Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 5-10

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2013 – 12:44 pm

Here’s the latest edition of your questions from and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

I enjoy your column and follow it virtually every week. Thank you for the good work. The Bills tend to steal defeat from the opponents during the last minute of the game. What is the strategy to address this issue from the new coaching staff?

C.J. Wong

CB: Well the first step has been an ultra-competitive and demanding offseason conditioning program. To a man, every player has said the program has been extremely challenging. It’s designed to have the players properly conditioned for fast-paced play and to have some gas left in the tank come the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

I think the personnel department made a point of adding players that not only had talent, but a track record of toughness in an effort to add some grit to the roster. These are initial steps, but they will help the team’s fortunes late in games.


2 – Chris:
Thanks for all the great insight you provide.  I have a few questions for you:

1)  I know the Bills released John Potter last year. Can you tell me if he signed with anyone, and why didn’t the Bills entertain bringing him back for kicking competition at camp?
2)  I feel Robert Woods is a great addition to this team and he reminds me of former # 1 draft pick in 1979,  Jerry Butler.   In your opinion, are there similarities between them?


3)  In a recent radio interview Bills (DE) Mark Anderson sounded as if he is still having knee issues, and he didn’t sound too comfortable moving to the linebacker spot.  I know the Bills are building this roster with the idea of players contributing in multiple position on defense.  Will the Bills keep him around just to be a specialty rusher, or could he be released before or during training camp?


CB: Potter to my knowledge is not in the league right now. The main reason he wasn’t brought back was because he was a kickoff specialist only. He wasn’t an especially accurate field goal kicker. Then add in the fact that Buffalo drafted Dustin Hopkins in round six, who is an accomplished field goal kicker and a solid kickoff man and Potter would not be a realistic part of a competition with Hopkins and Lindell. He’d just be taking reps away from the other two. Not practical.

The Bills, much like you, are excited about Woods too because he’s a polished, NFL ready wideout. He should be able to contribute right away in this offense. I don’t know if he’s quite as explosive as Jerry Butler when he came out, but he’s a talent in his own right and has above average speed.

Mark Anderson’s troublesome knee is going to become a concern if it does not allow him to do what makes him an effective player on the field. He had two surgeries through the course of last season, which ultimately landed him on injured reserve. We’ll try to get an accurate update on his situation when OTAs start up here next week. If he’s healthy and available I would expect Mike Pettine will find a role for him.

3 –

Love the work that you do on I got a question for you, as I’m sure most people do when they email you. Now that Chris Kelsay has retired, is Mario Williams going to be taking up jersey number 90? I remember Kelsey wouldn’t give it up last year, but obviously that problem is no longer there.

Thanks for the hard work,

John W

CB: Thanks for the kind words. As it has been explained to me Mario has chosen to keep jersey number 94, which I’m sure has every Bills fan with a Mario jersey breathing a sigh of relief.


4 – Hey Chris ,

I was just wondering if Kyle Williams has decided to or has gotten surgery on his other foot . Toward the end of last season i remembering that there where reports of his foot giving him some trouble & that he was going to wait until after the pro bowl so he could get the surgery done . To this point I haven’t read anywhere if he has had that done. If after the surgery he had last year he felt a 100 times better & if he had both feet done he may be even more of a force than he has been.
Well thanks again for all you do for the fans !!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: Yes, Kyle Williams did have surgery on his other Achilles in mid-February. He’s still not cleared to participate in any way at this time just three months removed from surgery. So it’s clear, much like his surgery last year it was not a ruptured Achilles that can take up to a year to heal. Instead it was a frayed Achilles. In such an instance doctors detach the Achilles, repair and strengthen, then lay it back down and re-attach it. Rehab last year was about five months.

When Kyle is ready to discuss it we’ll have the details on his outlook for you.


5 – Chris,


Thanks for the excellent coverage on the 2013 NFL draft.  Now that it’s over, could you explain exactly how the Bills work their “Board” with photos or diagrams.  You can use fictitious names but I’d like to follow how the have the players ranked and then how they work the board as the draft is proceeding.  Is it set up in columns by position and in rows by ranking?  I have a hard time visualizing how it’s set up.  I would appreciate a detailed explanation or if you could create an article for it that would be even better.


Ed White

CB: Actually you’ve got a good handle on it. Positions run across the top of the board from left to right with players grouped by position vertically in columns underneath those position headings. Then the draft grades run down the left side of the board in order 1-7. So a player at the top of the board will have a first-round grade all the way across no matter the position. And so on down the board.

The Bills also have a priority free agent board by position so they can effectively target the best of the undrafted prospects too.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kickoff decision moving forward

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2012 – 9:21 am

In Week 7 the Bills chose to make kickoff specialist John Potter inactive. Head coach Chan Gailey explained why.

“We had not been getting the number of touchbacks,” Gailey said. “There have been real good kicks, but one of the advantages is having touchbacks where you don’t have to cover and take the licks. We knew it was going to be a windy day and we were hopefully going to be kicking with the wind a lot. So it worked out that we just de-activated him and let Rian do the kickoffs.”

Gailey said moving forward that it would be a weekly decision based on the quality of return team they’re facing that week and the weather on game day.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Potter in need of more touchbacks

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2012 – 1:05 pm

Bills kickoff specialist John Potter had one touchback last week against Arizona, but his percentage has to improve moving forward.

Potter currently has 13 touchbacks on 26 kickoffs, and head coach Chan Gailey thought the percentage would be higher.

“You know, I was hoping that he would have more touchbacks and have more non-returned kicks this year, yes,” said Gailey following Friday’s practice. “I was hoping for that. The good thing about it is when he kicks it we have great hang time. That’s been a positive. So, you decide the trade-off every week.”

Potter got off to a good start at the beginning of the season. He had three touchbacks on his first four kickoffs in Week 1. He went 4-6 in Week 2 and 3-5 in Week 3 knowing Josh Cribbs brings the ball out no matter how deep in the end zone he might be. Potter went 3-4 against New England, but against San Francisco and Arizona he went a combined 1-5 dropping him to the 50% success rate.

Potter was seen taking extra kickoffs during practice this week. Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven did talk about staying above 50% on touchback to kickoffs this season.

“I want him to have those touchbacks,” said Gailey. “That’s why we hired him is to be able to kick the ball deep. We need more consistency from him.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Potter faring well

Posted by Chris Brown on October 6, 2012 – 2:35 pm

Bills kickoff specialist John Potter said he was shooting for a 70% touchback percentage when he started the season. It was a lofty goal knowing only one NFL club (Denver) reached that figure. Here’s how he’s fared through the first quarter of the season.

Potter has a touchback percentage of 63.2% good for seventh best in the league. Head coach Chan Gailey believes Potter’s percentage would be even higher were it not for a new trend on kick returns this year.

“The thing that I think has happened is I think there are a lot of people that are bringing the ball out than they were last year,” Gailey told “So we’re finding that maybe there aren’t as many touchbacks league wide and if you look at the percentages. I would like to have more touchbacks, but the good thing about it is when he doesn’t kick it deep enough, he’s kicking it very high and giving our coverage team a chance to get there.”

Cleveland was one of Buffalo’s opponents that brought out every one of their kickoffs even though a couple were received eight or nine yards deep in the end zone. As a result Potter has 12 touchbacks on 21 kickoffs.

Denver with their thin air again leads the league in kickoff percentage with a mark of 90.9%. No other NFL club is currently at or above 70%. Chicago and Washington are closest at 69.6%.


12-21 63.2%


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-21

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2012 – 1:30 pm

Win number one under the belt. Bills will try to stack another one in Cleveland. But first your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

Can you explain the thought process of putting Ron Brooks on the designated to return I-R? He’s probably their fifth or sixth corner. I would think they would want to save that for someone like Fitz, Fred or Mario. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that but there are likely to be more important players that we would want back.


CB: I’m going to let Coach Gailey handle this one. Here’s what coach said about this decision.

“First of all the person has to stay out eight weeks no matter what,” said Gailey. “So if you waited until Week 6 until somebody got hurt then they could only come back for two games in the season. Second, if you’ve got a guy that was playing extremely well and you didn’t know if he would continue to come on… how many injuries are you going to have at corner? We had a banged up couple of corners anyway at the time. You just make a judgment call and we felt that was the smartest thing to do at the time. If Fred Jackson or Eric Wood had suffered an eight-week injury in Week 1 you’d have second-guessed yourself. That’s life.”


2 – Chris:

Considering it’s not one of the bigger Buffalo Bills stories going on, do you think that Dorin Dickerson is going to play a larger role in the Bills offense then what we and the media have all been discussing?  Is Dickerson flying under the radar, with his speed and size might he pose matchup problems for other teams?…like what that team in NE does with it’s Tight Ends?

Thanks & Go Bills!
Doug Glassman
Waltham, MA

CB: I don’t know if Dickerson will become as big a weapon as the tight ends in New England in Buffalo’s passing game, but I think a role for him will emerge. Now the play down at the goal line against the Chiefs was not what anybody had in mind in terms of results, but he is a mismatch in the passing game for most linebackers. He also brings a bona fide H-back to Buffalo’s offense, a role that previously had gone unfilled. I just think it might take some time before Dickerson’s role is fully defined.


3 – Hey Chris,

Any chance Potter will be out there for some long distance field goal attempts? I’m thinking end of game or end of half try’s in the 55-60+ yard range where subsequent field position would not be an

johnnybass in NYC

CB: Chan Gailey has mentioned that as a possibility particularly at the end of a half or game. We’ll have to wait and see if such a situation arises.


4 – Chris,

Do you know why the coaches decided to use Potter, not Lindell, to attempt the onside kick against the Jets?  I would think that Lindell is much more experienced with that type of kick.

Joe Suszczynski

CB: With Potter handling all the kickoffs, as soon as the opposition saw Lindell out there lining up it would serve as an indication that something different was coming. That’s not to say that the Jets weren’t expecting an onsides kick, but I would tend to believe special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven would like to keep kickoff duties uniform to Potter so if they wanted to pull a fast one in another situation the element of surprise would be there. 


5 – Chris:

You being around the team and watching how Buddy Nix is building the roster and how the coaches are developing each unit do you notice similarities between how the Bills and the 49ers are doing things?  I feel the offensive and defensive play calling and talent on the lines are very similar, and if the Bills can add more defensive speed and ability at linebacker and safety as well as at wide receiver they could mirror the 49ers.  What are your thoughts? 


CB: I think you can draw parallels between a lot of NFL clubs knowing a lot of GMs subscribe to similar philosophies, but as you mentioned the Bills still have some more building to do with depth at LB to approach what San Francisco has at that position. The 49ers have been a bit more apt to sign veteran free agents than the Bills on a year in and year out basis as well. So while the Bills have built their lines much like the 49ers, I don’t think they’re strikingly similar on the whole.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-14

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2012 – 1:57 pm

Week 2 and the home opener for the Bills. Let’s hope the results are better than last week. On to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills

1 – Hey Chris,

Do you know if we will ever get a graphic on our scoreboard every time Mario Williams gets a sack like Houston used to do for him (check it out on youtube)? I’m not saying it’d have to be as elaborate, but it’d really get the fans pumped when he, or any of our staunch D-linemen get a sack. 

Nate in Rochester

CB: From what I understand there are some plans in the works for something like that, but I don’t know when it will be unveiled.

2 – Chris:

In seeing the success of (K) John Potter in the preseason, and the talent he has in being able to kick touch-backs consistently, I can’t say that I would disagree with Chan Gailey opting to make him a permanent fixture on the special teams for kick-offs.  We’ve all discussed the pro’s: less injuries, saving Rian Lindell from tackles/block action, no huge returns, field position…etc.  The pro’s greatly outweigh the discussed ‘con’ of giving up one of the 53-man roster spots.  However, in watching the preseason games, I feel like this will effect Rian Lindell more then people are discussing. Wouldn’t you think that kick-offs are a large part in allowing kickers to stay loose and confident for when the time comes in a game for a longer field goal?  I’m worried that Lindell might have a rougher go this season due to a change in his routine.  Do you think that is a valid concern?

Thanks & Go Bills!
Doug Glassman
Waltham, MA

CB: You might be over thinking it a bit. By not having to do kickoffs, which require a different technique (i.e. kick for hang time) he’s now only really kicking one way (for FGs). With Potter handling kickoffs it will save his leg, thereby making long range kicks more realistic and allow him to focus on kicking one way all the time.

3 – Chris,

Will the Bills use Dorin Dickerson as an extra receiver in the four wide receiver sets? What I saw of him on the training camp clips, he is a very valuable weapon in the passing game.
Ormond Beach, FL

CB: I think the Bills coaching staff sees him as a mismatch in the passing game. He’ll most likely be used as an H-back in Buffalo’s offense. However, I think his role in the game plan will be largely dependent upon the opponent each week. But yes, I would anticipate seeing him as a guy split wide at times, or motioning before the snap.

4 – Chris,
Who is the funniest player in the Bills locker room?? Or maybe give me the top two… Thanks for all you do!

-Displaced fan from Cali

CB: I don’t really witness a whole lot of joking around among the players, but I will say that Fred Jackson and Nick Barnett are notorious pranksters always pulling stuff on their teammates.

5 – Why do they call George Wilson ‘The Senator’?


CB: George Wilson got this nickname from the media, mainly because he is such a good quote. Journalists often look to reliable, quotable players to provide an accurate pulse of the team, a poignant comment on a teammate or a worthwhile perspective on any football topic. George does that. Sometimes his answers are long, but they’re worth it and at times his answers have a style that would fit in the political arena. I believe it was the Buffalo News’ Jerry Sullivan that first dubbed him ‘The Senator’ and it stuck.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Potter now the ultimate specialist

Posted by johnmurphyshow on September 1, 2012 – 2:12 pm

He’s here for one thing, and one thing only.   But it’s a pretty big thing.

Rookie kicker John Potter made it to the Bills 53-man roster last night as their kickoff specialist.  He did his job in the four preseason games, nailing 11 of his 13 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.  But even with that performance, Potter told us he was sweating out Friday night’s final roster cutdown.

“I did, yeah, all day yesterday, every call I got was pretty nerve-wrecking,”  he said in the locker room Saturday.  “I’m definitely glad that’s over with. I’m here and I’m ready to play.  I think coaches knew they needed to get their kickoff game where it’s been in the four preseason games.  I think it will help out our defense, keep players healthy, and get the other team started on the twenty yard line.”

The pressure’s on Potter now.  He knows he has one role to play on the Bills roster–hammer the ball into the end zone and keep the other team’s kick returns to a minimum.

“That’s the job of kicker to do—one thing,” he says.  “Usually, it’s field goals and kickoffs.  But just switching to kickoffs isn’t too much of a transition.”

“It’s really rare to have a kickoff specialist so it’s great to be able to help the team out, and hopefully field position will be really good for us this year.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

K Potter hoping he did enough

Posted by Chris Brown on August 31, 2012 – 2:14 am

Bills kickoff specialist John Potter was perfect on kickoffs for touchbacks in the preseason going 8-for-8. He was the only kicker in the league in the preseason to have a perfect mark for touchbacks… until Thursday night.

Potter nailed his first two kickoffs in the preseason finale against Detroit for touchbacks making him 10-for-10 on kickoffs. Then to start the second half, Potter booted the opening kick four yards deep in the end zone and it was returned to the 19-yard line for a 23-yard return.

On his next kickoff later in the third, he only kicked off two yards into the end zone allowing Nate Hughes to return it to 19 yards to the Detroit 17. He finished the preseason with 11 touchbacks on 13 kickoffs.

“I feel pretty good about how I kicked off except for a few kicks—a few shorter ones in this game and one in the first game,” Potter said. “But overall, I’m pretty happy with how I performed so far.” 

Potter’s kickoffs have gone for touchbacks so frequently that most thought the kickoffs to start the second half were short on purpose to get the coverage team some live practice on returners, but that wasn’t the case.

“On those ones, I wasn’t trying to hit it my hardest,” he said. “And maybe at that point, later in the game, you don’t have the adrenaline flowing so you got to hit it a little bit harder.  That’s something I need to get a handle on, and start working on in the coming weeks. 

When asked if the two non-touchbacks would factor into the final equation on whether Potter makes the 53-man roster.

“It’s all part of it,” he said.

Final cuts are due at 9 pm Friday evening.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-10

Posted by Chris Brown on August 10, 2012 – 11:30 am

Well preseason game number one is in the books. Just another four days of camp and the team returns to One Bills Drive. Let’s get to your questions from and @ChrisBrownBills on twitter.

1 – Chris,
I was wondering what kind if influence an improved defense would have on the offensive play calling?  If (IF) this bill’s defense can live up to its billing, will Fitzpatrick need to throw as much?

CB: I asked both Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick this very question a while back. Both indicated that when you’re playing with a lead more often there’s less of a need to take risks. Here’s exactly what they had to say about your question.

“You have a football team,” said Gailey. “You don’t have an offense, a defense and special teams. You have a football team and the objective is to win the game. So you’re always adjusting to what the situation in the game is and if we’re in closer ball games and we have leads you do change your thought process and the way you approach the game. And it allows Fitz to alter the way he approaches the game a little bit. We’ve got to continue to work that because we’ve not been in that situation in the last couple of years.”

I think it allows you to limit the risks you take,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think if you’re in games all the time and not falling behind whether it’s from a poor performance early from the offense or whatever it is, you certainly have to be a smarter and more reserved quarterback. With our offense there are going to be times where we take chances because that’s what makes us good as well. But there’s a balance we have to find there in terms of when we’re taking those chances and when to take the checkdown.”


2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for your daily articles and updates.  I had a question about offensive tackle based on your latest article.  A lot of scouts seem to believe that both Glenn and Hairston could be great RT’s.  So why is there only competition at LT?  I think Pears played well last year at RT and I’m glad we have him, but I think he still has plenty to prove.  It’s not like he’s an All-Pro, but it seems like he’s just being handed the RT job without having to compete for it.  Why shouldn’t the loser of the LT competition be considered for the starting spot on the right side?  Isn’t it possible that Glenn and Hairston could be the two best OT’s on the team?

Denver, CO

CB: It’s my opinion that Erik Pears had a very good season last year from start to finish. He was a much stronger player after spending an offseason in Buffalo’s conditioning program and put on 20 pounds. His play was rewarded with a three-year contract extension.

Right now he’s working back from a groin strain in camp, so Hairston has been forced to line up on the right side. I think part of the reason RT has been Pears job and his job only (before injury) is because he played very consistently last season and is a veteran presence on what is a pretty young line.

I’m not saying at some point the player that finishes second in the LT competition can’t be the team’s starting right tackle, but I think there’s value in continuity as well and keeping Pears at RT knowing he can do the job is viewed as the best idea by the staff moving forward (provided he’s healthy).


3 – Hey Chris,

My question is who are going to be the backups in the secondary? Where do you see Bryan Scott? Do you see much from Searcy? There was a lot of talk about him when the Bills drafted him but hadn’t heard much.


bigfoot21 here is sunny South Carolina.


CB: Bryan Scott is a linebacker in the nickel packages and that’s really the extent of his role. Da’Norris Searcy as we’ve mentioned several times in our daily Practice Notes reports has been getting time with the starting unit rotating in for both George Wilson and Jairus Byrd. I think the staff wants to try to find a role for him presumably in a subpackage (nickel, dime).

I think sooner rather than later Searcy will be making an impact on Buffalo’s defense. He’s been impressive in the time he’s been with the ones on the practice field. We’ll see what he can do in the preseason.


4 – Hi Chris, thanks for all the information through the years. Living in San Diego, my son and I only see the Bills in enemy territory. I am trying to take him back to Buffalo to show him how a real football crowd is.

My question is does Shawn Powell or John Potter have any realistic chance making this team? Though I like the veterans, these young players look pretty good and it might be time for a change. Again thanks, Art
CB: I think Potter could make the roster as a kickoff specialist and kicker on long field goal attempts 55-yards plus. Chan Gailey has made no secret of his feelings about what kind of a weapon he believes Potter can be if he can prove that he can deliver touchbacks with regularity. He basically told me that if Potter can guarantee the opponent is starting in their own 20-yard line every time then it’s worth using a roster spot.

As for Powell I think he’s got an uphill battle. He has raw talent, but he’s not as consistent or polished as Moorman. In a year where the Bills are gunning for the playoffs you keep the guy you can count on punt in and punt out.


5 – Hi Chris, thank you for taking my question.

Is Vince Young getting the same attention from Coach Lee on his mechanics and decision making as Fitz is? And if so is he seeing any improvement in his game?

I appreciate your insight. Thanks!

– Chris Kenyon (Albany, NY)

CB: Vince Young is being schooled on the same lower body mechanics as Fitz. The same with Thigpen. A quarterbacks coach works with all of his players and David Lee is no different. Young has performed better over the past week of camp with his accuracy. Young’s arm delivery isn’t prototype, but because he’s so tall it’s a throwing motion that can work in the NFL.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

K Potter kicking too far

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2012 – 4:17 pm

The Bills’ scouts said Potter’s leg was big and some of the rookie returners experienced that first hand Saturday.

Buffalo’s special teams coaches wanted to get their rookie return candidates some reps returning kickoffs at the end of practice, so they employed seventh-round pick John Potter to do the kicking off. Potter, who routinely kicked it through the uprights in college on kickoffs from the 30-yard line, correctly lined the ball up at the 35 knowing that’s the line of scrimmage in the NFL.

The problem is none of his kickoffs could be fielded because they were sailing over the heads of the return men, who were standing as deep as they could in the back of the end zone. Finally one of the special teams coaches had to tell Potter to back up because the returners weren’t getting any work.

“Kicking out here in practice I was kicking from the 35, but I had to back it up to the 30 so the returners could field some kicks,” said Potter.

Potter kicked in the fieldhouse Saturday, but is eager to get outdoors and deal with the famed wind conditions in Western New York, not that it’s a foreign concept having kicked his entire college career in the Great Lakes region in the Mid-American conference.

“I’m excited to get outside and kick into the wind because I know it’s a factor here on Sundays,” said Potter. “I’ve seen how rough it can get playing up north at Western (Michigan) so playing in the MAC conference I’m used to the wind. It’s not a worry for me.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Potter’s big leg

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2012 – 10:57 am

Bills seventh-round pick K John Potter is seen by Buffalo as a kickoff specialist. After having so many of their own opponents blast it through the end zone to neutralize kick returner Brad Smith last season, Buffalo would like to return the favor.

“That’s mostly what people did to us,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix.

So Buffalo used their last pick on Potter, who was shocked but has a big leg. In college he fared well in racking up touchbacks.

“This past season I had 36 touchbacks, which was about 43 or 44 percent,” he said.

Touchbacks are not only valuable from the standpoint of forcing the opponent to start at their own 20, but it also takes hits off your coverage unit and over the course of a 16-game season that can prove valuable.

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Posted in Inside the Bills
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