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Starters returning

PITTSFORD -- The Bills should have their starting offensive line on the field for Thursday's preseason game against Indianapolis. Head coach Chan Gailey said left tackle Demetrius Bell and right guard Eric Wood would get some snaps, though he didn't say how many. Gailey didn't mention right tackle Cornell Green, but it appears he's ready to go after participating fully in practice for the first time in a week Monday.

The defense will get some reinforcements as well. Starting linebackers Paul Posluszny and Chris Kelsay are expected to be in the lineup Thursday.

Posluszny appeared to be caught off guard when told Gailey hopes to get him some snaps against the Colts.

"I'm cool with that,'' said Poz, who is coming off minor groin surgery. "That would be great because I feel good and I think the more experience I can get in the preseason the better. I need to be in the action and get live reps. I'm definitely ready to go. If [Gailey] lets me play, I'll play.''

---Allen Wilson

Spiller in the spotlight

PITTSFORD -- With running backs Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch out with injuries, rookie C.J. Spiller takes over the lead role in the backfield. The Bills planned to feature their top draft pick a lot anyway, but now they get to do it sooner than expected.

Don't look for Spiller to get a heavy load in the preseason. The last thing the Bills want is to lose a third back. But he'll get most of the work with the first team and be able to show the skills that made him the ninth overall selection.

Spiller said he's ready to fill the void left by Jackson and Lynch.

"The mindset is when a man goes down, you never want to see it, but you have to prepare yourself as if you're next in line,'' Spiller said after Monday morning practice. "Now I'm the next guy in line to try to step up into those big shoes and try to fill them for this preseason. I'm going to try to do my best.''

---Allen Wilson

Jackson eyes Week One return

PITTSFORD -- Running back Fred Jackson said Monday that he is targeting the Bills' regular season opener against Miami for his return from a broken hand. The September 12 contest would be slightly more than four weeks after his injury took place.

The doctors told him the hand would take between four to six weeks to heal, so coming back for the Miami game is being optimistic. However, Jackson believes he'll be ready.

"I want to get back as soon as I can,'' he said after Monday morning practice. "My thoughts are that I definitely want to be back by the opener. That's what I'm shooting for.''

---Allen Wilson

Schobel calls it quits

Aaron Schobel's NFL career is over. The former Bills star defensive end said Monday that he will retire. He plans to make it official by filing his retirement papers to the league office as soon as he receives them from his agent.

Schobel spent the entire offseason trying to decide whether to return for a 10th season. The Bills gave him until the start of training camp to let them know what his intentions were. When he didn't give them an answer, the Bills on Aug 4.

Schobel had other teams interested in his services, particularly the Houston Texans, who are near his home in Columbus, Texas. But after mulling his options, he decided that he had enough.

"I was tired of going back and forth with everything, so on Friday I made up my mind that I was done with football,'' Schobel said. "I just don't want to do it any more. I'm going to be 33 in a couple of weeks. It's a young man's game.''

Family was a big reason for his retirement. He talked about missing out on special moments like his children's birthday parties and holidays because he had to be at practice or traveling games. He and his wife, June, also didn't want their three kids having to split the school year in two cities.

"We thought about playing for Houston because it was a good situation,'' Schobel said. "But my kids at an age where they're starting to make friends, so it wouldn't been fair to take them away from all that. They're happy we're not moving.''

In addition to wanting to stay close to home, Schobel said he was tired of the physical toll football put on his body. Although he was productive last season with 10 sacks, he didn't feel like he could do certain things on the field that used to come so easy to him.

Schobel left a lot of money on the table by not reporting to Buffalo. He had four years left on a $50.5 million contract extension he signed with the Bills in 2007. He was due to make $6.025 million in base salary this season and would have received another $2 million by showing up at Bills headquarters and passing a physical.

Schobel thought about the money he was walking away from.

"Yeah, I mean if there is money to made, you hate to turn it down,'' he said. "But whether I got the money or not, it wasn't going to change my lifestyle. It wasn't going to make me any happier. I always told myself I never wanted to be a guy who was just hanging around for the money.''

Schobel added that his decision is final.

"I won't be changing my mind, I can promise you that,'' he said. "This is it for me, period. It's good to be able to go out on your own terms and not be forced out. Not a lot o players can say that.''

---Allen Wilson

Fred out 4-6 weeks

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will be out four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, sources tell The News. Jackson suffered the injury in the Bills' preseason opener Friday night against the Washington Redskins.

The injury makes Jackson very questionable for the Bills' season opening game against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 12. Four weeks from the injury would be Sept. 10, two days before the Miami game. Four to six weeks is a standard recovery time for a broken bone. The fact the injury is to his left hand might allow him to return on the optimistic side of the timetable.

Meanwhile, running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to be out three to four weeks with the sprained ankle he suffered against Washington. The injuries put rookie first-round draft choice C.J. Spiller more in the spotlight heading into the season. Spiller was expected to be a featured element of the Bills' offense with or without the injuries. The injuries also give one of the Bills' reserve running backs - Joique Bell and Chad Simpson - even more of a shot to make the 53-man roster entering the season. There was a chance one of those two would have made the 53-man roster even if the top three Bills backs were healthy.

The Bills are off today and return to practice Monday at St. John Fisher College. Monday's evening practice (7 to 9 p.m.) is open to fans who have a ticket.

---Mark Gaughan

Jackson, Lynch hurt

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Bills are about to get their money's worth out of first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller. The team lost running backs Fred Jackson for the rest of the preseason with what is believed to be a broken left hand. Backup Marshawn Lynch might be out a while, too, after suffering a sprained ankle.

Both players were hurt on the first possession of the Bills' 42-17 lost to Washington in their preseason opener. The Bills were trying to work Spiller into the mix slowly, but that plan has been accelerated by the injuries. Also look for more of fellow rookie Joique Bell and Chad Simpson in the next three exhibitions. Bell and Simpson were the only real bright spots on offense Friday night.

---Allen Wilson

Live from Bills-Redskins preseason game

Final: Redskins 42, Bills 17. It was as ugly as the final score. The Bills did very little right in this one, allowing the most points the Redskins have scored in 91 preseason games. The game showed that head coach Chan Gailey has a lot more work to do in trying to whip this group into shape. The Bills don't have much time to sulk as they are back on the field next Thursday against Peyton Manning and the Colts in Toronto.

Halftime: The Bills' starting offense picked up where it left off last preseason when it failed to score a touchdown. The patchwork offensive line had something to do with that, but it was mostly due to poor execution. The defense didn't fare much better, but was its own worst enemy with penalties. No doubt Chan Gailey won't be happy when he watches the film of this first half.

8:17 second quarter: Another Redskins possession, another Redskins touchdown albeit against backups. This is looking like some of the Bills' past preseason openers.

14:07 in the second quarter: Three huge mistakes by the Bills. First, Aaron Maybin gets called for roughing the passer (a questionable call) that sparked a Redskins touchdown drive. Late in the first quarter, Trent Edwards tries to force a ball into Lee Evans and it gets intercepted by DeAngelo Hall. Edwards was flushed from the pocket and should have thrown the ball away. The last error was on linebacker Andra Davis, who was called for illegal contact on third down. The Redskins punch it in to take a 14-3 lead.

7:29 in the first quarter: Lindell kicks 38-yard field goal for first points of the game. Should have been more, but tight end Jonathan Stupar's holding linebacker Rocky McIntosh nullified a 19-yard run by Marshawn Lynch to the Redskins' 3-yard line.

7:44: Good first series for the Bills' defense. Pass coverage was tight.

7:20: Look for rookie running back C.J. Spiller to get a lot of work tonight in the backfield and returning punts.

6:58: Here are the lineup changes for the Bills. Some you know already -- LT Jamon Meredith starting for Demetrius Bell, RG Cordaro Howard replacing Eric Wood and RT Kirk Chambers subbing for Cornell Green. Also, Kawika Mitchell starts for Paul Posluszny at inside linebacker next to Andra Davis, while Chris Ellis starts at strong side linebacker in place of Chris Kelsay.

This is a huge opportunity for Ellis, who has barely played in his first two seasons. Also out for this game are TE Derek Schouman, DE Spencer Johnson and LB Keith Ellison. Ellison and Kelsay returned to practice this week, but were being held out for precautionary reasons.

6:30: Greetings from FedEx Field in Landover, Md. After more than two hours of internet problems we're finally up and running. Just learned that quarterback Brian Brohm will not play tonight. Once Trent Edwards leaves, Ryan Fitzpatrick will come in followed by rookie Levi Brown.

Don't read too much into Brohm being a healthy scratch. Had coach Chan Gailey is concerned there might not be enough snaps to go around and he wants to make sure give Fitzpatrick and Brohm get an equal amount of plays in order to evaluate them fairly. So Brohm will play only if there is an injury to one of the other QBs.

The plan is for Brohm to be the second quarterback after Edwards and Fitzpatrick will sit when the Bills face Indianapolis next Thursday in Toronto.

---Allen Wilson

Mark Gaughan's Live Chat

Big Al to test centers

Bills backup center Sean Allen could face a tougher-than-usual test when he gets into the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins Friday night.

That's because two-time Pro Bowler Big Al Haynesworth is running with the second team at the moment. Free-agent acquisition Maake Kemoeatu, formerly of the Panthers, will start at nose tackle for Washington. Haynesworth will relieve Kemoeatu. The Bills' starters are expected to play a little longer than normal for the first preseason game, according to coach Chan Gailey. That could mean starting Bills center Geoff Hangartner could play a quarter. He might play into the second quarter. If Kemoeatu plays more than a series, Allen could wind up going head-to-head with Big Al. Allen is an undrafted rookie who started 30 games in his career at East Carolina.

Kirk Chambers, who is expected to start the game for the Bills at right tacke in place of injured Cornell Green, faces a tough matchup, too. He will line up against outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who had 11 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year.

---Mark Gaughan

Gailey on coaching dues

The Bills have two assistant coaches on staff who have paid a lot of dues to get to the NFL. Quarterbacks coach George Cortez is in his first NFL job after spending 17 years coaching in the Canadian Football League and 13 in the U.S. college ranks. Cortez, 59, has worked with in a lot of offensive systems with a lot of top quarterbacks, including Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia. Offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris is in his 34th year of coaching, and his first job in the NFL was in 2008 as assistant O-line coach in Kansas City.

There are a lot of quality coaches around the country who have dedicated their lives to their profession. Gailey gave a humble answer when asked about the dues paid to get to the NFL by D'Alessandris.

“Who can say about that stuff?" Gailey said. "There’s a lot of great football coaches. Not all the great football coaches are in the NFL. And some of us (in the NFL) may not be great. You don’t know. But you just try to make sure you get good people who can teach on your staff, and we’re fortunate that Joe’s here.”

---Mark Gaughan

 

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