Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 12-1

Posted by Chris Brown on December 1, 2017 – 12:37 pm

The first of two in a month against the Patriots coming up on Sunday. Here are your questions on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills and email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Which poison will the Bills pick on Sunday? Focus on stopping Gronk? Or focus on stopping Dion Lewis and the resurgent New England running game?

Parasauralophus
@lophus89

CB: I think they’ll try to make the Patriots offense as one dimensional as possible. But that’s hard for a number of reasons. Brady is a big reason, but the other key reason is New England has very effectively diversified their offense. They no longer rely primarily on a short passing game. Brandin Cooks gives them a deep threat for the first time since Randy Moss was running go routes for them.

That only enhances their short pass game by creating more space underneath.

Couple that with two very multi-faceted backs in Burkhead and Lewis and you quickly see the problem. They have answers for whatever aspect of their offense you focus your attention on neutralizing.

Take away Gronk, they’ll go to Cooks over the top.

Keep Cooks in front of you and don’t give up anything deep, and they nickel and dime you to death with the backs out of the backfield and Amendola on short crossers.

The best plan for Buffalo is to slow their run game, since aside from their three-game slide, they’ve done an excellent job of that. Then do what you can to slow Brady.

Even pressuring Brady has its pitfalls. He’s the highest-rated passer in the league under pressure with a rating over 100.

2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Shaq Lawson finally be a key factor in this game?

James Henderson
@jchenderson84

CB: I respect the tone of frustration here. The guy is a first-round pick and a pass rusher by trade. He also has Jerry Hughes, a respected pass rusher on the other side. It’s certainly logical to think that Lawson should be capable of having a greater impact on games from a pass rushing perspective.

Fact is it’s going to be difficult for any pass rusher to have a major impact on the game. The Dolphins last week hit Tom Brady a lot. They had a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception and still lost by 17 to the Patriots giving up 35 points.

I believe Lawson will be able to generate pressure at times. Heck, his first career sack was of Tom Brady. But take over the game is just not something I think he’s capable of at this point in his career.

Reason being is Lawson is a power rusher, not a speed rusher. And until Lawson capably develops counter moves to some of his favorite initial rushes, he’s not going to be consistently effective series in and series out. And that’s on Lawson to perfect those counter moves to be the best pass rusher he can be.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Milano ever see more time on the field?

Drew
@swampnone710

CB: I think that is happening incrementally from one week to the next. Since Ramon Humber returned to the lineup he’s been playing a rotational role.

The best part of his game right now is his speed and penetration into the offensive backfield on run plays. He’s very aggressive.

At this point, there are still a time or two where he gets crossed up by the offense particularly when they show a different look. Knowing the Patriots are pros at targeting inexperienced players and isolating them, the Bills will need to be judicious with their usage of Milano.

His time is coming, but to expect to see him out there a ton might have to wait until next season. He needs more experience, which I realize you get by playing, but that is why they’re sprinkling him in without exposing his lack of experience at the cost of the defense.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think 9-7 will be good enough to make the playoffs

Darek
@drock252

CB: This year in the AFC, I do think 9-7 will be good enough to get to the playoffs. The main reason being that you have three teams with five losses already and two of them hold playoff spots (KC, Balt.). There are also three teams with six losses, two of which are in the AFC West with the Chiefs in the Raiders and Chargers. Cincinnati is the other.

With five games to play and none of these teams playing great football right now, it’s hard to believe one or two of them is going to run the table the rest of the way. In fact, they’re all likely to lose one or two games at least. That would put a couple of these teams in a situation where they’ll be in contention for a playoff spot with seven losses.

The key for Buffalo is not to fall into a tie with either Cincinnati or Los Angeles for the obvious reason that they would lose out on the head-to-head tiebreaker to those clubs.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills
I’m sure neither would admit it publicly but do you think Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott now regret any of the players they either traded, cut or did not re-sign? Zach Brown and Robert Woods are two that come to mind.

Rick McGuire
@mclennon99

CB: I don’t believe in the positions that both Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott hold that you can ever have regret for the kind of calls they have to make unless they feel it was handled poorly. The actual move or in the two players you’ve referenced, non-move, is a decision they are willing to live with for all of its pluses and minuses.

With Woods, the issue there was the money he was going to command on the open market. The Bills were simply not going to pay $8M a season for Woods.

As for Zach Brown, there’s no debate he’s a wildly productive player, but it’s my understanding that in his sit-down with coach McDermott prior to free agency, when he was still under contract to the Bills, that they didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things.

Brown is a bit of a loose cannon as a teammate. He also got into shouting matches with former head coach Rex Ryan after games. Last year’s Chiefs game in particular. Whether Brown was right or wrong with his argument with Ryan is immaterial. The fact that he did it in front of the rest of the team and undermined his coach’s authority is just something that would not fly with the new regime.

That’s what I admire about coach McDermott. He’s not afraid to part ways with a talented player if he doesn’t fit the mold of the player type he needs to win his way.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Glenn out for Sunday, Lawson questionable

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2017 – 1:32 pm

BBSP_6162_Injury-Report-by-UBMD---Excel-Header

It was widely anticipated that Bills OT Cordy Glenn would not be able to play this Sunday after failing to practice all week. That was confirmed Friday with the release of the team’s injury report.

Tyrod Taylor’s blind side protector was listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. That means that rookie OT Dion Dawkins will make his second straight start on Sunday in Atlanta.

Meanwhile the situation is more up in the air on DE Shaq Lawson. Lawson, who sustained a groin injury in practice Thursday, did not practice on Friday and head coach Sean McDermott indicated that he’s likely to be a game time decision.

If he can’t go Eddie Yarbrough is expected to start with Ryan Davis rotating in at left defensive end.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Groin injury adds Lawson to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2017 – 2:53 pm

Shaq Lawson was added to the Bills injury report Thursday with a groin injury. Lawson told Buffalobills.com that it’s been sore more than anything else, but he was pulled from practice early on Thursday to avoid making things worse.

“It’s just been sore,” Lawson said. “I think I’ll be alright.”

Lawson, who has a sack in each of his last two games against NFC opponents, is looking to make it three in a row on Sunday against Atlanta. His likelihood of playing against the Falcons will be listed in the team’s Friday injury report.

In the meantime here is where things stand following Thursday’s practice, with Marcell Dareus a full practice participant.

DID NOT PRACTICE
OT Cordy Glenn – ankle/foot

LIMITED IN PRACTICE
DE Shaq Lawson – groin

FULL PRACTICE
DT Marcell Dareus – ankle
DT Jerel Worthy – concussion
RB LeSean McCoy – wrist

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dareus held out of practice, Glenn returns

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2017 – 3:11 pm

Head coach Sean McDermott expressed concern about Marcell Dareus’ availability for Sunday’s game after suffering an ankle injury last weekned. Dareus missed a second straight day of practice on Thursday.

The only other player who did not participate in practice Thursday was DT Jerel Worthy, who remains in the concussion protocol.

The good news is Cordy Glenn returned to practice from an ankle injury suffered in last week’s game. Glenn was limited. The key will be how he feels Friday morning and whether he can practice a second straight day.

Shaq Lawson also returned to practice from a nerve contusion in his foot, but was limited.

WR Kaelin Clay was added to the injury report as a limited participant Thursday as he had to step out of practice with a foot injury. TE Nick O’Leary was another new addition with a hamstring injury and was limited.

BBSP_6162_Injury-Report-by-UBMD---Excel-Header

Here’s the full report for Thursday.

DID NOT PRACTICE
DT Marcell Dareus – ankle
DT Jerel Worthy – concussion

LIMITED PRACTICE
S Colt Anderson – foot
WR Kaelin Clay – foot
OT Cordy Glenn – foot/ankle
LB Deon Lacey – hamstring
DE Shaq Lawson – foot
TE Nick O’Leary – hamstring

FULL PRACTICE
TE Charles Clay – knee
RB LeSean McCoy – wrist
LB Matt Milano – hamstring

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Clay, Milano limited in practice

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2017 – 3:16 pm

The big news Wednesday was how Marcell Dareus and Cordy Glenn were both sidelined at practice due to ankle injuries. But a couple of key special teamers and Buffalo’s starting tight end also were unable to practice fully.

Charles Clay, Matt Milano and Colt Anderson were all limited in practice Wednesday. LB Deon Lacey was also limited. Here’s a look at Buffalo’s full injury report.

BBSP_6162_Injury-Report-by-UBMD---Excel-Header

DID NOT PRACTICE
LB Lorenzo Alexander – rest
DT Marcell Dareus – ankle
OT Cordy Glenn – foot/ankle
DE Shaq Lawson – foot
RB LeSean McCoy – rest
DT Jerel Worthy – concussion

LIMITED IN PRACTICE
S Colt Anderson – foot
TE Charles Clay – knee
LB Deon Lacey – hamstring
LB Matt Milano – hamstring


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Webb the best Cam, Bills ‘D’ could ask for

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2017 – 9:16 am

Bills QB Joe Webb is unlikely to see action at quarterback on Sunday against Carolina. He will play on special teams, as he served on kick return and some other units last Sunday. But some of Webb’s best work at quarterback came in practice this week to help Buffalo’s defense prepare for Cam Newton.

Each week coaches try to find the player for the scout team that offers the most realistic look of the opponent, including the player skill set if possible. Joe Webb was a perfect match to play Cam Newton for Buffalo’s defense in practice this week for a few reasons.

First, Webb isn’t much smaller than Newton at 6-5 and 220 pounds. He has an athletic skill set like Newton and he knows the Carolina offense having been immersed in it the better part of the last three years.

As the week came to a close, Buffalo’s defensive players felt as prepared as possible for what Newton can do based on the looks Webb gave  them on the scout team offense in practice.

“Joe gave us a good look man,” said Shaq Lawson. “Joe has been with those guys. He knows how Cam practices. He knows him inside and out. Joe gave us a great look at practice all week and prepared us the best we could. So I thank Joe for that. Joe is a special player. He can do it all. I’ve never seen a guy who can play quarterback, special teams and receiver in the NFL. He’s great.”

Webb appreciated the positive feedback, but as much as his imitation of Newton helped with preparation, Webb knows it’s still on Buffalo’s defense to make the plays.

“In the end our defense has to make the plays in the game no matter how good the look is in practice, they’ve got to see it and recognize it in the game,” said Webb. “I just did my best to be him this week. I’m just trying to help my defense get in the best position.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How coach McDermott looks at padded practices

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2017 – 12:09 pm

Bills head coach Sean McDermott was certainly excited to see the pads on his players in practice Saturday. In his estimation it’s where some of the best player evaluation can take place.

(Saturday) the truth serum is on the table because the pads come on,” he said. “You want to be patient with the evaluation this time just because it’s been to this point two-hand touch like I mentioned.”

The line play up front in particular can be more accurately evaluated and McDermott likes what he’s seen from his starting edge rushers thus far.

“With respect to Shaq, I think he’s done a phenomenal job, you know,” McDermott said. “You wish he had all of last season under his belt. He has the injury there and the challenge, but the way he’s attacked that, the way he’s attacked the offseason and I like what he and Jerry [Hughes] are doing on the opposite sides of each other. They’re coming off the ball well, they’re aggressive. With the system, he’s getting a feel for the system and those two are fun to watch. Those guys are coming off the ball with a lot of twitch and when you can do that up front, that sets the tone for everything else behind it.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kelso: Roles for Hughes & Lawson will change

Posted by Chris Brown on January 12, 2017 – 2:22 pm

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com today, there will be some changes under new head coach Sean McDermott for Buffalo’s defense. Not only will it be the seventh new scheme in nine years, but players will be on the move in terms of their role in the new system. Chief among them the outside linebackers in the previous system.

Bills radio analyst and former safety Mark Kelso, explained how decisions must be made on players like Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson and free agents to be Zach Brown and Lorenzo Alexander.

“From a personnel standpoint who is going to be a defensive end now,” Kelso asked. “Is Jerry Hughes now considered a defensive end? He might be a little light on the outside, but you’re probably not going to make him an outside linebacker because then he would be off the ball. He’s a pass rusher that needs to be on the ball. Shaq Lawson would be a defensive end in that scheme, which means he’ll be defending on the line of scrimmage most of the time and not dropping into coverage.”

Hughes did enjoy a pair of 10-sack seasons in 4-3 schemes with the Bills.

Kelso also said that Zach Brown would be a good fit as a weak side linebacker if the Bills can re-sign him.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Shift in Bills OLB rotation

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2016 – 12:19 pm

With Shaq Lawson now up to speed with Buffalo’s defense his play time saw a sharp spike in Week 14 against the Steelers when he made his first NFL start. In that game he got 46 snaps for 61 percent of the playing time. But as part of the three-man OLB rotation, Lawson saw that play time drop off this past Sunday.

Lawson got just 19 snaps, playing just 33 percent of the defensive plays. He contributed a tackle and a forced fumble in the winning effort.

The lion’s share of the work went to veteran Lorenzo Alexander, who rewarded the defensive staff, tying for the team lead in tackles with seven, 1.5 sacks and a pair of QB hits. He played 58 snaps on defense.

Jerry Hughes got 43 snaps for 74 percent of the work on defense, and had three tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit.

Last week the snap counts went as follows.
Alexander – 54 snaps (72%)
Lawson – 46 snaps (61%)
Hughes – 30 snaps (40%)


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lawson: Everyone in locker room believes

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2016 – 2:33 pm

Bills fans may not be too high on the team’s prospects for reaching the playoffs. Despite a gut wrenching loss at Oakland last week, the players in Buffalo’s locker room are resolute in their belief that they can make a run at the postseason with four games to play.

OLB Shaq Lawson, in an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, admitted that they got comfortable as a team when they went up 15 against the Raiders.

“We didn’t push it down their throat like we should have,” said Lawson. “We’ve got to learn how to answer when the other team scores.”

Nevertheless Lawson maintains that the locker room is unified in winning this week and every week after that until the end.

“Everybody in that locker room still believes we’ve got a shot,” said Lawson. “We’ve got to win out. So we have to win the next four games starting with Sunday. We’ve got to treat every game like a playoff game. I know a lot of people are counting us out, but we don’t pay that any mind. We know what we’ve got to do.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-2

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2016 – 11:32 am

Another must win game on Sunday in Oakland. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills
With the Bills depleted secondary and Oakland’s vertical threat and strong O-Line, what can Bills D do to stop Carr and O?

@BuffSportsFan90
CB: The best defense this week is going to be a good offense. Buffalo should be able to run effectively against the league’s 26th ranked run defense. Hopefully that allows the Bills to put together long sustained drives. Converting on third down will be critical to holding onto the ball and limiting Oakland’s possessions.

That’s how the Chiefs beat the Raiders back in Week 6. They held onto the ball for almost 37 minutes and gave the Raiders just 10 total possessions. Teams usually get about 12 per game.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills With so many upcoming free agents how are the @buffalobills with cap space?

Bob Refermat
@lostnascarfan

CB: You’re right. At last count the Bills will have 23 players set to become unrestricted free agents. That obviously takes a lot of contracts off the books for Buffalo. Remember that room under the salary cap is always a moving target. But last I checked for 2017 the Bills are a little more than $20M under the cap.

If they pick up the option on Tyrod Taylor that will obviously impact the cap significantly. We’ll see what their plans are in terms of re-signing their own or pursuing a free agent on the market, but Taylor’s option will play a major role in how aggressive they are in free agency.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills How is Cardale Jones doing? He is likely the number 2 qb next year correct?

Patmerica
@PatBle

CB: Jones is really trying to build his game from the ground up to better fit the NFL game. From footwork, to set up to his delivery. How he scans the field, keeps his feet active, reading defenses pre-snap. Bills QBs coach David Lee has worked tirelessly with Jones to try to develop his game.

The Bills saw this year as a redshirt year for Jones. Lee has him come in early and throw with a couple of receivers early in the week and late in the week after Friday practices. On Thursdays he’ll have him review his Wednesday and Thursday practice tape and go over fundamentals.

They’re working mainly on his intermediate accuracy, his footwork and arm mechanics.

I know the offensive staff has a lot of respect for EJ’s game. Lee said on the John Murphy Show this week that he thinks Manuel’s confidence is at an all-time high and that he’s been ripping it in practice.

Knowing his contract is up, the likelihood of Manuel being back with the team is completely up in the air.

Clearly Tyrod Taylor is the bigger issue to address with his option year at the quarterback position, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Manuel found work elsewhere and Cardale Jones was the backup for 2017.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills

How limited will Sammy be on Sunday? And how will Rex manage playing time between Lorenzo shaq and Hughes?

Justin Trottier
@justintrotts1

CB: Watkins’ availability is going to largely be based on how the foot feels as the game wears on. So it’s a wait and see on the size of his role Sunday. I will say that I think it is beneficial that the game is on grass, which is a more forgiving surface on the body.

As for managing time between Shaq, Alexander and Hughes, the staff tried address that last week against the Jaguars. The defensive staff wants to play Shaq more and cut back on Alexander’s defensive snaps, so they’re able to use him on special teams as well.

Alexander really shouldn’t have much more than 55-60 snaps combined between defense and special teams. Last week he had 70, so again he was over the threshold of where they’d probably like to be with him, knowing he’s 33 and the oldest player on the team.

Shaq’s snap count wound up being identical to that of the Cincinnati game. He got 21 snaps in both. Part of the reason is both games were tightly fought contests and in tight spots you want to go with an experienced player that you can trust. Lawson is still learning the pro game.

Remember he missed the entire offseason on the field. That’s OTAs, minicamp, training camp, the preseason and the first six games of the season. Lawson bit hard on a read option fake, didn’t hold the edge and let Blake Bortles run for a first down and more. Those kinds of plays makes defensive coaches hesitant to use him more as opposed to Alexander, who is one of the smarter players on the team.

Knowing the importance of each game the rest of the way they’d like to use Shaq more because he’s talented, but until he can show an ability to play sound, disciplined assignment football he might be reduced to just passing downs to rush the passer.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Why aren’t they using Reggie Bush out of back field, swing passes, screen passes, with all WR injuries?

TomLarsen/TheInsDoc
@tomlarsen

CB: It’s a valid question. I thought when they signed Reggie Bush that he would be a specialty player that would be used in an 8-12 play package every week on offense. He could be split out as a receiver, line up in a split backfield with McCoy or return kicks and punts. The signing of Brandon Tate largely eliminated his return duties.

He’s been used sparingly as a receiver and back. I do believe they could make greater use of their ‘Pony’ package, which is their split backfield with McCoy and another tailback. But for whatever reason they have only used it occasionally.

It’s clear they prefer Mike Gillislee, who is a much better north-south runner and capable of fighting for the tough yard. Rookie Jonathan Williams is also better in that regard.

Bush is a player best used in space, which is why they could make use of him in a receiving role knowing the amount of injuries they have at that position right now.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-21

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2016 – 11:28 am

Big division game this week. Good to see McCoy practicing here on Friday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

What is the plan for Zach Brown after the season? He’s played at such a high level, any plans to re-sign him?

COLIN SCHULTZ
@Schultzy0620

CB: At the rate he is performing I would be stunned if the club didn’t make efforts to re-sign Zach Brown. He’s currently on a one-year contract. Brown has proven himself as a valuable every down player. Even though Reggie Ragland will be back in the fold next season, Brown is simply too versatile and plays well off of Preston Brown inside.

Even if the team was to start Ragland next year, I would expect Brown to play a role in the subpackages knowing how strong he is as a coverage player. So I’d look for the Bills to make every effort to keep him in the fold.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Any plans to get Justin Hunter more involved in the offense?

Natalie Roberts
@nr_roberts

CB: I would say that’s a given more out of necessity than anything else. Hunter is a big target who can run. As the offensive coaches have said they’re working on Hunter’s sense of urgency, more so in practice, to do everything the same way that he does in a game so he’s as prepared as possible. As he gets more and more familiar with the offensive scheme I would expect his role to increase provided he continues to perform.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

With Sammy out and Woods being banged up, any chance Bills make a deal for a WR before trade deadline? Alshon Jeffery?

Bills_Chick
@Bills_Chick

CB: While I would never rule out a trade knowing Doug Whaley’s willingness to listen to just about any offer, I don’t see Jeffery as a viable option. First, he’s way too expensive. He’s playing on the franchise tag this year at $14.55M. So he’s going to be expecting giant money after this year.

I would also expect the Bears to ask for a king’s ransom knowing they need to rebuild that roster with talent. Chicago has one of the weakest rosters in terms of talent in the NFL (San Fran and Cleveland are the others). And to trade away assets for a guy you may only have for 10 games is not a wise move.

Buffalo is winning right now with the pieces they have. If that changes pursuing a trade might become a more realistic option for them. They have until Nov. 1st with the trade deadline pushed back a couple of weeks from where it used to be.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Good lord! This is week 3 for Dareus and the hammy? Is it really the hammy or is he just badly out of shape? Weird

Joe bach@jbach127

CB: I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor or an athletic trainer, but I have pulled my hamstrings multiple times in my more athletic days as a college athlete. I can tell you that hamstring pulls can sometimes take up to four or five weeks before the muscle tissue has healed to the point where they can withstand the burst in acceleration needed in athletic competition.

Here’s what you have to understand. A hamstring pull or strain will feel fine when a recovering player is jogging or slowly builds up their speed. That doesn’t happen in an NFL game, maybe ever. It is a game played in five to 10 second increments where linemen go from an idle stance to 100 miles per hour in a second.

Dareus’ entire game as a defensive lineman is based on explosion or instant acceleration.

A hamstring pull becomes vulnerable when the athlete makes a sudden burst to get to a ball or take down a ball carrier in Dareus’ case. It’s the demand put on the hamstring muscle when a burst of speed is made that it can pull again if not completely healed.

Dareus has to explode out of his stance about 50 times a game, so his hamstring muscle has to be healed number one, and then have enough strength and endurance built back into the muscle before he can go out and play 50 snaps at top speed. Otherwise it will pull again and you’re looking at another three to five weeks with him on the sideline.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills what can we expect from Shaq?

Adam Smolka
@A_Smolka_17

CB: I think we can expect to see Shaq Lawson play a decent amount of snaps, maybe 20-30 if I had to guess. He’s apparently been pretty impressive in practice this week. I know he had an interception on a pass to the flat in practice Wednesday. If he comes out like a house on fire, it could be more.

Knowing Lerentee McCray is coming off a knee injury I would anticipate that Lawson could get some of his snaps that he gets rotating in for Alexander and Hughes, even if McCray is dressed and able to play.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Why Shaq is familiar with the defense

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2016 – 5:28 pm

Bills top draft choice Shaq Lawson took part in his first practice Wednesday as he was full go. And by most accounts he was consistent with the execution of his assignments. Lawson explained why.

“I’ve been involved with the defense from day one since I got hurt,” he said. “Jerry (Hughes) and Kyle Williams have been helping me through the process since I had surgery. So when I came out here today I felt like I was picking things up fast. I knew what to do and the installs that we had today. So those older guys were helping me.”

Hughes has been a sounding board for Lawson since he was drafted and has been mentoring the first-round pick since the spring.


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Lawson anxious to get career started

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2016 – 11:15 am

He’s had to wait an extra six months to work with teammates and begin his NFL career. Today he’ll hit the practice field with the Bills for the first time since his shoulder surgery. Over the past six months he has been in player meetings so he’s up to date on the scheme. According to the vets on the defensive side of the ball, he’s about as eager as a rookie could be to play again.

“For sure. I just see him when he’s in there getting treatment he’s always asking us questions. He tells me he’s watching the game and how excited he is. So when you hear that and that he’s paying attention and watching us on TV and everything he’s seeing and how exciting the defense looks. When you hear that you know he’s really anxious and that’s cool. He’s young and eager to join us.”


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Rex: Shaq might need week or so to be game ready

Posted by Chris Brown on October 17, 2016 – 8:18 pm

Shaq Lawson will practice this week according to head coach Rex Ryan, but playing in his first NFL game this week might be a tall order. Here’s why.

Lawson is still on the Reserve/PUP list and can remain there as the team has a three week window in which to let him practice before they have to decide when they want to add him to the active roster. He could be added to the 53 as early as this week, but playing on Sunday in Miami after just three or four days of NFL practices under his belt seems like a big ask.

Ryan gave indication of that when asked what kind of role can be expected of Lawson this week with the Dolphins on tap.

“I don’t know if we can say for this week, but I think moving forward I think is get in there give some, spell some guys, and then maybe can he play in the sub team,” Ryan said. “Can he do different things? We are going to find out. We know he is a really good talent and I think combined with the players that we have, I think it will be good. I think as far as saying well is he a starter, well no he is not going to start now. I think Lorenzo Alexander has earned that. But we are going to work Shaq in there now.”

This week of practice will likely be designed to get his feet wet, let him physically rep plays and see where he fits best in terms of an initial role. Then as he gets on the field on game days and gains more experience and a feel for playing with his new teammates they can find ways to expand his role as long as he’s making progress.

Lawson missed all of the team’s OTA practices, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. He had one rookie minicamp practice out of pads before he underwent shoulder surgery. So it’s fair to think that it will take a week or so to get him back up to game speed and in some form of game shape. If I were to guess, I’d say seeing him make his debut in Week 8 is probably more likely than this Sunday in Miami.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-14

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2016 – 11:15 am

Week 6 and the Bills are going for four in a row. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills was Reggie Ragland outperforming Zach Brown at camp, or was he slated to start due to the resources invested in him?

@Bills_Chick

CB: Reggie Ragland was one of the most instinctive run defending rookies I’ve seen at the linebacker position in a while. Ragland has a much more physical game than Zach Brown and I think that’s what was most appealing to the defensive staff. I believe even if Ragland was healthy that Brown would’ve seen time on obvious passing downs due to his coverage ability.

Ragland out of the gate was probably one of the two best run defending linebackers on the roster with Preston Brown. That’s why he was in the starting lineup.

 

2 –@ChrisBrownBills Sir when you can, please let us fans know when Shaq going to play & Listenbee?

@buffsyear70

CB: I fully anticipate that Shaq Lawson will begin practicing with the team next week, but to think he’s going to play at Miami next Sunday after three or four days of practice I believe is a bit unrealistic, even though head coach Rex Ryan talked about Lawson playing right away in Week 7.

We have to remember that Lawson did not participate in a single team practice. His shoulder required surgery after a rookie minicamp practice. He’s never been on the field with any of the other players on defense. He’s never physically repped this defensive scheme with teammates, let alone at game speed.

I would expect him to at least get a couple of weeks of practice in before they begin to blend him into the defensive rotation. My guess would be the New England game provided he comes along and executes consistently in practice.

As for Listenbee, Ryan expressed doubt that he would be practicing any time soon. Here was his comment on Wednesday this week about Listenbee’s availability to practice.

“I don’t have the confidence with that as I do with Shaq,” Ryan said.

Listenbee has had some setbacks in his recovery from double sports hernia surgery. Every case is different and it appears that Listenbee’s recovery is going to take a little longer. If his inability to practice stretches beyond Week 10 then he won’t see the field at all this season.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills open up the passing game more this week? Don’t remember too many deep throws past couple weeks

@A_Smolka_17

CB: The only deep shots I remember was the overthrow to Woods when he had his man beat down the left sideline in the second half last week and there was another to Goodwin that didn’t connect. I’d like to think there will be a couple more just to loosen up the defense. The 49ers though are really struggling to stop the run, so their weakness on defense kind of plays into Buffalo’s hands, so don’t expect the ball to be flying all that much.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s up with Aaron Williams? Didn’t he leave last week’s game with a shoulder injury?

J Christensen-Sharpe@Snowbird_Killer

CB: Last week Aaron Williams left the game with what was reported by the team as a shoulder injury and he was questionable to return. But on the next defensive series Williams was back at his safety position and finished the game.

This week he has an ankle injury and has been limited in practice, but is expected to start.

5 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see an increased role for Bush anytime soon or are his days in Buffalo possibly numbered?

Nathan Bonner@NateB422

CB: They have certain packages in the offense designed with Reggie Bush in mind, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to make use of those to this point. I wouldn’t go so far as to say his days are numbered. I think he’s good insurance behind LeSean McCoy because he’s the only back on the roster that can do some of what McCoy can do.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-7

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2016 – 11:33 am

The first of three west coast trips for the Bills this season for Sunday’s game at L.A. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Does Justin Hunter have a chance to play? He is big and fast

Vince Tracy@theturk47

CB: I expect Hunter to be active on game day Sunday. You’re right he is tall and fast. Having only practiced with the team for four days, and only being exposed to the playbook for about a week, I would anticipate just a package of plays for Hunter against the Rams. Perhaps just the red zone if they get down there or some other situational parts of the game. A full workload I think is a little ambitious with as new as he is to the club.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills How are the Bills able to bring Lawson & Sammy back from IR? I thought u could only bring 1 from preseason IR.

Chet Spoonley@chetehc

CB: Lawson was on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, which carries a completely different set of rules for returning to the active roster. Beginning in Week 7 the Bills have a three week window in which they can take a player on PUP and let him begin practicing. The first day he practices starts the 21-day window in which the team must decide whether to add him to the active roster or leave him on said reserve list for the remainder of the season.

Watkins being on injured reserve can be chosen as a player to re-activate to the 53-man roster after he’s been on I-R for eight weeks. I’m not overly optimistic that will happen, but we’ll see where things stand in about a month.
3 – Chris,

It seems to me that we’ve heard almost nothing about John Miller this off-season. Normally this is a good thing for offensive linemen. Your opinion please.

William S.

CB: Miller has fared well for the most part this season. His teammates acknowledge he is making progress and improving his consistency. He’s got a supreme test this week in Aaron Donald, who will line up opposite both him and Richie Incognito at times. Low to the ground and quick, Donald can wreck a game. A matchup worth watching this week.

 

4 – Chris,

My question is about Jonathan Williams. He really impressed me in the preseason, reminds me a little bit of Fred Jackson. When do you expect him to make a push for some carries? I really think he would make a great compliment to Shady now. To me, if Reggie Bush isn’t returning punts or kickoffs we don’t have much of a use for him.

Joe Roberts

Orlando, Fl

CB: Jonathan Williams did have an encouraging preseason. Had great contact balance and usually falls forward. Underrated as a pass catcher. This season, much like it is for Cardale Jones, might be like a redshirt year. He’s got guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s got to master all the responsibilities of being a running back, including blitz pickup more than anything.

Coaches have to know they can trust him and he’s got to show he can do more and offer more than the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

 

5 – Hi, Chris —

Two years ago as a rookie Cyril Richardson (because of other circumstances) got some starts at guard and did some decent, if not memorable, work.  Last year his performance fell off noticeably and he didn’t play much.  This year he couldn’t even make the team.

Any insights into this decline?  Was he not an NFL-level talent to begin with?

Thanks,
Jim D.

CB: Cyril Richardson was drafted when Doug Marrone was head coach of the team and they wanted to employ a smash mouth drive defensive linemen off the ball type run game. Cyril Richardson is a player capable of doing that. But when the scheme changed with the new staff, Richardson was no longer a fit.

This is a run game that features pulling guards to kick out and lead block and get to the second level. Richardson never had the feet to execute that. He was no longer a fit for the type of offense the Bills run.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: Manny Lawson expected back for Wk 1

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2016 – 4:05 pm

He’s been on the Active/Non-Football Injury list since the start of training camp. Manny Lawson suffered an upper body injury in a personal workout just a few days before camp. He’ll be sidelined for a while, but according to an AP report he’ll be ready to play Week 1 of the regular season.

Lawson told the AP he has a partially torn pectoral muscle. The injury occurred when he was bench pressing during a workout. Lawson is being counted on to start at right outside linebacker in place of rookie first-round pick Shaq Lawson, who is expected to miss the first part of the regular season following surgery to repair a labrum in his shoulder.

How much practice time or preseason game time Manny Lawson sees between now and Week 1 is still undetermined.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-17

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2016 – 11:36 am

Spring practices have come to a close. Just six weeks until training camp. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Dez Lewis secured a place on the roster? And does he have any exp of kick/punt returning? #bills

Dave G@freshie1975

CB: We will have a feature story on Dez Lewis this Monday on how he has advanced his game entering his second season. I think if Lewis continues on his current path he will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster. But what he did in the spring has to continue in training camp when the pads go on, especially for a 6-4 receiver like Lewis. In fact Lewis’ game should go up another notch knowing how he can assert his physicality on the field. Hopefully that proves to be the case. As I wrote today in ‘What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices’ he has the inside track on the No. 3 receiver role.

His punt/kick return experience is minimal. He had just two punt returns in college and no kick returns.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills how serious is Karlos’s weight issue. Have Gilislee and J Williams over taken him in terms of a roster spot#bills

Dave G@freshie1975

CB: There is no debating that Karlos has a formidable task in front of him. He has so much weight to lose that Rex Ryan said this week that getting him back to his playing weight by the start of training camp might be too much in too short a period of time.

His weight loss has to come in stages. So in late July when players report it’s unlikely that Williams will be at his playing weight of 230 pounds. Depending on what his report weight is Williams practice regimen could be limited to avoid the risk of injury. When you’re carrying excess weight, especially at a position like running back you’re risk of injury increases significantly, with hamstrings being the most susceptible to problems.

So I would expect a similar approach early in camp with Williams where he’s doing individual position drill work and then going to the side to work with the strength and conditioning staff to continue to shed weight.

As for the running back pecking order, it’s clear that the offensive staff is high on Jonathan Williams. In minicamp with LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury keeping him out of team work and Karlos Williams weight keeping him out of team work, Jonathan Williams was first in the rotation at the position followed by Mike Gillislee.

Jonathan Williams has a lot of the same physical skills of Karlos Williams. If Karlos Williams’ weight loss process last into the preseason I think it’s very possible that Jonathan Williams is your backup running back and Gillislee remains the third back as he was last season.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Kyle Williams will be more effective in a shared rotational role with Adolphus Washington?

i carn’t spel@NickTheCrowe

CB: I believe that Kyle Williams will still be a starter on this defensive line in 2016. Will he play as many snaps as Marcell Dareus or Adolphus Washington? Probably not. But I expect him to start at right defensive end next to Dareus and kick inside at times on obvious passing downs. Washington will man left defensive end with Dareus on the nose.

It’s my belief that Williams is still a very effective and productive player even at 33-years old. I suppose we won’t know for sure until we see how he looks in training camp in return from a bad knee injury that required surgery. But most seem to forget this guy is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. He’s a grinder. So I don’t see a rotational role for him unless that knee injury robbed him of his trademark explosiveness off the snap.

 

4 – Chris,

Does it concern you that Rex is simplifying his scheme to appease his players?  It concerns me that we won’t be running the same system that has such a long track record of success, because players aren’t smart enough to pick it up.  How did the Jets defense pick it up in the first year, but here we are in year two in Buffalo and they have to simplify the checks.  Not very encouraging.  Maybe this team needs to put a greater premium on intelligence, like Belichick does; you have to be a college graduate to be a Patriot.

Mike S.

CB: After talking to Preston Brown about that very thing I’m not concerned. I asked Brown directly as to whether the defensive scheme has been pared down. He said the only part of the defense that has been “altered slightly” (his words) is there aren’t quite as many pre-snap checks on certain down and distances. Otherwise Ryan’s defensive scheme is largely the same.

The key difference this year is Ryan is no longer blending elements of the old Jim Schwartz scheme from 2014. Rex tried to blend elements of Schwartz’s successful scheme in 2014 with his own as an olive branch to the defensive players who were successful and productive in that system. By midseason he knew it was a mistake.

So going into this season it’s Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 system that has a proven track record in this league for 15-plus years. What’s more the players have completely committed themselves to learning the scheme. So I would not be concerned about the effectiveness of Rex’s scheme. I think it will work with a lot more success this season for the reasons mentioned above.

 

5 – Dear Chris:

Thank you for all of your coverage that you do on the Bills day after day, hope you continue the game day chat box, very helpful.

My question is regarding Shaq Lawson; is there a timetable for his return as of yet? What for surgery/operation was done on his shoulder? Could he potentially miss the start of the regular season and most of training camp, as reports I have read so far have indicated, or could he potentially rehab his heart out in time to make the end of training camp, as shoulder injuries can take time to heal. This is very much concerning me as I have not much info on how long it could be until he gets back to full health.

Sincerely
John from Pennsylvania

CB: I think the most important thing is that Shaq’s surgery was successful. Now the rehab process begins, but rehabbing from this procedure is going to take time, typically four months or more knowing each case is different. So I believe it’s likely that Lawson misses training camp and the preseason. The team has stated he’s also likely to miss the early stages of the regular season.

What benefits the Bills coaching staff is they have time to adjust their plans for the loss of Lawson from their defensive lineup. It’s reasonable to believe he’ll be good to go for at least the second half of the season. At what point in the first half of the season he returns is a timetable that can’t be pinned down until he’s further along in the rehab process.


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Posted in Inside the Bills