff, his technique. Those are the types of things we keep harping on and I think if he can do those things, he’s got good skills, so we just keep working with him and I know he’s a hard-working kid so hopefully he’ll get even better.”

Finally Ryan confirmed that neither Kolby Listenbee nor Marcus Easley are close to returning to practice field anytime soon. When asked if either could be designated for the Reserve/PUP list Ryan gave indication that it was premature to consider it.

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Training on side continues for Shaq

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2016 – 2:55 pm

He’s been doing a lot of rehab work away from the field, but toward the end of training camp, top pick Shaq Lawson was doing more on the side with the strength and conditioning staff while his teammates were practicing at training camp.

Head coach Rex Ryan had no formal update regarding a timetable for his return to football related activity, but he did confirm that Lawson has been training hard.

“I know he’s been training—I think behind closed doors, this guy works his tail off in there,” said Ryan. “So I think they’ll probably just progress him with more running and stuff but he’s been working hard.”

No word on when a decision might be made concerning his roster status. Reserve/PUP would seem to be a viable option for the outside linebacker when the time comes to make a decision.

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A look at Bills third down defensive success

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2016 – 8:42 am

Buffalo’s third down defense, as pointed out in our game coverage of Saturday’s shutout win over the Giants, was dominant. It was rooted in two main factors, execution and their effectiveness on first and second down.

The Bills defense had solid execution on third down as they looked very much in sync across the board. Helping was the fact that they did a great job of creating long down and distance situations on third down for the Giants offense. By keeping New York’s gains on first and second down to a minimum, nine of New York’s third down situations were 3rd-and-8 or more.

“(The Giants) were one-for-11 on third down, which was the first of the game because we weren’t on the same page,” said Rex Ryan. “The rest of the time we were, so I’m really happy with that. I’m really happy with the way the ‘D’ played.”

Ryan is referring to New York’s only conversion, which came on a 3rd-and-12, when Odell Beckham Jr. was able to slide underneath Stephon Gilmore on a slant. It appeared that Gilmore thought he had inside help, but it wasn’t there, which could explain Ryan’s comment of not being on the same page. Either way it was an impressive night of third down defense. Here’s a look at how each of the Giants third down plays ended in futility aside from their first conversion of the game.

Giants third down situations
3rd-and-12 – first down reception by Odell Beckham Jr.
3rd-and-11 – nine-yard completion (Manning to TE Will Tye)
3rd-and-19- Rashad Jennings 11-yard carry
3rd-and-16 – Manning sacked by Lorenzo Alexander
3rd-and-2 – incomplete
3rd-and-10 – incomplete
3rd-and-8 – Ryan Nassib three-yard scramble
3rd-and-9 – incomplete
3rd-and-13 – incomplete
3rd-and-14 – Nassib sacked by Lavar Edwards and Kroy Biermann
3rd-and-7 – incomplete

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Biermann believes Bills are a fit

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2016 – 5:46 pm

After playing his entire NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, OLB Kroy Biermann is with a new team in Buffalo. He made a free agent visit this past March early in the free agency period, but things didn’t materialize enough to talk contract at that time. But Biermann did come away with a good feeling about the coaching staff and locker room, should there be an opportunity down the line. That opportunity came on Monday.

“I feel like coaches here will shoot you straight,” Biermann said. “I think they’ll tell you how it is. I feel comfortable in this sort of system. I played a little bit, like I said. And I feel like I can be an athlete out there versus being a robot like I’ve kind of done in the past. It’s a very fun defense and it’s fast paced and athletic.”

Biermann said his former defensive coordinator in Atlanta, Mike Nolan, ran a similar system to that of Rex Ryan with a lot of similar concepts.

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Karlos hoping to get a shot Saturday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2016 – 3:57 pm

He was just activated on Monday off the Non-Football Illness list, and he’s had just one practice, but Karlos Williams is hoping he can get some carries in Buffalo’s next preseason game Saturday.

“Oh yeah. Most definitely. I want to play and that’s the goal for me,” said Williams of Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants. “It’s to prove to the coaches that I’m in shape and that I’m ready to play, I know the plays, I can line up, line assignment technique and I can perform at a high level, the way they want me to.”

Head coach Rex Ryan said he’s not ruling Williams out for Saturday’s preseason game, but likely wants to see how he makes it through the week first.

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Rex encouraged by QB performances

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2016 – 2:00 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan was quick to praise not only the performance of his three quarterbacks, but the state of their quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones.

“I loved the way our quarterbacks played,” said Ryan. “It might not be reflected in our quarterback rating because we had four or five drops. The quarterbacks can’t throw it and catch it. We protect our quarterbacks, we can throw it.

“We have a great quarterback situation. We have a proven starter, a proven backup and (Cardale Jones) is a young man who just keeps getting better and better. I liked the way EJ played also. If you take away the drops he’s probably still on the field rolling.

“We almost have an ideal situation. We know we’re not forced to play a rookie quarterback, but you’re giving him opportunities to get better and if his game grows then maybe you can give him more.”

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Rex: Preseason games have value for coaches

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2016 – 10:52 am

Yes, NFL coaches want to avoid injury in the worst way regarding their players, but they also want to get an accurate evaluation of their talent from the top to the bottom of their roster. And preseason games help provide the situations needed to make those evaluations. That’s why Bills head coach Rex Ryan knows no matter how hard you may try to replicate game situations in training camp, it can’t match the atmosphere in preseason games.

“When you look at these preseason obviously they’re going to give you a greater tell of what your team looks like,” Ryan said. “The kind of competition you try to orchestrate on the practice field is that, however it seems like it always steps up a notch, especially when you play against somebody else. So I think preseason games are meaningful, but of course you want to stay injury free.”

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Taylor built relationships along with his game

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2016 – 3:05 pm

Tyrod Taylor deservedly gets a ton of credit for building his game and becoming a starter who performed so well he went to the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starting quarterback. But in a very short amount of time, Taylor also built relationships with coaches and teammates that unquestionably has made him the leader of the team.

“Coming in this offseason he took the bull by the horns and took it up another step,” said GM Doug Whaley of Taylor’s leadership and ability to pull the team together. “He’s galvanized not only the offense, but the defense and the whole team. He’s undeniably the leader of the Buffalo Bills.

“It just shows you that once you have a leader in place and it’s your quarterback and everyone looks up to him, then he holds them accountable. And then those players want to play and study and do the best they can so they don’t let that guy down. That’s an important step to becoming a championship team.”

That’s why Buffalo made the commitment to Taylor in the form of a long-term contract extension Friday.

“Since I’ve walked into the Bills facility my relationship with the coaches and the players has gotten stronger each and every day,” Taylor told “Me and G-Ro (OC Greg Roman) talk very often even through the offseason we’re in communication. Me and the quarterback coach (David Lee) and Rex. Just the players in general we have a lot of guys with the right mindset. We make it easy to be around each other. Coach Ryan does a good job of allowing us to be ourselves and to be who we want to be on the field and off the field. I think just day by day my relationship with the players and the coaches has gotten better.”

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