Inside The Bills

Battle for roles at DT getting tight

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2013 – 8:40 am

Buffalo’s starting defensive line is largely set with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams doing the dirty work in the middle. Behind them on the depth chart a tight battle is brewing between a handful of reserve candidates.

Players like Torell Troup, Jay Ross, Alan Branch, Jarron Gilbert and Corbin Bryant has all seen time inside. Several of them have been rotated in with the first unit as well for an extended look at times during the first two-plus week of training camp. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine admitted that was by design.

“Sometimes we have those guys, you always want to get a look,” Pettine said. “You can sometimes get fooled if they’re going against twos and threes whether it’s your own team or in a preseason game so we like to rotate those guys up. But it’s pretty clear to us that we’re going to have some tough decision to make in that room. You know you’ve built some depth at a position when you look at the math and figure out there are probably some pretty good football players that we’re going to have to part ways with.”

Pettine has said more than once that versatility is the strength of his defensive scheme, with several players asked to know how to effectively play two positions. For defensive tackles however, the versatility isn’t as high a priority.

“Not as much,” said Pettine. “We’d like to have those guys know two positions so it’s either the end and the tackle or the tackle and the nose, but it’s not as critical as it is for the edge guys or the off the ball guys.”

Troup and Branch have fared well when it’s come to neutralizing a double team to let other defenders make plays. Ross, Bryant and Gilbert have been in the offensive backfield more as penetrators. The next two preseason games will likely determine who sticks knowing that most NFL clubs rarely carry more than four DTs.

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5 performances you might’ve missed

Posted by Chris Brown on August 12, 2013 – 11:54 am

There were a number of quality individual performances in Buffalo’s first preseason game that made the highlight reel, but there were some that flew under the radar Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the better play turned in by some players you might not have noticed watching the game live.

Crezdon Butler – The cornerback was noticed on his second quarter interception off a tipped pass by Manny Lawson that led to a Bills field goal, but Butler had two other pass breakups in the game to lead the team with three. Those other two both came on third downs. One was on a 3rd-and-6 play at the Bills 26, which forced the Colts to settle for a FG. The other was on a 3rd-and-5 at the Colts 13, which forced a punt. He also had a third down tackle on a 3rd-and-2 bringing down Nate Palmer for no gain to force another punt. A really nice effort for the corner that’s been running with the second unit.

Jarron Gilbert – The reserve defensive lineman wasn’t dominant, but turned in a few plays that helped the defense get off the field. He had a quarterback pressure on a 3rd-and-5 that led to a Colts punt. Gilbert also had a tackle for loss on a pass to Colts back Kerwynn Williams out of the backfield dropping him for a loss of two. He had a pass breakup to his credit too.

Shawn Powell – Powell, who was coming off his best practice of camp, punted very well Sunday. He only kicked twice, but boomed a 55-yarder to the Indianapolis 15. Accomplished return man T.Y. Hilton unfortunately had a 15-yard return on the play. His other punt from his own 28 he launched out of bounds at the Colts 26 on a 46-yard effort. His best work however, may have come on his holds as he had to reach outside his body frame to get a couple of field goal snaps down in time for the kick attempts.

Nickell Robey – Robey had just a couple of tackles on defense holding receivers short of moving the sticks on both, but more importantly he proved himself capable as a punt returner. He looked elusive on his three return attempts. He had a long of just 14 yards, but he averaged 11.7 yards a return and made coverage players miss. Anytime a punter can average better than a first down (10 yards) you’re considered very productive.

DeMarco Sampson – Sampson got 28 snaps, but only 15 were pass plays. He had four receptions for 49 yards late in the game. Three of his catches went for first downs. He also drew a pass interference penalty that gave the Bills a first down on a third-quarter TD drive.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

D-line positions of note

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2013 – 4:15 pm

depth-chart-bbcomThere really weren’t any surprises on Buffalo’s first unofficial depth chart of the preseason released by the team Monday afternoon, but there are a couple of non-starter roles that were worth noting.

Jarron Gilbert, who made the team’s practice squad last season, is listed as a second-team left DE. He’s been getting consistent reps with the second unit there and has even been sprinkled in for some first team reps.

Gilbert does have familiarity with Mike Pettine’s scheme, having played in it for the better part of two seasons from 2010 to 2011 as a member of the Jets practice squad and active roster as he yo-yo’ed up and down between the two during those years.

Torell Troup meanwhile is listed as a third-team DT even though he’s been used a good deal with the second unit. DT Jay Ross, who has seen reps with the starters due to the limited workload of Kyle Williams is a second team DT.

You can check it all out right here.

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3 man race for 4th DE spot

Posted by Chris Brown on August 25, 2012 – 9:41 am

It’s a virtual dead heat for the fourth and likely final defensive end spot on Buffalo’s 53-man roster, and tonight’s game could tip things in favor of one of those players in the race.

“They’re all right in the mix,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “Gilbert is the one that made it a three-man race.”

Prior to Gilbert kicking outside to defensive end just over a week ago, Eddins and Moore were the primary candidates to land the fourth defensive end role. But Gilbert, who was playing defensive tackle didn’t look like a great fit inside. So defensive line coach Giff Smith moved him out to end where he played most of his college career, helping him earn WAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors at San Jose State.

“I guess end feels a little more natural,” Gilbert admitted. “I played it mostly through college and a little bit my rookie year. Both of them I feel comfortable with right now. I know all the plays in the base positions. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I get a lot of snaps and get a chance to prove myself out there. We’ll see how it is on Saturday.”


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