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Inside The Bills

Talk with Fisher continue

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2011 – 12:17 am

Bills CEO Russ Brandon continued discussions about a contract extension with St. John Fisher as the training camp home of the Bills for the foreseeable future on Saturday night.

“We’re continuing discussions,” said Brandon. “I met with (SJF President) Dr. Bain tonight and we’re going to meet with him again on Wednesday, but we’re thinking within the next month we’ll have an extension done to be there long term.”

The reconfigured grass fields are what posed a big problem for the team and coaching staff this summer. Brandon is confident that issued has been resolved based on his discussions with the college.

“We’ve come to a pretty good consensus on what we need to get done there, and I don’t think the field will be an issue anymore,” he said. “I think we’re pretty pleased with what they’ve done.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brandon: New Fisher agreement soon

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2011 – 3:48 pm

At the close of Bills training camp at St. John Fisher, Bills CEO Russ Brandon stated that while the agreement between the team and the school is expiring, he’s optimistic that a new agreement will be in place in short order.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions over the last month and the long and short of it is I think we’re close again on an agreement for St. John Fisher to be the summer home of the Bills for many, many years to come,” said Brandon.

There was the issue of addressing the limited grass field space, as the construction of a new all weather track dramatically reduced the green space that previously housed two full grass football fields. Chan Gailey and his staff were stuck with a pair of 50-yard fields instead.

“We’ve been talking about just that,” said Brandon. “How can we work through the field conditions that we had. We made it work. It was not ideal, but we think we have a solution moving forward and at the appropriate time we’ll talk to everybody about that. But we feel very comfortable that we’ll be here for many, many years to come.”


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Fan Friday running Q&A

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2011 – 7:07 pm

Good evening Bills fans. Glad you could join me. As promised I’m going to be answering your training camp questions here tonight. So you know you can still submit your questions to my email account at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. I’ll be submitting as many of those questions with answers as possible below, so keep refreshing this page as I’ll be adding answers as I move through them. Hopefully your question or one very similar to your question gets answered tonight, otherwise I’ll get to your question in a future Fan Friday post or answer it personally. Just understand training camp is my busiest time of year, so I’ll get back to you as best I can. Thanks for your participation. Let’s get to your questions.

1 - Chris, 

How will the CB battle shape up in camp? In there a set starter or is the position up for grabs. With Drayton back does that push Aaron Williams to 4th slot. I liked Justin Rogers alot when they drafted him. It would be a waste for him not to play or even get cut due to 4 guys ahead of him. How many will the Bills keep on the opening day roster. 
Thanks 
Jack S.
 
CB: I think right now the entrenched starters are Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence. McGee has looked like his old self and the defensive staff has even experimented with him in the slot. I believe the top three are pretty much locked down with McKelvin being the third man in right now. Aaron Williams would need to have an amazing preseason to dislodge one of those guys from the top spot and Reggie Corner is primarily a slot guy, but those are the top 5. Williams got off to a great start, but with more installation he’s fallen behind a bit on the execution end.
 
2 -What should be the expectation for Marcus Easley this season? He will be raw and coming off injury coming into the season but he looks like a future number 1 receiver with both size and speed. Given that he has missed a year and didn’t break out until his senior year, how much will he be on the field. Is he likely going to be inactive on game days or can he challenge for the 3-4 receiver role. Excited to watch him in camp. Thanks for the great reporting year round.

Tyler 
 
CB: Thanks for the kind words. I think it’s tough to peg right now. There’s no question he’s got talent and if he develops he could have a bright future. I’m not ready to go as far as to say number one receiver talent because we just haven’t seen enough of him. Unfortunately I think the coaching staff is in the same boat. They saw flashes last spring, but not much else because of his knee injury last year and now his hyperextended knee. He should be back in the next day or two and hopefully he can stay healthy to get his career off the ground.
 
 3 -Chris, 

Given the need for both OLB and ILB’s, how many total do you expect to make the opening day roster? It looks like Merriman, Kelsay, Barnett, and Davis will be the starters. With backups like Moats, Shep, Torbor. But what about the fringe players like Coleman, White, Maybin and Batten. Will they carry this many? Is there one guy on the outside? How will Chan mix in a large number of players to fit both the 3-4/4-3 hybrid? 
 
CB: For a 3-4 defense teams usually carry 8 linebackers with backups for each spot. You’re guess is pretty well on with Merriman, Kelsay, Barnett, Davis and Moats, Shep and Torbor. Guys like Coleman, White, Batten and Maybin will be fighting for one, possibly two spots if they choose to keep 9.
 
 4 – Dear Chris,
Thanks for all the constant updates for us fans.  I am wondering if the bills are interested in Jared Gaither.  He would be a big help to our tackle problems.  If not him are there any other free agent tackles worth looking at? Thanks again and go BILLSMike from Cheektowaga
 
CB: This is a name that’s come up an awful lot from fans over the past calendar year. I don’t debate that adding more talent at offensive tackle would be welcomed I’m just not convinced it’s going to happen before the season. Jared Gaither is a guy that was available for trade and no one went after him because he had some back issues. Back issues with linemen are nothing to sneeze at. It may explain why the market has been lukewarm for him. Only the Raiders were poised to sign him and it fell apart in the 11th hour. He’s talented, but Gailey and Nix want high character guys that have a passion for the game, and in NFL circles I don’t know how many people stamp Gaither as that kind of player.
 
 5 – Did the Bills make an attempt for Zach Miller? He would have been a great addition. A dominant TE is something the Bills have lacked for years. Any chance they go after Kevin Boss?
Thanks,
Josh T.
 
CB: To my knowledge they did not pursue him. Miller is definitely a talent, no question and yes, the Bills have not had a dominant pass catching tight end. Boss by the way signed with the Raiders today. I just think with Chan Gailey’s frequency of using 4-wide sets and the depth of the receiving corps right now the need for a mismatch type threat at tight end is greatly reduced.
 
I will say that Scott Chandler, who was picked up off waivers last year from Dallas, had a very good afternoon practice today. A couple of touchdowns and for a 6’7″ 272-pounder he runs well and gets good separation. An impressive showing for him for just his second day of work since re-signing as a restricted free agent.
 
6 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering a couple things.  What’s the status on the Bills contract with St. John Fisher?  Are they going to stay there or are they leaving?  The practice field situation definitely makes it tougher.  Also, every year the team has ALWAYS done 2 or 3 full team autograph sessions before practice.  They are usually announced before a night practice session and it’s a way for the fans to get whoever they wanted, including some of the players that are impossible to get.  I was wondering if they are going to do that this year?  And if not, why?  That’s a very popular thing and it draws lots of fans to camp for those night practices.  Plus it’s also a way to give back.  Thanks for the reply.
 
Michael

CB: I do know the Bills contract with St. John Fisher is in its last year, but the decisions that are made beyond that are way above my pay grade. I, like you, do not know what the future holds with respect to training camp here. As for giving back to the fans I do know that the next night practice on Saturday (8/6) will include a bunch of contests and giveaways as well as a fireworks show following practice. With respect to a full team autograph session I have not heard anything, but if there is news on that front I’ll pass it along.

7 – Chris,

 I know that Buddy has said in the past that he wants to build this team through the draft. But with the biggest free agency in years why weren’t we more aggressive in free agency? 
Joe from Webster
Season ticket holder (section 130)

CB: Joe, I think we’ve heard Buddy address this question before. The Bills plan for building this team into a consistent winner will be done primarily through the draft and any remaining holes will be filled by free agents that aren’t going to break the bank. Yes, they have a lot of cap room, but the amount of cap room the team has isn’t going to change Buddy’s approach.

I know a lot of fans complain to me all the time about why we’re not more aggressive in free agency. What you need to realize is there are teams in the league that have been very successful with the formula that Buddy is adhering to. Indy, Pittsburgh and San Diego draft well, re-sign their own and fill holes with affordable free agents. Two of those teams have won Super Bowls and all three are perennial playoff teams. It’s a proven way to build a perennial winner, the catch is that it takes time and Buddy said as much when he took the job.

8 – Chris,
 
How has Aaron Maybin looked in training camp thus far?  I read something saying that he weighed in under 230.  I also read something saying that Daryl Talley was giving him a lot of individual attention and answering his questions.  Is Maybin big enough to be seriously considered as an OLB?  Has Talley’s tutoring helped him make any plays in camp?  Based on some of the comments Gailey has made about Maybin in the past, and the fact that he wasn’t allowed to dress for so many games last year, I have to assume that Maybin needs to show something during the preseason this year if he hopes to stay on the team.  I really had high hopes for him when he got drafted.  Does he seem to be making any progress? 
-Brendan, Las Vegas

CB: Well Brendan you’re right about Maybin’s weight. His reporting weight at the start of camp was 228 pounds. It does make it harder for him to stand in and hold his ground on run plays or maintain leverage on an outside rush. As for what he needs to show in this camp I’ll leave it to coach Gailey who addressed that subject today after practice.

“Aaron (Maybin) tries hard every time he walks on the field,” said Gailey. “The key for him is being productive on the field. He has to become a consistent player against the run and a consistent pass rusher. He has work to do, he’s not there yet. So we will see how he continues to develop but he has a long way to go.”

9 – I’ve noticed that their appears to be an amazing family atmosphere among the players and coaches of the Bills. Guys really appear to want to work hard for the guy next to them and not necessarily for the big pay day that could ensue. What would you say the impetus behind that has been?
Josh D.

CB: I’d give coach Gailey the credit for that. I said last year that his toughest task in his first year as head coach was to eradicate the losing culture that had enveloped this team over the past decade. It took him more than half the season, but he vanquished it and got the players to rally around each other and pull for one another.

There’s a sign in the Bills team meeting room that coach Gailey put up on the front wall it reads, ‘The STAR of the team is the TEAM.’ Hopefully that explains the approach Gailey has demanded from these players.

10 – Chris – Greetings from Arizona – we survived the wildfires and looking forward to Bills football!!.

Offense is looking good. What do you think of the offensive line ( I am mostly concerned about left tackle) and any chance the Bills make a run at a TE (Bo Scaife was still there this morning).

Larry Kordosky, Hereford, AZ

CB: Glad you folks out west are alright. I think there are some real concerns about the offensive line particularly with respect to pass protection outside the organization on the part of fans and it’s hard to blame you. The line still has an awful lot to prove. I think Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears are certainly capable, but we’ll know a lot more about what they can do as a group when we get to the preseason games especially with some pass rushing talents like Julius Peppers and Elvis Dumervil in the first two preseason contests.

Update – Bo Scaife signed today with Cincinnati.

11 -Chris,

Do you expect the organization will renegotiate contracts with Fitz, Stevie, and any of the other guys before the season or do you think they will wait and sign them to deals with terms that begin next year?
Thanks,
Nick

CB: I do expect a new contract for Stevie for sure. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a bit more tricky a situation. I can’t predict a timetable for when either of them might re-sign. No one can predict how negotiations will unfold, but it’s clear that Johnson can be a premier weapon in the passing game for several years. With Fitz it’s not that easy. Fitz is the starter this year, no ifs, ands or buts. Beyond that it’s hard to know what the Bills are thinking. And so I believe they could take more of a wait and see approach with him. If Fitz is lighting it up in the first half of the season I believe it helps his cause.

12 – Chris,

Along with many of your fans…I really appreciate your insight on what’s happening with the Bills.  I’ve been a Bills fan for 40 years.  I like what Buddy and Chan are trying to do by building the Bills using the draft.   Having said that though, with all the cap room we have…is there still a possibility for a Tackle or Tight End pick up…with all the weapons at Fitz’s disposal…it would be great to see him have that ½ second more he needs to make this team productive. 

Thanks for your thoughtful reporting!  

Now living in South Florida Sunshine…but still a Buffalo Bills fan.
Eric

CB: As I mentioned earlier I don’t see the cap room changing the front office approach as to how they’re going to build this roster into a perennial playoff contender. I respect your point about better protection for Fitz. I just think if there was an offensive tackle they wanted bad enough they would’ve signed him. They did pursue Tyson Clabo, but Clabo really wanted to stay in Atlanta. And mismatch tight end as I said just isn’t a priority in Gailey’s style of offense.

13 – Chris,

Thanks for asking our questions, and for all of the work you do. I’ve been curious about the Brad Smith signing. Chan has made comparisons to Kordell and Brad Smith said he signed with Buffalo because he liked what The Bills had in mind for him. Is it possible that Gailey’s plan might be to have Smith be a possible QB in the future? Might we expect to see he and Thigpen battle for Fitzpatrick’s replacement maybe 2 years down the road?
Love the signing from a Special Teams, Wildcat, and Reciever prespective  but is there more to this?
Thanks Again,
Brandon
 
CB: It’s tough to say whether there is more to this, but I think the long term commitments made by the Bills to both Thigpen (3 yrs) and Smith (4 yrs) could lead one to speculate that they’ve thought about the position beyond just 2011. What their plans are long term is anyone’s guess, but I believe your theory is not outlandish at all.
 
Thigpen looked very, very good today. His standing on the roster this year will be no higher than the #2 QB, Chan told him that when he called him as a free agent. Fitz is the starter this year and that’s final. I’ll have more on this in my Practice Notes write up tonight.
 
14 -  How do the late round picks and UDFA’s have any chance of really having a shot at making the roster, especially an offensive player ?  Because they don’t have the benefit of knowing the playbook at all.

 
Thanks, Tim H
Spencer, NY
 
CB: This might be the toughest year in football for an undrafted rookie to make a 53-man roster coming out of camp, and you’re right it’s due completely to the lack of OTAs and minicamps in the offseason. They came in cold when camp began and had to pick things up on the fly. Even coach Gailey admitted that veteran players are more entrenched in their roles than in perhaps any other preseason because the coaches are secure in their knowledge of what those players can and cannot do.
 
With the rookie free agents there isn’t enough of a base of knowledge on any of them because they didn’t see them through the spring. This creates more guess work with respect to the evaluations of those players on the part of coaches and coaches don’t want to guess, they want to know. So unless someone really, really shines, it’s going to be very, very tough for rookie free agents to make the squad. We’ll see.
 
15 – What do you think will become of Levi Brown with all of these new quarterbacks here? Do you think he will go back to be number 3, or do you think he has earned the number 2 position? I’m guess with Thigpens’ experience  he’ll go back to being 3. I personally would like to see him get a chance to play at some point.

Thanks Chris, Bills reporting is 2nd to none compared to all other football teams, (which I really need now that I moved to Atlanta) keep up the great work!
CB: Appreciate the compliments. With respect to Levi Brown, I think he’s in a bit of a tough spot. Like we mentioned long term commitments were made to both Thigpen and Smith and I get the feeling that coach Gailey likes having a 3rd quarterback that’s multi-dimensional that he can use on game day for more than holding a clipboard. Levi might be caught in a numbers game here, but there is one other option for the Bills with him and that’s the practice squad. We’ll see how he performs in the preseason.
 
Joseph DeLallo
 
16 – Chris,

Though I am sure someone else will probably ask…how is Michael Jasper fairing at DT?
Thanks,
Geoff from Hungary
 
CB: Wow wasn’t expecting a question from that part of the world. Jasper is currently running with the third team defense at nose tackle. He’s got uncommon athleticism for a 385-pound man. In 1-on-1 drills he’s won more battles than he’s lost as he effectively walks interior linemen back into the pocket. That being said he is a very raw talent. He has a lot of technique work to brush up on having not played defensive line for more than two years.
 
The true test of what he’s capable of will come in the preseason, but he’s an interesting prospect to watch no question. I’m just amazed at how a man that big can be proportioned as well as he is.

17 – Hi Chris:

How is Demetrius Bell looking so far in camp?  Also, should one of the offensive tackles go down, is there any indication at this early stage as to who may be the swing tackle?

Thanks,
Rick Shields

I would like to know who the ‘1’s are currently in practice. I know the depth chart is a fluid thing but reports are that the starting DL at least once was Dareus, Troup and Williams.  Would like to know if that was true?

Steve in Corning

CB: The defensive starters in the team’s base defense are as follows.

DL – Dareus, Williams, Edwards
LBs – Kelsay, Davis, Barnett, Merriman
DBs - McGee, Wilson, Byrd, Florence

Now there are several different subpackages where the personnel groupings are very different and the Bills run a lot of these during the practices, particularly nickel lineups with the offense going 3 wide so often. So that is where some of the misinformation is coming from. Even I made a mistake last week when I thought rookie Da’Norris Searcy was running with the second team defense for a few reps here and there. Actually he’s running with the second team nickel package. I’ll try to come up with an easy way to view the lineups. Maybe I’ll put that together tomorrow here on the blog.

Well folks, that’s all the time I’ve got. I’ve got to still put the Practice Notes together for tonight. Some good performances turned in by Chandler, Donald Jones, Terrence McGee and others. I’ll have it all to you in about an hour. Thanks for participating and hope to do it again real soon.


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Posted in Inside the Bills