Inside The Bills

Practice update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2008 – 2:58 pm

Not practicing for a third straight day are Brad Butler, Aaron Schobel and Ashton Youboty. That obviously doesn’t make the prospects of any of them playing Sunday very good.

Melvin Fowler appears to again be limited as Duke Preston is taking first team reps at center.

Terrence McGee is participating again. We’ll find out after practice from coach Jauron if in fact he did more today than Thursday.

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McGee practicing again

Posted by Chris Brown on October 23, 2008 – 4:15 pm

Terrence McGee is practicing for a second straight day, which is a very good sign that he’ll be a go on Sunday. McGee lined up with the starters at his familiar left cornerback position.

Not practicing Thursday were Ashton Youboty and Aaron Schobel. Schobel is still in the walking boot. Dick Jauron did not anticipate Schobel practicing Thursday, so it’s not a surprise.

Also not practicing was Brad Butler. Melvin Fowler was practicing, but Duke Preston was still taking first team center reps, with Jason Whittle next to him at right guard.

We’ll have a full update after practice.

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McGee practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on October 22, 2008 – 4:22 pm

Terrence McGee is back practicing in team work for the first time in a month since suffering a sprained MCL against St. Louis. McGee looked to be moving pretty well though he’s still wearing a knee brace.

Also back practicing was Melvin Fowler, but he may not be 100 percent as Duke Preston was still working with the first team offense.

Not practicing Wednesday were Aaron Schobel (foot), Brad Butler (knee) and Ashton Youboty (foot) looked very, very limited. Schobel is still wearing the walking boot.

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Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2008 – 7:29 pm

This was a week of several stellar individual efforts. We run some of the less noticed ones in addition to the stand outs right here.

BEST VERSATILITY: Donte Whitner – He played free safety, slot corner, a touch of cornerback and strong safety all in one game. San Diego didn’t even test him deep in centerfield. There aren’t many strong safeties in the league that can do all that he did and not get roasted.

BEST EARLY CHEMISTRY: Trent Edwards-Lee Evans – The quarterback-receiver tandem had a good rhythm going on the opening drive as Edwards hit his top wideout three times on the team’s first five plays from scrimmage for three first downs and 43 yards in gains to set up an early field goal.

BEST SCARE: Kyle Williams – His impending hit on Philip Rivers was so alarming to the San Diego quarterback that he just dropped the ball.

BEST POUNCE: Marcus Stroud – Williams’ fellow defensive tackle made the quickest drop to the ground of any 300-plus pound man I’ve ever seen as he made the fumble recovery.

BEST BUMP: Marcus Stroud – Celebrating with George Wilson after his fumble recovery, Stroud engaged in a chest bump celebration with Wilson and knocked him flat on his back.

BEST DRIVE COMBO: Marshawn Lynch/ Fred Jackson – Buffalo’s two backs were the team’s first touchdown drive. Lynch had three carries for nine yards including a grinding five-yard run on a 3rd-and-4 to keep the drive alive and a five-yard reception, while Jackson had a 14-yard catch and then a three-yard inside run to set up 1st-and-goal at the Chargers two. The two accounted for 28 of the 38 yards on the scoring drive.

BEST DAVID TYREE IMPERSONATION: Lee Evans – His one-handed press the ball against the helmet and shoulder pad catch was remarkable.

BEST FEET: Lee Evans – As impressive as his catch was getting a total of three feet down along the sideline was even more eye-popping as his momentum was taking him over the sideline quickly.

BEST DECEPTION: Turk Schonert – On the touchdown pass to Lee Evans, Schonert lined up two tight ends on the left with a fullback and tailback in the offensive backfield. The Chargers expecting a run up the gut put 10 men in the box, leaving Evans one-on-one with Quentin Jammer. Surprise!

BEST RECEIVER BLOCK: Josh Reed – He smacked a defensive back hard on a five-yard reception by Fred Jackson.

BEST OPEN FIELD HIT: Donte Whitner – His shot on Malcolm Floyd kept a big play from happening as he brought the big receiver down after just a three-yard gain.

BEST COVERAGE: Bryan Scott – Matched up one-on-one with Antonio Gates on a 2nd-and-goal from the 12, Scott stayed on Gates’ hip and prevented a touchdown pass from being completed.

BEST REVERSE: Fred Jackson – Vincent Jackson’s reverse notwithstanding, the Bills had an answer. On a 2nd-and-2 play Fred Jackson somehow gained the corner despite some very, very good pursuit to gain six yards and a first down.

BEST BLOCK BY A LINEMEN: Jason Whittle – The reserve guard stepped in and took out two defenders with a sliding cut block on Marshawn Lynch’s nine-yard TD run.

BEST BLOCK BY A BACK: Fred Jackson – Leading for Lynch, Jackson lowered the boom on Quentin Jammer driving him five yards deep into the end zone allowing Lynch to coast to pay dirt.

BEST THIRD DOWN STOP: Kawika Mitchell – Out on the wide side of the field with Darren Sproles coming at him, Mitchell prevented the speedy back from getting the edge on a 3rd-and-1 from the Buffalo 41-yard line.

BEST ONE LEGGED EFFORT: Brian Moorman – Despite a cramping plant leg, Moorman still got off a 49-yard punt.

BEST SERIES: Kawika Mitchell – On the first play of San Diego’s fourth quarter drive to try and re-take the lead Kawika Mitchell batted down a pass attempt on first down. Four plays later Mitchell pressured Rivers to force an incompletion. Three plays after that Mitchell anticipated a pass to Gates in the end zone and made a leaping interception returning it 32 yards to the Bills 30-yard line.

BEST ACCURACY: Trent Edwards – While his day on the whole was stellar (25-30 passing) his throw to Josh Reed on a 2nd-and-5 from his own 36 with 5:40 remaining was put in a very tight window between two defenders for a 16-yard gain that got Buffalo to midfield. It was a big time throw. The drive ended with a field goal to put the Bills up by two scores.

BEST CLOSER: Kawika Mitchell – His sack and forced fumble with just over three minutes remaining killed any chance for San Diego to come back in the game.

BEST UNRECOGNIZED PERFORMANCE: Copeland Bryan – The defensive end pressured Rivers before he threw the interception to Mitchell and then following Mitchell’s sack and forced fumble recovered the loose ball to secure the victory.

BEST TACKLER: Jabari Greer/Paul Posluszny – Greer was instrumental in limiting yards after the catch with solid wrap-ups, while Posluszny was a force near the line of scrimmage including one tackle for loss. They finished atop the team tackle chart with eight and seven tackles respectively.

BEST BELL ANSWERER: Duke Preston – Preston stepped in for the injured Melvin Fowler and handled a Pro Bowl caliber defensive tackle as Jamal Williams was a virtual non-factor in the game. Honorable mention to Jason Whittle.

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Bills-Chargers inactives

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2008 – 3:55 pm

Buffalo Bills
13-Steve Johnson
24-Terrence McGee
25-Xavier Omon
67-Melvin Fowler
77-Demetrius Bell
86-Derek Fine
94-Aaron Schobel
1–Gibran Hamdan – 3rd QB

San Diego Chargers
58-Derek Smith
67-Kynan Forney
75-Corey Clark
84-Buster Davis
88-Kris Wilson
89-Chris Chambers
94-Jyles Tucker
6-Charlie Whitehurst – 3rd QB

Lineup changes for the Bills:
75 Duke Preston will start at center.
28 Leodis McKelvin will start at left cornerback.
92 Ryan Denney will start at right defensive end.

Lineup changes for the Chargers:
80 Malcom Floyd will start at wide receiver.
92 Marques Harris will start at outside linebacker.

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Fan Friday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 17, 2008 – 7:00 pm

Fan Friday

Here’s the latest installment. Don’t forget if you have a question just e-mail me at and I’ll do my best to get all your questions answered.

1. Chris,
I went to NW Missouri and grew up in Maryville, Mo. I’m not able to watch Bills games but try to follow Xavier’s progress.
What’s going on with him currently? Is he on any special teams or has not even seen the field yet this year? I truly think the Bills have a hidden talent in Omon that someday, given the chance, will bust out into a very productive back.
Roger Watson

CB: Xavier was active for the opener, but did not play. He’s been inactive every week since. It’s been tough for a lot of the rookies to see time on the field. To date it’s been just McKelvin, Hardy and Johnson. But the coaching staff likes what Omon has done in the practice setting and on the look squad to prepare the starters for the upcoming opponent. There’s no denying he has potential.

2. Hi Chris,
I was wondering about the Ashton Youboty’s contract. Drafted in 06′ how many years does he have left on his deal? He has obviously stepped up his play and one can argue that he has been the best defensive back on the field this year. What are the chances of he Bills possibly extending Youboty before his on the field  play continues to excel and warrants more money down the road?
Thanks and Go Bills!
Sean Lindstrom

CB: Ashton is signed through the 2009 season. He was signed to a four-year deal coming out of college in 2006. As for extending Youboty, I think he may have to wait in line. Just at his position alone, Jabari Greer is up after this season and like Ashton, Terrence McGee is also up after 2009. McGee might prove too expensive which may cater to the team extending Ashton.

3. Chris – Now that Evans’ contract is extended, and Peters is (presumably) next in line for an extension, who are the players the Bills will target for extensions in coming seasons?


CB: As mentioned above, Jabari Greer is a free agent after the season and Terrence McGee and Ashton Youboty are free agents after ’09. So there will need to be some big decisions made with respect to the secondary. Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler are free agents at the end of this season so there will need to be some decisions as well with respect to the interior of the offensive line. John DiGiorgio and Keith Ellison will both be restricted free agents so linebacker is another position that will have to be examined. Angelo Crowell is a free agent after this season, but I don’t expect him to return.

4. When is the offensive line going to start making some holes for Marshawn Lynch.?

CB: This is a question that Dick Jauron has been asked several times over the past few weeks so I’ll let him answer it. He starts by disagreeing with the questioner who blamed it on the offensive line.
DJ: I wouldn’t say that. I would say it’s a combination of everybody. Marshawn and Fred would probably be the first to tell you they don’t hit every hole. They’ve missed some holes. The guys up front would be the first to tell you they’ve missed some blocks, too. We just have to get the whole thing put together and get better at it.

It was a focus of the team during the bye week so hopefully the production improves.

5. Chris,
I am a US Military Man serving in El Salvador and I have 2 quick questions for you. First what is Alvin Bowen’s status? I assumed when we brought in Spragan he was done for the year but Spragan was cut and I never read anything else about Bowen’s injury. What is the injury ACL/MCL?  is he out for his entire rookie season?

MA1(SW) Joseph A. Zaccagnino
Watch Supervisor/Command Career Counselor

CB: Alvin Bowen has begun rehab following his ACL knee surgery earlier this season. The recovery time is generally pegged at 7-9 months which would put him at about April. He’s on injured reserve so his rookie season is over.

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Injury update

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2008 – 6:26 pm

Melvin Fowler did not practice Thursday due to an elbow injury according to head coach Dick Jauron.

Aaron Schobel (foot) and Terrence McGee (knee) also did not practice Thursday. Jauron labeled all three players 50-50 for Sunday.

“All of those guys are questionable at this point for the game on Sunday,” said Jauron. “We’ll just have to see what happens day to day.”

If Fowler can’t go Duke Preston is expected to start in his place as he got the first team reps on Thursday.

Schobel revealed that his foot injury involves a ligament on the top of his foot and that he also has a deep bone bruise. He again wore the immobilizer boot Thursday.

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Schobel, Fowler not practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2008 – 4:15 pm

Aaron Schobel and Melvin Fowler are not practicing. Schobel is still in the walking boot.

Duke Preston is getting reps with the first unit in place of Fowler. Fowler did not participate in practice during the bye week, but did practice fully Monday and Wednesday.

Terrence McGee appears limited as he was going through individual drills. It’s a pads practice today and McGee was not in pads, so he’s not expected to do much.

And as I blogged previously John McCargo is back with the team practicing.

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Fan Friday Q&A

Posted by Chris Brown on October 10, 2008 – 6:57 pm

Don’t forget if you have a question just e-mail me at and I’ll do my best to get all your questions answered.

Let’s get to it.

1. I know each opponent is different and handle things differently. It seems over the last couple games the Bills are not blitzing as much. Is that because they think just rushing four is getting the job done?
Adam Janik

CB: The Bills did blitz Arizona early, but according to the coaching staff they were just outexecuted by a very sharp Kurt Warner. The quick passing game is the popular offensive answer to defeating an effective pass rush and it’s worked at times against the Bills. It’s not anything that the Bills front four aren’t doing so much as it is what the opponent is doing.

That being said I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more press coverage to keep opposing quarterbacks from going so quickly to their first reads. With signal callers like Phillip Rivers, Chad Pennington and Brett Favre coming up who know how to execute short passing games and make quick decisions, more bump and run may be in order to help the pass rushers up front.

2. Chris,
The thought crossed my mind that we have a lot of potential offensive weapons sitting on the sidelines most games.  Has there been or will there ever be talk about using McKelvin like the Bears used Hester on offense? What about trying a few of the circus tricks like bring Morman in as a Receiver or put Losman out wide (with a non-green dot helmet) like Atlanta would do with Mike Vick at times.  Based on the success Ronnie Brown had against the Patriots I can’t help but think a lot of teams are going to entertain the idea of using gadget plays to throw opposing defenses off or, at the very least, force them to burn a timeout.  Any of this possible?
Eric in Maryland

CB: While the Bills are not opposed to pulling the occasional surprise (see: special teams) Dick Jauron as a matter of philosophy is not a big fan of trick plays. He believes you do what you do best and challenge the opponent to try to stop it.

Now don’t think that Jauron is narrow-minded. Quite the contrary. Jauron just doesn’t believe you win consistently by using trickery, and I think he’s right. That being said Jauron is open to an unexpected play at the right time (e.g. Denney’s TD catch vs. Seattle), but putting McKelvin on offense would be putting too much on the rookie’s plate and Losman at receiver is a bit far-fetched as I see it.

3. Through the last three games, how has Ellison graded out at LB? Also, why does he play the strong side backer, when as I recall, he played the weak side for much of his earlier time in Buffalo?
Dick from Florida

CB: You are right. Ellison did play on the weak side last season, but this past offseason he was moved to the strong side to serve as Angelo Crowell’s backup. Ellison has been steady as far as I see it and he only has a couple of missed tackles by my count on the year. He’s good in coverage and a smart player. I know he’s not the biggest linebacker around, but playing alongside Posluszny and Mitchell and with a player like Stroud up on the line his size is not an issue.

4. Hi Chris,
What’s up with the letters “GU” on the players’ jerseys?  Thanks.  Gerry, West Virginia

CB: That patch is to honor Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association Gene Upshaw who died right before the regular season from pancreatic cancer. On opening week you may have noticed that each NFL home field had a giant GU symbol painted onto the field. Now for the rest of the season every NFL player jersey will have that patch on the shoulder.

5. Sorry to see Roscoe go down as he was off to a productive season and look forward to his return. With Parrish sidelined any chance of the Bills going with Evans and Reed as the wideouts and having Steve Johnson take that slot position? I think this kid has great hands and can run some nice routes. What do you think?
Randy C

CB: I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Steve Johnson since OTAs in the spring. He’s got a pro body already and is only going to get stronger in an NFL strength and conditioning program. I agree his hands are good. He doesn’t drop much of anything. While I certainly think he’s capable of playing the slot, at his size I’d anticipate seeing him outside a bit more. At 6’2”, 202 he’s a nice target out wide.

All that being said getting playing time is going to be tough for him. You don’t want to have too many inexperienced players on the field at once. So knowing they’re trying to get Hardy more involved each week, Johnson is probably not going to be on the field at the same time. Both rookie wideouts have made progress, but having them play important roles right away is probably not going to happen unless there’s another injury at the position.

6. Hi Chris-
I always like to look ahead to the draft, and I was wondering if you had thoughts on the Bills’ biggest needs.  Perhaps you could shed some light on the impending free agents, etc.

Bethlehem, PA

CB: I don’t like discussing draft needs during the season because one major injury could change the whole draft picture for the Bills (e.g. Kevin Everett). So I’d prefer to wait until the end of the season on that.

As for impending free agents, the unrestricted ones are as follows, Kirk Chambers, Angelo Crowell, Melvin Fowler, Jabari Greer, J.P. Losman, Duke Preston and Jason Whittle. As for restricted free agents on first glance I have John DiGiorgio, Keith Ellison, Corey McIntyre and George Wilson.

7. Dear Chris,
During the game against St. Louis I was thinking they might put Omon in to finish off the clock (no sense in letting Lynch or Freddy get hurt), however I noticed he was inactive.  With Barnes also out for the game who would carry the ball if Lynch or Jackson went down?  Only 2 RB’s on game day seems a little risky.  Thanks again for all your hard work.
Travis Van De Water
CB: I don’t know this for sure, but the most likely candidate in my opinion would be Josh Reed. He was recruited by LSU as a running back before being transitioned to receiver. So I would be willing to bet he would be the emergency running back option if both of the top two backs succumbed to injury in a game.

8. Hey Chris,
Have you heard any talk of a possible trade with KC for Tony Gonzalez?  I hear chatter on the message boards, but don’t know if there it trully any legit talk going on.  I believe he has 3-4 good years left, and would be an outstanding addition to our offense.  Your thoughts?
“Bills fan in Kansas”

CB: The trade rumors have surfaced due to an NFL Network blog on Gonzalez from a few weeks ago. Could he be traded? Sure, for the right price. What that price is would likely be a high draft pick and probably another as the Chiefs are looking to rebuild. I don’t know if you can get one of the highest-paid tight ends in the game for anything less than a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Jeremy Shockey, who came with behavioral baggage and an injury history, got the Giants a 2nd and 5th round pick from the Saints.

Gonzalez is one of the most durable tight ends in the game, so I think it would take at least that much compensation and probably more. Despite the price it would cost to land him, his base salary is pretty palatable. He’s only slated to make $1M in base salary this season before it jumps up to $4M in 2009, $4.5M in 2010 and $5.75M in 2011. Now $17 million of his salary was guaranteed when he signed a five-year extension in Jan. of 2007, so some of that base salary might be guaranteed.

If I’m the Chiefs I’d consider it knowing how much help they need at several positions, but Gonzalez is still very productive and the biggest help in taking attention off the Chiefs’ run game.

As for whether the Bills are interested, I think any team would be interested in adding Tony Gonzalez to their roster. I just think the cost to land him would scare a lot of teams off along with his age 32. Teams often fear paying a big price for a player that could be close to hitting the wall and not getting the proper return on their investment.

Buffalo’s most likely answer for that position could be in the draft with Missouri’s Chase Coffman. At 6’6”, 245 the guy is a mismatch in the passing game. He’s also got good bloodlines with his dad a former NFL tight end for the Green Bay Packers. Waiting to address that position further would be worth it if they can land this guy in late April.

9. I am curious about the release of Darian Barnes, as are many others.  How badly was his foot injured and how long until he would be 100%?
McIntyre looks to be a hard nosed guy that would work well with April and the ST forces, based a couple interviews I read when he was a Falcon.
Any other reason than injury to move away from Darian???
Bryan Vince

CB: I didn’t get the feeling from Darian when I asked him about his foot that it was going to be a lingering problem. I doubt his foot was why he was released. I just think they were looking for a more versatile special teams fullback. Yes, Barnes spent time on the kick return unit, but I think Barnes was a fullback first and a special teamer second. McIntyre from what I understand is equally good in both areas. He made his bones on special teams and can play on all four units. This was a way to upgrade special teams and not really lose anything at the fullback position. I don’t think injury played a role at all in that move.

10. It seems to me that for the last two weeks our offense is “cold” in the first half. They struggle to find a rhythm. Have the coaches considered going with the no huddle for the first series of a game?  Especially in a game like the Chargers. It might get Trent in the zone and throw off the defense.
I’d call Dick personally and suggest this but I misplaced his number.

CB: Good one John. I think what you’ve suggested is a great idea. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it sooner rather than later. It wouldn’t shock me if the Bills are waiting to use that for some of their more important AFC Conference games. I don’t know that, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself in light of the slow starts we’ve seen at times this season.

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