Inside The Bills

Mike Williams’ leadership via text

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 10:14 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams does things a little differently than most off the field, which is why it was no surprise to hear one of his unconventional methods of leadership for Buffalo’s offense.

After perhaps one of their best passing days this summer in practice Thursday, Williams confirmed that the competition of working with the Steelers brought out the best in them. He then elaborated on how he tries to keep his offensive teammates motivated leading up to practice.

“Being competitive, you want to win every down,” he said. “I send those guys a text, the receivers and quarterbacks, every day telling them we want to win every down. No matter what it is, we want to win. We want to win first down, we want to win second down, third down and if we go for it on fourth. We want to win. I think it’s about all of us being competitive. We want to win because the fans are out here and we want to show everybody that we’re a threat.”

Williams caught four passes in Thursday’s practice and was one of the top 3 playmakers from the session.

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Bills seeking out tips from Steelers vets

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 2:34 pm

There are some pretty big names on Pittsburgh’s roster. Players who have been very successful for a long time on both a personal level and as a team with many of them the owners of a pair of Super Bowl rings. So for a young up and comer like Aaron Williams talking to a player the stature of Troy Polamalu is pretty valuable.

“Absolutely anytime you have guys like Troy Polamalu out there, just to see how he looks at the game differently,” said Williams. “Everybody looks at the game differently and you try to be around someone like that who has been successful in this league. That’s kind of a lesson for me where I can ask questions and get what he thinks of the game and how he’s become the player that he is.”

EJ Manuel has said he plans to do the same with Ben Roethlisberger and there are a handful of others.

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The 2 things Spikes wants from ‘D’ at practice

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 2:29 pm

Bills MLB Brandon Spikes felt his defense’s performance was ok on Wednesday against the Steelers, but is convinced it can be a whole lot better as the team gets set for a second go round with Pittsburgh. Here are the two areas where Spikes is going to be demanding better.

“Honestly I feel like the first day was good facing a different team, but it wasn’t good enough,” Spikes said. “Defensively we went over the corrections this morning and we’re going to go out there today and execute.”

The area where Spikes wants to see the most improvement is in pre-snap communication.

“That’s what I was a little disappointed in on Wednesday,” he said. “I figured we were all sound, but when you see different stuff and how they’re attacking with the motions and moving guys around we’ve got to stay on top of that. Hopefully we can improve on that and get the job done.”



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Urbik to be back at LG again

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 2:24 pm

Bills OL Kraig Urbik, who has played mostly left guard in his time with Buffalo was flipped to the left guard spot Wednesday due to the sidelined Chris Williams. It’s yet another lineup shuffle that will continue today, but the interior lineman isn’t too worried about the latest switch.

Urbik took the move in stride, but admits the move does create some differences.

“With Chris (Williams) being out this week so far it’s not as different, but it’s still different going from right to left for sure,” Urbik said.

Urbik confirmed that part of the reason he was moved to the left side was to create a measure of comfort for fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson on the right side.

“Yeah he said he definitely feels more comfortable on the right side so that’s why we’re keeping him there right now,” said Urbik.

Urbik confirmed he’ll be playing left guard again today at practice in Latrobe against the Steelers.

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EJ hoping to soak up QB knowledge from Big Ben

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 10:01 am

EJ Manuel spent part of his offseason working and training with San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick. He also spent time watching film of some other upper echelon quarterbacks in the league. Over these two days practicing with the Steelers Manuel is hoping some of Ben Roethlisberger’s way of doing things rubs off on him.

“For me personally, to see Big Ben in action and watch him and see how he prepares for every practice and how he goes in and out of each day is a huge opportunity for me,” said Manuel. “I’m just trying to take advantage of it.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Big Ben. Growing up in Virginia, it’s not too far from Pittsburgh and obviously early in his career he took those guys to a Super Bowl, so  to get an opportunity to come out and practice with him is awesome. I’m very excited about coming back out (Thursday) and having another good day.”

The second joint practice between the Bills and Steelers starts at 5:30 pm.

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Marrone remembers Steelers camp as player

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 11:19 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone worked to scrape and claw his way onto an NFL roster several times before he got into coaching full time. The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the rosters where he tried to earn a role. That’s why pulling up the road in Latrobe to St. Vincent college Wednesday for the Bills-Steelers joint practices brought back a few memories.

“I remember walking out we used to run down the hill before practice to get ready to go with Coach Noll,” said Marrone. “I remember – I don’t know if they still do – do they still wear the black jerseys without the numbers on them? Most of the guys in the room didn’t even realize that. I must be getting old. We had these black uniforms and it was hot. We used to call them burlap sacks on top. They were tough. I just remember we used to run with our pads on with Coach Noll. I just real quickly went through that in my mind when I saw the fields.”

Marrone also had one personal interaction with Coach Noll on the field during his time on the Steelers’ preseason roster.

“I was always intrigued about how intelligent he was about everything, not just the sport of football,” said Marrone of Noll. “Not being a very good football player and being on the look team, I’ll never forget Coach Noll used to jump in. I remember one practice he played the defensive end and I was playing the defensive tackle giving our offense a look during a walkthrough. I remember him explaining to me about a TE twist and an ET twist and how it came about and how the names were Exit and Texas. I just remember him explaining that to me.

“I thought it was pretty cool for him to talk to a guy that probably wasn’t going to make the roster and give me a bit of a history lesson. I just remember that when we used to leave here and go play in Pittsburgh they’d say, ‘Better get up before Coach Noll because if you pass him on the highway, he’s going take down your plate and he’s going to get after you for speeding.’ Those are just some things I remember.”

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McKelvin easing back in

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 10:55 pm

Bills CB Leodis McKelvin had not done any team work for the better part of the last two weeks. On Wednesday however, McKelvin did see a bit of team work.

McKelvin, who is coming off of offseason hip surgery got a few reps in 1-on-1 WR-vs.-DB drills. He also got a few reps in the team portions of practice Wednesday. The Bills are taking things very slow with McKelvin, but even the little work the veteran cornerback got in team segments at Latrobe Wednesday is an encouraging sign.

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Tomlin’s promise to EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 10:40 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel was scheduled to talk to the media prior to hopping on a bus back to the team’s Pittsburgh hotel after practice. He was making his way over to the media across the field when he spotted Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin by himself and made a detour to share a few words.

The two football men are both from the coastal Virginia area where a bounty of NFL talent has been cultivated over the last 40 years. Tomlin was born in Hampton, Virginia about a 45 minute drive from Virginia Beach where EJ Manuel grew up.

“I’m very good friends with Coach Tomlin,” said Manuel. “He’s from the same area I’m from and I saw him a few weeks ago before I reported to training camp.”

Knowing the two would be meeting up with their teams together at St. Vincent college later this summer Tomlin promised Manuel that he would have his defense show him and the Bills offense whatever defensive look he wanted. True to his word Tomlin reiterated his promise to Manuel when they met on the field again Wednesday.

“Any look you want you just tell me and we’ll give it to you,” Tomlin said to Manuel.

EJ and Tomlin

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