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Jackson, Lynch working; Mitchell absent from practice

Running backs Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch were on the practice field Tuesday morning as the Buffalo Bills continued to prepare for their final preseason game, Thursday at Detroit.

Lynch looked to be moving well on his sprained ankle, while Jackson was limited in catching passes. He had only a wrap on his broken hand.

Also returning to practice were offensive tackle Ed Wang, who also sported a big cast on his hand injury, and free safety Cary Harris.

Not practicing were tight ends Shawn Nelson and Derek Schouman, offensive tackle Cornell Green, linebackers Kawika Mitchell, Reggie Torbor and Donovan Woods and free safety Jairus Byrd.

Mitchell wasn't in attendance. We'll see after practice the reason for that. Also not in attendance were Byrd and Nelson. Schouman and Torbor were riding stationary bikes on the sideline.

---Jay Skurski

Forbes rates Buffalo a top tailgating city

This won't come as a surprise to any of the diehards who surround Ralph Wilson Stadium hours before kickoff on Sundays in the fall, but the Buffalo Bills -- or more so, their fans -- have appeared on a list of top tailgating cities.

On its Web site, Forbes Magazine lists 10 such NFL locations. The list is in alphabetical order, but since Buffalo is the first city listed, that makes it No. 1, right?

Here's the link to the story, and here's the description given to describe the Bills' game-day experience:

"Buffalo always ranks high on the tailgating roster, partly because of the city's incredibly long tradition of tailgating, but also because it offers the greatest variety of parking space for doing so. Arrayed around Ralph Wilson Stadium are lots for car tailgating, RV tailgating, bus tailgating, and limousine tailgating. The 'Bills Army' takes maximum advantage of this every home game (lots open five hours before game time), and the party reaches a truly professional level amid the odors of kummelweck, hot wings, and chili."

Not a bad description, although we spell "kimmelweck" a bit differently around here.

---Jay Skurski


Bills cut Calloway, Harvey and Rhea

Although they had until 4 p.m. Tuesday to do it, the Bills made their three roster cuts required to get to the NFL-allowed maximum 75 players on Monday.

Released were wide receiver Aaron Rhea, defensive tackle Lonnie Harvey and offensive tackle Kyle Calloway.

Perhaps the only surprise in the group is Calloway, who was a seventh-round pick by the team in April's draft.

---Jay Skurski

Light start to a short week

The Bills open the last week of the preseason today with a walk-through practice on the grass field next to the fieldhouse.

It's a light start to a short week, with the preseason finale scheduled for Thursday night in Detroit. The team must cut three players to get down to the NFL limit of 75 by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Final cuts, when the roster must be trimmed to 53, will be Saturday.

We'll have more on practice when the Bills finish up, which should be about 4 p.m.

---Jay Skurski

Bruce, Darryl, Burroughs

Bills greats Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley visited the Lane College football team Saturday in Tennessee. Lane is coached by former Bill Derrick Burroughs. Both Smith and Burroughs were first-round picks of the Bills in 1985.

"Derrick is like a brother to us," Talley told the Jackson Sun.

"We had that common bond of being first-round draft picks and the obligations and expectations that came along with that," Smith said of he and Burroughs. "I would rather have my worst enemy playing alongside me that is dedicated ... than my best friend who cuts corners and goofs off. At the end of the day you want to win, and if somebody is hindering that, then they shouldn't be in the game."

Burroughs' career ended prematurely in 1989 just as he was starting to excel at cornerback for the Bills. He was forced into retirement due to a narrowing of the spinal column. His departure from the team was costly during the Bills' Super Bowl run, because Buffalo never had a corner as good as Burroughs to start opposite Nate Odomes.

---Mark Gaughan

Live Blogging From Bills-Bengals

Post-game: Chan Gailey wouldn't commit to Trent Edwards as his starting quarterback, despite another stellar performance by the frontrunner against the Bengals. But it's fairly clear that the job was Edwards' to lose, and he strengthened his hold on the job with his solid play on Saturday night.

"He's earned the right to be in the position he's in right now," Gailey said. "We're still evaluating everybody. As they continue to play, they continue to get better. If everybody continues to get better, it'll probably end up like it is. I still want to reserve the right to make an evaluation, though."

More quotes from after the game:

Edwards on the offense scoring three times in the first half: "I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I think we're finding our rhythm. We're starting to get in synch. We're starting to be a little more active. We're starting to hit some holes a little bit harder. It's the little things it's going to come down to. We did a lot of little things well tonight, and I think we'll be able to win some football games in the regular season tonight if we do that."

Edwards on whether his confidence is as high as it's been in his NFL career:

"I don't know. I feel like I''m just enjoying it a lot more. I don't know about my confidence. I feel like I'm having fun out there. I really enjoy playing with these guys. I really enjoy playing for Chan.It's fun having C.J. in the backfield. It's fun throwing to Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish. It's fun winning football games. So if that leads to more confidence, then yes.

"But it's still preseason. I don't want to get ahead of myself. There's still going to be mistakes on tape. There's still a ton of room for corrections. We need to do a good job of not getting too high after a win like this. We need to come back on Monday. I think we  have film and practice. We need to fix the mistakes we made and move on to the Lions on Thursday."

Aaron Maybin, who had two sacks, on gettings a lot of reps late in the game:

"I think it's important. You can ask the coaching staff and myself. I think we all feel as though the reps are definitely the only way you're going to get better. So I'm trying to take as many reps as possible, as many reps as the coaches will let me and as many reps as I can get out there. And then, with our position at linebacker, with Reggie (Torbor) being down, and some other guys taking some shots, even guys that are playing that are dinged up, we don't have the necessity of just sitting some guy some time."

Gailey, asked whether C.J. Spiller's play surprised him:

"No. He didn't surprise me. I saw him up close and personal for two years (when Gailey was at Georgia Tech and Spiller at Clemson in the ACC). He doesn't surprise me a lick. He's a very good football player, and can do a lot of different things."

End of game: Bills beat the Bengals, 35-20, sending the youngsters home happy on the 10th annual Kids Day at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Announced crowd was 57,867. They're now 2-1 on the preseason and have scored 34 and 35 points in successive games. So what do you think? Better than the critics suspect?

2:40 left in the game: Sorry, was busy writing on  deadline. Bills are safely ahead, 35-20, and will move to 2-1 on the preseason. The Buffalo backups had their way against the Bengals in the second half, an encouraging sign.  David Nelson continued his bid for a receiving spot, catching a 20-yard TD throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick midway through the third quarter.

The Bengals kicked a couple of field goals and trailed, 28-20, after the third. But Reggie Corner picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown for the decisive score.

We'll have more statistics, quotes and other observations after the post-game interviews.

--- Jerry Sullivan.

Halftime: Wow. If the Bills were looking to generate excitement by taking C.J. Spiller in the draft, they're getting their wish. For the second preseason game in a row, Spiller scored a touchdown that left Bills fans gasping for breath. Late in the half, Spiller took an inside handoff from Trent Edwards, darted to his left, avoided a couple of tacklers and sprinted into the left corner of the end zone for a 20-yard TD and 21-14 halftime lead.

It was a terrific first half for the Bills' offense after an initial three-and-out. Edwards was accurate and swift with his decision making. He got Roscoe Parrish into the offense. An of course, Spiller creates a crisis for the defense every time he touches the ball. He had two huge negative runs early, but he got going late in the half and found seams in the Bengals' defense.

The Bills' first-team defense was weak again. The special teams continue to be mediocre. Those are major concerns, but at least the offense is coming on. If nothing else, the Bills might given their fans some high-scoring games as they attempt the slow climb back to respectability.

Spiller finished the half with 52 yards on 12 carries -- a 4.3 average despite a minus-11 yarder. Edwards was 13 of 17 for 153 yards, getting the ball to seven different receivers. The Bengals QBs were 13 of 18 for 131 yards and they averaged 5.6 yards on 12 rushes. Rough night for the Buffalo starting D.

--- Jerry Sullivan.

8:33 left in the second: It's 14-14, as the Bills' starting offense once again answered a score from the Bengals. With Trent Edwards again making quick, accurate throws, the Bills marched to a TD. C.J. Spiller, who had a 20-yard run early in the drive, capped it with a 1-yard dash around left end for the TD.

Chan Gailey is clearly making a difference with this offense, especially with his utilization of Roscoe Parrish in the slot. Edwards hit Parrish with a gorgeous 28-yard out during the drive. He also found Corey McIntyre in the flat for a 16-yard gain. Gailey is calling plays that have Edwards getting the ball away quick and compensating for the offensive line's shortcomings.

The defense is another matter. Gailey said they were ahead of the offense in the spring, and it seemed the case early in camp. But the first-team D has been brutal in the three preseason games, giving up two TDs in each game and getting beaten consistently on pass plays down the middle and runs between the tackles. Carson Palmer carved up the Buffalo D on his second TD drive, hitting Terrell Owens twice and finding Chad Ochocinco open in the left corner of the end zone for a TD on second-and-goal from the 6.

--- Jerry Sullivan

4:13 left in the first: It looks like we have another entertaining preseason tilt on our hands. After 10 minutes and change, it's 7-7. The Bengals scored on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead,  getting a 51-yard kickoff return to start the drive and a 9-yard TD pass from Carson Palmer to wide-open tight end Jermaine Gresham for the score. Terrell Owens caught the first ball thrown his way for a 16-yard gain over the middle to keep the drive going.

The Bills tied in with a curious drive that began on an 11-yard loss by rookie C.J. Spiller. Trent Edwards, who has been sharp thus far, hits passes to David Nelson and Lee Evans to get a first down. He finished the drive -- which was aided by a personal four call against Cincinnati defensive end Jonathan Fanene -- with a 12-yard TD throw on a crossing pattern to Roscoe Parrish.

--- Jerry Sullivan

Welcome to Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Bills host the Bengals tonight in the annual Kids Day preseason game. It's the 10th year of the event, which means no kids have yet to witness a Bills team on its way to a playoff berth.

C.J. Spiller will start again for the Bills at running back in the absence of Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Fellow rookie Torell Troup gets the start at nose for Kyle Williams, who is nursing minor injuries. Terrell Owens, returning to Buffalo after one rather uneventful year, starts at wideout for the Bengals in place of Antonio Bryant.

Rookie Joique Bell is tied for second in the NFL in preseason rushing yards with 132 yards on 16 carries. Bell, making a strong roster bid, is leading the league in average per carry at 8.2. The Bills are the only team with three backs averaging 5.0 per carry. Spiller has 14 rushes for 70 yards. Chad Simpson has 75 yards on 15 carries.

It will be interesting to see if the Bills continue to prosper on the ground tonight. Cincinnati is a strong defensive team with solid cornerbacks. The Bills need to establish the run to open up their suspect passing attack. Trent Edwards is expected to play a half tonight in the one-sided "open" competition for the starter's job. Edwards is the nominal No. 1, and doesn't figure to lose the job unless he is positively brutal tonight and one of the other QBs lights up the stadium.

--- Jerry Sullivan

No word on QB rotation

Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey knows the rotation of his quarterbacks for Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he’s not ready to reveal it just yet.

“We’ll tell the quarterbacks before we tell you guys,’’ Gailey said to the media today.

The first team generally plays longer in the third preseason so expect starter Trent Edwards to play the majority, if not all, of the first half.

"I think we’ll be out there a little bit longer,’’ he said. “I think we’ll have a chance to find our rhythm and try to get in sync with everybody. There’s a little more emphasis placed on this game. Our game plan might be a little bit bigger and we’ve watched a little bit more film on these guys. They’ve played three preseason games already, so we kind of know what they’re doing. Again, they’re probably going to show us some different looks and we’ll be in there long enough to get our feet wet and to get in rhythm.’’

The rotation between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm – who have taken turns as the No. 2 in two preseason games – is another matter.

“Nothing’s changed,’’ Fitzpatrick said. "We’ve just been doing the same thing everyday rotating. We don’t know what the rotation will be for the game yet.’’

--- Running backs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) did not participate in practice along with safety Jairus Byrd (groin) and tight end Derek Schouman (knee). Linebacker Reggie Torbor also missed practice with an undisclosed injury suffered last week against Indianapolis and Gailey said he hopes to have him back by the season opener against at home against Miami. Rookie receiver Donald Jones was excused for a third consecutive day for personal reasons but Gailey said he should play this weekend against the Bengals. Linebacker Keith Ellison, who was held out of practice Wednesday for what Gailey called, “little flareups,’’ returned for Thursday’s workout.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Hardy returns to practice


Bills wide receiver James Hardy returned to the practice field this evening for his first extensive workout since Aug. 10, when he suffered an undisclosed injury while running a pass route in practice.

Hardy, taken in the second round of the 2008 draft, has fallen down the depth chart mainly because he's had problems staying on the field. He missed the first 14 games last season while recovering from a left knee injury and had one catch for 9 yards in the final two contests.

Hardy has not played in the preseason. He's hoping to get some action Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals so he can show new coach Chan Gailey he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. The Bills were looking for much more production from the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder when they selected him out of Indiana.

The Bills pushed team meetings back to the late afternoon and practice to 7:15 p.m. so players could get settled after breaking training camp in Pittsford on Tuesday. They're scheduled for a 90-minute workout tomorrow beginning at 11 a.m. All practices are closed to the public.

--- Bucky Gleason

Bills get no love from Scouts, Inc.

A lot of people have questioned the Bills quality of talent. My colleague, Jerry Sullivan, believes the Bills don't have anyone that should be ranked in the top 10 at their position in the NFL.

Apparently, ESPN's Scouts, Inc. agrees.

The Bills have only one representative in Scouts, Inc's ranking of the top 200 players in the NFL. Lee Evans is tied for 133rd on the list and ranks 22nd among wide receivers. The top 10 receivers, according to Scouts, Inc. are Andre Johnson (No. 2 overall player), Larry Fitzgerald (tied for third), Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Miles Austin (all tied at 22nd), Brandon Marshall (T-37), Wes Welker, Roddy White (both tied for 39th) and Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and DeSean Jackson (all tied at 51st).

It was a bit curious to see Percy Harvin (T-84) and Hakeem Nicks (T-91) rated ahead of Evans. Both are coming off impressive rookie seasons, but neither has Evans' overall body of work. It is yet another indication of how little regard people outside the Bills organization thinks of the roster.

---Allen Wilson

Bills break camp

PITTSFORD -- The Bills wrapped up their final day of training camp Tuesday with a 75-minute practice in shoulder pads and shorts.

Head coach Chan Gailey liked the effort the players put forth, but he wasn't pleased with the overall execution. One would expect improvement after 19 days of practices, but the sloppiness of some of the sessions -- like Tuesday -- angered Gailey.

"I told them I thought we worked hard," he said. "I'm not sure we worked smart every day, but we worked hard every day. We've got to learn to work both ways. We've got to mentally be sharp every day. I thought we got lax a little bit, but overall it was a good camp.''

---Allen Wilson

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