Inside The Bills

Gilmore with just a wrist guard

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2013 – 11:16 am

Stephon Gilmore is warming up with the other defensive backs and still had his wrist guard on, but not a club.

He’s catching balls with both hands with the wrist guard on. We’ll see if he comes back out in uniform without the club he has worn the past two games against the Bengals and Dolphins.


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Aaron at safety a possibility

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2013 – 5:23 pm

Bills DB Aaron Williams has been serving admirably in a cornerback role for the better part of the last four-plus games. This week may be the week that he slides back to the position Mike Pettine and the defensive staff wanted him manning all along.

Williams said playing safety Sunday against the Saints could happen, but is not a definite.

“It could be a possibility that I could go back to safety, but at the same time I’m still preparing myself to be a corner,” Williams told Buffalobills.com. “Right now I’m working both just in case of emergency situations, see how Stephon (Gilmore) is with his hand and Ron (Brooks) with his foot and everything. We’ll see where it goes, but right now I’m working on both.”

The signs look to be good for Williams to return to safety this week. Gilmore appears to be playing with a smaller protective club on his surgically repaired left wrist and Brooks appeared in the game this past Sunday, the first since breaking his foot in Week 1. He got seven snaps.

Both players were not listed on the team’s Wednesday injury report as both players were full participants. Provided both can play more this Sunday it affords the defensive staff the freedom to move Williams back to safety because Gilmore and Brooks could split the workload at cornerback if necessary.


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Gilmore club appears smaller

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2013 – 11:50 am

For what it’s worth the club still being worn by Stephon Gilmore appears smaller this week.

We’ll get confirmation from Gilmore post practice, but the protective wrap around his surgically repaired wrist looks to be less bulky than it was the past two weeks.


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Club removal for Gilmore is surgeon’s call

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2013 – 10:20 am

Stephon Gilmore for the past two games has had to wear a club around his left forearm in an effort to protect his surgically repaired left wrist. How much longer he’ll wear it isn’t up to Gilmore or head coach Doug Marrone. In fact it’s not even up to the team physicians.

Marrone explained that the decision on when the club can come off will be up to the doctor who performed the surgery.

“That’s really the surgeon’s call, that’s really not even our doctors,” said Marrone. “That’s the surgeon’s call, as far as when
that comes off. There’s no doubt he definitely looked much more comfortable, and I think he’ll be even more comfortable this coming week. It’s one of those things, the more we can wear whatever we have to wear that’s different from how we played before, we just get more comfortable with it.”

Gilmore said he’s grown a bit more accustomed to playing with the club now that it’s been two games.

“Oh yeah definitely. It was easier,” said Gilmore of Sunday’s game. “I felt I got used to it practicing two weeks ago and this past week. So it was easier.”

In fact Gilmore believes being forced to play with one arm will enhance his game once the club is off his arm.

“I think it’s helping put my game on another level,” said Gilmore. “I think I’m learning a lot playing with it on. I’ve got to use my legs more. I can’t really use my hands like I want to. I have to really win with my feet so I think that’s helping my game.”


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Gilmore still working with club

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 6:07 pm

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, which is certainly encouraging. However, he is still playing with the club on his hand in his return from wrist surgery.

“Hopefully soon I get it off, just trying to listen to the trainers,” he said. “It’s more for protecting me. I feel good but it’s still kind of weak a little bit, so it’s more for protecting my wrist.”

Head coach Doug Marrone noticed a difference in Gilmore’s play in practice this week as opposed to last week.

“In talking to Stephon Gilmore in particular he feels much better now than he did last week,” said Marrone. “That was the first time he was playing with a cast on his hand.”

At the same time Gilmore admits the club limits him.

“Of course. It’s like playing with one hand out there,” he said. “I’m getting used to it. In practice I feel more comfortable. My legs are getting back under me and I’m getting more reps. I feel good out there.”


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A. Williams return to safety hinges on Gilmore

Posted by Chris Brown on October 14, 2013 – 11:52 am

Aaron Williams has played at cornerback in each of the last three games due mainly to the team’s thin ranks at the position, with Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore dealing with injuries. McKelvin is now back healthy, but Gilmore is still trying to work back from a wrist injury and play effectively. Sunday was trying for Gilmore with a protective club completely covering his left hand, and that could ultimately keep Williams at corner for another week or so.

When asked where he’ll be positionally moving forward Williams made it sound like where he lines up will hinge on Gilmore’s availability.

“I don’t know if I’m going back to safety yet,” he said. “I feel like (Stephon) Gilmore is still trying to come back to his rhythm of playing. He told me yesterday was a little awkward for him, especially with a big club like that. It’s kind of hard for a cornerback to play with one arm. It’s a game where you’ve got to be physical at the line. If you let a receiver off the line
easily you’ll lose 90 percent of the time. We’ll see how Gilmore does this week, if he has a club or not this week. It all depends how he feels and who we have as far as cornerbacks. We still have guys a little beat up, but we’ll take it day by day.”


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Gilmore: It’s like playing with one hand

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 8:50 pm

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore appeared in his first game for Buffalo this season returning from wrist surgery. The only problem was Gilmore could not play his typical physical style, jamming receivers at the line and jockeying with them for position on jump balls downfield. That’s because Gilmore was essentially playing with the use of just one hand.

Gilmore’s surgically repaired left wrist was put in a plastic brace, which was then wrapped in a soft club. None of his fingers protruded from the club, basically forcing him to play one-handed.

“It was very hard, but I mean it is what it is,” said Gilmore. “I just wanted to be out there with my team. I wanted to help my team out anyway I can.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine rotated Gilmore into the lineup on passing downs, knowing it would be difficult for Gilmore to engage and shed a blocking receiver to help support the run on the edge. When faced with making open field tackles Gilmore had trouble, understandably, wrapping up.

“You can’t really grab like you want to,” Gilmore said. “It’s like playing with one hand out there. You have to be more mental and play from there.”

When asked when he might be able to play without the club wrappings on his left arm Gilmore was uncertain.

“I really don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m just listening to the doctors and hopefully it comes off soon.”

Gilmore finished Sunday’s game with three tackles.


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Gilmore wearing full club on left hand

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 12:56 pm

Gilmore is active and playing today, but his effectiveness could be limited by his protective club on his left hand.

All week he’s been practicing with it, but Gilmore has his entire left forearm, wrist and hand wrapped in a protective club for today’s game. He will have no use of his fingers at all, which will make it tougher for him to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.

We’ll keep tabs on how he handles the restriction.


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Gilmore active, Legursky to start

Posted by Chris Brown on October 13, 2013 – 11:47 am

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore is active today and OL Doug Legursky is stepping into the starting lineup.

Gilmore performed well in a morning workout and will play.

Meanwhile Legursky is going to start at left guard, but Colin Brown is expected to rotate in although head coach Doug Marrone did say if one plays well the rotation will stop.


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CB Brooks out for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 11, 2013 – 12:59 pm

While Stevie Johnson and Stephon Gilmore grabbed the injury status headlines as game time decisions and questionable for Sunday’s game, the Bills are going to be without CB Ron Brooks another week in his return from a broken foot.

Brooks is one of two active players listed as out for Sunday’s game along with QB EJ Manuel. Here’s the full injury report for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

OUT
CB Ron Brooks – foot
QB EJ Manuel – knee

QUESTIONABLE
WR Stevie Johnson – lower back
CB Stephon Gilmore – wrist
RB C.J. Spiller – ankle

PROBABLE
WR Marquise Goodwin – hand
S Jairus Byrd – foot
DT Kyle Williams – Achilles
WR Marcus Easley – ribs


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Marrone: Gilmore looking good

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2013 – 2:22 pm

Stephon Gilmore was again a limited participant in practice Thursday, but the signs are getting more and more encouraging that he’ll be playing on Sunday.

When head coach Doug Marrone was asked if Gilmore did any more in practice than Wednesday, Marrone didn’t have an exact play count handy from practice, but was optimistic about his top cover man.

“He’s going as much… we list him as limited and get him in and out, but he’s great,” said Marrone. “He’s good.”

If Gilmore does play it looks like it’s going to be with a club on his left hand with no fingers protruding from the heavy wrap. Essentially he would be playing with one hand.


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Gilmore update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 6:39 pm

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. When asked if he’s pain free coming off his wrist injury Gilmore offered the following.

“There’s a little pain, but there’s nothing that really hurt bad, bad,” he said. “The big thing is trying to get my legs back, backpedaling, turning and running and finding the ball.”

Gilmore practiced with a large club on his left arm protecting his surgically repaired wrist. He just got the pins removed from his wrist on Tuesday.

“It feels different,” he said. “With the pins in I couldn’t straighten my hand all the way back out. So when I got them out I can actually make a fist and do other things so it feels a lot better.”

At the same time Gilmore sounded a bit uncertain as to what his role might be if he plays Sunday. If he does he’ll be out there with the club on his arm.

“It’ll probably be awkward, but I’ve got to get used to it and play with it,” said Gilmore. “I’m going to listen to the coaches and do whatever they want me to do.”


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Marrone on Gilmore

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 1:39 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said the following on Stephon Gilmore, who was limited in practice Wednesday.

“I don’t want to say today that he’s going to go out and play Sunday,” said Marrone. “But I feel good about the way he looked (in practice) today.”


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Byrd working in; Gilmore a bit too

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 12:03 pm

Jairus Byrd, who is expected to play Sunday, is working in on defensive sets.

Byrd is lining up in sub packages on defense during individual position dill work.

Stephon Gilmore is stepping in a bit. We’ll see if that change as the week moves along. He did participate in individual drills during the media viewing portion of practice as did CB Ron Brooks.


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Gilmore to have pins removed Tuesday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2013 – 5:40 pm

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore is getting very close to returning to the lineup after suffering a broken wrist that required surgery back in late August.

Originally given a prognosis of 6-8 weeks, this is week 6 in his recovery. Already medically cleared to practice, Gilmore provided an update on when he will be the pins removed from his wrist.

“I’ll get them out (Tuesday), depends on how my wrist feels, I’ll probably wear a little hard case on it, listen to the trainers and go from there,” said Gilmore. “I’m going to practice, see what the coaches want me to do. Take it from there.”

Gilmore intends to play with a protective plastic brace on his wrist.

“It’s something I have to deal with. I had the surgery. I have to wear it to protect it from pain, if it’s pain,” he said. “Eventually, I wont have to wear it. You got to adjust a little bit and get used to it.”

Gilmore doesn’t have the green light yet for Sunday’s game, but if he does return to the lineup it would be a heck of an assignment as he could be matched up with Cincinnati WR A.J. Green.

“I’m real eager, I just want to do what I can to get back on the field to help this team produce wins,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help the team win, I’m down for it.”


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Fan Friday 10-4

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 1:13 pm

Fresh off the Thursday night game here are your latest questions. Keep them coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately. It’s starting to look like a great team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did against Carolina more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

PS – I love what EJ has done but do you think he’s getting a bit overhyped it’s only been a few games, but man does it seem like this kid can keep his cool under pressure.

CB: I think Mario’s success is going to depend on the players around him up front. Provided they make plays when he draws the most attention from the opposing offensive line, it will force future opponents to pick their poison so to speak. Baltimore chose to double Kyle Williams and Mario most often in the game. As a result, Marcell Dareus saw a lot of one-on-one matchups and won more than his fair share with six tackles and a pair of sacks. As long as the guy that’s getting the one-on-one matchups is winning, the attention paid to the defensive linemen will vacillate back and forth sometimes week to week. We saw Mario get some opportunities last night even though he saw his fair share of double teams.

When Gilmore and Byrd are back in the lineup it’ll no doubt be a boost. The extent of Byrd’s role when he does return however, is up for debate. I expect him to be eased in playing in subpackages at first. Eventually he may be worked back in as a starter. Remember he hasn’t played an NFL regular season game in nine months, had no training camp and no preseason, and has only practiced Mike Pettine’s defense for a month.

As for a concern with the team, it’s the evolution of the offense. It’s going to be a process, but I think it has to be one that makes progress each week. Among the hurdles to be cleared are third down and red zone, two of the most important requirements to be a top offense in the league.

EJ has had his ups and downs, but overall he is making good progress. I think most people agree it’s a matter of when not if with Manuel.

 

2 – Chris,

Thank you for covering all the great news coming out of Buffalo. My question is in regards to the LG position. Colin Brown is certainly looking like he has had his share of problems in the first two games going against some pretty good and big DT’s in Star Lotulelei and Vince Wilfork. He also had trouble with Mizzou sensation and Rookie DT Sheldon Richardson. I have been wondering what his status is on the team? I have heard Coach say he is happy with who he has on the o-line so I doubt a change will be made. From watching the games and being there at One Bills Drive can you tell anything about Colin Brown and why he is having a hard time? Is it the competition he is going against or rooted in fundamentals and overall talent? For a man his size (6’7 325lbs) he has been a problem so far this year. Running to the left side for some nice gains would be welcoming.

Thanks
Taylor – Greater St. Louis Area

CB: I think without question the Baltimore game was his best performance. In a more traditional offensive approach when they ask the offensive line to line up and smack and defensive front in the mouth, that’s what he does best. I think we do have to take into account the caliber of talent he’s been going against early this season. Wilfork – a perennial Pro Bowl player, Lotulelei – a top 10 pick, Richardson – another 1st round pick, Ngata – a perennial Pro Bowl player.

We have to remember he’s the new addition to the offensive line, so I thought before passing judgment it would be fair to give him the first month of the season to settle in. Let’s see where he takes his game from here.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

One of the few plays the Bills have run consistently the past couple years has been screens.  It seems getting Mr. Spiller, Mr. Jackson and a few others some breathing space was highly effective.  Unless I missed something grabbing a snack, I don’t recall the Bills running any screens these first two games.  For an offensive staff that insists it adjusts to the player’s strengths, why does it appear they have abandoned screens?

Thanks,
Matt from Saratoga

CB: I think part of the reason screens haven’t been used as much is because they are trying to play to the players’ strengths, meaning the offensive line. The loss of Andy Levitre limited their athleticism on the offensive line. Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik are capable of getting out on screens, but I don’t know if that’s enough to convince the offensive staff that it could be a frequent weapon for them.

Now we did see a couple of screens last night that provided some measure of success so perhaps we’ll see more moving forward.

We have to remember that Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Marrone are still feeling out the roster and finding what plays work best with their personnel in their system. The coaches have to learn what works best as much as the players have to learn what they’re being asked to execute.

Next year at this time there won’t be those questions.

 

4 – Hey Chris
Wondering if you could give us a projected return date (or game) for the list of inured players? I think we’re getting close to when Gilmore might return, right? How about Goodwin? Brooks? Byrd has no timetable, right?

Stephon Gilmore
Ron Brooks
Marquise Goodwin
Dustin Hopkins

We sure would be a lot better off with all of those guys on the field!
Thanks
Greg

CB: Here’s an idea as to where they’re at.

Stephon Gilmore – Cincinnati is the earliest possible return, but I think it might be a week after that.
Ron Brooks – He’s closer. He’s doing straight line running now, but not cutting yet.
Marquise Goodwin – Think he has a chance this coming week. Began catching passes this past week
Dustin Hopkins – Real close, good chance to be ready for Cincy game.

5 – Chris,

We should really look at getting him, if possible, to have another good QB on our roster no?

Scott Young

CB: Doug Marrone has maintained that promoting through the practice squad is the course they usually take. Thad Lewis knows the offense and is on the practice squad. Of course Doug Whaley has said if they ever have a chance to upgrade the roster they will look to do it.

That being said Josh Freeman is a player that has some off the field concerns that need to be investigated. If those check out and he’s not looking for giant money, which is possible, then I’ve got no problem with the Bills kicking the tires on him.

 

 


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Secondary update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2013 – 5:03 pm

With injuries again prevailing in Buffalo’s secondary, here’s what was observed during the media viewing portion of practice.

Aaron Williams (low back) didn’t do much during individual and worked on the side with the athletic training staff for a while.

Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) was moving well in individual position drills, but ran scout team reps during defensive sets prior to team work.

Jairus Byrd (foot) was running with the scout team as well during defensive set reps.

Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and Ron Brooks (foot) worked with athletic trainers to maintain their conditioning level and are not part of practice.

Head coach Doug Marrone will provide an official participation level for each of the injured defensive backs following practice.


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Fan Friday 9-27

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 1:59 pm

A big AFC conference game Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champs. Bills are really going to need their reserves to play big. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I’ve noticed so far that most of the Bills running plays appear to have the HB running into a brick wall of defenders out of passing formations with no lead blocking. Is this how it’s going to be all season with Hackett at the helm? I know CJ can’t go outside every play but he doesn’t seem suited for that. Seems like they rush to the line to hand off and have the HB just run into the D line on first and second down then pass on 3rd and 6. Seems too predictable to me and not playing to the strengths of CJ at all. They seem too quick to put the ball in CJs hands. The key is to get it in his hands in space. What are your thoughts on the running game in our new offense? Do you think things will open up more as EJ comes along?

Dan

CB: I think we honestly need a bigger sample size before we pass judgment on the Bills running game. Heading into the Baltimore game it’s still fifth in the league so they’re doing something right. They’re averaging 4.4 per carry, which is eighth best in the NFL.

In Week 2 we saw more effective control of the line of scrimmage by Buffalo’s offensive line and that was critical to the inside zone plays they run. If you don’t reset the line of scrimmage off the snap up front it doesn’t give much for the back to work with.

I don’t disagree with your argument to get C.J. the ball in space. The offense threw a lot of swing passes to C.J. and Fred in training camp, but we haven’t see a lot of those in the regular season to this point. Again it’s only been three games.

I think Coach Hackett’s running game for this offense will evolve as the season wears on.

 

2 – Chris,

What are the implications if the Bills could / would decide to put Jarius Byrd on IR?  Not saying they want to but if he is unable to play because the pain in his feet is to great, then can they do it and if so, does that change his free agent status / obligations to the Bills.  This might free up a position for a developing player or allow for more depth to be added in a position of need.

Thanks
Jim Harding
Macungie, Pa.

CB: The Bills are within their rights to place him on injured reserve if they deem it a condition that is not going to improve. For those that remember him, former Bills TE Ryan Neufeld had a very bad case of plantar fasciitis in both feet. I don’t know how he played with it because it looked like he was walking on nails with every step.

Eventually one of muscles, which run along the underside of the foot, in one of his feet tore. That ended his season. What the doctors did with his other affected foot, was they went in and snipped that muscle as well. From what Neufeld told me the doctors said the healing would be quicker that way.

I’m not suggesting that’s what Byrd should do. Neufeld was at the point of no return and Byrd appears to be making progress, albeit incremental. At some point however, with the secondary still short-handed due to injury this may need to be a stronger consideration.
3 – Chris,
I really like that locker room footage after Sunday’s win over Carolina. Do they only let camera crews in there so many times a year? I saw you did it last year but only for one game if I remember correctly. Keep up the good work! I live for Bills football and am constantly checking for updates on buffalobills.com.

Dan
Chicopee, MA

CB: Thanks for your readership and viewership. Yes, we’re only allowed in the postgame locker room to shoot after victories, but it is exclusive coverage you can only get at Buffalobills.com.

 

4 – Hi Chris,

Thanks for all of your hard work!

It seems the Bills have incredible talent on the defensive line and Kiko Alonso has a ton of upside potential at LB. Why are the Bills continuing to have a tough time stopping the run? While it’s obvious the defense has made strides since last year, they are still ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense.

Preston, writing you from Medellin, Colombia

CB: Coach Marrone has liked the red zone defense, but not the run defense between the 20s. He simply said their tackling has to be better. He’s felt that too many rushers are getting second effort yards. There’s no debating that there’s capable talent on the defensive line and at linebacker, and the coaches drill tackling technique constantly at practice. It’s on the players to make it happen.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately it’s starting to look like a good team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did in Week 2 more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

CB: I don’t think there’s any question that when your defensive backfield is stronger it helps your pass rush, so when Gilmore returns and if Byrd returns to the lineup (there’s no predicting where Byrd’s plantar fasciitis is headed) it’s logical to think that their coverage abilities and anticipation skills could force quarterbacks to hold onto the ball longer at times.

As for concerns with the team they’re the same as they were in May. I’m worried about the depth at cornerback. There’s a lot of young talent there, but with McKelvin and Brooks injury history I’d like to have an extra corner in the stable if possible.

 

 


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Loss of CBs has altered defensive approach

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 9:16 am

Losing Stephon Gilmore at the tail end of the preseason, followed shortly thereafter by Ron Brooks, the team’s top nickel back and now potentially Leodis McKelvin this week, Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had no choice but to alter some of his more aggressive plans for the Bills defense here in the early going of 2013.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed as much in his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network.

“Absolutely. Anytime something happens whether it be injury and you start moving people (around) everybody has strengths and weaknesses. You do have to start making adjustments and it becomes a chain reaction,” said Marrone.

“The philosophy is to go out there and play, but to be smart. We’re not just going to leave those guys out there all the time. We’ve got to mix it up. In this league if you put yourself in one situation they’re going to find it and take advantage of it. You try to make sure you can disguise it and do the things you’re doing so you can be aggressive and do what you need to do to win.”

Leaving cornerbacks out on islands less is one of the more likely measures being taken moving forward.


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Gilmore update

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 9:12 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone making his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network Friday morning provided an update on the recovery of Stephon Gilmore from his fractured wrist.

“That depends on the doctors,” said Marrone. “They have to look at it and see how he feels and take more x-rays and see what’s going on and make sure everything is healing the proper way until they release him to the field.”

Gilmore, who had surgery on Monday Aug. 26th will be five weeks removed from surgery on Monday Sept. 30th. He was given a six to eight week timetable to return following the surgery.


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