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O-line depleted for Friday

Coach Chan Gailey confirmed that three starters on the offensive line will not play in Friday's game against the Washington Redskins. Left tackle Demetrius Bell, right guard Eric Wood and right tackle Cornell Green all will sit out the game. Bell and Wood both participated in Wednesday night's practice, but it very likely was the doctors' and trainers' plan all along to hold both of those players out of the first exhibition. Green has been out with an injury that is not serious the past several days.

The starting offensive line Wednesday night was left tackle Jamon Meredith, left guard Andy Levitre, center Geoff Hangartner, right guard Cordaro Howard and right tackle Kirk Chambers.

Ryan Fitzpatrick took the snaps as the No. 2 quarterback. Expect him to see a good amount of time against the Redskins.

The Bills worked in pads Wednesday night, but there was a good amount of walk-through periods in the 80-minute workout. In 11-on-11 red zone work from the 30 yard line with 30 seconds on the clock, Trent Edwards got the starting offense down to the 5 with three straight completions. But Lee Evans could not hang onto a slant pass and Edwards threw incomplete for Stevie Johnson in the back of the end zone as time ran out. Fitzpatrick got the second-string into the end zone in three plays. Fitz drilled a 20-yard pass over the middle to Naaman Roosevelt for a touchdown. It was an excellent throw.

---Mark Gaughan

Easley, Hardy out

Coach Chan Gailey confirmed that rookie receiver Marcus Easley will need surgery soon due to a leg injury. It’s believed to be a knee, which has kept him out of practice the past week. Easley is a fourth-round draft choice out of Connecticut.

“It looks like he’s going to need surgery,” Gailey said. “I don’t know exactly when that’s going to take place. I think we’ll get a better determination on what we’re talking about, long term, short term, after that.”

Meanwhile, third-year man James Hardy is out with an injury that will keep him out of Friday’s preseason opener and most likely out of the second game next Thursday.

“Hardy’s going to be out for probably at least a week to 10 days, unless something major happens,” Gailey said. “It’s tough on him. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for us, too. We wanted to get a good look at him. He had done some good things.”

Hardy’s injury gives Stevie Johnson an even better chance to win the No. 2 receiver job. It also gives Chad Jackson and rookie David Nelson more opportunity to win playing time and make the roster. If the final cuts were today, Jackson, the former Pats second-round pick, would be on the team and seeing quality playing time. Nelson, who is 6-5, has made his presence known out of the slot in camp. The Bills have seven receivers healthy for the Redskins game. So undrafted rookies Naaman Roosevelt and Donald Jones also are going to get a good chance to make an impression.

Asked if the Bills will have to add a receiver due to injuries, Gailey said: “We’ll have to see. We’ve got a short week next week so it’s not like we can go out and do a ton in between the next two ballgames. Then we’ll make a decision probably during the week next week whether we need to address it for the long term or not.”

---Mark Gaughan

Pads streak ends

The Bills held just a walk-through practice this morning for the first time since training camp opened on July 29 under new coach Chan Gailey. The Bills had practiced in pads for 17 straight practices, the most I can remember under a Bills coach since before Marv Levy, I think. ... The Bills have a practice scheduled for tonight, have a game coming on Friday night and have several offensive linemen banged up.

Tonight's session is open to the public (with a free ticket) and runs 7:15 to 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Bills waived receiver Felton Huggins, who suffered a shoulder injury on Monday. Huggins had been on the Bills' practice squad for half of 2007 and all of 2008 and 2009. He was in Jacksonville's camp in 2006. So he has done a good job of hanging around the roster in the NFL. However, while he continued to show consistent hands in training camp, he was a long, long-shot to make the squad this season.

---Mark Gaughan

Brown, Jackson, TD

Rookie quarterback Levi Brown got to run a two-minute drill for the first time this training camp, and he produced a touchdown, hitting receiver Chad Jackson on a 15-yard strike in the end zone with about 8 seconds left.

Jackson's grab was the catch of the day Tuesday at St. John Fisher College. The former second-round pick of the New England Patriots reached behind him and picked the ball out of the air with his right hand, behind defensive back Dominique Harris.

“Great catch," Brown said. “I told him he made me look good. It was a terrible throw. But he caught it so I’ll take it."

Brown had six completions and a 15-yard scramble on the march, which began at his own 35. Short throws to Chad Simpson and Donald Jones produced third-down conversions.

“He’s very comfortable away from center," coach Chan Gailey said. “That’s what he did at Troy. I think he feels good in the (shot) gun."

Jackson has had a strong first two weeks of training camp. He's seeing time in the slot with the starters and time in the slot and outside with the second team.

The Bills’ offense held its own in Tuesday’s session, following up on a pretty good showing Monday night. Trent Edwards opened the 7-on-7 red-zone session with a sharp completion to Roscoe Parrish near the goal line. Edwards was 5 of 6 to start the session. He had a 12-yard TD strike over the middle to rookie David Nelson and a pinpoint pass to tight end Shawn Nelson for a score.

The defense stopped the offense on 3 of 4 live goal-line plays. Brohm hit Stevie Johnson for a score on the last play. John McCargo had a tackle for loss during the run-fits portion of practice. In 11 on 11 work, the offense picked up the blitz to allow Edwards to hit Lee Evans ov er the middle for a good gain. Dwan Edwards, who looks stout, stuffed C.J. Spiller. Edwards also smelled out a screen pass later on. ... Bryan Scott beat a block to stymie a screen pass. Spiller looked good on a run around end out of the shotgun. ... Brian Brohm hit Roscoe Parrish on a good pass over the middle. Parrish is having a pretty good camp.

---Mark Gaughan


Starters to play "more"

Starters on many NFL teams play only a series in the first preseason game of the summer. That was the case for the Bills during the Dick Jauron era. Coach Chan Gailey suggest the Bills' first teamers would see a bit more work in the preseason opener on Friday against the Washington Redskins.

Said Gailey: "I told our team today to anticipate if you’re a starter that you would play maybe a little bit longer than you would have in a normal situation because we’re learning new schemes. We have a new defense, new offense, new special teams. You might have to go a little bit longer so we can get a feel for each other."

---Mark Gaughan

Injury update

Coach Chan Gailey indicated after Tuesday's practice the injury to rookie receiver Marcus Easley is significant. Easley's believed to have an injury to his left leg. Gailey said he's waiting for the final determination from team doctors but said Easley would be out "longer rather than shorter."

Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Danny Batten, who hurt his shoulder in the first week of camp, was out of his sling. Gailey said he's improving and said he might be able to play for the third preseason game. Linebacker Keith Ellison, who had a minor procedure on a knee in the spring, is back practicing fully. Tight end Derek Schouman may be back practicing on Wednesday. Gailey said he was waiting to get a report on the shoulder injury to receiver Felton Huggins.

Left tackle Demetrius Bell took a snap during the one-on-one pass-rushing drills vs. the defensive line on Tuesday. That was the first time this camp he's done it, a good sign. Also sitting out were Spencer Johnson, Jon Corto, Ed Wang and Andre Ramsey.

---Mark Gaughan

The new "Moose?"

The Dallas Cowboys haven't had a fullback as good as Daryl "Moose'' Johnston since he retired. But the Cowboys may have found someone in the same mold as the Lewiston-Porter High School legend and Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Famer.

Williamsville's Chris Gronkowski got the ultimate complement for a fullback when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told The Dallas Morning News that Gronkowski reminds him of Johnston, who the bone-jarring lead blocker for just-inducted Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith during the Cowboys' Super Bowl championship years in the early 1990s.

Gronkowski, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, is having a good training camp. In fact, the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder has looked so good that DMN beat reporter Todd Archer already is predicting Gronkowski will win the starting fullback job over incumbent Deon Anderson.

Archer speculates the Cowboys could keep both players given their injury situation at tight end. Gronkowski, whose college career began at Maryland, served as a hybrid fullback/H-back/tight end at Arizona. Tight end is certainly in his blood with brothers Rob (a former Arizona teammate and rookie in New England) and Dan (entering his second year in Detroit) playing the position.

"He's versatile and he doesn't make many mistakes," Phillips said of Chris, who was praised by the coach for his performance against Cincinnati in the Hall of Fame game. "I'd like him to learn the fullback position before we go and put him at tight end."

No matter where he lines up, it's clear that Gronkowski is making a favorable impression in Cowboys camp. And it doesn't hurt that he's caught the eye of the team's owner.

---Allen Wilson

Trent tops night session

Quarterback Trent Edwards had a strong practice Monday night, maybe his strongest of training camp, as the Bills worked for 90 minutes through mostly light rain at St. John Fisher College.

Edwards, who had a pretty good morning session, got things going with two downfield strikes to Lee Evans in 11-on-11 work. The Bills shifted to 7-on-7 red-zone work, and Edwards opened it with a strike in the back of the end zone to Stevie Johnson. Then he hit Evans on a sharp throw to the post for a score. His next throw was on the money in the back of the end zone for James Hardy but was dropped. Ryan Fitzpatrick was No. 2 and Brian Brohm No. 3 Monday night. Fitzpatrick had a TD pass to David Nelson. Edwards came back and hit Roscoe Parrish in a very tiny window for a score in the back of the end zone. Levi Brown followed at quarterback, and threw a pass that was deflected by Drayton Florence and picked off by linebacker Chris Kelsay near the goal line.

The practice shifted to 11-on-11 work. Marshawn Lynch opened it with a good gainer on a sweep around right tackle. Edwards hit Parrish on a quick timing route. C.J. Spiller had a good gainer off left tackle. Then Edwards hung in the pocket and beat the blitz on a fine throw over the middle for Evans. Left tackle Jamon Meredith had a good block to allow Edwards to step up. Chad Jackson, who continues to make his presence known, caught two straight balls from Fitzpatrick. Then Edwards rolled out and went deep for Jackson. Leodis McKelvin had good coverage and broke up the pass down the sideline. It was a debatable decision to wing it, but it was good to see Edwards go for it. On the next play, against another blitz, Edwards' pass for David Nelson was picked off and returned for a score by Ellis Lankster, who has to be one of the best No. 6 corners in the NFL. Nelson slipped on the play to allow for the pickoff -- at least that's the way it was viewed from this reporter's angle.

Coach Chan Gailey's assessment after practice: "Some good, some bad. It’s a work in progress, for lack of a better term. But there were some good things. I thought we were sharp in some areas and not so sharp in some other areas. Protection is going to be one of the keys for us. We’ve got to protect. We’ve got some receivers, I think, that can make some things happen."

On the injury front, Felton Huggins suffered a shoulder injury in the morning that looks significant. Rookie receiver Marcus Easley, out with what may be a knee problem, was getting a second opinion, Gailey said, without specifying the ailment. Fullback Corey McIntyre suffered a minor leg injury in the morning.

Demetrius Bell was back on the field for the night workout, as was Kawika Mitchell and Parrish.

---Mark Gaughan

OL backups get work

The Bills rested three offensive line starters in Monday morning's closed practice. Left tackle Demetrius Bell was held out entirely as the Bills continue to ease him back into action after his knee surgery of last year. Guard Eric Wood worked only in some individual drills. (He may work more fully in tonight's practice.) Right tackle Cornell Green remains out with a minor leg injury.

So the backups got quality practice snaps. The first-team offensive line included, left to right, Jamon Meredith, Andy Levitre, Geoff Hangartner, Cordaro Howard and Kirk Chambers. The second team line included guard Jason Watkins working at left tackle, tackle Nick Hennessey flexing to left guard, center Sean Allen, Andre Ramsey at right guard and rookie Kyle Calloway at right tackle. Given the fact Bell has been limited in 11 on 11 work, it's unlikely he will play in the preseason opener against Washington on Friday. It would be good for the Bills if Green is back by then, which we think he will be.

Roscoe Parrish sat out Monday morning due to a minor leg injury, so former Patriot Chad Jackson took his place with the starters in the slot position. The offense had some drops in the 7 on 7 session (by Jackson, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Matthews). But the offense did better in 11 on 11 work. C.J. Spiller started it off with a good run up the middle, then Trent Edwards hit Jackson on a sharp deep out. Brian Brohm took the snaps as the No. 2 QB. Safety Jairus Byrd made a good strip of Stevie Johnson to force a fumble, which Byrd recovered.

The Bills ran two two-minute drills. Edwards moved the starters downfield, hitting Johnson and Jackson on good gainers, then hitting Johnson down the sideline for about a 30-yard gain. The drive of the second-stringers stalled. John McCargo got big pressure up the middle to foil one play. Naaman Roosevelt caught a pass for about 14 yards over the middle to beat a blitz. That was the best of nine offensive plays by the "twos."

Rookie David Nelson returned to practice after missing time last week with a sore hamstring. Also sitting out were Marcus Easley, Kawika Mitchell, Ed Wang, Danny Batten, Spencer Johnson and Marcus Stroud. Paul Posluszny returned to pads and worked on a limited basis for the first time. He had minor groin surgery before camp began. With Poz and Mitchell both out, Arthur Moats teamed with Andra Davis at inside linebacker. Alex Carrington got snaps at DE with the ones.

---Mark Gaughan

Bills are off

PITTSFORD -- There is no practice here on Sunday. It's the first extended time off the players have gotten since camp began 11 days ago. Head coach Chan Gailey said the guys deserve a break after 13 practices in 10 days.

"They need a day off,'' he said. "We don't come out here and mess around. I'm not trying to be out here 2 1/2, 3 1/2 hours. We go to work, get our job done and get off the field. They've done a good job of that.''

Practice resumes with an evening session on Monday. You must have a ticket to attend.

---Allen Wilson


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