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Maybin on the spot

Aaron Schobel's likely retirement opens the door for Aaron Maybin to have a breakout season. Maybin was chosen because of his one great year at Penn State, but he was a huge disappointment as a rookie after not recording a single sack.

The lack of playing time (he averaged less than 20 defensive snaps per game) contributed to his poor production. Getting snaps won't be a problem this season. Maybin is expected to start at right outside linebacker, the primary pass-rushing position in the 3-4 defense.

No one expects him to be as good as Schobel right away, but Maybin need to show something to justify the Bills drafting him 11th overall last season.

---Allen Wilson

Keeping his options open

Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel isn't coming out and saying he's retired because he doesn't want to close the door on a return. Being non-commital is the right tactic if he gets the itch to play again, as doubtful as that is, late this summer. He did say if the Bills called and said they need him that he would consider coming back.

Schobel wanted a deal where he could show up just before the regular season, like Brett Favre did in Minnesota last season and the New York Jets the year before that. This way, Schobel he could spend time with his three young kids, who he relocated permanently in Texas.
 
But it is believed the Bills balked at the behest of head coach Chan Gailey. With Gailey, you're either all in or all out. In his mind, Schobel's absence meant he's out.

The Bills are going to a 3-4 defense and Schobel could use some work at outside linebacker, his new position if he played. Schobel has never been thrilled with attending offseason practices or training camp. Bruce Smith was the same way, but he always showed up to play. Schobel is no Hall of Famer like Smith, but he gave it all he had on Sundays throughout his nine-year career. It will be interesting to see how the Bills' pass rush is affected by his absence. 

It would be a big surprise if Schobel suited up for the Bills again. But stay tuned until September.

---Allen Wilson 

Schobel says he won't be back

   It appears that Aaron Schobel has played his last game as a Buffalo Bill.

   While he hasn't made his retirement official, he made it clear that he isn't prepared to play right now.

   "At this point I don't think I'm going to play," Schobel told The Buffalo News on Thursday. "I'm not ready to say I'm retiring but it's in the Bills' hands."

   He said that he does not plan to attend any of the remaining organized team activities or the mandatory minicamp that runs from June 23 to 25 or training camp. However, Schobel said that he would consider a return at some point during the season if the Bills needed him to come back.

   "But if they want to move on, I'm fine with that."

   Schobel has hinted at retiring since the end of the 2008 season, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. He recently sold his house in Western New York.

   He has the second most sacks in team history behind Bruce Smith.

  --  Mark Gaughan and Allen Wilson

Bills work red zone

The Bills worked on the red zone in both their 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 portions of practice Wednesday inside the team's fieldhouse.

Ryan Fitzpatrick took his turn again getting the first snaps at quarterback in both segments. Trent Edwards was second and Brian Brohm third in 7 on 7 drills and Brohm was second and Edwards third in 11 on 11. The QBs continue to rotate each day.

Brohm had some nice throws in his 11 on 11 chance. He hit rookie receiver Donald James on a slant for a score and connected with tight end Michael Matthews through a tight window for another TD. Left tackle Nick Hennessey had a good block to help Joique Bell score on a draw play.

"Everything happens quicker in the red zone, everything," coach Chan Gailey said. "The pass rush speeds up, the routes have to be quicker. The defense breaks quicker. Everything speeds up in the red zone, and you have to go practice that on a regular basis or you don’t get a feel for that. You’re just trying to introduce the base concepts right now. We’ll continue to practice that on a regular basis. A lot of games are won and lost in the red zone."

Leodis McKelvin leaped to make an interception off Fitzpatrick during the 7 on 7 drills. Reggie Corner had a couple pass break-ups. Ellis Lankster broke up a pass for James Hardy from Levi Brown on the last play of the practice. Hardy made a good adjustment to a ball from Edwards down the sideline early in the practice. Guard Eric Wood and tackle Demetrius Bell continue to work out with trainers on the side. Bell, eager to see some action, still is snapping during 7 on 7 drills (there are no other linemen on the field for that session). Not on the field or the sidelines were Marshawn Lynch, Aaron Schobel, Shawn Nelson, Roscoe Parrish, Brian Moorman and Will Croner.

---Mark Gaughan

Wang may be back in 2 weeks

Bills rookie offensive tackle Ed Wang strolled out of the trainers room briefly during the middle of Wednesday's practice in the team's fieldhouse. Bills coach Chan Gailey confirmed that the injury Wang suffered in Saturday's practice was not serious. Gailey didn't specify the injury, but it was a sprain to the ankle area.

"His injury was not as serious as maybe we had first thought, and it looks like he’s got a chance to be back by the last minicamp," Gailey said after practice. "It’s a relief for us as coaches."

With Wang out, Nick Hennessey has worked with the second string at left tackle. Hennessey, a Colgate product, spent the first 15 weeks last season on the practice squad and appeared in the season finale against the Colts. With Demetrius Bell sitting out due to his knee injury from last season, Jamon Meredith is working with the first team at left tackle.

---Mark Gaughan

Torbor playing outside

Reggie Torbor, the newest addition to the Buffalo Bills' linebacking corps, was playing on the outside during the team's practice Tuesday on the grass field outside the fieldhouse.

Torbor spent the past two years as the backup inside linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. He was released by Miami on May 27 and agreed to terms with the Bills on Saturday.

"Right now I'm playing outside," Torbor said after the team's voluntary workout. "I understand that can change on a need basis. I take that as a positive thing. Right now that's where it's starting."

He gives the Bills another option at outside linebacker, and the Bills look like they could use as many options as they can get in the pass-rushing department. The Bills ranked 19th in the 32-team NFL last season in sacks per pass attempt by opponents. They finished with 32 sacks.

Torbor had 10.5 sacks as a senior at Auburn. But he has just 6.5 in six seasons in the NFL - the first four with the Giants and the last two with Miami. He didn't get many sack chances as a backup inside backer with the Dolphins. He didn't force his way onto the field much as a pass rusher on a star-studded defense with the Giants.

"I haven't played outside since I was with New York," he said. "So it's kind of a process getting back into it today and relearning out there. But it's fun."

---Mark Gaughan

Marv Levy on John Wooden

Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy has fond remembrances of John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach who died at age 99 on Friday. Levy was in attendance at the VIP Reception for the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Tournament on Sunday night at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

As football coach at the University of California from 1960 to 1963, Levy worked in the same conference as Wooden - then the Athletic Association of Western Universities, now the Pac 10 Conference.

"I think he's the best coach ever - in any sport," Levy said. "When I was at Cal, he was their coach, but he hadn't yet emerged (to national prominence). I met him at league meetings, liked him and we got along well. About 15 yeras later or so I was out there recruiting to bring some guys up to Montreal in the CFL and stopped by and visited John. He was very cordial. The only thing he had framed on his wall (in his office) was a newspaper article from back when he was a high school coach in Indiana. And it said that South Bend Central, or somebody, was having their banquet this weekend and we couldn't find any big-name coaches so John Wooden will be the speaker."

Wooden and Levy shared a lot of the same philosophy. Like Wooden, Levy stressed the fact results are the byproduct of preparation. Wooden's website includes the statement: "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable." In other words, don't put the cart before the horse. Push yourself to the limit, strive to improve every day, pour your energies into each task, and if you do that, the likely result is you will win. 

"John never used the word win, never in his vocabulary," Levy said. "You get better, work hard, improve. I had great regard for him."

Levy, meanwhile, still resides in Chicago with his wife, Fran. The two are enjoy visiting a new granddaughter, Angela, who is 21 months old. Levy proudly said Angela already can sing the words to the Harvard fight song.

---Mark Gaughan 




Wall of silence

Is it me or do you find Chan Gailey's comments about running back Marshawn Lynch a bit disturbing. Gailey said after Saturday's practices that he never saw Lynch when Lynch was at the training facility Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, Gailey hasn't spoken to Lynch since becoming the Bills' head coach.

The Bills have insisted that they are not looking to trade Lynch. He said in a recent story that he intends to play for the Bills this season. But if both sides are telling the true, wouldn't it make sense for Gailey and Lynch to introduce themselves since they were under the same roof at the same time? Last week was a good time for Lynch to get in Gailey's good graces. It also was an opportunity for Gailey to let Lynch know that he's wanted.

It's almost as if Gailey is saying, "If Lynch doesn't care enough to practice, I don't care about talking him.'' Lynch seems to be saying, "I'll volunteer my services when it's mandatory.''

At some point, these two guys are going to have to get in the same room and talk. When that happens is anyone's guess.

---Allen Wilson

Levy visits; No Torbor yet

Former Bills head coach and General Manager Marv Levy attended the team's final voluntary minicamp practice Sunday inside the fieldhouse. Levy hasn't been seen around these parts very much since stepping down as G.M., but the door is always open for the man who guided the Bills to four Super Bowls.

Meanwhile, newly acquired linebacker Reggie Torbor has yet to join his new team. He can't practice until he signs his contract, which he is expected to do Monday when he arrives in town. He will participate in his first practice on Tuesday. Torbor agreed to a two-year deal Saturday.

---Allen Wilson

Parrish on receiving end

A crowd announced as 4,500 at Ralph Wilson Stadium got to watch a standard spring practice Saturday afternoon. There weren't a lot of thrills and chills, but the weather was beautiful. (Buffalo is the sunniest, driest city in the Northeast, from Maine to North Carolina, from May through September.) Receiver Roscoe Parrish made arguably the prettiest catches. He hauled in a 35-yard dart down the middle of the field from Brian Brohm during 7 on 7 drills. He also had a nice catch over the middle in 11 on 11 drills from Trent Edwards, who had to make a good step-up in the pocket to get the throw off. Safety Jairus Byrd had an interception off Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the session. The final play was a good fingertip grab by Buffalo's Naaman Roosevelt, which was met with cheers from his loyal followers.

---Mark Gaughan

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