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Buffalo training camp


Bills fan
May 7, 2002
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Here's my "no smack" update on what's happenning in Buffalo's training camp, based on observations other than my own.

First team offence performing well with Bledsoe hitting his receivers with regularity. Mike Williams seems as good as advertised so far. Jennings looks great at left tackle. Teague is playing center and has not impressed so far. If he can't cut it, it looks like TD made a mistake in signing him.

The first team defense seems to be behind the offence. Tyrone Robertson lines up with Pat Williams as starting DT, and looks good as does Ron Edwards who currently is backing up Williams. Right now the biggest question mark seems to be at LDE. Kendrick Office is playing there, but he was a 250 rookie free agent last year. The fact that he's starting (at this point) means some other people have dissappointed (namely Eric Flowers) even though Office has added 20 pounds to his 6'5" frame. Depth could be a problem too as Larsen still looks lost and Bryce Fisher is still too slow despite being a high effort guy.
After perusing various online eyewitness accounts of the Bills practice, here's an update. Bledsoe had another good day. Defensive linemen did have some luck putting pressue on the QB, namely Kendrick Office and Eric Flowers. Oddly enough they had that success in the middle of the line (stunts?) Charlie Rogers had some good returns. Coy Wire is making noise at the strong safety slot. He won't start at the beginning of the season, but it looks like general manager Tom Donahoe made a good bet that he will be able to make the switch from linebacker/running back to safety. On the negative side, Richard Huntley has not impressed, and has a poor attitude to boot. Shawn Bryson is not getting many reps and apparently is not in Buffalo's plans at the moment. Buffalo has tried Travis Henry as a return man, but he drops everything that comes his way. Moorman's leg looks stronger than last year, and Hollis shows a strong leg on kickoffs.

I know Miami fans must be getting antsy to see the fins play against a real opponent instead of each other. Buffalo fans are feeling the same way. How can you tell how good Mike Williams is when he's playing against Kendrick Office and Bryce Fisher?
Not much new to report. One day one group of players make a little noise, the next day a different group steps up. Most observers agree it's going to be up the the defensive line to prove they're not the weak link on this team. There are probably more concerns at defensive end than defensive tackle. Pat Williams is a stud that many Bills fans think as highly of as Dolphin fans think of Tim Bowens. After Pat, there are lots of questions, but increasingly it's looking like the Bills have gotten the development from their young guys they were hoping for. Tyrone Robertson is not looking out of place as a starter. Ron Edwards has had an excellent camp thus far, and the rookie Bannan looks like he'll contribute. Last year's starter, Larsen, is looking like a possible cut. Defensive end is another story. Schobel had a pretty good rookie campaign but is far from a sure thing. Kendrick Office has lots of hustle and has gotten bigger, but looks more like a starter by default than anything else. Observers can't agree whether Flowers is making any real improvement or not, and Ryan Denney is clearly going to need time before he can make much of a contribution. Robertson has even taken some reps as a DE. I could see him having to play on the end in running situations, with Bannan stepping in at DT. Things will get more clear with time.

Most all the news on the offensive side is good, as a real good chemistry seems to be developing. The biggest question seems to be whether Shawn Bryson will get traded. Next is: Will Buffalo keep the only real pure FB (Phillip Crosby) on the roster? All the other fullbacks are "tweener" types. Centers is a great receiver, but not a smash mouth blocker. Morris, and Bryson have both played FB but don't really block the way you'd llike your fullback to. Jarret Ferguson, the rookie seems like a Centers clone.
I haven't heard much of anything about today's practice at Bills training camp. The only item of interest is that Tyrone Robertson, pencilled in as DT starter along side Pat Williams, left practice with an injured shoulder. No word on the nature or severity of the injury. Hopefully it's just one of the many "dings" that happen in any training camp.

The Bills regular preseason scrimage partner, the Cleveland Browns, come into town for a joint practice tomorrow and a scrimmage Saturday. Bills fans will split their attention between the scrimage and the induction of Jim Kelly into the Hall of Fame.

Adding to what I said earlier: Robertson's injury seems to be very slight. The team worked mostly special teams today, and according to the local sports TV station, the two minute drill looked a lot crisper than in did a couple days ago.
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The big news of today was Brandon Spoon going down with what is being described as a tear of his bicep tendon (right?). He'll have surgery Monday after which he'll be evaluated. Observers expect he'll probably be lost for the season.

One of the bright spots of the joint practice with Cleveland was Josh Reed. He caught a number of touchdown passes agains Cleveland CBs. He has only average speed, but he runs great routes, makes adjustments like a veteran, catches everything, and has the ability to fake CBs out of their shoes. Yeah, I know Miami has great CBs and Josh Reed is only a rookie. I'm not saying he's going to have 8 catch, 150 yard games going up against Sam Madison. This is not a smack thread. I'm just saying the Bills are delighted with what he's doing as a rookie.
Just a quick review of the Buffalo-Cleveland scrimmage: Buffalo did some good things on both sides of the ball. Bledsoe, playing just one series was 5 for 7. Third string QB, Travis Brown showed a live arm as well. On defense, Buffalo had some nice turnovers and put pressure on the Cleveland QB several times. The first play from scrimmage for Cleveland resulted in a sack.

That's the good news (from a Buffalo perspective). The bad news is that Buffalo lost the statistical game big time. Buffalo gained just over 200 yards on 65 plays from scrimmage. Cleveland gained around 330 yards on 67 plays from scrimmage. In particular the second and third string defensive linemen could not sto Cleveland reserve running back, Autrey Denson. While Buffalo intercepted Cleveland at least twice, Cleveland returned the favor four times, though I think Drew Bledsoe was not among those who were victimized in his short stint. Don't hold me to that. I was busy working around the house and couldn't watch every minute.
I've been out of town and away from a computer for a few days. I've also been out of touch with what the media has been saying the last few days.

A couple comments I've heard since cominging back today:

Buffalo has named Marquez Sullivan to start at right guard in place of Jerry Ostroski. Jerry O. has been recovering from surgery and is sidelined in camp. I'ts been evident that Sullivan, a second year player who struggled at tackle last year, has really matured and the Bills liked him a lot. We didn't know how much they liked him until now. Another player who has impressed this summer is Travis Brown, the #3 QB. He was obtained from Seattle in late August last year because he was familiar with the west coast offence. The Bills have scrapped the WCO, but loved what Brown did in the scrimmage last weekend. Statistically he had a strong scrimmage, going 8 for 10 in the passing game. Kevin Gilbride has been beaming about his accuracy, ability to make quick reads and decisions. Bledsoe's job is safe, but Brown's development may indicate the Bills QB of the future is already on the roster.

On the defensive side of the line, it has been reported that second year player, Tyrone Robertson has been moved to DE. Robertson was a 280 rookie DT a year ago. He has reported at 295 this year, and was pencilled in as a starter at DT alongside Pat Williams. The change indicates Buffalo's confidence in Robertson's versatility, and the lack of any player on the team that impressed enough as a left defensive end to stand pat at the defensive line.

It seems likely that the Bills' starting D-line is now:
right defensive end - Aaron Schobel
defensive tackles - Pat Williams, Ron Edwards
left defensive end - Tyrone Robertson

A lot of Buffalo observers have been rooting for this change to take place. It seems to give Buffalo the best chance for a decent defensive line, but leaves the team thin at DT. One possibility to add depth is to re-sign Shawn Price, who is recovered from knee surgery to correct a problem he's had since college.

I don't know how to respond to your question, Dolfan984. I suspect it's a tongue in cheek slam at the Bills' inability to contain a guy who is not a marquee back. Assuming that's what it is, I guess I'll just leave it alone.
Not much news today. The Bills had a walk through practice (closed to the public) in prep for the preseason game on Friday vs the Bungles.

Tyrone Robertson may end up playing both DT and DE this season as the situation warrants. Nothing to indicate Brandon Spoons injury won't be season ending, though the Bills have taken no official action. They may wait until after the final cut down to put him on IR, then bring back a player they have cut.
I caught some of the Bills-Bungles game on radio, and read comments from those who saw and/or heard iin it's entirety.

In short, the starting offence for the Bills showed explosiveness. The starting defense did a passable job stopping Cincinnati, particularly the Cincinnati passing game. Special teams played pretty well.

The Bills however have not yet shown they have solved last season's biggest shortcomings: the inability to run or stop the run. My guess is that with the personnel Buffalo has on the O-line, developing a running game is just a matter of time. The run defense is another issue however. Buffalo either has to fix that or they will have a long season.
Bad news for Bills fans from training camp today: Jonas Jennings suffered a high ankle sprain when another Bills player rolled up on his leg on a running play. Xrays were negative but there is no estimate yet on when he might be fit to return. I'm guessing he could miss a couple regular season games.

The top reserve tackle, Marcus Price also went down with a concussion a short time later. He could miss the next preseason game, but that's all. Price, by the way has looked good in training camp. He was a reserve tackle for New Orleans. He never started, but has been in the league for a while. He has good size and is reasonably athletic. Assuming Jennings is not hurt more seriously than presently believed, Buffalo has better depth on the line than last year. If they keep going down lilke flies, though, we'll be in the same position on offence as last year.
Kris Farris played the spot after Price went down. Reportedly, he has looked a little better this year than last when he absolutely sucked.

On the defensive side of the line Leif Larsen went out with some sort of groin pull. IMHO losing Larsen would be no loss at all. He's a weight lifting stiff who has no instinct for the game of football.
As expected, the Bills today put Brandon Spoon on IR. Spoon had surgery to repair a broken/ruptured bicep tendon.
Not much on field to report today. Yesterday, Mike Williams twisted a knee but continued to practice. Today he was held out of the morning drill.

In off field developments, Shawn Price passed a physical and may be signed as DT depth. He had off season surgery and is said to be the healthiest he's been in years.
More off field movement. The on again off again talk about the Bills signing Chidi Ahanotu is on again. Ahanotu was at the Bills practice the other day (as an observer) and his agent is said to be involved in talks.

If Buffalo does not sign either or both Ahanotu and Shawn Price, expect them to be scouring the waiver wire after cut downs for defensive line players.
As expected, Buffalo has signed Shawn Price to a one year contract for the vet minimum. No word yet on Ahanotu. Price is a journeyman type of player. He probably could not start for most teams, but right now he has the experience that Buffalo sorely needs on the D-line.
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