Inside The Bills

Stevie on his thigh contusion

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 7:30 pm

Stevie Johnson suffered a deep thigh bruise in Sunday’s game at Houston. Here’s his outlook for his chances of practicing and playing Sunday at New England this week.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportradio 550, Johnson laid out what he felt his injury would allow him to do participation-wise in practice this week.

“For the most part thinking about last year I played with a torn groin,” said Johnson. “I’ll probably sit out Wednesday (practice), do a little bit Thursday and then more on Friday and come out and play on Sunday.”

Johnson was really disappointed about the injury as he felt really confident that he could make a lot of plays against Houston’s secondary.

“I can’t even tell you I was so hyped for this game and then I caught a slant pass and ended up dodging the hit, but his knee ended up banging my thigh,” he said. “And from there my whole energy level kind of went down. It was hurting me throughout the entire game and at the end I really couldn’t go back out there and run on it. I couldn’t run down the passes or elevate when I needed to. It just wasn’t working so I had to come out. But it’s not a torn groin so I’ll be back. I’ll be ready.”


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Bills to add a WR?

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2010 – 4:38 pm

With Lee Evans on the shelf, possibly for the remainder of the season, head coach Chan Gailey has just four healthy receivers on his roster. Knowing how much the Bills like to run four wide on offense Buffalo’s sideline boss did not rule out adding another wideout.

“We’re going to talk about it,” said Gailey. “You’d rather not go with just four, especially if you think you’re going to play somewhat of a high percentage of four wides in the game. But sometimes other positions dictate that you can’t go with five so we’ll see.”

The current healthy receivers are Steve Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt. Paul Hubbard is on the team’s practice squad and was called up for a short time earlier this season.


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T.O. impressed by Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2010 – 4:44 pm

Terrell Owens was the weekly conference call interview for the Western New York media with the Bills slated to play at Cincinnati this Sunday. And T.O. is impressed with what Stevie Johnson has done with his opportunity opposite Lee Evans this season.

“I knew Stevie had the ability,” said Owens. “I watched him in training camp. Here’s a guy that’s very shifty, can make guys miss. He runs nice routes. Obviously, everybody’s seeing the results of that.

“Stevie (and I), we became good friends. We sat next to each other in the meeting rooms last year. We’ve been texting each other, at the beginning of the season, he would ask me certain things, about things he has questions about. So I got the chance to meet a lot of the guys there in the preseason. Got to talk Lee a little bit. Lee is quiet. We don’t really talk as much, but we’re still cool. Roscoe and all those guys, Marcus Stroud. It was good to see those guys in preseason. We knew this time was going to come during the regular season. It’s here it’ll be a good reunion. Once the coin in tossed and the ball is kicked off, everybody knows it’s business.”

Johnson ranks 12th in the AFC in receptions and 10th in receiving yards. Owens ranks 2nd in both of those categories in the conference. T.O.’s numbers also rank third in the NFL in both categories.


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Fan Friday 11-12

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2010 – 2:02 pm

Okay folks the second half of the schedule is underway. Let’s get to some of the questions sent to AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 - Hey Chris,

Steve Johnson’s emergence this season as a viable #2 receiver has been refreshing. How much of an impact do you think T.O. had on Johnson when he was here last year? Being around a future hall of famer in the practice setting and game setting had to have helped somewhat. I was clamoring for Stevie to get on the field towards the end of last year when the playoffs were clearly out of the picture, but I am wondering if having him sit behind T.O. and learning for a year might have been in his best interest as it is paying dividends for him now. What do you think? Has Johnson mentioned anything about it?

Andrew in Tonawanda.

CB: Truthfully I don’t think Terrell Owens had anything to do with Stevie’s development. Owens ironically, took James Hardy under his wing last year and spent a ton of time with him. Johnson just kept doing his thing and waited for the opportunity.

That opportunity did not come until this past spring, but he earned everything he has gotten this season. He just put his nose to the grindstone and kept working. Johnson’s route running has been sharpened somewhat by receivers coach Stan Hixon, but for the most part it’s a maturation process that we often see in receivers.

When year three rolls around there’s a leap in production. We saw it with Eric Moulds, who was buried behind some veterans. Now we’re seeing it with Stevie.

2 – Recently there was an article about the defense on how it has improved in stopping teams on 3rd down.  Is there any statistical information kept on how the Bills do compared to the rest of the league on how they do on 1st and 2nd down?
Also if you have enough space could you do a break down on similar statistics for the offense?
 
Thanks Chris, and have a great day!
 
Sincerely, Sal

CB: Hopefully you saw my write up on how Buffalo’s third down offense is also much improved of late. As far as first down and second down go, there isn’t nearly the comprehensive statistical breakdowns for those as there are for third down.

I can tell you that on first down this season the Bills offense has run 213 plays on first down and they have run 102 and passed 111 times. Their average gain rushing on first down is 3.8 yards and their average gain passing on first down is 7.23 yards.

On second down they have passed almost twice as much as they have run this season (56 rushes to 98 passes). The production in the run game on second down however, has been better than the average gain on second down pass plays. The Bills have averaged 4.7 yards per rush on second down and just 3.37 yards per pass on second down this season.

On the defensive side of the ball opponents have run on the Bills on first down exactly twice as much as they have passed (160 to 80). Opponents have gained 4.92 yards per rush compared to 6.18 yards per pass play. With only about a yard difference you see why teams are apt to run on the league’s worst run defense because it can still bring up 2nd and medium.

On second down for the Bills defense they’ve had 93 rushing plays run at them at an average gain of 4.81 yards per play and 87 pass plays at an average of 8.43 yards per play.

Hopefully that’s enough for you to chew on.
 

3 - Hey Chris,
I hope you don’t mind all the questions but I was wondering if there may come a point in the season when coach Gailey might throw some of the guys that have not been dressing for games in to evaluate what they might have to give to the team ? I know that by the inactive list there are a few guys that fans wonder why they are not dressing Carrington being one . Well once again thanks for your time !!

Mr. T from Ft. Myers via Nashville

CB: I think there’s a chance we see more of that in the final month of the season, particularly the last two games, but I’m not convinced that will happen. Chan Gailey is about winning games, and as much as he believes in developing young players I’m not sure he’ll throw a rookie out there just to see what he can do. We’ll just have to wait and see what the approach is down the stretch.

 

 

4 - Hey Chris,
I’ve been watching a lot of the college games lately and am very impressed by Luck as many others are, but another name that I have been very enthused about and have seen great things from is Cam Newton.  I was just wondering your thoughts on him and where you see him going if he comes out this year.  Is he first round quality or someone likely to go later on in the draft? 

His athleticism combined with what seems to be a pretty good arm and good vision and accuracy seems to make him a pretty good candidate for going high up in the draft if he comes out. What do you think?  He seems to have some pretty good leadership skills and is well trusted by both fans and his teammates even after this alleged incident and all.
Thanks,

Geoff

CB: Unfortunately for him the alleged incident is going to be heavily scrutinized and investigated by NFL scouts. The reports of him trying to hand in a stolen (plagiarized) term paper twice to the same professor will not help his cause either as far as character evaluation goes.

There is no question he is tremendously gifted physically, and that will overwhelm some talent evaluators to the point where it overshadows all the negatives. What I don’t like is him being a one-year starter in a major conference. Yes, he was a starter in junior college, but it’s not the same.

Inexperience at the quarterback position especially is a big negative for me. What most NFL scouts think is anybody’s guess, but I do know there are some personnel decision makers in the league that will not touch a QB without 30 starts in college and a 60 percent completion percentage, which history has shown leads to a greater chance of being successful in the NFL.

Naturally there are exceptions to that rule and Newton could be one of them. Some team will make him a first round pick if he does in fact come out, and with all the off the field issues, I’d say it’ll probably happen. But I see him going in the 15 to 25 range of round one at the earliest and that’s if he keeps playing like he has been. To me he’s too big a risk to take with a top 10 pick.
 

5 - Hey Chris,
 
A lot of us have been trying to figure out whether the Bills need to draft a quarterback or if they’re okay with Fitz keeping the starting job, but one thing we all tend to forget is–Fitz is still a free agent after the season, isn’t he? I would think the Bills are in a tough situation with this. The ideal would seem to be to sign him to a deal that would make him either a low-paid starter or a high-paid backup, depending on if they draft a QB and if said QB pans out. In actuality though I would think that Ryan is going to look for someone to pay him money fitting a quality starting quarterback, which will mean the Bills either need to be that team, or they’re going to be forced to draft a quarterback because Fitz will be playing elsewhere.
 
Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what do you think the chances are that the Bills are going to do what it takes to keep Fitzpatrick in the fold?
 
Thanks,
Brad

CB: Fitz is signed through the 2011 season. He signed a three-year deal when he joined Buffalo in the 2009 offseason. So he’ll be under contract this offseason, not to worry.

That being said I still believe the Bills need to draft a franchise quarterback. As much as I respect the shot in the arm that Fitz has been for this offense, he’s had some trouble delivering when the game is on the line. To his credit he’s even pointed this out himself (e.g. the missed throw to Johnson vs. Chicago that was INT’d).

All of Fitz’s INTs have come in the second half this season with five of the seven happening in the fourth quarter. He deserves a ton of credit for putting the Bills in position to win, but making the plays at the end of the game to seal a victory have been hard to come by and that’s what the great ones do more often than not.


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Lee seeing more passes

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2010 – 11:12 pm

Lee Evans went most of the first half without a catch, but come the second half Ryan Fitzpatrick had Evans involved for the third straight week.

Evans finished the game with five receptions for a team-leading 56 yards. The Bills top wideout with five catches vs. Jacksonville and six against Baltimore, now has three straight games with five catches or more.

Sunday marked the first time that has happened for Evans since the 2007 season.

Steve Johnson also has a three-game streak right now with five-plus catches.


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Johnson ties team mark

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2010 – 11:08 pm

Steve Johnson’s 4-yard TD catch helped him tie a team record Sunday.

Johnson became just the fourth player in team history to catch a touchdown pass in five straight games.

The other three Bills to pull it off were Elbert Dubenion (1964), Eric Moulds (1999) and Lee Evans (2004). Evans did it in his rookie year.


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Stevie on icing kicker

Posted by Chris Brown on October 31, 2010 – 11:04 pm

The timeout right before the snap of the Bills 53-yard game winner in overtime, forced Rian Lindell to take a second attempt and we all know what happened (hit the upright). The question is what should be done with the coach’s ability to try to mess with the kicker?

Bills WR Steve Johnson was asked if he thought the rule is “cheesy” (I didn’t ask the question). Here was Stevie’s response.

“I can’t say it is because both teams are allowed to do it,” said Johnson. “I can’t say we should wipe that rule out. If it was biased toward any one team than yeah, but both teams can do it and we did it to them and he ended up making his in the end. It’s fair for both teams.”

Johnson is right, Chan Gailey employed the same strategy against Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, and it can be argued whether it worked or not as Succop pulled a 39-yard attempt wide left.

Personally I’m not a fan of the timeout to ice the kicker. Even Gailey said it’s just a mind game you’re playing. I’d like to think the league is bigger than those kinds of tactics.


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Stevie’s production vs. T.O.

Posted by Chris Brown on October 29, 2010 – 9:04 am

Just realized this stat when I was a surveying some numbers related to Stevie Johnson.

Johnson, in the number two receiver role this season has already matched the touchdown total of the man he replaced from last season in just six games. Terrell Owens had 829 yards receiving last year on 55 catches with five touchdowns. He had a sixth TD on an end around rushing.

In fairness to Owens he did have to play in seven more games with Trent Edwards (9) than Johnson did this season (2), and it’s no coincidence that four of Owens’ five touchdowns with the Bills last season came with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the lineup.

Still Johnson’s production to this point (25 rec. 372 yards 5 TDs) is on pace to give him 66 receptions for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns by season’s end.


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In case you missed it

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2010 – 2:04 pm

Here is the live chat Bills WR Stevie Johnson had earlier today as he answered fan questions online.

Johnson’s chat runs about 13 minutes long, and he had some interesting comments on coverage, communication with Fitz and whether they’ve been taken out by the rookie receivers for dinner yet.


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Stevie Johnson online chat

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2010 – 9:22 am

Bills WR Stevie Johnson will be hosting an online chat live on Skype Thursday.

Johnson will appear at noon fresh off his career-high 158-yard receiving performance last week against the Ravens. So have your questions ready for #13.


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Another lineup change?

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2010 – 2:56 pm

The change at quarterback was anticipated to be the only one in Buffalo’s offensive lineup, but according to Steve Johnson there is another as well.

Johnson telling CBSSports.com that he’ll be coming off the bench instead of serving as the team’s second receiver as he’s been replaced in two receiver formation by Roscoe Parrish.

“Now I’m coming off the bench,” Johnson told CBSSports.com. “That’s part of the changes.”

Roscoe Parrish was reluctant to call himself the number two receiver, but did confirm his role will be expanding with more time outside.

“In this offense you’ve got to know all the positions because you never know when your number is called,” said Parrish. “As far as me playing outside now it’s something that I’ve always been familiar with because of the concepts we have to know and we’re just trying to find a rhythm and get everybody on the same page. It doesn’t matter what position we all line up at because we’re all playmakers.”

Parrish said he’ll still see time in the slot in three wide sets with Johnson coming on to play outside.

“I’ll still be going inside from time to time,” said Parrish. “And it’ll be dependent upon the game plan and what goes in for Sunday. I’m just going to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I’m just thankful to Chan Gailey for recognizing my talent as a receiver and I’ll continue to come out here and work hard and help this team.”

It’s unclear if this is a permanent change, or just a temporary change up.


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Fan Friday 9-17

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2010 – 1:29 pm

Week 1 in the rearview mirror. Time to get ready for a big test in Green Bay. On to your questions (AskChris@bills.nfl.net).

1 - Hi Chris, What is your take on the Bills’ receiver situation? Do you think that David Nelson is a diamond in the rough? What about Steve Johnson being the number two receiver?

Tony, Daytona Beach, Fl

CB: Steve is locked in as the number two, but I think come season’s end that Roscoe Parrish will have more production. He’s more experienced and often runs routes that are more high percentage throws for the offense.

David Nelson has been impressive since the spring. He rarely drops a pass and has a silky smooth nature to his game. He glides more than he runs. For a guy that’s 6’5” he gets in and out of his routes very well. He’s already part of the team’s four wide set. It’ll be enjoyable to watch his game develop.

2 - Hi Chris,

My question is about Trent Edwards.  Since he is in a contract year do you think he will be re-signed or do you think he will have to play out the year and then the bills will look at resigning him or going another option after evaluating him?

Showtime

CB: I believe the year will have to play itself out before contract is discussed. The only thing that changes that is if Trent lights it up in the first half of the season and the team wins some games over some quality opponents.

3 - Who is going to be the primary kick returner?  I’d love to see McKelvin back there since he’s a hume run threat every time he gets the ball but is his leg ready for it.

Jeff Zier

CB: Chan Gailey has said that the kick return role will be rotated through the course of the season. One will be chosen for each particular game this season. In Week 1 it was Spiller, but he only had one return for 11 yards. He had to take a knee on another and one other went through the end zone for a touchback. For what it’s worth McKelvin is listed behind Spiller on the KR depth chart.

Tony Smith

 

4 - Who ‘s going to block out Clay Matthews?

Bill C.

CB: That task is going to fall to the two tackles as Matthews will switch sides frequently at his outside linebacker position. I’m expecting Buffalo to use their backs to chip on Matthews in passing situations and their tight ends to assist their tackles because Matthews is a monster. After last week’s leaky protection I think we’ll see more max protect.

5 - Hi Chris,

Could you explain the how & why players are listed as active or inactive for each game?

1) Why are teams only able to activate so many players?

2) Why not let teams dress the whole roster and use players as desired?

3) If a player is inactive for a game, does he still get paid that game check?

4) If he is still paid for that game, why not have him available for the team to use?

Thanks,

Mike

CB: There’s no other way to explain it than those are the league rules. A team can dress 46 players and a 3rd quarterback on game day. Yes, a player still gets a game check if he is inactive. I understand your point about how teams should have all roster players available, but those are the rules. Look for that to change if the league goes to an 18-game schedule.


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2nd WR role taking shape?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 28, 2010 – 1:20 pm

The Bills third preseason game could solidify some starting roles that have been hotly contested through the course of the preseason. One could be the number 2 receiver role where Steve Johnson has been atop the depth chart since training camp opened.

Top wideout Lee Evans believes the man for that role has become clearer as the preseason has worn on.

“I think it’s pretty much starting to define itself, and it has to because after this game it’s pretty much all downhill until Miami,” said Evans. “I think what you’ll see in this game is probably what you’ll be getting. One of them will have to step up and make plays and that’s basically the bottom line.  But I think it’s starting to define itself now.”

 When asked if he’s confident that the team’s number two wideout will be able to draw attention away from him in the passing game, Evans didn’t address his level of confidence that it would happen. He simply said it has to happen.

“I think they know they have to and I think they know that this is an opportunity for them to show who they are and what they’ve got,” said Evans. “That’s the way they have to look at it and put it upon themselves to go out there and make plays. I think if they take advantage of this opportunity, and see it as an opportunity, then they’ll be able to step up and make plays. That’s really what it’s going to be about.”

The only real contender to unseat Johnson at this late stage of the game appears to be Chad Jackson, who led the team in receiving in last week’s preseason game.


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Bills working both sides of Bay

Posted by Chris Brown on July 9, 2010 – 10:35 am

Oakland native Marshawn Lynch and San Francisco native Steve Johnson are both holding their annual football camps this weekend.

On Sat. (July 10th) Lynch will be holding his free football camp at his high school (Oakland Tech) while Johnson will be holding his first of two camps this Saturday in Sacramento at Hiram Johnson high school. Johnson will have another football camp the following Saturday (July 17th) in Fairfield, CA at Angelo Rodriguez high school.

“Oakland is home,” said Lynch. “Giving back to my community is extremely important to me. Providing these kids with an opportunity to have fun and learn football at the same time is a great experience for Josh and me.”

Lynch is referring to his cousin and Tampa Bay Bucs QB Josh Johnson.

500 kids participated in Lynch’s camp last summer.


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Fan Friday 7-2

Posted by Chris Brown on July 2, 2010 – 12:47 pm

Hey Bills fans, we’re into the dead period before training camp, but that doesn’t mean that your questions aren’t welcome (AskChris@bills.nfl.net). Have a Happy 4th everybody.
1 - I was wondering with the changing of head coaches where last year there was a surplus of dbs, Do you see a surplus of wide receivers/tes this year with Gailey being offensive minded.
B. Joyce

CB: That’s an interesting question, though it should be mentioned that Chan Gailey’s predecessor, though he was a defensive-minded coach, two of his four years as head coach he kept six receivers. Most of the time he kept three tight ends.

I think under Gailey knowing his priority on running the ball will likely carry four tight ends with an emphasis on blocking ability. An extra tight end on the roster could mean one less receiver actually so there might be just five instead of six. Plus there are enough quality rookie wideouts on the roster right now that you could conceivably practice squad one or two and live with five on the active to start the season.

The roster decisions should be different this year though than years past.

2 - Hi Chris,

In light of injuries, don’t you think the Bills front office should think about more depth ? NT J’Vonne Parker is still available.   He played in Denver along with Andra Davis.  Mr. Davis is sure to have the skinny on him.    Although Ed Wang was not projected to be a starting LT, certainly there must be some concern by the staff considering this critical position.  Do you foresee any developments on the free agent front?

CB: The good news is Ed Wang will be fine for training camp though he did not make a return to the field before the end of mandatory minicamp. I think depth at nose tackle is not their greatest concern. I think where the depth could be an issue is at the interior offensive line positions.

Outside of veteran Kirk Chambers, who played mostly guard in the spring, there is a combined 3 games of NFL experience for the other seven candidates that play guard or center on the roster. To me that’s a scary thought. So if there are any additions made, I anticipate it to be made there.

3 - Hey Chris,

I know everyone has their questions about the new offense under Coach Gailey that is being implemented and I guess my question won’t be any different. However, mine is concerned with the WR position this fall.  With Lee Evans the obvious #1 and James Hardy emerging as the possible  #2, who do you see filling out the rest of the pecking order for this  position with all the talent we have at that position in guys like Parrish, Johnson, Easley, Roosevelt, Huggins, Jones and anyone else? 
Thanks for all the news as always.

Korey
Ashville, NY

CB: I don’t think Hardy has anything locked down by any means and even he would tell you that. He got off to a slow start in the spring coming off an injury and Steve Johnson had arguably the most consistent spring. Marcus Easley showed big play ability and the rookie free agents all showed they’re capable of playing on this level.

I think Roscoe is the top slot guy, but the #2 WR role is wide open going into camp. I personally would narrow it down to Hardy, Johnson and Easley, but Chan Gailey isn’t doing that.

4 - Chris
We have heard very little about Kyle Williams. Will he be our nose tackle? How is he doing? I know he is a great player but is he a fit at nose tackle and if not who is,and then where would Kyle play?

Ron from Greensboro , NC

CB: Kyle is the starting nose tackle. Defensive coordinator George Edwards realizes Williams does not have the prototypical size of a nose, so he’s going to adjust the scheme accordingly, though he won’t say what those adjustments will be. I believe that when all is said and done that Kyle will play about 75 percent of the snaps at the nose with Torell Troup playing 25 percent. Williams will be in for any and all passing down situations, with Troup giving him a break on some obvious run downs.

5 - Hey Chris
 
Just wanted to know what you think on the Torbor signing? Also do you think that he could start at OLB this year or will it be Kelsay and Maybin getting those posiitons? and if Kelsay and Maybin do take the OLBs will Mitchell get ILB with Poz or will Davis take that away?

CB: A lot of questions there. I like Torbor as veteran insurance. He’s a guy that knows the scheme and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s used as a situational player on the outside, like on run downs with Maybin rotating in for passing situations. Kelsay, Ellis and Batten are the candidates for the strong side LB position.

Mitchell is facing stiff competition from Andra Davis. Mitchell is coming off a major injury and Davis has good working knowledge of the 3-4 system. It’ll be one of the best training camp battles this summer.


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Fan Friday 6-25

Posted by Chris Brown on June 25, 2010 – 1:30 pm

The spring practices are done, now the five week layoff before training camp 2010. We’ll be reporting from St. John Fisher before you know it. To your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 - Hi Chris:
I was wondering if the Bills and in particular Gailey and Nix would be leaning towards one QB over the other. Also, is it true that Brown would get an equal shot at being the starter game 1? For Gailey, how would he improve this offense especially the QB play which has been less than spectacular since Drew Bledsoe left?
 
Thanks,
Bills fan from San Diego: Kevin

CB: If Gailey is leaning toward one quarterback over the others he’s not tipping his hand. Reps have been dead even among the three veteran signal callers. Rookie Levi Brown is a part of the competition according to Gailey, but has received fewer reps than the others. In fact on Day 1 of minicamp Brown got a total of three reps over two practices. The other three for the most part have rotated evenly. So it looks like a 3 man race for training camp.

2 - Hi Chris: What is your assessment of the Buffalo Bills wide receiver situation? They drafted Marcus Easley, who, in his last year in college, had 48 catches for 893 yards, before that he really did nothing. The Bills also signed Chad Jackson, who in his best year caught 13 balls. It seems to me that outside of Lee Evans, they lack a proven receiver (they have holdovers James Hardy and Steve Johnson, Johnson has a bigger upside than Hardy and more talent to boot). Letting Josh Reed go was a mistake, talent does not mean beans if it does not translate into production. Do you see the Bills going after a veteran receiver once again? Do you see any other way?
Tony, Daytona Beach

CB: I think there is no question that there is some talent at the position beyond Lee Evans. Steve Johnson has had a strong spring and if he can carry that into training camp I believe has a real good chance to be the number two wideout. But I think James Hardy and Marcus Easley will also be factors in that competition.

The rookie free agent receivers have also been impressive in Donald Jones, David Nelson and Naaman Roosevelt. The issue to be determined in training camp and the preseason is how well the young receivers can perform in the new offensive system. There are a lot of sight adjustments, option routes and such, and that’s a lot of responsibility to master, especially for a young receiver. Having to think, instead of knowing all those things via experience causes a young wideout to think more than play and that can affect performance.

So while I think the Bill have some talented young receivers, how well they handle and ultimately master the offensive system will largely determine what kind of production and consistency they can deliver.

 

3 - Hi Chris:
 
Have a question about the running back situation for this year. Jackson, Lynch and Spiller all are capable to be the starters this year. Who do you think will have the actual title of the “starting” running back? I’m sure all three will split time but after last season, Fred has to be the front runner. What do you think?
 
Thanks, Eric, AKA Bills backer from Downingtown PA

CB: I think in the end it will be Fred Jackson. I believe C.J. Spiller will see a lot of time on the field both in the backfield and out wide and on special teams. I think we’ll see more than one of them out there at times as well. But I think technically Jackson will be the lead dog, though Marshawn could give him a run.

 

4 - Hey Chris,
First of all GO BILLS!! My question is concerning practices. I have noticed you saying some weather forces the players inside to practice. Are there ever days when they practice in bad weather? If not, wouldn’t that be good to get guys prepared for games in those conditions? Thanks Chris.
Mike
North Tonawanda, NY

CB: In the spring playing on a wet field is an added hazard that the coaches and the training staff would prefer to avoid. Less than stable footing can make players more susceptible to injury so in the spring when you’re trying to keep people healthy for training camp you play where it’s safest and when the outdoor field is slick you move inside.
 

5 - Hi Chris,

Maybe I don’t understand football as well as I thought I did, but I see a lot of people predicting the Bills to be the worst team in the 
league this year, and I just don’t understand the logic behind it.  This is a team that won six games last year, was leading or tied in 
the 4th quarter of five other games, and in a 12th game entered the  4th quarter down only three to the Saints.

The Bills didn’t have the splashiest offseason, but they did add some  key players and outside of T.O. and Josh Reed (and maybe Schobel) really didn’t lose anyone. As critical as people want to be of the O-line and QB situation, we have the same players coming back that won six games last year who ideally will mature a bit and we added a  little competition at those spots as well.

Do you think this season is in as much trouble as everyone is saying, or do we have some hope that the “experts” just aren’t seeing?

Thanks,

Brad

CB: I believe those predictions exist because there are a lot of unknowns for this team. A host of positions are open for competition including the most important (QB) and there is a new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive schemes being implemented.

All of those unanswered questions convince prognosticators on the outside that there aren’t any answers. With no answers they don’t have much hope for the Bills.

But answers will be provided in training camp and once we have more of those answers leading up to the season, we’ll all be able to make a better assessment as to just where this team belongs in the conversation of NFL rankings.


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Fan Friday 6-4

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2010 – 2:33 pm

OTAs and minicamps are in full swing. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for exclusive highlights from the practice field. Let’s get to your questions (AskChris@bills.nfl.net).

1 - Chris,
How are the young group of linebackers looking? Does Aaron Maybin look to be a fit at outside linebacker?  How about Chris Ellis?  Going to the 3-4 makes our linebacker play crucial if we are going to have a good defense.
 
Thanks,
William J. Nason
Woodbridge, VA

CB: Maybin looks the part and I think he’s a lock to be out there in obvious passing situations to take advantage of his pass rushing prowess. I do however see him getting pushed for a role on first and second downs from Chris Ellis, who is stouter against the run.

I also would like to see more of rookie Antonio Coleman when the pads go on in camp. He has some good looking pass rushing moves and I’d like to see them on display in something closer to a game-like setting.

2 - What kind of offense do you see the Bills implementing this season? I hope it won’t be too complex. When trying to jell, simple is better.

Sam Corona

CB:
I think you can bank on there being a strong emphasis on the run game. It’s one of Chan Gailey’s trademarks. A lot of shifts and motions are also staples in his offenses in an effort to throw opposing defenses off, and he does have a lot of them.

The Bills defensive players have already commented on how much more challenging Gailey’s offense is to figure in practice because of all the pre-snap motion.

His offense however, will adapt and change as we move into training camp to fit the strengths of his players, so making a definitive call on what it will look like right now is premature.

3 – Chris,
Any chance we keep all 4 qbs on our active roster come opening day?
Thanks!
A Byrnes

CB: This is an excellent question that I’ve thought about myself. I highly doubt that all four quarterbacks will be kept on the roster.

I think Levi Brown is a lock as a developmental number three quarterback at worst. So the remaining two spots will go to two of the three that were on the roster last season.

In fact it wouldn’t shock me if before the close of training camp one that isn’t deemed an answer as a starter is moved via trade.

4 - Chris:
Am I off base with the thought that the Bills (after round #1) selected players that may not be currently the best at their positions coming out of the draft, but with NFL Coaching have the potential to be better than those players rated higher because of greater athletic upside, work ethic and intelligence?
 
Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think part of what you’re saying is accurate. I believe the Bills newly configured personnel department put a greater emphasis on player work ethic because they’ve grown tired of having even one or two players on the roster where coaches wonder what they’re going to get out of them each and every Sunday. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to ignore supremely talented players that might not have an impeccable work ethic.

I think it’s only safe to say that player work ethic was a bit more of a factor this year, but it was not the end all, be all. You still need talent to win in this league.

As far as intelligence goes, that’s a prerequisite to play in this league and is always considered a major asset.

Since most Bills fans that took issue with Buffalo’s draft class had issues with picks 2, 3 and 4 I will state for the record that Torell Troup, Alex Carrington and Marcus Easley are extremely athletic based on what I’ve seen thus far in the spring camps.

I don’t think the Bills sacrificed anything in the way of pure athletic talent to take hard working players. I think the Bills college scouting and personnel departments were extremely astute in taking talented players that had a work ethic to match.

5 - Hey Chris
I would like to know your opinion on the chance that Stevie Johnson could play opposite Lee Evans as the number 2 receiver. He’s good at the slot position, but I think that Steve would be able to play any position for receiver whether it be slot or wideout.

Thanks,
Chris L.

CB: Johnson has received snaps opposite Lee Evans with the first unit as the flanker or boundary receiver in the OTAs and minicamp setting. He’s very much a part of that number 2 receiver competition. On the whole he’s performed relatively well.

James Hardy is currently his most ardent competitor for the role.
I also would not rule out rookie Marcus Easley who has made some impressive plays thus far this spring and has demonstrated a knack for making the big play.

We’ll see how this competition changes when the pads go on.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

For those that missed it

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2010 – 8:43 am

For those that may not have caught it on YouTube, Bills WR Steve Johnson, who has a hobby rapping in the studio, recently laid down a track about his teammate Jairus Byrd called ‘Byrd Flyin’ High’.

Fans will be happy to know Johnson worked Buffalo into the tune.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat and Charlene

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-8

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2010 – 2:30 pm

Fan Friday 1-8
First offseason Fan Friday as the coaching search is in full swing. If you have any questions for me you can email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Here we go.

1. Hey Chris, just a couple Bills-related things on my mind…

First, as you mentioned in your blog post Fitz QB Status, Fitzpatrick is clearly not the starting QB… so has the organization just given up completely on Edwards?  Can (will) we trade him?  Do you know (and can you say) if this is a decision straight from the top? 

I just don’t understand it, really… even though I don’t think Trent will be the long term answer that I hoped he’d be… he seems better than the other options.  (Unless we just admit we’re playing for next year and give Brohm a shot, which you already said they won’t do…)  Craziness!

CB: I think Trent’s fate will be determined by the new head coach. GM Buddy Nix has said he will not make any personnel moves without the new head coach getting an opportunity to evaluate the roster and see who might fit his vision and who does not.

So the possibility exists that he will be back in 2010 and the possibility exists that he will be gone. It rests in the hands of the new head coach.

2. Obviously, the Bills have a lot of holes to fill after the season.  However, the position that seems to be of most importance is the interior of the defensive line.  Marcus Stroud is not anywhere close to the player he use to be.  Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson make plays but are smaller and are better at penetrating with their quickness, they wont be able to eat up blockers. 

How much of the Bills porous run defense can be attributed to the fact that Stroud is getting pushed around fairly easily every play? 

People are always knocking Posluszny, but when blockers are able to get on him, he isn’t free to roam around and make tackles.  I think the biggest priority in the off-season is to find a clog in the middle of that line. 

I know people say we need a QB, but if you can’t stop the opponents run game your not going to win too many games.  What are your thoughts?
 
Nick in Albany

CB: I’ve always been a big believer in getting your big men first on both sides of the ball. In defense of Marcus Stroud he played most of the season hurt (ankle, knee, neck), so if he didn’t look as explosive as he did last season, there’s your answer. The guy gutted it out in a lost season so I give him a lot of credit for that.

That being said I do believe a DT prospect would be a good add especially this year with such a strong DT class. However, offensive tackle and quarterback are ahead of that on my priority list. The offense is much further behind the defense. It takes priority even though I agree that bolstering the DT position is necessary.

I’m just not convinced the Bills are going to spend big in free agency to land a proven left tackle like a Marcus McNeill, especially in an uncapped year where there could be even more bidding wars between teams.

I think because the DT class is deeper than the OT class that you get your OT first and hope you can get at DT that can play right away in round 2. The DT class just got deeper this week with UCLA’s Brian Price declaring.
 
3. Hey Chris,
I think the bills should really consider going hard after Tarvaris Jackson in the off-season. I really think since coming back from injury late last season that he really has turned a corner. In the last four games of last season he was 3-1 and threw for 8td’s-1int. This year as a backup he’s 10-15, 159yards, 1td as a backup. I think he could be the answer for the bills at quarterback not Micheal Vick like some people are speculating and not Brian Brohm.

I think they should also go really hard after an elite young wide reciever like Brandon Marshall if the broncos don’t franchise him. I think the bills should then draft two big offensive tackles.

Maybe Trade Lee Evans to San Fran to get one of their first rounders so they can draft an OT and a DT in the first round. Since we have James Hardy and Steve Johnson at wide reciever. If we sign Brandon Marshall, we can play Hardy as the number two receiver and Johnson in the slot. What do you think?
Rocky

CB: Well that’s a lot you’ve put on the table there. First, the quarterback situation. To me it’s looking more and more like an answer at quarterback might more likely come via trade, and not the draft. There are some respectable prospects, but I don’t know that there’s one you could put on the field right away and give the keys to the offense. So I think trading for a QB is a realistic possibility.

You’d have to pay a king’s ransom to get Kevin Kolb out of Philly so Tarvaris Jackson would come at a lesser price and if your new staff is installing a West Coast offense then Jackson would be a respectable option. I’m not convinced he’s turned a corner, but a consideration nonetheless.

As for a marquee young receiver, the Bills have that in Lee Evans. No one thinks so because he hasn’t put up monster numbers, but if you pair him with a quarterback that’s just above average the production will be there trust me.

Then as you suggested James Hardy can be the number two with Steve Johnson in the slot. It’s time for the young guys to step up at wideout. But there’s no need to go out and make a splash at receiver when you have a guy waiting to produce Pro Bowl numbers with a better line and better QB.

4. CHRIS:  WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE BILLS SIGN CHAD PENNINGTON AS A FREE AGENT, DRAFT A DEVELOPMENTAL QB TO LEARN UNDER HIM AND DRAFT THE BEST LINEMAN OR LB AVAILABLE?  CONRAD FROM ELMA

CB: First Chad Pennington has to prove himself healthy and capable of throwing a 12-yard out before he’s even a consideration. I do believe though that the Bills have to strongly consider the possibility of signing a veteran signal caller to serve as a stopgap at QB while a younger QB is groomed for the future, whether it’s Brian Brohm or a draft pick.

I’ve got a lot more draft prep work to do, but I’m not seeing a guy that will be there at 9 that the Bills can put on the field and succeed with right away. And if you draft a QB later, history shows it’s best to let them watch and learn early in their careers.

So I think there’s a lot of merit to the approach you’re suggesting, I just don’t know if Chad Pennington is the mark.
5. Hi Chris!!

My questions are:

1. How is L. McKelvin doing with his injury? I haven’t heard much 
about him during the season.
2. What do see the Bills addressing first during the offseason / draft? QB or OL?
3. Due to our O-line problems. Do you think the Bills should go after M. Vick? He is certainly a good scrambler…

Thanks & take care…

Luis A. Estrada (Puerto Rico)

CB: McKelvin is close to 100 percent. He began running again on the turf field a couple of weeks ago, but told me he’s not 100 percent just yet. We’ll have a story on him this coming week on Buffalobills.com.

I believe the Bills will survey the landscape for a QB they believe can be a stopgap answer for a year or two while they groom a young QB be it Brohm or a draftee, unless Brohm outperforms said veteran.

I don’t see the Bills getting in a bidding war for premium free agents OTs so that might have to be the top priority in the draft.

Finally I understand your reasoning with Michael Vick, but I believe you fix the line and your QB play will improve. Also I think Vick is a running QB in a passing league. So I’m not big on acquiring Vick.


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Posted in Inside the Bills