Inside The Bills

Nix on projected starting CBs

Posted by Chris Brown on February 24, 2011 – 4:47 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix gave an assessment of the projected starting cornerbacks for the 2011 season.

With Drayton Florence a free agent the jobs fall to Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin. Here was Nix’s assessment of them as starters for 2011.

“I think Leodis had a good year, not a great year,” said Nix. “Leodis has missed a lot of time and the upside is really good on him. Terrence is hitting that magic number and is going to have to keep himself in great shape to play a lot longer.”

With McGee Nix is referring to age 30, which McGee will turn in October. The veteran corner has been on the injured list more than he’d like the past couple of seasons and sounds like he’s on notice to stay healthy. Unfortunately players don’t get to choose to stay healthy in the NFL. It’s part of the game. But as one NFL coach once told me, “Having a long career in the NFL is all about being available on Sunday.”

Here’s hoping McGee’s injury problems are behind him.

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Youboty update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2010 – 2:40 pm

Ashton Youboty is trying to come back from a hamstring injury suffered just last Sunday against the Jets. After not practicing Wednesday, he was back on the practice field Thursday.

“Youboty was able to get back out to practice today,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “He was able to do some things.”

Officially Youboty was limited so he still appears to have some ground to cover to have a chance to play Sunday. If he cannot go Sunday, it would leave Buffalo with just three healthy cornerbacks, since Terrence McGee is out for this week as well.

Fortunately the Bills are facing a Jaguars team that doesn’t utilize spread formations all that much, so the Buffalo secondary shouldn’t be overtaxed in the passing game, unless Jacksonville decides to go to the air as opposed to working it on the ground. Knowing the Bills are surrendering almost 210 yards rushing per game, I can’t see the Jaguars steering away from that.

Had the Bills been facing a wide open offense like Green Bay or New England this week, they may have had to add a cornerback to their roster so they could go into the game with four. In all likelihood they’ll call upon Donte Whitner for some coverage assignments should Jacksonville go to any spread looks.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Nickel corner revisited

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2010 – 9:32 am

With the nickel corner competition being addressed on the home page, I thought I’d toss in some observations from the spring camps.

Among those that made the most plays on passes through the course of the OTAs and minicamps of those listed in the nickel corner competition were Reggie Corner, Ellis Lankster and Ashton Youboty.

Now that’s not to say that Drayton Florence and Lydell Sargeant didn’t have their share of pass breakups too, they did. Florence’s game is clearly the most physical of the group and you need physical play inside.

The distance between the QB and the slot receiver is obviously shorter than with an outside WR, so getting a good jam or delaying the receiver from getting into his route is key inside. Florence excels in this area.

Youboty is the only other candidate in this group with a similar stature to Florence and he’s longer and lankier, which helps him knock passes away from receivers.

Corner, Lankster and Sargeant are all more compact type corners. They’re lightning quick, but if there’s a big WR in the slot channeling them to one side or another can be a task at times. Still their quickness affords them the ability to undercut receivers to make plays on the ball.

This nickel corner job is going to be one of the more competitive in camp, with a lot of capable candidates.

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Byrd back

Posted by Chris Brown on June 24, 2010 – 3:21 pm

After not participating this morning FS Jairus Byrd is back on the practice field this afternoon.

Byrd is one of a handful of players who is having their reps scaled back.

Kawika Mitchell, who participated in the morning practice is watching this afternoon. Marcus Stroud is also not on the field for the afternoon practice following his morning participation.

Derek Schouman however, has been a spectator for all of Thursday as has Jamon Meredith and Ashton Youboty.

New to the non-participant list this afternoon is LB Reggie Torbor.

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Loss of Byrd, McGee means fewer options

Posted by Chris Brown on December 23, 2009 – 11:45 am

When Jairus Byrd and Terrence McGee were still playing it afforded interim head coach Perry Fewell more options in terms of personnel groupings in his secondary. Those options are now gone.

Fewell often rotated Byrd with Donte Whitner at free safety, with Whitner playing in their base defenses and Byrd in the nickel and subpackages of late. Now with Byrd on I-R, Whitner is likely to man free safety full time.

That means Whitner as an option in the slot in the nickel package is less likely. With McGee on I-R too, Reggie Corner is expected to play LCB for Buffalo’s base defense and then shift inside to nickel to play the slot with Ashton Youboty coming on the field to play LCB.

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McGee update

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2009 – 12:48 pm

After a four game absence it looks as though Terrence McGee will finally be making a return to the lineup.

McGee practiced fully all week coming off his knee scope during the bye week a month ago.

“Terrence looked good today,” said Fewell following Friday’s practice. “He practiced and did everything. He’s the starter.”

With McGee expected to start at left cornerback it will enable the Bills defensive staff to use Reggie Corner in the nickel role. He had been spelling McGee outside at LCB. That should free Donte Whitner up more to rotate with Jairus Byrd at free safety, though he may also see some nickel corner work depending on the subpackage.

Ashton Youboty also appears ready to return from a high ankle sprain. He’s listed as probable.

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McGee looking good for Sun.

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2009 – 2:10 pm

Bills CB Terrence McGee practiced fully for a second straight day on Thursday enhancing his chances of returning to a full time role in Buffalo’s defensive lineup.

“It looks good,” said interim head coach Perry Fewell. “He’s practicing. He’s got confidence. This could be the week.”

McGee has been out since the bye week after getting a knee scope, and participated in a handful of plays last Thursday night against the Jets. But this week he is likely to start after taking first team reps at LCB each of the last two days.

“I think he’s getting more confidence as he goes,” said Fewell. “He’s not showing any hesitation in his play. (Friday) will be a big day for him too because he’s had two full days of practice and he’s taken almost every rep, so (Friday) will be the biggest day for him.”

More good news for Buffalo’s defensive backfield is that Ashton Youboty practiced fully on Thursday as well. Youboty is trying to return from a high ankle sprain. He was only able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, so practicing fully the next day is a promising sign.

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Three Bills out for Thurs. night

Posted by Chris Brown on December 2, 2009 – 3:25 pm

The Bills put out their injury report following Wednesday’s practice and three players are out for Thursday night’s game against the Jets.

OT Demetrius Bell (knee), DT John McCargo (calf) and CB Ashton Youboty (ankle) are all out for tomorrow night’s game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

With McCargo out, native Canadian Corey Mace is almost guaranteed to dress for the game. He also played in last year’s regular season game in Toronto against Miami.

I had a chance to talk to Demetrius Bell in the locker room after practice Tuesday and asked him if he’s close. He said he didn’t believe he was. With five games left in the season, one would think he’d be coming back in the next week or two. We shall see.

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Three players out for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 27, 2009 – 12:45 pm

Interim head coach Perry Fewell declared three Bills players out for Sunday’s game.

OT Demetrius Bell (knee), DT John McCargo (calf) and CB Ashton Youboty (ankle) are all out for Sunday’s game.

McCargo’s absence could put Buffalo in a tight spot at the defensive tackle position. With Marcus Stroud questionable with a knee injury, if he is unable to go the Bills would have just two defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson. The thinking however, is that Stroud will play on Sunday.

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Practice update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2009 – 11:03 am

Here’s the list of players not practicing Friday.

Not practicing
OT Demetrius Bell (knee)
CB Ashton Youboty (ankle)
LB Keith Ellison (thigh)
DT Marcus Stroud (knee)

Interim head coach Perry Fewell was optimistic earlier in the week that Stroud would be able to play on Sunday despite his injury, but we’ll have to see if Fewell’s assessment changes with Stroud not practicing at all this week.

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Youboty injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 16, 2009 – 1:13 pm

An update was given on Ashton Youboty’s injury status by Dick Jauron Monday.

Youboty has a high ankle sprain. That kind of injury takes anywhere from 3-6 weeks to recover from depending on the severity.

Back in 2007 Youboty also suffered a high ankle sprain and missed five games because of it.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 16, 2009 – 12:01 am

After the game head coach Dick Jauron just had two injuries to report.

OT Demetrius Bell suffered a knee injury and will be re-evaluated Monday.

CB Ashton Youboty suffered an ankle injury. He too will be re-evaluated Monday.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-23

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2009 – 4:33 pm

We’ll see if the Bills run defense can slow down the Panthers this week. Gotta put the game in Jake Delhomme’s hands for Carolina and hope he’s still throwing a lot of his passes to the opposition (10 INTs). Let’s get to your questions (

1. Hi Chris,
I was wondering if the Bills have any three-step-drop passes in their offense.  It seems that the protection is not going to hold up for five and seven step drops.  Is this something that the offense has looked at, or has it not been an issue until the protection has broken down? 
 Mike in Lancaster

CB: You bring up a good point. In Jim Kelly’s column this week on he mentions how more three step drops would help take pressure off the offensive line in protection and allow Evans and Owens to run routes where they can get yards after the catch.

I have to believe the offensive staff has looked at that a lot. And hopefully the touchdown play to Evans against the Jets will encourage them to make more use of it.
2. Hey Chris,
What’s the feeling on Ashton Youboty?  I thought he was doing really well starting last year before he went down to injury.  He’s not mentioned much anymore for the defensive backfield?  Are the other guys that much better?  Any word how Ko Simpson is doing in Detroit?  Thanks.
Joe (Norwich, NY)

CB: Youboty had a good training camp. It’s just that Reggie Corner and Drayton Florence had better ones. Youboty proved last year he can be a reliable player, but Corner has made more plays on the ball and Florence is probably the most physical corner on the roster.

Youboty has played sparingly as a result. He’s simply running behind those guys on the depth chart. Nothing more to it than that.

As for Ko Simpson he’s lining up at strong safety for the Lions, but he’s a backup. He’s appeared in four games seeing time on special teams. He’s made one start on defense. Simpson has four tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.


3. Chris, If the Bills continue to slump this year do you see them taking a run at USC S Taylor Mays? The guy is a freak, who can help a run and help a pass. With Donte being able to play SS and FS do you think Mays would be in the mind of the coaching staff come Draft Day?

CB: I think it’s kind of early to talk draft, because to know what this team needs is very much up in the air at a lot of positions. How does Kawika Mitchell come back from his season ending injury? What happens with free agents like Terrell Owens and Josh Reed? We can’t really peg position needs this early in the game.

That being said Taylor Mays should be a top 10 pick. I just think further fortifying the lines on both sides of the ball might prove to be the priority.
4. Hey Chris
If Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay do not play who will start in their place?

CB: I think Chris Kelsay will play. If he can’t go Ryan Denney would start in his place on Sunday. Kyle Williams is going to be a game time decision. If he can’t go Spencer Johnson would start in his place.
5. Since Buffalo’s defense has given up more than 1,000 yards on the ground in 6 games, can you believe the players explanation of poor gap responsibility, or is it that we’re simply getting outplayed physically at the point of attack and the second level.  Other than Stroud we don’t have really another big body on the the line, just high motor fineness players.  What do you think?  With the injuries to the line backing core early in the season, could we see the average rush per game numbers go down eventually with defensive signal caller in Poz back in the line up?

CB: Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has said he feels the defensive line is doing a good job with their assignments, but referenced the secondary and their inconsistency as part of the problem. He also said the frequent rotation of new players through the lineup at linebacker and safety has not helped.

Personally I think they’ve been really struck by the loss of Bryan Scott. In my opinion he’s the best run defending safety. With him out the last 3 games the Bills have given up an average of 246.3 rushing yards per game.

Keith Ellison told me that poor gap responsibility is just a lack of focus. Nothing else. I think the players have also been guilty of overpursuit at times where they flow too far to the ball to go make a play and leave their assigned gap leaving the team vulnerable to a cutback run.

It’s got to get fixed in a hurry especially with the run game they’re facing this week.

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McGee added to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2009 – 8:07 pm

Bills CB Terrence McGee was added to the Bills injury report on Friday.

He’s been slowed in practice a bit by a sore knee, but he practiced fully all week. Nevertheless he’s listed as probable.

Knowing McGee he should be fine for Sunday. If he can’t get through the whole game his backup is Ashton Youboty.

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Thurs. player radio appearances

Posted by Chris Brown on October 7, 2009 – 9:05 pm

Here’s the run down of Bills players on the airwaves Thursday.

George Wilson – Janet and Nick in the Morning, Kiss 98.5 @ 7:10 AM
Ryan Denney – Iron Mike in the Morning, 97.7 HTZ-FM, St. Catharines, Ontario @ 7:30 AM
Lee Evans – Morning Bull, 103.3 The Edge @ 7:45 AM

Fred Jackson – ESPN 850 WKNR, Cleveland @ 1:45 PM 
Ashton Youboty – SportsTime Ohio @ 1:45 PM

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How CB depth chart shakes out

Posted by Chris Brown on October 1, 2009 – 8:01 pm

With Leodis McKelvin now on injured reserve and lost for the season, here’s how the Bills depth chart shakes out at cornerback.

Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence are the starters. Reggie Corner is the first nickel and the backup to Florence on the right side.

Ashton Youboty is McGee’s backup on the left side. He’s also Corner’s backup at nickel.

Ellis Lankster is now the team’s fifth corner.

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Fan Friday 9-4

Posted by Chris Brown on September 4, 2009 – 8:42 pm

Well some big stuff going down at One Bills Drive today. Here are some of your questions.

1. Hi Chris:

Lifelong Bills fan from Long Island here. Just got the news about Schonert.
Tough break….but something needed to be done.

Any thoughts from the organization in bringing Kelly in as a consultant or on the staff since he is SO familiar with the no huddle?

Good luck and GO BILLS!!!!!!!!!!
Ed Norris

CB: Jim Kelly has stated time and again that he does not have an interest in coaching. A consultant however, is interesting. That being said, Alex Van Pelt was a reserve QB behind Kelly when the K-Gun was being run here. So Van Pelt knows it just as well as Kelly does.

We’ll see how he approaches the use of the no huddle, which Dick Jauron said will continue despite the firing of Turk Schonert. I’m both happy for Van Pelt and concerned for him.

Yes, it’s a good opportunity, but how many of you would want to be handed a play calling job with 10 days to prepare and you’re facing Belichick? I think Van Pelt is more than capable, but I think he’d prefer to have more than 10 days to prepare, especially since he hasn’t called plays in a game since 2005.

It’s a tough spot. If he comes through he’ll be a hero. He’s got my support, I just wish the circumstances were different for him.
2. Dear, Chris
How is Dominic Rhodes handling 3rd team offence, because with his track record of being a solid # 2 back, with about 8 carries and 7 catches a game throughout his career, but now with buffalo he might get that the first 3 games but after that, he might be inactive with our deep Wr and Db corps. The bills ran w/ 2 Rb’s active last year they’ll probably do it again. Is he banking on Special Teams, im not sure why he wanted to go to the bills, i understand why the bills pick him up. How many years is his contract?
~  Will-O

CB: Rhodes has a 2-year deal with Buffalo. I think they’ll use him for the first three games in the same way they’ve used Fred Jackson when Marshawn was the feature back. Of course with Alex Van Pelt now the play caller that could change.

Rhodes is a proven back and for a smaller guy he runs tough between the tackles. He’s a proven receiver out of the backfield. I think there are several ways Van Pelt and Eric Studesville can make use of him even when Lynch is back with the team.
3. Hey Chris,
 I am completely obsessed with the battle for the NB position. Who do you think will end up getting it since we have so much depth? I think Florence will get it though Corner deserves it. Plus I wish Corner would get the chance because he is starting to really prove himself and make plays. Watching him play on TV, there is something about him that says potential starter and I think getting the younger guy in there will give them a chance to train him to be a starter one day. Plus, though I love Youboty (being an OSU fan and all) but he cant really stay healthy?

Thanks and keep up the great work!
Jim (Ohio)

CB: Thanks for the kind words Jim. As for the nickel back role it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires there. Florence had a stranglehold on the job before he suffered the sprained knee in the Chicago game. He’s expected to begin practicing with the team again the middle of this coming week.

But Corner has really been excellent filling the void. I think the coaching staff prefers Florence only because he’s stronger than Corner physically. And that’s important especially in 3rd and short to 3rd and medium situations. The reason why is if it’s 3rd-and-3 teams usually pass, but if they see a smaller nickel corner sitting in the slot, they’ll try to run right at him to get the first down.

I’m not saying the Corner is not good in run support. I’m just saying that Florence is a little better and would be a little more of a deterrent to teams thinking about running on a 3rd-and-3 if he’s in there. That being said Corner has proven to be more opportunistic in defending the pass. He led the team in INTs this preseason with 3, including one that he returned for TD.

It’s going to be a very tough call, and likely will depend a lot on how Florence looks on the practice field this week.
4. Hey Chris,

 Ive was wondering what your opinion was of the bills offense this year. According to the coaching staff our line is better. Now I have a hard time believing that just becuase of the lack of production. The only good drive the 1st team had going was at the Hall of Fame game when they were driving on the Titans. That ended in a pick becuase of O-line getting pushed back and not being able to create a good pocket. I guess my biggest concern is everyone says this is a make or break yr for Edwards. If the O-line doesn’t get it together I would hate to see Edwards be the fall guy for poor offensive production. I believe he has alot of upside to him and I think if given time to throw he could be a very good franchise QB. What is your opinion on how the Offense will perform from what you have seen in the practices?
Thank you,

Garrett from PA

CB: I think the offense will have its ups and downs this season because of the wholesale changes up front. That degree of change doesn’t just mesh together in a couple of months. I think it could take half a season. Now that doesn’t mean that the line isn’t talented. I think there’s a lot of quality talent up front with this group. Jelling together is what takes time.

I believe this is an O-line that can be better than the one last year. I just don’t know how quickly we’ll see signs of that.
5. Hey Chris,

James Hardy has not practiced yet, right? When do they expect him to be ready? Can he contribute this year?


CB: No, he has not been cleared to practice. The problem is the stamina in his knee isn’t sufficient to get through practice day after day. I expect him to be placed on Reserve/PUP which would give him until the end of Week 6 to build up the endurance in that knee to the point where he can practice with the team again.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-14

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2009 – 1:25 pm

Training camp is winding down, with three days left at St. John Fisher after today. Still some time before the regular season however. Let’s see what you’ve got for me this week.

1. Hi Chris,
Do you think one of the reasons the Bills have been reluctant to deal with the strong outside linebacker spot is because they plan on using Maybin there (as well as DE)?
Mark (State College, PA)

CB: I don’t believe that’s the main reason why, but it could be a factor. The Bills defensive staff really likes what they’re getting out of Nic Harris so far in the preseason. I believe he’ll push Keith Ellison, but ultimately experience will win out there. But Maybin I believe will be used as a rush linebacker in addition to getting snaps at defensive end. I think where he lines up will depend a lot on down and distance.


2. Hey Chris,
I was lookin at your Q&A regarding safties.  You didn’t mention Ko Simpson.  So you think he will be cut this training camp?  I think
that would be a shocker, considering he is young and his experience.  But I guess I can see, with the addition of Byrd, they may not have
the room. Do you think the Bills may look at trading him?

Shawn Sieracki
Dallas, Texas

CB: I think Ko Simpson is a bubble guy in this camp due mainly to the presence of Byrd. Though he hasn’t set foot on the practice field yet, Byrd was taken in the second round for a reason, to get on the field sooner rather than later. Buffalo did not get a single INT from their safeties last season. That has to change. Byrd had 17 INTs in college in three seasons.

If he shows any kind of promise in the preseason games he plays in and doesn’t look lost, he could be a starter before this season is over. Either way he’s a lock to make the roster.

In all likelihood the team keeps five safeties. Right now here’s my list of who I think they keep. Whitner, Scott, Wilson, Byrd and Wendling. Wilson and Wendling make it because they’re more valuable special teams players than Simpson.


3. Chris,
Nice job on the site.  How do you see the O-line situation developing…the situation at guard has been often discussed, but a couple of situations I am interested in is (1) Demetrius Bell – probably not a starter this year, but from what I saw last year it seems like he might have the athletic ability to be a LT – do you see him starting in yr 3 or 4?  Also, what do you see happening at backup center, Brandon Rodd or have somebody like Seth McKinney cover backup at guard and center?

CB: With Bell I think they see him as the heir apparent to Langston Walker, who three years left on his deal counting this season. I believe Bell is left tackle caliber. He’s certainly athletic enough. I think he’ll be the team’s swing tackle this fall.
At center Brandon Rodd has done okay as the backup. You’re right Seth McKinney does have NFL experience there, but he has not seen reps in the pivot thus far. I think he would be an option though. I don’t anticipate them putting Eric Wood in there either, despite the fact that he played there in college.


4. Hey Chris, 
I’ve noticed in most of your articles dealing about the LB position, you always mention Ellison only having two players to battle with for the starting position, Bowen and Harris. Why isn’t Pat Thomas mentioned at all? Is Thomas battling for a back up position behind Kawika or Poz? If Thomas isn’t being considered to battle with Ellison, do you see him actually making the team?
Brian Craig (Walworth, NY)

CB: Pat Thomas is battling for the backup MLB role with Marcus Buggs. It’s been a heated competition with the two of them flip flopping back and forth in the backup role behind Poz. As for Ellison his greatest competition looks like it’s going to be Harris. Bowen has been largely on the weak side in camp.


5. Hi Chris,
The battle to land a spot on the roster at corner is one that I find most intriguting on the Bills this season. How many corners do you figure will make the roster? Which ones?

CB: I think the top four or five corners are easy to determine, but do they keep a sixth is the question. McGee, McKelvin, Florence, Youboty and Corner all make the roster as I see it. Then if they decide to keep a sixth I believe it’s Ellis Lankster. Cary Harris and Lydell Sargeant probably go to the practice squad.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Owens, several others not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2009 – 5:44 pm

Terrell Owens is not on the practice field again today due to his sprained toe. He was joined as a non-participant by a handful of his teammates.

Ashton Youboty, Steve Johnson, Felton Huggins, Xavier Omon, Ashlee Palmer and Copeland Bryan are not practicing.

Dominic Rhodes appears limited with his sore knee.

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Youboty and Palmer not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2009 – 11:30 pm

Ashton Youboty is still a spectator with his groin injury and LB Ashlee Palmer is not in attendance.

Posted in Inside the Bills
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