Less than two weeks until training camp. Hard to believe it’s almost here. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. And keep sending them in. I usually get to everyone eventually.
1 – Hi Chris:
Do you think the Bills will carry seven wide receivers for the regular season? They are very deep here, and based on competition, I would say that maybe Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Session do not make the final roster. What are your thoughts?
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl
CB: I do not think they keep seven wide receivers. As I outlined in our Top 25 Questions until training camp series, I foresee the coaching staff keeping just five with a couple on the practice squad. I don’t dispute that it is a talented group, but in each of the past two years Chan Gailey and his staff have kept just five receivers. The main reason last year being that Brad Smith as the third quarterback can also serve as a wideout. This affords them some wiggle room at the position. Plus with talents like Kamar Aiken, who still has practice squad eligibility they can keep a reputable talent there if needed due to injury.
Six receivers (not counting Smith) is a remote possibility, but seven will never happen.
2 – Chris —
Hoping you might post this “question” (and your response) in your “Fan Friday” blog on bb.com. I continually find fellow Bills fans bemoaning the presence of DE Chris Kelsay on the roster. Kelsay has become a lightning rod of sorts — many fans believe he has underperformed, they don’t understand why he was extended by Nix, and they feel as though he should be a roster cut. I’ve grown tired of defending him myself, so I hoped you could give the perspective of the organization as to why they believe Kelsay is a valuable piece of the puzzle.
Thanks as always for your contributions,
Bills Season Ticket Holder since 1990
CB: I think the reason Chris Kelsay doesn’t garner the respect of some Bills fans is because they pigeon-holed him as a pass rusher. Kelsay is not a pass rusher by trade. He’s said it himself. He’s a well-rounded defensive end that when given an opportunity can log some sacks (see Week 16 vs. Denver last season). But his game is predicated on being good at everything. Not elite, but solid. His leadership both in his work ethic and what he says in that locker room carry weight as well.
The fans with whom I’ve spoke over the years that aren’t a big fan of Kelsay’s, almost all of them say he doesn’t get enough sacks. I’m confident the misperception of him as a pass rusher from the time he came to the team in 2003 is where a lot of this disappointment in his game is rooted.
3 – Hi Chris,
It was fun getting updates on how the players are doing in the OTAs and being excited about the upcoming season. One player I hadn’t heard anything about is Fendi Onobun. How is he doing? I thought it was great when we acquired him as there have been a number of athletic basketball players that have become really productive as tight ends. Do you see him figuring into the Bill’s plans? Thanks.
CB: Onobun is an athletic talent no question about that. The problem is the game is still very new to him coming from a college basketball background. As a result the nuances of the game do not come naturally to him yet. The coaching staff is eager to work with him and develop him, but I would expect him to reside on the practice squad this fall.
4 – Whats up Chris?
Thanks for the weekly insight, but I have a two part question with us drafting T.J. for the other side for Stevie how is he looking so far? Does look like he will have a chance to start opening day? & last I know Stevie gave Stephon his props & corner was 1 of our weaknesses last yr, so how does Stephon & Aarron look so far & could either have shutdown capabilities?
Draper Jackson Memphis,TN
CB: T.J. has definitely made progress. He made more plays in the passing game as OTAs came to a close and ran into spring minicamp. That being said I want to see how he handles things when the pads go on in training camp. It’s a different game against physical corners when the pads are on and closer to what Graham can expect out there on Sundays.
In fact Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore would out muscle him for the ball in the spring. Now that they’ll have a chance to work normal contact on him within five yards it’ll be interesting to see how he handles all of it. Training camp and preseason will tell us a lot about what to expect.
Williams and Gilmore looked very good in spring practices. I think those two will only benefit when the pads go on knowing both have a physical style to their play on the corner. It wouldn’t shock me if both wound up being the starting outside corners come Week 1.
5 – Chris,
Last season, I felt that the plays called in the Bills wildcat formation were predictable and unimaginative. Now that we have added a more talented QB in Vince Young to the wildcat formation, do you foresee the Bills using this package more often in ’12 and with Young in there do you predict that he will be throwing the ball more from that position as well. I don’t have the numbers but it seemed that Brad Smith’s arm was never utilized in the wildcat thus giving the Bills’ opponents a lame, predictable and ineffective offense. Will Young provide the wildcat offense with more plays throwing the ball. Chan seemed to have no confidence in Brad Smith’s ability to throw the football.
Thanks for your diligent and thorough coverage as we impatiently wait for this anticipated season to begin.
CB: The reason the Bills Wildcat package looked so limited last year was because the Bills could not sign free agents until a week before training camp. It prevented the Bills from fully incorporating Brad Smith’s talents into the offense because without spring practices like OTAs and training camp there was no forum to experiment with plays and effectively evaluate what he can and cannot do. Chan often lamented that fact during training camp.
Now with a full offseason Smith will again be the featured Wildcat QB and it’s my contention that he will throw more. Here’s a quote from quarterbacks coach David Lee for you to chew on regarding what they were trying to get out of OTAs and minicamp with respect to Smith’s capabilities.
“Every day the script for him is at the end of the OTAs determine what he does best,” said Lee. “What are Brad’s four best passes from empty? What are his four best passes with six-man protections? We’re trying to find out what he does best right now.”
Presuming they gathered that information in the spring practices the coaches will now install what they feel gives them the best chance for success in that package during training camp and make use of it with Smith at the right times during the season. Make no mistake, Smith is the Wildcat QB.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Brad Smith, Chris Kelsay, Derek Session, Fan Friday, Fendi Onobun, Naaman Roosevelt, Stephon Gilmore, T.J. Graham, Vince Young, Wildcat formation
Posted in Inside the Bills
Yes, undrafted rookie free agent signing Derek Session has the typical abilities of a receiver like ball skills and versatility and the ability to shield defenders from the ball, but there’s one other element of his game that the Bills like that is often overlooked in receivers.
Session is known as a good blocker, something not always found in receiver prospects. At 6’1″ 225 and with some background as a tailback, Session knows how to lock on to defenders.
The blocking ability of Donald Jones was one of the assets that caught the eye of Buffalo scouts a couple of years ago and earned him a role on the team as an undrafted rookie.
In Chan Gailey’s popular 4-by-1 sets there isn’t a tight end on the field. When the Bills run the ball out of those sets, which they did with some measure of regularity last season, having receivers that can block is key.
That doesn’t mean that Session has a great shot of making the active roster come September, but it doesn’t hurt his cause either. With 11 other wideouts on the roster counting Brad Smith his odds are long, but if he shows some promise and has blocking ability to boot the Bills could show a willingness to develop him further and perhaps consider him for the practice squad.
Tags: Derek Session, Rookie minicamp
Posted in Inside the Bills