Inside The Bills

Incognito back to Rams?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2010 – 3:25 pm

Bills unrestricted free agent Richie Incognito is reportedly drawing interest from a few teams, but could very well end up back with the team that drafted him.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Incognito has been told by the Rams that they might have some interest in him. How much interest remains to be seen. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo released him midseason after a second head-butting incident by Incognito cost his team valuable yardage in what wound up being a loss.


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Incognito not tendered

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2010 – 4:07 pm

The team’s choices in terms of what restricted free agents got tender offers was not anything shocking. Perhaps only the decision not to tender Richie Incognito was a mild surprise.

In light of the fact that Eric Wood still has some time to go on his current rehabilitation from a broken leg, even I thought the club would perhaps tender Incognito, who could represent insurance in the event that Wood’s rehab took a bit longer than expected. But once head coach Chan Gailey indicated at the combine that both Demetrius Bell and Eric Wood were considered “ahead of schedule,” to me it signaled that Incognito was probably going to become a free agent.

And that’s what happens when there’s a new regime in place. All bets are off with people currently on the roster. The new front office wants to shape the roster the way they like it, and that has already begun with the players they have chosen to tender and not to tender.

The other three RFAs not tendered were Jonathan Scott, Gibran Hamdan and Joe Klopfenstein. They’re all unrestricted free agents now.


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Remaining free agents

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2010 – 7:35 pm

With Terrell Owens, Josh Reed and Ryan Denney all told they won’t be back with Buffalo in 2010, here are the other Bills players set to hit the free agent market this coming Friday if they do not re-sign with Buffalo.

Here are the prospective unrestricted free agents.
LB Chris Draft
OL Seth McKinney
G Kendall Simmons
S Todd Johnson
SS Bryan Scott
LB Josh Stamer

Truthfully I believe the only player on this list that’s a respectable priority is Scott, who had a productive season in 2009.

Here are the restricted free agents (under uncapped rules), which the Bills have until March 4th to tender a qualifying offer to retain their rights to them. Otherwise they become unrestricted free agents on March 5th as well.

LB Keith Ellison
QB Gibran Hamdan
OL Richie Incognito
TE Joe Klopfenstein
TE Derek Schouman
OT Jonathan Scott
SS George Wilson
CB Ashton Youboty

On this list Incognito and Wilson would seem to be the highest priorities to tender with Schouman and Youboty seemingly in the next group. Keith Ellison is a productive player, but might not be a fit in Buffalo’s new defensive scheme.


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No one tendered yet

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2010 – 1:59 pm

Just spoke with Bills GM Buddy Nix here at the NFL Combine and I asked him if he has tendered any of the team’s restricted free agents with qualifying offers. Here was Nix’s response.

“No, we haven’t (tendered anyone),” said Nix. “But we will. We’ll be in under the wire.”

Teams have until March 4th to submit qualifying tender offers to their restricted free agents. Among the more notable restricted free agents for the Bills are OL Richie Incognito and S George Wilson.


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Fan Friday 1-29

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2010 – 4:22 pm

Hard to believe January has come and gone, but we’re less than a month away from the NFL Combine. Let’s get to your questions. Remember you can email your questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Do you have access to challenge flag stats?   Specifically I’m looking to find out how many challenges Dick Jauron lost this past season.

Leif M. Nelson

CB: From what I’ve been able to gather from the NFL database the Bills challenged just three plays all season in 2009, and all three were overturned. So Jauron was 3-for-3. Buffalo had the fewest challenges in the NFL last season. The Packers had the most challenges with 16. Only 11 teams in the league had 10 or more challenges 2009.

2. I was wondering why the Bills never put Maybin at linebacker? He has great speed and good size to play the position. Washington took Orakpo and made him a very productive player at LB and I believe Buffalo should have done the same with Maybin. I know with new coaches coming that things will change. Do you see them looking to make Maybin a LB? My other thought is I would love to see the Bills move Spencer Johnson to full time DE. I think he would be great. He has done a good job at DT but is a little small to play it all the time. He is very quick and would also help make the defensive line get a little bigger and more solid. Your thoughts please.
Thanks
John

CB: I think if the Bills do in fact employ a 3-4 defensive scheme then Maybin will likely be transitioned to outside linebacker because he won’t be a fit as a five-technique DE. Spencer Johnson is perfect fit as a five-technique DE and if they go to the 3-4 you’d get your wish there too. Johnson would move to end. We’ll see how it all plays out when the new defensive coordinator is hired.

3. I believe Dan LeFevour out of CMU is the second coming of Kelly if I ever saw one !! He’s definitely a winner, has played in the elements, and look at the guys stats WOW !! The only college Q.B. to throw for 12000 yards and run for 2500 that’s pretty impressive. Just thought I would throw my two cents in after I saw Tony Pike’s name on one of the Buffalo blogs in a mock draft. After the comeback win in their bowl game too when he started out slow, what do you think about him ??
Mr. T Ft. Myers Fla.

CB: LeFevour broke most of Graham Harrell’s records and Harrell could not cut it in the CFL. He’s a coach at Oklahoma St. now. The guy that is the all time leader in total offense is a former Hawaii QB named Timmy Chang. Also did not make it in the NFL. I’m not saying that LeFevour can’t be a successful NFL player. I’m just saying you can’t be blinded by stats and assume the guy will do it at the top level. Most “experts” consider him a 4th rounder.

As for Pike I think he’s a more promising prospect with better tools. He has a better arm than LeFevour by most accounts. He has to add bulk to his frame because he is rail thin at 6’6″ 212 pounds. He’ll get broken in half in the NFL. There are questions about his passion for the game and he’s been labeled a laid back personality. I don’t know if that fits in Buffalo. He’s been called more of a third round pick.

4. Chris,
Would the Bills have any interest in prying David Carr from the New York Giants?  I think he would be better than anyone we got and a perfect stop gap until we find our franchise QB.  Also, what are the options of the Bills trading Lynch or Evans for draft picks?  I really feel bad for Evans because the guy hasn’t had a quality QB his entire career here.
Thanks,
Ken

CB: The Bills would not have to do any prying. Carr is going to be an unrestricted free agent in March. Personally I’m not a big fan. It’s hard to believe that his performance will be dramatically better than it has been in the past. I know Chan Gailey has proven over the years that he can do more with less, but I’d rather have Trent Edwards than David Carr, provided Edwards returns to more of his 2007 or 2008 form.

As for trading Lynch and Evans, I would say unequivocally no on Evans. Lynch is a bit tougher to figure with the new regime in place. Both Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey mentioned character and Lynch though he’s a gamer on the field has had some off field issues. Whether that is an issue for the Bills new decisions makers remains to be seen.

5. Hey Chris,

I was wondering what you thought about the chances we keep Incognito next yr. From what I saw of him the guy is a football player very physical and tough which is what we were going for when we drafted Eric Wood last yr. Now that we have 2 of the same types of guys at one postion do you maybe see the Bills moving Eric to be the starting center? After all I think that would give us 3 really mean guys in the interior that could give all the big nose tackles we face every year fits. Just wondering if you had any idea on what was going to happen cuase id hate to see a guy as promising as Incognito not playing or even worse get cut from the roster.

Garrett from Pa.

CB: I believe Incognito will be a priority for the team. I thought he fared pretty well for having to come in on the fly and learn the blocking scheme. He’s got the right attitude for playing in this town.

More important is due to the uncertain timetable as to when exactly Eric Wood is going to be back Incognito represents valuable insurance in the event that Wood’s recovery is lengthy.

I should also mention that Incognito is capable of playing center as well and could be a depth option in the pivot behind Geoff Hangartner.


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Fan Friday 1-15

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2010 – 2:30 pm

We’re entering week 3 of the coaching search, but as owner Ralph Wilson stated they’re going to be methodical in their approach. I’d rather wait if it ensures getting the right guy. Here is this week’s edition. To submit question email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Hi Chris,
 I think that with the seasoning they got this year that the opening day offensive line combination of Bell/Levitre/Hangartner/Wood/Butler is going to be a great offensive line combination.  I think that the combination of inexperience and injuries this year is the only thing that held them back.  The experience should be there next year, provided that Wood can return healthy.
 
Yet I’ve noticed you’ve been commenting a lot about offensive tackle help early in the draft – which of the five spots on the offensive line do you think the Bills may be looking at the most with regards to an upgrade?  Do you agree that the opening day group from this year will be sufficient for next year?
 
Thanks!
Rick Shields

CB: I agree that there is a lot of promise with the group up front, but I think the tackles need more competition. Competition pushes everyone and makes them better. That did not exist for Bell or Butler last year once Walker was jettisoned.

I believe if you can get a left tackle prospect in the draft that is more NFL ready coming out of college than Bell or Butler, like a Michael Oher type, then I would strongly consider drafting him. To take my point a step further, I’d be all for re-signing Richie Incognito as well to provide competition for Andy Levitre and Eric Wood. He would push both of them for a starting guard spot and is capable of backing up at center.

And if for some reason Wood isn’t ready for the season, Incognito is an insurance plan you feel about.

I do believe that the five that started last season will be improved, but sufficient as you put it is not what I’m interested in. I want a dominant offensive line and if that means acquiring upgrades or solid depth to push these guys then that’s what I’m doing.

2. Hey Chris,
My question to u is do u believe that the Bills front office will look into resigning TO or do u believe that they will just let him go like they do with everyone else? Because personally and I have said this since they signed him that the contract should have been 2 years with the team option on the second b/c of the uncapped season that is about to approach.

CB: I would be very surprised to see Owens back in a Bills uniform next season. Primarily because he wants to play just two more years. I can’t imagine he wants to be part of a rebuilding project here in Buffalo, which will be the case under a new head coach. The front office is committed to rebuilding this team the right way through the draft, not with quick fix free agents.

I believe they want to give the young receivers (e.g. Hardy, Johnson) an opportunity to develop and produce, and Owens would get in the way of that.

Furthermore I think Owens wants to go somewhere where he can contend for a Super Bowl title, something he does not have on his resume to this point. After this season he wants to go to a team with a proven QB.

The only way I see him back here is if he gets absolutely no offers elsewhere and even then I’m not sure he returns.

3. Chris,
Boy, the Bills need a lot of help. What direction do you anticipate they will go?  I still feel they need defense because the offense will take years.  They need to get bigger and maintain the speed.  Play physical like Miami in the run game unless they find a QB.  It is a throw happy league.  Hopefully these offensive lineman will stay healthy next year otherwise it’s another long year.  I was hoping to get more out of Maybin.  Let me know your thoughts.
 
Tim (Chicago)

CB: Well I don’t know that there’s a surefire QB at the top of the draft (even Clausen or Bradford) who everybody has at the top of the board. Bradford’s throwing shoulder injuries concern me and Clausen as a leader is a question mark. When you’re investing that kind of money you better be sure.

The kind of pick that might make the most sense for them at 9 in my mind is an OT, a DT or an impact LB like a Brian Cushing. Buffalo may very well have to trade for a QB this offseason.

It’s hard to say what will be done with Maybin with a new coaching staff yet to arrive. We should have a better idea come the spring camps.

4. Hey Chris,
Avid Bills fan here. I was interested in knowing what you thought about some changes the Bills maybe could look at moving forward next season. I’m not sure how you have assessed Richie Incognito’s play, but he appears to be a mauler in the run game. If he keeps his head on straight I believe he will be a nice addition to our team.

With that being said, what if the Bills move Levitre to left tackle, pencil Incognito and Wood at the guard spots, with Hangartner and Brad Butler at center and right tackle respectively. I know this is assuming Wood and Butler return 100% from their injuries. This would eliminate the Bills from having to draft a left tackle with their first overall pick in the draft and focus it on their other needs.

Thanks for your time.
Mike, Syracuse NY
CB: I think your point is a valid one. There was some thinking among the previous coaching staff that Levitre might be capable of handling left tackle down the line. He fared well in the Tennessee game when he was forced to go out there and that was with virtually no practice reps. He has college experience out there.

Ideally though I’d prefer to get a top flight OT in the draft or sign a veteran RFA like San Diego’s Marcus McNeill. I just believe if you move Levitre to tackle you lose some of the chemistry you took your lumps this past season to build. I’d leave him next to Hangartner and look to add tackle talent.

I’d also re-sign Incognito (an RFA) so there is depth of talent along the interior. There is currently no viable backup center on the roster behind Hangartner. Incognito could be that guy and a guard that could push for a starting role. As I said earlier competition makes your team better.

5. Chris,
I had high hopes for Steve Johnson, when he is able to play I like his production. He just seems injury prone and a wasted roster spot. I just don’t understand how other teams draft pick make it to the field and produce and the Bills picks end up on the injury report. The team has Hardy, Johnson and Jenkins that never seem to make it on the field. I don’t accept the “well we have TO and Evans” line. Other teams and QB’s are able to play a laundry list of receivers and they all make catches. So is Johnson a Bust?

Pat and Charlene

CB: No, Steve Johnson is not a bust and neither is Hardy. Don’t know how that description can be given to guys who barely got playing time this season. Personally I think the two young wideouts have a lot of potential and just need time on the field. I think there’s a good chance that with this Bills rebuilding effort that they will be given every opportunity to play in 2010. Johnson is not injury prone. He had one minor injury at the end of the season.

With this team starting over, now is the time to put the young guys on the field and see what they can do.


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Fan Friday 12-18

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2009 – 2:51 pm

Since next week’s Fan Friday won’t be up until the afternoon, Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s this week’s edition.
1. Chris,
Just wanted to get your input on what the Bills are doing right now. I think it’s great that they are going after some veteran players to fill the gaps, but I always thought that should of been done b4 or in the beginning of the season. Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are at in the standings. What do you think?
Thanks,
Edward

CB: I too like the recent pursuit of veteran players like Kendall Simmons and this week Richie Incognito. The Bills on the whole still have a very young roster, especially on the offensive line, so sprinkling in some vets that can step right in after a few days of practice is valuable. I think you can definitely make the argument that had more veteran talent been acquired earlier in the season or the offseason to fill the void left by some of the departures, the success on offense might have been better this season.
2. Chris,
 
With a regime change on the horizon, how difficult a transition would it be for the defense to switch to a 3-4. At first glance, it wouldn’t seem to be that difficult (play Kyle Williams on the nose, switch Maybin to OLB and draft McClain or Spikes) but I know there’s more to it than that.  Can it be done without limiting their ability to address other needs?
 
Pete Howell
Fairport

CB: To change to a 3-4 would push back the rebuilding project from 2-3 years to more like 3-4 years. The reason that’s the case is because you’d have to completely overhaul the roster, which is largely made up of smaller, faster players on defense.

Then you have the task of finding enough talent suitable to the 3-4, which is now harder than ever. The reason why is because 13 teams already employ the 3-4 scheme so the competition for players to fit that scheme is greater than ever in both free agency and the draft.

There are too few true two gap nose tackles out there to begin with and when you’re competing with 13 other NFL clubs for that small crop of difference makers, and you’re starting from scratch I think you have to seriously question whether it is the best course to take.
3. Can you give us an update on Eric Wood? I know they say his surgery was a success. But I want to know if, in addition to breaking his Tibia and Fibula, did he sustain any ligament damage? What are his chances of being ready for next season?
Bob

CB: The Bills have yet to provide a prognosis on Wood. I’ve asked, but I’ve been told it’s too soon to determine a concrete prognosis just three weeks after surgery. I saw him here at the facility earlier this week. He’s still in a wheelchair due to the injury, but he told me he’s doing well. He’s already begun the recovery work. I hope to have more on him in the near future so stay tuned.
4. Hi Chris, thanks for taking fan e-mail. Any word on on the Bills’ opponents for next season? Has the NFL addressed that yet?
Thanks,
Suzanne in Austin TX
CB: Yes, the Bills will be playing against their division opponents twice obviously (N.E., NYJ, Miami) as well as the AFC North and the NFC North. Their two intraconference games will be against the AFC South team and the AFC West team that finishes in the same position in their division as the Bills do in the East.

So if the Bills finish fourth in the division, they’ll play the fourth place finisher in the AFC South and AFC West, which right now is a tie between the Texans and Titans and in the West is the Chiefs.

Here’s how it shapes up home and away for 2010.

HOME – Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, (Houston or Tenn.), N.E., NYJ, Miami
AWAY – Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Minnesota, (KC right now), N.E., NYJ, Miami

The schedule as to when they play these opponents will be released in mid-April.
5. Chris:

If you’ve checked the boards lately, you’d know how split the fans are on Tim Tebow. I personally believe the guy’s a playmaker and is something this franchise desperately needs.

What’s your opinion on him and do you think we could see Tebow in a Bills
uniform?

Thanks,

Eric W.
Rochester, NY

CB: I don’t think there’s any debate that Tim Tebow is a winner. His leadership and other intangibles are off the charts. But with the expert scouts I’ve talked to the past year or so, most believe he is not a full time QB at the NFL level. Many believe that his entire throwing mechanics would have to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Furthermore I’m not confident his arm strength is sufficient to succeed in the wind that exists in Buffalo late in the season. I’d love to have Tim Tebow on my team. I’m just not certain I’d want him at QB.


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Incognito all but a lock to start

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2009 – 9:51 am

With Kendall Simmons becoming the 16th player to go on I-R today, it’s a virtual lock that recently acquired Richie Incognito will start at right guard for the Bills on Sunday.

Incognito got all the first team reps at right guard Thursday, his first day of practice with the club, while Simmons watched practice as a non-participant. Now a day later his season is over paving the way for the fifth-year cast off of the Rams to take the field with his new teammates Sunday.

“It’s not going to be hard getting up for the Patriots,” Incognito told Buffalobills.com Thursday. “I also heard it’s a good crowd up here. I’m excited.”

Incognito’s presence in the starting lineup, should it come to pass Sunday will give Buffalo’s it’s eighth different starting offensive line combination this season.


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Incognito could start Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2009 – 3:13 pm

Bills newly signed guard Richie Incognito has a chance to start on Sunday.

With Kendall Simmons nursing a shoulder injury and not practicing again on Thursday, Incognito said he stepped right in with the first unit in Simmons’ place at right guard.

Interim head coach Perry Fewell hasn’t committed to starting Incognito yet, but didn’t rule it out either.

“We’re just going to evaluate that day to day and look at that from a standpoint of will he be able to play or will he not be able to play? We’re glad that we got Richie in to see him practice and we’ll get another practice in with him tomorrow and we’ll just see,” said Fewell. “The terminology is different and the scheme is different, but he is an aggressive football player. He doesn’t lack for aggression. He’s a solid offensive lineman. He’s a big guy. There are guys out there helping him with calls and etcetera. So he had a good first day. We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.”

Though Incognito is still translating a lot of the Bills terminology, which is new to him, he believes he could be ready by Sunday with the two men lined up on either side of him.

“Geoff (Hangartner) is a real good communicator and the right tackle Chambers is really smart,” Incognito told Buffalobills.com. “I’m excited to play. I heard it’s a good fan base to play in front of so I’m pumped up about that.”

A month ago when Kendall Simmons signed with Buffalo he successfully practiced a couple of days and started at right guard that same week against Miami. There’s no reason to think that another veteran lineman like Incognito could not do the same. It all depends on the availability of Simmons.

One last note. I mentioned to Incognito that Wilfork has a bit of a cheap shot history against the Bills. His response was the following.

“I protect against stuff like that.”

Hard not to like this guy already.


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Wilfork might meet his match

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2009 – 10:35 am

If the recently acquired Richie Incognito happens to be thrust into the lineup Sunday against the Patriots because Kendall Simmons shoulder injury sidelines him, Vince Wilfork may very well have met his match.

It’s no secret that Wilfork has had his share of cheap shots against the Bills over the years. For those that don’t know here’s the quick laundry list.

1. Kicked Bills G Chris Villarrial in the back when he was on the ground after a field goal attempt.
2. Buried the crown of his helmet into the side of Jonas Jennings’ helmet while Jennings was engaged with another defensive linemen at the tail end of a pass play. Jennings suffered a concussion.
3. Flying elbow at the left knee of J.P. Losman, caving it in and forcing Losman to miss the next three games with a sprained MCL and ultimately lose his starting job. (Wilfork actually fined for this).
4. Cold cocked Duke Preston behind a downfield pass play delivering a forearm to the back of his neck almost knocking him over.

Incognito has had his share of on field flare ups including this past week when he was involved in a head butting incident with a Titans player that drew a pair of personal foul penalties. He also was assessed two personal fouls in Week 1 while with the Rams.

Only difference between Incognito and Wilfork is the Patriots DT rarely gets caught.


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Report: Bills claim Incognito

Posted by Chris Brown on December 16, 2009 – 5:51 pm

According to Pro Football Talk, the Bills claimed OL Richie Incognito off waivers Wednesday.

Incognitowas claimed by the Bills and the Dolphins, but the Bills were awarded Incognito due to a worse won-loss record. He was just released by the Rams this week after he committed two personal fouls last Sunday against Tennessee and then got in a shouting match with head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

The Bills have been thin on the interior ever since losing rookie Eric Wood to a broken leg in Week 11. They signed veteran free agent Kendall Simmons, who has started the last three games in Wood’s place, but he missed practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

Incognito is a guard by trade and has spent his entire five-year career with the Rams.


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