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Bills at Jays game

Bills Lee Evans, Jairus Byrd and Kyle Williams will take part in batting practice before Friday's Toronto Blue Jays game in the Rogers Centre. The game, vs. the San Francisco Giants, starts at 7:07 p.m. Batting practice is about 3 p.m. The three Bills will sign autographs from 5:40 to 6:10 p.m. in the concourse at Section 127, then Evans will be at a patio party at Section 224.

---Mark Gaughan

NFL fans on World Cup?

Following up on the previous post, here's a poll question to see where NFL fans stand on "the world's most popular sport. ---Mark Gaughan

Bills FC Starting 11

Here's a posting for the 4 percent to 12 percent (might that be high?) of football fans who might have a passing interest in the world's biggest sporting event (the World Cup), being conducted now in South Africa. (I must admit to actually liking soccer.) ... Soccer fan (and former player) Chris Jenkins, the Bills' director of media relations, sent me this starting 11, with analysis, of a mythical Bills FC:

GK: James Hardy - size, hands, athleticism, basketball background. Would rule the box. Similar to Dida (Brazil, AC Milan). 

LB: Brian Moorman - Dependable, has speed and athleticism, tough, would be hard to beat, smart enough to get forward when the opportunity presents itself, but won't take unnecessary risks. Similar to a Gary Neville (England, Manchester United). RB: Ryan Fitzpatrick - aggressive, will take chances, strong, smart, competitive, good feel for the game, can run and compete with opposing forwards athletically, will challenge opposition all game. Taller, stronger Phillip Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich). Sweeper: George Wilson (Captain) - Organizer in the back, composed, vocal, puts guys in the appropriate spots, athletic enough, always a step ahead of the offense. Similar to a Marcel Desailly (former French centerback). Stopper: Kyle Williams - Strong as an ox, athletic (more so than people give him credit for), endless energy, will wear down opposing forwards, tenacious, just plays hard all game, little bit dirty. Really a one-of-a-kind player. Kinda like defensive midfielder Gennero Gattuso (Italy, AC Milan).

DCMF: Jairus Byrd - composed, manages game well, knows when to take risks moving forward or hang back defensively if necessary, great vision, great instincts, would cause turnovers and distribute to launch counterattack. Similar to a Michael Essien (Ghana, Chelsea). Always around the ball. LMF: Steve Johnson - Rangey, cat-quick, creative, has size to play the ball in the air on backside crosses, has long legs and speed to outrun defenders. Really a match-up nightmare. Can take risks going forward with the dependable Moorman playing behind him. Similar to a Thierry Henry (France, Barcelona).  RMF: Lee Evans - World-class speed, match-up nightmare for defenses, ability to get forward and attack the goal, will track back if necessary and allow Fitz to make overlapping runs. Think Theo Walcott (England, Arsenal), but strong enough to stay on the ball. CMF: Fred Jackson (Vice captain) - Vision, crafty, slippery, makes good decisions with the ball, physical, strong, deciptively fast with ball at his feet, controls the flow of the game, can run all 90 minutes. Similar to USA center-mid Michael Bradley.

FWD: Marshawn Lynch - Strong, aggressive, attacking mentality, will get to the goal by any means necessary. Defenders do not want to have him running at them. Kind of like a Carlos Tevez (Argentina, Mancester City), but way bigger and stronger. FWD: Aaron Schobel - Goal scorer's mentality, only worried about going forward, fast, athletic, can be creative, agile, has size and jumping ability to get involved in the air (think about the INT-TD @NE). Always had a good relationship with Lynch, would partner well up top, their mutual respect is the key to their success. He's really a taller Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United).

MANAGER: Kirk Chambers - team's resident soccer expert. Cerebral. Would make the right tactical adjustments. ASSISTANTS: Torell Troup (huge soccer fan) and Rian Lindell (former player).

(I think it's clear this team would pick up a lot of yellow and red cards. ... Chambers would need to frequently call on his bench.)

Chambers played a lot of pickup soccer in high school and then developed more interest in the game while on his Mormon mission in Berlin in 1998 and '99. He speaks fluent German. "I’m trying to to drum some interest up. There are some guys in there who are soccer fans. Troup is. Lindell is. Fitzy is. I’m trying to convert a few. Some guys are interested, some just want nothing to do with it."

"I follow Germany because I went there on my mission and I’m familiar with the country," Chambers said. "It’s not a bad team to back because they’re generally pretty good. I’ve watched most of the matches."

---Mark Gaughan

Brohm in red zone

The Bills' offense didn't look particularly impressive in Wednesday's organized team activity practice, although you can't draw too many conclusions either way from a spring workout in shorts. Brian Brohm had the best two completions during 7 on 7 red-zone work. He hit tight end Derek Schouman in the back corner of the end zone on his first play and then hit James Hardy in the same back corner on the next play. Both were pinpoint throws. Ryan Fitzpatrick got the first chance in 7 on 7 work Wednesday. Brohm was second and Trent Edwards third in 7 on 7. The rotation went Edwards, Fitzpatrick, Brohm, Brown; then Fitzpatrick, Edwards, Brohm, Fitzpatrick in 11 on 11. Brohm also fit the ball in a tight window to tight end Jon Stupar in the red zone session.

Buffalo's Naaman Roosevelt had a good day catching the ball overall. He made a grab over the middle near the goal line then held on after a slight collision with safety Jon Corto (in a meeting of former All-Western New Yorkers). Roosevelt made a good diving catch oiver the middle and caught one on a hitch pattern, both from Fitz. Roosevelt did have one drop on an out from Fitz. Stupar made a nifty catch on a slant from Levi Brown. Ashton Youboty created the best pickoff of the day, deflecting a pass fro Stupar, and Drayton Florence had a quick reaction to catch the carom.

Marshawn Lynch did not get a lot of snaps. He had a couple runs early in the 11 on 11 session. Much of the time he was standing right next to an assistant coach or leaning toward the huddle to get the signals for the upcoming plays.

Right tackle Cornell Green was out, Gailey said, due to a muscle pull. It may keep him out a couple days. With him out, the first team offensive line, left to right, was Jamon Meredith, Andy Levitre, Geoff Hangartner, Kirk Chambers and Nick Hennessey. Absent were Marcus Stroud and Shawn Nelson.

---Mark Gaughan

QB pecking order by camp

Bills coach Chan Gailey said today he's continually evaluating his QB depth chart and will have a top two determined for the start of training camp. That means he will have a top two for the start of camp. The first-team QB on July 29 won't be the "designated starter" to open the regular season.

Asked if he will have his team's starter in mind by the end of next week, Gailey said: "No but we will probably by the time we get to training camp have somebody that is going to work with the first group; somebody that’s going to work with the second group going in. Just because if it happens that way, then you’ve got a leg up. If you try to get everybody equal shots from the first day of camp then you probably get nobody ready, rather than getting three ready. So we’ll probably make some determination from this, decide for lack of a better term, a pecking order for camp and then go from there. But it still will be open when we get to camp."

The QBs continued to rotate on Wednesday. Ryan Fitzpatrick took the first snaps in the 7-on-7 drills, followed by Trent Edwards and Brian Brohm. Edwards took the first reps in 11 on 11 drills, followed by Fitzpatrick and Brohm.

---Mark Gaughan

Wood, Bell ahead of plan

Bills coach Chan Gailey said after today's voluntary minicamp practice that offensive linemen Eric Wood and Demetrius Bell both are well ahead of schedule in their rehabilitation from injuries suffered last season. Wood is coming back from a broken leg suffered in November. Bell is coming back from a torn knee ligament suffered in November.

Said Gailey: "Our training staff, I’ve got to give Bud Carpenter and his staff kudos because they’ve done a great job of getting those two guys to where they are today. I mean Eric, we’ve been talking about maybe letting him get on the field and do some things before we get out of the last minicamp. That’s an amazing recuperation. emeterius is way ahead of schedule as well."

The Bills have six practice days left, one Thursday and five next week. The last three are mandatory.

---Mark Gaughan

Lynch meets the press

Bills running back Marshawn Lynch talked to the media shortly after his first practice of the offseason on Tuesday. He said he's happy to be back and he missed playing football and being around his teammates.

Asked why it took so long for him to report, he replied, "I was just enjoying, what they call it, the offseason. Kicked back at home, but still getting in the necessary work for me to come back and be able to produce.''

Lynch finally met with head coach Chan Gailey on Monday and expressed that he was ready to get to work.

The perception is Lynch stayed away because he wants to be traded. His role is in question after the Bills drafted C.J. Spiller in the first round. Lynch lost his starting job to Fred Jackson last season.

Lynch said he never expressed a desire to be traded this offseason. "But with the way things were looking, it looked like a possibility,'' he added. "If it would have happened, it would have happened. If it didn't, I'm back and here to practice.''

Lynch didn't say he wants to leave the Bills. He didn't say he wants to stay either.

"I like to play football, whether it's here or if it's somewhere else,'' he said. "As long as I get to play football, I'm feeling great.''

A big part of Lynch's frustration stems from the negative image he has attained due to his off-the-field problems. He indicated that he's no longer concerned about the public not viewing him in a positive light.

"I would like for it to be that way, but we live in a world where people are going to make up their mind and have their opinions,'' he said. "Take your opinion, take it how you want to. But I'm going to be me whether you like it or not. You can say you don't like me from a distance. Most people who interact with me have a different feel. I take it with a grain of salt.''

I'm still not convinced Lynch will be on the roster this fall, but at least now Gailey and his staff can get a closer look at him to see what he has to offer. Being at practice also will help his chances of being traded, if the Bills choose to do so.

---Allen Wilson 

Update: Lynch is practicing

The Bills just confirmed that running back Marshawn Lynch is participating in practice today. It's his first on-field work with the team this offseason.

Lynch has been absent from all voluntary workouts this spring. Today's OTA practice is closed to the media, but we're waiting to see if Lynch will have anything to say afterwards. 

---Allen Wilson

Lynch to Seattle talk brewing

There were reports prior to the draft that the Seattle Seahawks discussed the possibility of trading for disgruntled Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch. That became a non-issue when the Seahawks obtained LenDale White from the Tennessee Titans. But White's recent release has re-fueled speculation of a Lynch trade.

One reason Lynch remains on the Bills' roster is they wanted more for him than teams were willing to give. It is believed the Bills would accept nothing less than a third-round draft pick. NFL.com reported today that the Seahawks would be glad to take Lynch off the Bills' hands for a fourth-rounder. Sounds like a deal the Bills should make, if that's true.

Lynch's absence from offseason practices can only lead us to believe he's not buying into the new Chan Gailey-Buddy Nix regime. Lynch made no attempt to speak with Gailey or Nix during a recent two-day visit to the team's facility. Since Lynch apparently doesn't want to be here, the Bills should help him get out.

The Bills have said they aren't looking to trade Lynch. It is possible they are waiting to see if some team loses its top running back to a serious injury in training camp and becomes desperate enough to meet their asking price. But there is no guarantee that will happen. And if someone did lose a running back, who's to say that team would want Lynch, who is one legal misstep from another NFL suspension that exceeds the three-game penalty he received last season?

We do know that the Seahawks went into the offseason seeking a big, physical running back, which is why they got White. But after releasing White, they are left with three small scatbacks -- former New York Jet Leon Washington, who is trying to come back from a gruesome leg injury, and Julius Jones and former Lynch college teammate Justin Forsett. None of them are built to carry a heavy-duty load.

So it would be understandable if Lynch is on the Seahawks' radar. It looks like a perfect marriage.

The Seahawks would get the power back they covet, while the Oakland-born Lynch would return to the West Coast and have a chance to get the 20 touches a game. That's not going to happen in Buffalo with top draft pick C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson ahead of him on the depth chart. A change of scenary also might rejuvenate Lynch, who would be motivated to show the Bills that he is the elite ball carrier they thought he'd become when they drafted him with the 12th overall pick in 2007.

Another thing to keep in mind is Seattle coach Pete Carroll knows Lynch from college when Carroll coached at Southern California and Lynch played at Cal. Moreover, Carroll is reportedly installing a zone-blocking scheme similar to what Lynch used in college to terrorize Pac-10 defenses.

The Bills open training camp on July 29, so we'll have to wait and see if opt to trade Lynch between now and then.

---Allen Wilson 

Reed finds new home

Former Bills wide receiver Josh Reed is unemployed no more. He agreed to a one-year contract with the San Diego Chargers on Friday.

Reed couldn't ask for a better spot to land. The Chargers are a perennial playoff team with Super Bowl aspirations. He should serve as a nice possession receiver to compliment Pro Bowlers Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson. Reed also will have something he didn't have for most of his career in Buffalo -- a big-time quarterback in Philip Rivers.

Reed has never been on a playoff team since he was drafted in 2002. Chances are very good that will change if he sticks around San Diego this fall.

---Allen Wilson

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