Inside The Bills

Chandler eager to be go-to guy

Posted by Chris Brown on July 5, 2013 – 9:19 am

Scott Chandler was a go-to guy for former Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, as evidenced by his 12 touchdown receptions the past two seasons. Now he has the challenge of convincing not one, but two new quarterbacks that he can be the same reliable target for them.

As we profiled in our Top 25 Questions until Training Camp today, Chandler has to try to blend in quickly after not taking part in any of the team segments of practice in the spring.

“You want to be the guy that those guys are able to rely on in any situation,” said Chandler. “Obviously I want to get out there and show them that they can throw it up and I’m not going to let the defender get it. I’m going to go get it.”

Chandler is expected to be full go from the start of training camp, perhaps taking a day off every three or four days of practice.

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Powell thankful for battle with Moorman

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2013 – 9:03 am

As we profiled with the beginning of our daily Top 25 questions until Training Camp on today, the punter competition figures to be even stiffer than it was last summer. Brian Moorman edged out then rookie Shawn Powell at the start of the season, but Powell got a call back a month later. Now the shoe is on the other foot for Powell, who as the incumbent has free agent Brian Stahovich breathing down his neck.

Powell believes the competition he had with Moorman served him well in preparation for the current competition he’ll face in training camp.

“There are going to be good punters out there. In this business everywhere you go there’s going to be stiff competition,” Powell said. “With Brian, it really helped me with the competitive edge and being able to understand what competition is all about.”

Of course Stahovich gained similar experience competing in Colts training camp last season, only to lose out in a battle with Indianapolis incumbent punter Pat McAfee.

Powell appears to have the ability to kick with superior hang time, but he’ll have to do it consistently to beat out a quality candidate in Stahovich. This very quietly is shaping up to be a very entertaining competition.

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Lee glad to have front row seat

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2012 – 8:40 am

Bills QBs coach David Lee has been coaching quarterbacks for 38 years, but the competition that will ensue for the backup job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in training camp next week has him as excited as ever.

“That competition between Vince and Tyler is going to be something special,” Lee told “It’ll be fun to watch.”

Lee will have a front row seat as he’s worked with both players through the spring tightening up some of their footwork fundamentals much like he has with Fitz. Young brings actual game experience to the competition, while Thigpen brings a well-versed knowledge of Chan Gailey’s system with him. It’s likely to come down to the preseason games, but it will figure to be one of the more interesting position battles at St. John Fisher.

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Lee & Fitz: Mutual respect

Posted by Chris Brown on July 16, 2012 – 8:18 am

As we examine the question of whether Ryan Fitzpatrick can be an upper echelon quarterback in our Top 25 questions until training camp series today (Monday), part of the reason he’s likely to improve is QBs coach David Lee. The reason that Ryan Fitzpatrick and QBs coach David Lee clicked right away is because Fitz was open to trying new things to improve his game. Of course Lee’s 38-year record of improving quarterbacks didn’t hurt either.

“From what I’ve seen I think that relationship is very good and very strong,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “I think they both have a great deal of respect for each other. I don’t see any reason that it should be any different as time goes on.”

Lee said he respects Fitz’s toughness. Seeing him get back up after the hit he took from London Fletcher and stay in the game is what sold him. But he also likes Fitz’s demeanor when things aren’t going right.

“I think the biggest thing is in his eyes when he does something good and he does something bad and when he has a bad day, how does he react,” said Lee. “In his eyes is he shook a little? Does it bother him or does he know he’s good and know he’ll get it corrected. I see that (sense of calm) in him. His eyes just tell me a lot about when things go bad. That’s what I like about him right now.”

“Knowing I wasn’t where I needed to be at the end of last year I didn’t think there were a few simple things that I was doing wrong that would be able to fix it,” said Fitzpatrick. “Lee pointed some things out and that’s been really eye-opening for me and something that really will help me improve this year.”

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Shep’s run ‘D’ targets

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2012 – 9:49 am

In our exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Kelvin Sheppard we asked him if there was payback on the minds of Buffalo’s defenders heading into this season after taking their lumps the last few years in terms of stopping the run. Shep said they took notes as to who dished it out to them the worst.

As we profiled in our #10 feature in our Top 25 Questions until Training Camp series, ‘Will the 4-3 mean better run defense?’ Shep stated that he believes all the teams that have run over Buffalo’s defense the last few seasons are all on their schedule this year. So we went and looked statistically at the top 5 AFC clubs that have rolled up the rushing yards more than any other on the Bills AND have played against the Bills at least twice in the past three seasons (2009-2011).

Guess what? Shep is on the mark. They’re all on the 2012 schedule. Here’s the rankings list.

1 – New York Jets – Average of 230 rushing yards per game in their last six meetings with the Bills gaining 5.7 yards per carry, 7 TDs and 33 carries of 10 yards or more.

2 – Tennessee Titans – Average of 177.5 rushing yards per game in their two meetings with the Bills and a 5.4 yards per carry avg., 4 TDs and 13 carries of 10 yards or more.

3 – Kansas City – Average of 175.6 rushing yards per game in their three meetings with the Bills and a 5.9 yards per carry avg., 1 TD and 17 carries of 10 yards or more.

4 – Miami – Average of 159 rushing yards per game in their six meetings with the Bills, a 4.5 yards per carry avg., 8 TDs and 21 carries of 10 plus yards.

5 – Jacksonville – Average of 159 rushing yards per game in their three meetings with Buffalo, a 4.3 yards per carry avg., 1 TD and 10 carries of 10 plus yards.

Knowing the Jets have an added run dimension in Tim Tebow makes the opener all the more intriguing and the fact that almost 20 percent of the Chiefs carries against the Bills over their last three meetings have gone for 10 yards or more (17 out of 90 – 18.8%) will make for a very interesting home opener knowing Jamaal Charles is back healthy.

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Isn’t Nelson a #2 WR?

Posted by Chris Brown on July 13, 2012 – 8:25 am

An interesting point in the debate we profile in our Top 25 questions until training camp series on today (Friday), ‘Who will be the No. 2 receiver?’ is the follow up question of ‘Isn’t that David Nelson?’

After Stevie Johnson, Nelson is probably the most proven receiver after his 61-catch campaign in 2011 that included a game-winning touchdown catch against Oakland in Week 2. But knowing that Nelson is locked in as the team’s primary slot receiver he’s not seen as a number two on the outside or a candidate for that role per se. His rapport with Fitz working out of the slot is valuable.

“David Nelson had a really, really strong offseason and he’s been great in OTAs,” said Fitzpatrick. “He’s really worked on some stuff he’s needed to work at. He’s got great hands and is such a reliable guy.”

Knowing how much the Bills employ three and four wide sets Nelson could very well be the receiver with the second most receptions for the Bills in 2012.

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Other Pro Bowl possibles

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2012 – 10:35 am

As we took a precursory look at prime Bills candidates for the Pro Bowl for the 2012 season we had to whittle down the list to just a handful. Here are a few others on Buffalo’s roster that could merit Pro Bowl consideration with strong seasons.

Scott Chandler – Had he not suffered a high ankle sprain and maintained his torrid touchdown pace, it would’ve been difficult for AFC voters to ignore his production last year. Another year of seasoning in Buffalo’s offense is only going to lend to more production this year.

Marcell Dareus – He’s on a defensive line that might get him overshadowed by more veteran performers (e.g. both Williams), but if he can dominate week in and week out he could bust down the Pro Bowl door.

Andy Levitre  – He’s one of the only 2009 draft choices to have appeared in all 48 games of his career. On durability alone he should merit Pro Bowl consideration, but his chances will hinge on Buffalo’s offensive success and won-loss record.

Rian Lindell – A few seasons ago Lindell hit 23-of-25 field goals for a better than 92% success rate and did not go to the Pro Bowl. A high-scoring season along with a quality won-loss record for the team could finally get him a Pro Bowl nod.

Shawne Merriman – Having been to the Pro Bowl three times already helps his cause, so if he can put together a productive season he stands a very good chance of returning.

C.J. Spiller – Depending on how things shake out in sharing the workload in Buffalo’s backfield, if Spiller has enough highlight reel plays he could earn some consideration, but Fred Jackson’s presence at the same position would likely eat into whatever support Spiller might garner.

George Wilson – He’s well respected around the league and he makes plays. A solid season with a strong team won-loss record could make his uncommon career position change complete.

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Split backfield just a tidbit

Posted by Chris Brown on July 10, 2012 – 9:17 am

Though Buffalo’s offensive staff is going to make every effort to have Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the field simultaneously more often this season, don’t expect to see a ton of split backfields.

Buffalo’s offense did show a bit of that look in the spring practices, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a common occurrence this season, and there’s a reason why. Injury.

“If you lose one of them then all of a sudden you’ve lost a majority of your offense,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “You can’t make the split backfield the main thing. You can make it a part of it. The great thing is we have some other weapons that can play the game as well. If they’re both in there somebody has to come out of the game. Does Scott Chandler come out? Does a receiver come out? Who comes out of the game?

“So you have to make some decisions about having a balanced type of offense where you’re keeping everybody involved and keeping the defense off balance and trying to incorporate both of them in the game plan and using them to their abilities.”

Even Fred Jackson gave indication that the split backfield would be something they’d make use of just from time to time, not necessarily on a weekly basis.

“That’s something else we’re working on,” said Jackson. “C.J. and I were joking with each other when we go in what position we’re at. The more we get used to doing it the better we’ll get at doing it. Hopefully it’ll be something we can use as a tool throughout the season.”

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AFC East record must improve

Posted by Chris Brown on July 8, 2012 – 8:50 am

As we pointed out in #18 on our Top 25 Questions until training camp series this weekend, a big reason Buffalo has not made the playoffs since 1999 is due in large part to their lack of success in the division. Since the Bills made the playoffs in 1999, only one other time have they posted a winning division record (2007) and only three times in those 12 years have they been .500 or better. Below is a look at the timeline.

Here is a list of Buffalo’s division records by year back to their last playoff season. In parentheses is their final overall record that season.

2011 – 1-5 (6-10)
2010 – 1-5 (4-12)
2009 – 2-4 (6-10)
2008 – 0-6 (7-9)
2007 – 4-2 (7-9)
2006 – 3-3 (7-9)
2005 – 2-4 (9-7)
2004 – 3-3 (9-7)
2003 – 2-4 (6-10)
2002 – 2-4 (8-8)
2001 – 1-7 (3-13)
2000 – 2-6 (8-8)
1999 – 6-2 (11-5) AFC Wild Card

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Hairston primed for opportunity

Posted by Chris Brown on July 6, 2012 – 9:29 am

Bills OT Chris Hairston knows second-round pick Cordy Glenn will be garnering all the attention at training camp with respect to the left tackle competition that will ensue when they report to St. John Fisher in a couple of weeks. Hairston doesn’t care about the hype. He’s focused on producing results knowing roles on an NFL club don’t get much bigger than starting left tackle.

“It’s definitely the biggest opportunity to date that I’ve had here with this organization,” Hairston told “I just want to take advantage of it fully and do everything I can to just be the right guy for that position. But all I can do is be the best player I can be and put it all out on the field and let those guys decide. I just work here you know?”

Hairston sounds as if he has the right mindset going into his competition with Glenn. Be focused and determined, but don’t get caught up in who is getting first and second team reps, and save your best for the preseason games.

“It’s a part of the business. It happens every year at every position,” said Hairston of seeing Cordy Glenn and Zebrie Sanders drafted. “I came in and there was a tackle here before me. Years and years have gone by with tackles being drafted. You just have to come in a work and do what I can do. I can only control what I can and that has nothing to do with upper management. I just play here. I’m ready to do what I can to make myself a player.”

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Offense to see more Top 10 ‘D’s

Posted by Chris Brown on July 5, 2012 – 8:19 am

Last year Buffalo’s offense faced top 10 defenses in six of their 16 regular season games. That number is going up in a season where the offense is thought to have a good chance to eclipse the 24 points per game barrier.

In 2012 the Bills attack will square off against top 10 defensive units in seven of their 16 regular season games. Perhaps more significant is four of those first seven matchups against top 10 defenses will come on the road. Here’s the rundown of the top 10 defenses they’ll face (based on 2011 season-ending ranks).

Week 1 @ NYJ (5th)
Week 3 @ Cleveland (10th)
Week 5 @ San Fran. (4th)
Week 9 @ Houston (2nd)
Week 13 vs. Jacksonville (6th)
Week 15 vs. Seattle (9th) in Toronto
Week 17 vs. NYJ (5th)

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Gilmore a different breed

Posted by Chris Brown on July 4, 2012 – 8:53 am

Bills top pick Stephon Gilmore has looked like he belongs at the NFL level from the first day of OTAs. That’s why his chances are very good that he’s not just a starter on Buffalo’s defense, but a difference maker.

First-round picks, even top 10 picks aren’t always locks to be playmakers as a rookie. For C.J. Spiller the light bulb went on in year two and he was the ninth overall selection. For Mike Williams it never went on. Gilmore however, has a lot of things working in his favor.

First, he’s a quick study that digests a playbook in short order. Second, his playing style is suited to the NFL game. Third, he has a work ethic that has him prepared like a veteran. And fourth, and perhaps most important, he’s going to get an awful lot of help from his front four in terms of pressure on the quarterback. All of that could translate into a very productive rookie season for Gilmore.

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