Bills rooks working in ATL

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2011 – 12:27 pm

Some of Buffalo’s draft choices are still working out together in Atlanta.

That according to Bills third-round pick Kelvin Sheppard, who said as much on his twitter account as he’s working out with top pick Marcell Dareus and a few others. 

KelvinSheppard An can’t forget my boys @TakeoSpikes51, @jairusbyrd, @DSearcy21 an a couple others not in pic out there grindin too!!

Here’s a photo from the workout in which he and Dareus appear. Dareus is dead center and Shep is on the far left.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-10

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2011 – 11:30 am

Alright Bills fans, time for another round of your offseason questions from Feel free to submit any questions you might have via e-mail. Let’s get right to it.

1 – Chris, One thing I’m often wondering about in the offseason is what the players are up to: their perceptions of weak areas in their games they could try to strengthen, exercise and practice routines, their daily life -families, hobbies, community service, books, movies, TV, travel.  Does Levi Brown work on specific areas of need in his game or just on getting stronger physically? Does he throw much? Does he do things to work on decision-making, play calling, recognition of defenses, etc,etc.  Do the players work together (receivers and quarterbacks, offensive linemen  and defensive linemen)?  Do agents provide mentors for young players?  Would the team normally give them grades on their play and suggest or provide off season coaching (not this year of course).  We keep hearing how professional athletes have year round commitments to their sports in terms of conditioning etc, but just how specifically do they try to improve their skills in the off season?

Jim D.

CB: Most rookies when they enter their first NFL offseason are usually told they need to get stronger. Their first trip through the rigors of a 16-game season is a learning experience. Often times they’re asked by their coaches to improve their strength and stamina to better handle the more demanding pro schedule.

Players usually have exit interviews with their position coaches and head coach at the end of the season. It’s then when they’re given a road map on where they need to improve their game.  A lot of times a coach will ask the player first what they’d like to improve. Obviously improving some things is limited to a team practice setting, like reading defenses quicker (for receivers). But there are things they can improve on their own, like sharper route running.

Working together with teammates usually doesn’t happen in a normal offseason, that is until they come in for OTAs and minicamps. But maintaining their conditioning is a year round process.


2 – Hi Chris,

Which of the Bills draftees do you actually see starting on the field this year (If the lockout ends)? I’m guessing Dareus will be a full time guy, and that Williams and Sheppard have a good chance of starting. Also, who do you think makes the 53-man team? Which veterans will be really pushed for their jobs this year?                                                                    


CB: In talking to Bills GM Buddy Nix, I know he’s confident that most of the top half of his draft class will push for starting jobs from Dareus to Searcy. Dareus should start from day one just because of his immense talent. Williams steps in at a position where there are currently only three cornerbacks under contract in McGee, McKelvin and Corner, so there’s an opportunity there.

Sheppard might have the stiffest competition as he presumably will be going up against veteran starters. Searcy’s versatility will earn him a long look at strong safety.


3 – Hey Chris,

Seeing that Pryor will most likely enter the supplemental draft, do you think that the Bills will take him?  I don’t know how it works, but they would have the third pick would they not?  And the two picks before them don’t need a quarterback.  Gailey could work with Pryor’s skill set and Fitz and all the Bills could help guide him.

Tommy of Pittsford 

CB: Having not spoken to Chan Gailey or Buddy Nix it’s hard to know what they might think of him. My own issue with Pryor is he hasn’t developed the quarterback skills that you need to succeed in the NFL as I see it. That’s not to say that he can’t develop them. Most expert evaluators I’ve spoken to are of the opinion that he can’t make all the throws, needs more experience effectively sensing pressure (takes off too soon) and needs more experience in a pro-style offense. Most draft gurus believe an NFL club would not surrender more than a 5th to 7th round pick on Pryor.

If a team chooses to use a pick on Pryor the way it works is an NFL club if they choose to use a 5th on Pryor would surrender a 5th in the 2012 NFL draft and use it instead in the Supplemental draft.


4 – Chris, 

How do you think the bulk of the carries will be split between CJ and Fred. It’s very obvious that Chan is smitten with CJ’s skills but Fred can do everything well. Most fans would like to see CJ explode this season and be a 10+ touchdown guy. Chan does like to throw the ball more than run it. What do you think Chan will do? 


CB: This is a tough one having not seen any team practices in light of this unusual offseason. I do know they want to get C.J. more involved in the offense, however I still believe Fred will do a lot of the heavy lifting with respect to inside run plays. I think in the end we’ll see Spiller get a lot more touches per game, but I anticipate a lot of his work to be out in space outside the numbers, similar to the role Reggie Bush has played in New Orleans’ offense.


5 – Chris,
I’m a little concerned about some of the rule changes I’ve read about.  According to an article I read online recently:
The following hits on players in a “defenseless posture” are now illegal:
• A player in the act or just after throwing a pass.
• A quarterback any time after a change of possession (i.e. turnover)
If a player in the act of throwing a pass is considered a defenseless player, does that mean that a QB can drop back with his arm cocked back (statue of liberty style) and then get as much time as he wants to pass while no defenders are allowed to hit him?  Are defenders allowed to try to knock the ball out of the QB’s hand and cause a fumble as he’s winding up?  Are QB’s basically going to be able to pump fake any time a defender’s about to hit them to force a penalty if the defender touches him? 
Also, if a QB throws a pick, is he still allowed to try to tackle the player that’s returning the INT?  That sounds a little unfair if the QB is trying to tackle the ball carrier and nobody on the returning team is allowed to block him. 
Any clarification you can provide would be appreciated as I haven’t been able to find any in-debth description of how these rules are phrased or would be interpreted by officials.  Thanks for your help.
-Brendan (Las Vegas)

CB: On the plus side defensive players will no longer be penalized for grazing of quarterbacks’ helmets. That should avoid some of the ticky tack penalties that we saw last year.

Defenders can no longer leave their feet and launch themselves up into an opponent delivering a blow to the helmet with any part of his own helmet. (15 yard penalty)

And yes the definition of the defenseless player was expanded to include those players:
-throwing a pass
-attempting or completing a catch without having time to ward off or avoid contact
-a runner whose forward progress has been stopped by a tackler
-kickoff or punt returners while ball is in the air
-kickers or punters during a return
-a QB during a change of possession
-a player that receivers a blind side hit from a blocker moving toward his own end zone.

These defenseless player definitions are not black and white, they will involve judgment calls on the part of the officials, and as we saw with the horse collar tackling, it took a while for the refs to have a good handle on that.

Regarding your question about the statue of liberty tactic, if it’s clearly not part of a “normal football play” it’s probably not going to be in the official’s judgment to be a defenseless player. And again the defenseless player deals mainly with hits to the head and neck area with the helmet or forearm primarily.

With respect to a QB defending an INT, or a punter or kicker defending a return, what the aim of those players being included in the defenseless player definition is to prevent opponents from taking a free shot on the opposing QB on a change of possession.

A good amount of the time the quarterback has no chance of making a play on the ball after a pick, but opposing linemen usually take a shot at them anyway by “blocking them to the ground.” If a quarterback chooses to try to make a play on the ball then he’s fair game as I read it.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-27

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2011 – 12:47 pm

Time to get rolling with another edition of Fan Friday with your questions from

1 – Chris, as Bills fans I think we are prone to believing that change is always for the better. Can you shed any light on the qualifications of the new scouting department that Buddy has brought in? I know Bills fans were eager to move on from Modrak however was his dismissal so Buddy could bring in an old friend’s son and guy he recruited when coaching in 1972? What are the qualifications of the new hires?  Do they have a track record and any talent they are specifically credited with finding? How do the new hires’ experience match up to Modrak’s? Am I off base by saying that the Buffalo Bills will now only go as far as Buddy Nix’s eye for talent takes us?
– Colorado Bills Backers

CB: I think you’re selling the new hires short. First, Pro Personnel Director Tom Gibbons was with the organization from the time he started in this business in 1992. He worked with Buddy Nix when he was with the organization the first time and then again when both followed John Butler and A.J. Smith to San Diego. Nix has worked with Gibbons for the better part of the last 18 years. He wouldn’t hire him if he didn’t think he could add to the operation. Granted Cook is a guy that has some close history with Nix as his father coached with Buddy at one time. But to his credit Cook has his own self made resume in scouting.

Cook oversaw the pre-draft process for the Kansas City Chiefs for a dozen years, so he’s most definitely qualified for his current assignment with Buffalo. Buddy Nix made it plain. He only hires people he knows first hand. He’s not hiring people off recommendations.

Now comparing the experience of these two men up against Tom Modrak might not be fair since Modrak has been in the game since the late 60’s. But I believe Nix is confident these guys have an eye for talent that will only deepen the pool of quality players on Buffalo’s roster.

2 – Chris:
We have some defensive linemen who should be real run stoppers – Kyle Williams, Torrell Troup, Alex Carringon and Marcell Dareus. Kellen Heard and Mike Jasper both seem to have some huge upside (no pun intended); any chance we’ll see them this year, or will they be more likely relegated to the Practice Squad? It would neat to see us play the Ravens or Browns with Heard and Jasper on the inside, and Williams and Dareus on the outside.
Mike Allen, Pittsford

CB: I think Jasper has to come a long way in a short period of time (getting shorter with each day of the lockout) to convince the coaching staff he’s NFL ready as a rookie. Both he and Kellen Heard have a much bigger hill to climb with the depth of the defensive front now with Dareus in the fold and Torell Troup and Alex Carrington now second-year players. Buffalo’s staff is unlikely to keep more than six or seven defensive linemen on the active roster. Last year they kept seven, so if it’s seven that last spot could be between Jasper and Heard.

3 – Chris, 

Can you break down what you presume to be the starters for the defensive backfield? Listening to Buddy, it seems McGee, McKelvin, and Williams will be in competition for starting. In terms of SS how deep on the depth chart is Searcy? Buddy wants to bring back Drayton, how would that affect Reggie Corner and Rogers? How does the coaching staff plan to better defend the TE, in almost every game a linebacker or safety was burned in pass coverage. 

CB: A lot of questions there. Basically if McGee stays healthy and McKelvin is more consistent and no other additions are made or return I anticipate that McGee and McKelvin will be the starters outside. Those are a lot of ifs however. McGee has had trouble staying healthy the past two seasons and McKelvin has not been consistent.

That could open the door for Williams if he has a solid training camp, provided there is one. I don’t believe Williams will do any worse than being the third corner. McGee has been the team’s best run support corner. If staying healthy is still an issue for him they need a good run support corner on the strong side and Williams is the next best option for that.

Corner and Rogers would be corners four and five with other additions likely leading up to the season before final roster cuts are made.

As for Searcy I believe he will push both Bryan Scott and George Wilson for a starting role. He’s bigger than both of them physically and being stouter in the run front is critical for this team. Provided he shows and ability to cover he could be in the mix for that starting SS job, especially if he can muscle up with tight ends.

4 – Why didnt the Bills address o-line or tight end in draft as much in your opinion? And the 7th rounder Mike Jasper the monster d-linemen, will he play some nose tackle or does Williams stay at nose? And finally what happens with Fitz if the Bills miss playoffs again?


CB: I think people are expecting a lot from Jasper because of his athleticism and measurables. I’m not here to sell him short, but rather to keep expectations realistic. He’s got a lot to learn with respect to technique having not played nose tackle the past two seasons. He’s got to make the 53-man roster first. Kyle Williams will start at the nose and his backup will be Torell Troup. Jasper has to convince the staff that he deserves one of the last D-line spots.

As for not addressing offensive line, the Bills drafted a tackle in round four, Chris Hairston who is seen as a right tackle prospect. Tight end Nix said was a position they looked at, but that the board did not fall right with the prospects they had an eye on.

I think the staff believes they can work with Scott Chandler, who was picked up late last season, and Shawn Nelson is still an athletic talent they’d like to find out more about.

Fitzpatrick is the starter in 2011. Beyond that is anybody’s guess because he’s entering the last year of his contract, barring an extension.

5 – Chan wanted to upgrade the pass rush and taking Dareus and Kelvin will help the run game. Are there favorites going forward for the starting edge rushers? Without seeing Merriman on the field yet it’s hard to gauge how good he can be again. Kelsay looked better with his hand on the ground. Moats looked the best in pass/run coverage. Maybin still needs work but Torbor might be a good back up option to. Who do you think Chan likes?

Jack S.

CB: I think the whole pass rush hinges on Merriman. I know, that’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket, but if he’s right the Bills could really make a giant leap forward with their defense instead of steady improvement. If he’s on they could have a top 12 defense. But as you said it’s a wait and see type deal.

I believe Moats will only improve in year two, I’m interested to see what Danny Batten has to offer. Torbor I’m anticipating might move inside where he played for most of the two seasons prior to his arrival in Buffalo.

Who Chan likes is really anybody’s guess.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Searcy glad to be at workouts

Posted by Chris Brown on May 26, 2011 – 11:52 am

Bills fourth-round pick Da’Norris Searcy, who is profiled in the media center today on, was glad to get his feet wet with his new Bills teammates this week as they worked out together in Elma this week.

Searcy, who got some first hand coaching from Bills veteran safety George Wilson on the defensive scheme, sounded pleased with what he was able to accomplish in his first unofficial days as a pro.

DSearcy21 Just got done wit the last workout up here in B-LO, I’m just out here grinding wit my new teammates. #billnation wats good

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Posted in Inside the Bills

What I like about Searcy

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2011 – 12:21 pm

Bills fourth-round pick Da’Norris Searcy played strong safety for the Tar Heels and though he missed the first three games of the season still led the team in interceptions.

He had four in 2010 and was a victim of the NCAA investigation because he came out of it clean there at North Carolina, but because the investigation was delayed he had to sit and wait until it was done even though he wasn’t involved.

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Posted in Inside the Bills