Inside The Bills

Watkins playmaking will open things up

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2014 – 11:03 pm

With all the plays being turned in by Sammy Watkins in the training camp practices, it’s bound to lead to greater attention from opposing defenses and that will lead to more opportunities for the other receivers.

That doesn’t always reveal itself in the structured nature of practice, but in a game when opposing defenses are reacting Watkins is going to draw added attention. That will benefit the likes of Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin and the rest of the receiving corps.

“I don’t think it’s ever been just Sammy and Sammy knows that too,” said EJ Manuel. “He’s obviously getting an opportunity to make plays just like the rest of those guys. Obviously, all I want to do is just give those guys an opportunity to make a catch and they do the rest.”

“We’ve just got so many guys that can go out and make plays, we’ve always got a lot of speed on the field,” said Watkins. “We’ve got guys that can go over you, we’ve got guys that can run great routes, so when one guys making plays, that’s when other guys start to open up because they start to double or run a certain coverage. With everybody making plays, it’s been hard for the coaches and the offense because they want everyone on the field at the same time.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Woods and Searcy tussle

Posted by Chris Brown on July 21, 2014 – 4:20 pm

Robert Woods and Da’Norris Searcy got into a scrap after the play in 11-on-11.

There was jawing first then punched flew before they wrestled each other to the ground. Tempers flaring here late in practice on a hot day.

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Kiko feeling good after offseason surgery

Posted by Chris Brown on May 28, 2014 – 4:37 pm

Kiko Alonso participated in the individual position drill portions of practice, but not any team work. That is likely to be the plan for the rest of the OTAs after he underwent offseason hip surgery.

“Yeah, it’s great. I feel great. I had a great rehab and I’m just trying to get stronger,” he said.

Alonso was one of several players who had offseason surgery. Fellow draft classmate Robert Woods had ankle surgery. Head coach Doug Marrone addressed both.

“They’re coming off procedures both of them,” Marrone said. “Kiko had a hip and Robert had an ankle.  Those guys have been here the whole time working and we’re just being progressive, making sure they’re working their way back.  We know they’ll be available and healthy for the season.”



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Bills draft pick positions overall rounds 1-7

Posted by Chris Brown on March 27, 2014 – 4:59 pm

C.J. Spiller

We knew Buffalo would be picking ninth in each round of the 2014 NFL draft, but with all the compensatory picks now handed out, we now know the pick overall in each round for the Bills as well. Here’s a look at players the Bills have drafted in those overall slots including four players on the current roster.

Round 1 – 9th overall
1968 WR Haven Moses San Diego State
2010 RB C.J. Spiller Clemson

Round 2 – 41st overall
1984 WR Eric Richardson San Jose State
2008 WR James Hardy Indiana
2010 NT Torell Troup Central Florida
2012 T Cordy Glenn Georgia
2013 WR Robert Woods USC

Round 3 – 73rd overall
1977 WR John Kimbrough St. Cloud 

Round 4 – 109th overall
1970 LB Steve Starnes Tampa
1976 LB Dan Jilek Michigan
1987 DT Leon Seals Jackson State
1989 WR John Kolesar Michigan
1995 DB Ken Irvin Memphis State
2004 TE Tim Euhus Oregon State 

Round 5 – 149th overall
1967 DE Bill Wilkerson Texas El Paso (formerly Texas Western)

Round 6 – 185th overall
1971 RB Tyrone Walls Missouri
1995 DE Shannon Clavelle Colorado
1997 T Marcus Spriggs Houston

Round 7 – 224th overall 
1995 RB Darick Holmes Portland State
2008 WR Stevie Johnson Kentucky

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WR Lee leaning on Robert Woods

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2014 – 5:01 pm

USC WR Marqise Lee unseated Robert Woods as the Trojans’ top wideout in college, but it never compromised their friendship. Now that Woods has a year in the NFL under his belt, Lee has been quick to listen to Woods who was offering up advice and insight on the pre-draft process as soon as he returned to California after the 2013 season.

“I got that as soon as his season was over,” said Lee smiling. “I went to Rob and I talked to him about many things, the process, how tough it’s going to be, what I should look forward to and Rob just broke it down saying it’s basically football all over again. That I shouldn’t be nervous about anything in the meetings or anything. I’ve got a good background so there are no negatives that will come up. All they really want you to do is really explain your plays and what you plan on doing for them.”

At the same time Woods made sure Lee understood that football is truly a job in NFL.

“He was telling me it’s rough and you’ve got to get after it and learn the playbook from the get go,” said Lee. “One person I do look up to is Rob. I pay attention to the things he’s done and I plan on doing the exact same thing.”

Lee confirmed that he will meet with the Detroit Lions and New York Jets.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.

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Woods helping WR friend at Combine

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2014 – 10:09 am

Bills WR Robert Woods is obviously keeping an eye on his former college teammate Marqise Lee, who will be performing here at the NFL Combine this weekend, but there’s another lesser known receiver whom Woods has counseled in preparation for this pre-draft event.

Colorado WR Paul Richardson, who came off a torn ACL in 2012 to put up  a career-high 79 receptions for 1,280 yards and 10 scores for the Buffaloes in 2013, has been talking with Woods to prepare himself for his three days in Indianapolis in front of the NFL’s talent evaluators.

“I grew up with him and he’s one of my closest friends,” said Richardson of Woods. “He got back home a couple of weeks ago and the first thing I asked him was how his first experience was in the NFL. He said it was just work and said it was nothing we haven’t been through since we were little kids playing together in Pop Warner.

“He assured me that I was going to be just fine as long as I keep working and take everything that I’m going through in my training now and multiply it by 10 and that’s what I have to look forward to. He was encouraging letting me know that I will be up for it. He knows that he made it through so he doesn’t think I’ll have a problem going through it as well.”

Woods played football with Richardson since they were six-years old and went to the same high school, Serra in Gardena, California.

Richardson also knows Lee and trained with him during the summer while in college back home in California. The Colorado receiver is forecast as a second or third round pick and is expected to run in the mid to high 4.4s.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.

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EJ planning passing camp w/teammates

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2014 – 4:02 pm

EJ Manuel and his teammates won’t be back for OTAs until mid-May, but the quarterback and some of his passing game weapons intend to get on the field independently long before then.

Manuel, who was making the rounds on radio row at the Super Bowl said he’ll be getting together with teammates sometime in March and April. The problem is both Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are finishing up classes to get their college degree. But Manuel intends to come to them with a possible passing camp in Texas and California.

“My receivers told me once I have it set up just let them know,” Manuel told “We’re trying to build it around the guys who are still in school to accommodate them. They’ve got to handle that first. We’re not in classes or in school so why not just go to them?”

Manuel said he intends to invite the backs to participate as well.

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Fan Friday 1-10

Posted by Chris Brown on January 10, 2014 – 12:07 pm

Well the offseason is underway and the Senior Bowl is the next big thing on the horizon. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for all of the insight on everything Bills and keep up the great work. First off I was just wondering if you think we have seen everything Hackett’s playbook has to offer? Or is he just keeping it simple because of the inexperience at quarterback? We were vanilla at best on offense this season, (despite a strong rushing attack) and when I watch most other teams it seems I see more intricate offense. We primarily run out of shotgun and our screen game pales in comparison to last season’s.  Just wanted your opinion.

And secondly, do you think we should draft another quarterback? Manuel seems to be injury prone and I don’t think we can rely on Lewis or Tuel to step in and guide us deep in the season. They are strong backups but I would still like to have a QB that can stand in the pocket and not get hurt. Thanks again Chris!

-Mark in Houston

CB: I think your suspicion is dead on. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett had to keep things simple so the rookies on offense with sizable roles (chiefly EJ Manuel) could effectively execute them. They ran the ball so much because as coach Marrone said last week they wanted to keep third down manageable in terms of distance to convert. Plus they were good at it, so use what works to help keep drives alive.

When Manuel was injured during the season, it forced Hackett to be even more judicious with his game plans in terms of complexity. None of his three quarterbacks had one game of NFL experience combined heading into the season.

So to fault Hackett for his play calling being too predictable would be very, very misguided. One has to appreciate and understand the circumstances under which he had to operate.

Then to see that his offense, despite all of that, finished 19th in total yards, which by the way was better than San Francisco’s and Carolina’s and a yard less per game on average than Seattle, is a pretty good showing as far as I’m concerned.

As for drafting a quarterback I don’t think that’s the best route to take. The reason why is Buffalo already has a host of inexperienced quarterbacks on their roster even now. EJ Manuel (10 career starts), Thad Lewis (6 career starts) and Jeff Tuel (1 career start) are still lacking experience. To add a fourth to the mix doesn’t help.

I expect the Bills to pursue a veteran QB in free agency that has a wealth of game experience. The market is predictably thin, but I expect the Texans to cut ties with a QB like Matt Schaub, who could be a perfect backup candidate.

2 – Chris,

On the heels of the Miami game, I was disappointed in the selfishness and immaturity displayed by Robert Woods. With the receiving corps already down Stevie and Marquise (who’d just been injured), Woods simply had to be smarter than throwing a punch and getting ejected from a game.

This brings me to my concern: with all the rumblings about the Bills possibly parting ways with Stevie Johnson this offseason, do you think an occurrence like this might be enough for the team to keep Stevie around? Woods apparently isn’t mature enough to lead the team at the position, and Marquise, as talented as he is, may be the next Roscoe Parrish…..too slight of build to stay healthy and really contribute on offense. Personally, I think the Bills would be foolish to let Stevie go right now. The receiver room is just too young without him. What do you think?

Kenny in Indiana
CB: I believe the incident with Robert Woods in the Miami game in Week 16 was an isolated incident. Woods in general is a heady player. In this instance he lost his cool, but in talking to him afterwards it’s clear he understands now that those kinds of things cannot happen again. I consider it a lesson learned.

Concerning Stevie Johnson, I think he and coach Marrone have to iron things out with respect to the way things are going to be done to ensure future success. The bottom line is they’re going to be done Marrone’s way with very little if any deviation from his plan. And truthfully that’s the way it should be.

He’s the head coach and has a vision for how things are going to get done to promote consistent winning. And he needs everyone on his roster, especially impact players to adhere to that in everything they do as a player on the roster.

Johnson is a free spirit and while there are a lot of admirable qualities with that kind of approach to the game, football is a sport that demands attention to detail perhaps more than any other.

I don’t know this, but I sense that Marrone needs to be convinced by Stevie that he’s prepared to fall in line with every responsibility he has to the team as its top receiver and do things the way Marrone has laid it out for all of his players.

If that can happen then Johnson will remain a prominent part of Buffalo’s offense.

3 – Hi Chris
Thanks for taking my question. My question is, based on all of the huge pass interference penalties this year that have affected the outcome of the games (especially with under a few minutes to go), do you ever see the rules committee making the pass interference call a reviewable/challengeable call?

I’ve watched so many teams this year, and in recent years as well, that get the ball on the one yard line in the last seconds of the game.  And the unfortunate part is that a lot of them are really questionable calls…especially when they directly change the outcome of a game.  I know making a penalty reviewable could open a can of worms for the rules committee, but I don’t see another immediate solution to the growing problem of these (sometimes) 50 yd plus interference penalties on the last few plays of the game, especially when replay is in effect to ensure the right call is made.

Lastly, do you think teams practice for the last second goal line pass interference call?  Specifically, I’ve seen Brady win countless games by freely getting the ball on the 1 yd line with seconds to go when they all but had a nail in their coffin.  Its like they are just chucking in the end zone and the WR sells the penalty if he can’t catch it.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Pats practice it since it is a really huge penalty that can be easily exploited.
Thanks for your time,
Tim in NJ

CB: I don’t see pass interference every being a reviewable call via challenge or booth review with less than two minutes in the half or game. The reason why is it is a pure judgment call. There is enough already that is reviewable. I doubt the league wants to expand that list.

I think if the NFL’s Competition Committee should change anything perhaps it should be the yardage penalty for pass interference. Maybe something similar to college’s 15-yard pass interference rule. With the NFL’s proclivity to push offensive play and scoring I doubt this would even be entertained, but perhaps a 20-yard penalty cap on pass interference plays that happen more than 20 yards downfield. I think it would be difficult to alter the policing of pass interference in the red zone/end zone. Defenders are doing everything in their power to unsuspectingly mug receiving targets in the end zone to prevent touchdowns. To reduce the pass interference consequences (1st & goal at the one-yard line) may lead to more aggressive defending and the league rarely puts any part of the game in the favor of the defense.

4 – Chris,

Thanks for all of your coverage.

My question is regarding the future of Mike Pettine. I think at most we have one or two years left with him, and that it’s also possible he gets a shot as head coach sooner.

Is there an in house assistant or option that we are grooming to be his replacement? With all the great strides we have made on D this year I’m hoping there is someone that is learning and being taught all of his schemes. I’d hate to lose all of this progress once we lose Mike.

Thanks Chris
Patrick In Boston

CB: I respect and understand your concern with respect to Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. Mike Pettine is a sharp mind, who in time should be getting head coaching interview opportunities.

The good news is I do see two future defensive coordinator candidates on Buffalo’s defensive staff. I believe both defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and OLBs coach Jim O’Neil have the pedigree to eventually be defensive coordinators in the NFL.

The problem is Weaver and O’Neil have both worked with Pettine for some time now, and would likely be offered a position by Pettine if he was named a head coach elsewhere. My guess is whoever is not offered the defensive coordinator job by Pettine when he’s named a head coach somewhere else in the league down the road, should be the coach targeted to be promoted to defensive coordinator with Buffalo.

5 – Chris,

I had been looking forward to hearing Kiko Alonso’s name being announced as a Pro Bowler for 2 months now. How did his name NOT get called, given the season he had?????

Don (Bills/ Kiko fan),
Norwalk, CT
CB: I think we all know by now that it’s very difficult for rookies to get named to the Pro Bowl even with productive seasons. We often see them recognized the following year provided their production stays relatively the same. What also hurt Alonso’s chances was the team’s 6-10 record. The bottom line is in most cases more players are chosen from successful teams than those that finish under .500.

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Woods: I’ve learned my lesson

Posted by Chris Brown on December 23, 2013 – 1:52 pm

Bills WR Robert Woods was ejected from Sunday’s game after throwing a punch at Miami S Reshad Jones. He admitted he lost his cool and knows he can’t repeat that mistake.

“The play was over.  It was just one of those things where he was doing extra.  He felt it was necessary to push me after the play and throw me over the pile.  Of course you shouldn’t throw a punch in a football game, but if you’re playing outside the rules you sometimes just have to be a man,” said Woods. “I learned my lesson, can’t do it again.”

Woods said it’s the only time he’s ever been thrown out of a game in his career, and he expects to be hearing from Coach Marrone again after the two had an initial conversation Sunday after the game.

The NFL is also expected to hand down a fine to Woods. A game ejection for throwing a punch has cost NFL players $15,000 in the past.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiko still atop Kiper rookie ranks

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2013 – 4:43 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper has been ranking the rookies all season long and Kiko Alonso is still atop his rankings after a solid game again last Sunday.

Here’s what Kiper wrote about Alonso’s play this season.

1. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo Bills
While he doesn’t stay at No. 1 if you want to measure his value on impact per play, the total return is pretty significant here. Alonso has been on the field for well over 1,000 snaps this season because he plays all three downs, is third in the NFL with 137 total tackles — and given that tackle totals don’t tell you a ton, remember that Alonso is as good as almost any LB in the NFL in coverage. He need not apologize for a lack of dominance given the total return.

Kiper also listed EJ Manuel 26th among the rookies. Earning honorable mention were Robert Woods and Nickell Robey.

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Stevie, Woods expected to be ready post-bye

Posted by Chris Brown on November 18, 2013 – 4:22 pm

Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods were both unable to play in Sunday’s win over the Jets. With the benefit of the bye week this week however, head coach Doug Marrone is fully expecting to have both receivers back in the lineup in Week 13.

When asked if Johnson and Woods would be good to go coming off the bye, Marrone gave a terse response.

“I do, yes I do,” he said.

Johnson is recovering from a groin injury suffered at Pittsburgh in Week 10, while Woods has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 9 against the Chiefs.

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Bills have other options if just 4 WRs Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 14, 2013 – 2:48 pm

With Robert Woods already declared out and Stevie Johnson pretty iffy going into Sunday’s game with a groin injury, Bills head coach Doug Marrone is going to be a bit shorthanded at receiver against the Jets this weekend. When asked if he intends to elevate a receiver from the practice squad, Marrone indicated that would not a consideration this week.

“We talked about that, but no we’re not going to go in that direction,” said Marrone. “Obviously T.J. and Marquise have played quite a bit. We have Hogan. Easley played last week, and has done a nice job and played in the preseason. We have three tight ends now that have been active. We have two fullbacks that are active and one of them can run well. We have other options to turn to.”

Buffalo’s offense began to incorporate rookie TE Chris Gragg in the passing game and may give some time to recently signed H-back Evan Rodriguez.

Another option could be C.J. Spiller, who has been used at receiver in the past when injury has struck the position.

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Marrone: Woods won’t play Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 4:08 pm

He was leaning against playing rookie WR Robert Woods on Monday, now head coach Doug Marrone has made that decision official on Wednesday.

Woods did not practice Wednesday due to a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 9 against Kansas City. He missed last week’s game against Pittsburgh and will not play again this weekend against the Jets.

“I will say this Robert Woods is not going to play. I don’t feel good about that. Robert is not playing,” said Marrone.

The bye week sounds as though it played into Marrone’s decision. Knowing the team’s bye week is next week, it would make sense to rest Woods ankle again this week, knowing it would get rest again next week. That would afford the high ankle sprain a full three weeks off, which should give him a good chance to be ready to return for the Week 13 game against Atlanta in Toronto.

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Marrone leaning toward sitting Woods again

Posted by Chris Brown on November 11, 2013 – 2:18 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said they have a decision to make on WR Robert Woods, whose ankle injury is a high ankle sprain.

Marrone confirmed it’s a high ankle sprain, and that the ankle is still swollen.

The Bills head coach admitted that Woods has been an important part of the team’s offense this season. Though he hasn’t made a final decision on Woods’ status for Sunday, but said he’s leaning toward sitting him.

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Woods inactive

Posted by Chris Brown on November 10, 2013 – 11:38 am

Here are the Bills inactives including WR Robert Woods, who is out with an ankle injury.

QB Jeff Tuel
WR Robert Woods
CB Justin Rogers
RB Ronnie Wingo
CB Brandon Smith
LB Ty Powell
OL Antoine McClain

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Woods doubtful for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 8, 2013 – 12:32 pm

Bills WR Robert Woods was unable to practice for a third straight day with an ankle injury suffered last week. Bills head coach Doug Marrone isn’t optimistic, but isn’t giving up hope yet.

“Robert Woods did not participate,” said Marrone. “We’re bringing him on the trip, but I don’t feel good about him (playing). We’re going to see if we need to work him out or not Sunday morning to see if we can get him back.”

If Woods is unable to play it’ll be his first missed start this season.

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Marrone feeling good about Goodwin

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2013 – 2:05 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury suffered in the second half of last week’s game against Kansas City. But he was practicing Thursday albeit on a limited basis. Still, Goodwin’s participation left head coach Doug Marrone encouraged about his receiver’s chances for Sunday.

“Today I felt good,” said Marrone when asked about how Goodwin looked. “I think he’ll be ready to go from what I’ve seen today. Marquise Goodwin did practice today and I like what I saw and I feel good about that right now.”

Fellow WR Robert Woods did not practice for a second straight day due to an ankle injury.

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Goodwin participating, Woods absent

Posted by Chris Brown on November 7, 2013 – 11:49 am

Marquise Goodwin is in attendance at practice here on Thursday. He’s going through individual position drills right now.

We’ll have an update on his official practice participation post practice. Coach Marrone said he was likely to be limited today.

Fellow rookie WR Robert Woods is not in attendance for a second straight day due to an ankle injury.

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Goodwin could be limited Thursday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 3:47 pm

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin did not practice on Wednesday, but he did work on the side and head coach Doug Marrone think he could get some work on the practice field Thursday.

“Goodwin worked with the trainers today and (Thursday) he’ll be limited so I’ll have more information on him (Thursday),” said Marrone. “But I think that’s a good sign, but again it’s a hamstring so you have to wait until you go 100 percent on it before you know if he’s going to be able to play or not.”

Marrone is less optimistic about Robert Woods and his ankle injury.

“We’re going to see where we are with Woods,” Marrone said. “I don’t feel that good about Robert Woods being able to play.”

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WR plans with Woods, Goodwin up in air

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 3:45 pm

The prospects are not looking good for WR Robert Woods this week according to coach Marrone as he tries to recover from an ankle injury suffered in last week’s game. WR Marquise Goodwin appears to be further along, but he’s not a lock yet either for this Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. Head coach Doug Marrone provided an update on each of them and potential options should both rookie wideouts be unable to play.

“There are a couple of things you can do personnel-wise,” said Marrone. “It all depends on whether we want to do something on the inside or the outside. Goodwin coming back would obviously help and we’ll be fine. If not then we’ll have to look at Marcus Easley playing a little bit more, who is a little bit more of an outside player. Chris Hogan is a little bit more of an inside player for us right now. So those are the type of things that we would be looking at.”

At this point Marrone feels better about Goodwin’s prospects of playing than Woods.

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