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Mark Gaughan's Live Chat

Packers still high on Starks

It's too bad Niagara Falls native and former University at Buffalo running back James Starks is injured right now. With Green Bay leading rusher Ryan Grant out for the season with an ankle injury, Starks would have been in position to earn a key role in the Packers' offense.

But the rookie will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after the Packers put him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring problem that has sidelined Starks since the spring. Once the six-week period is over, the Packers will have three weeks to decide whether to put him on the 53-man roster or the season-ending injured reserve list.

Injuries dogged Starks throughout his UB career. He sat out his senior season with a shoulder problem that required surgery. The Packers got him in the sixth round of last April's draft, but he would have gone much earlier if not for questions about his durability.

Even though they haven't seen much of Starks' talent since he arrived in Green Bay, the Packers remain intrigued by his potential.

"He's a big, athletic running back, and I think he has the ability to be a three-down player,'' Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the Buffalo media via conference call this week. "I haven't seen him in pads yet, so there's really a lot of information we haven't been able to gain on him. Hopefully he can get past this [injury] and get healthy so when we get there after Week Six we can evaluate him.''

---Allen Wilson

Lynch responds to trade rumors

There have been numerous reports this week about Bills running back Marshawn Lynch being traded. One story from Yahoo Sports said the Green Bay were interested and that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was lobbying the team on Lynch's behalf. The two were teammates at Cal.

I asked Lynch if he was affected by the trade rumors.

“No, because if it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen,” he said. ”What will I be able to do about it? If they say I’ve got to go then what am I going to do, tell them no? If they say I’m going to stay, I’m here. If they say I’m not going nowhere then come on, let’s continue to build on this thing and let's get better.”

It's no secret Lynch was unhappy about losing his starting job to Fred Jackson last season and wasn't too thrilled about the Bills drafting C.J. Spiller. But to Lynch's credit, he has not made an issue about it other than staying away from most of the offseason workouts. 

The Bills have maintained they do not intend to trade Lynch, who seems OK with that.

"As of right now, I know I'm taking handoffs from Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick), Trent [Edwards] or [Brian] Brohm,'' Lynch said. "That's pretty much all I've got to say about that.''

---Allen Wilson

 

Rodgers likes Lynch

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters today he'd love to see his former teammate, Marshawn Lynch, join the Packers' backfield. Green Bay lost starting back Ryan Grant to an ankle injury for the season on Sunday. No team has a surplus of starting-caliber backs like the Bills. Rodgers and Lynch played together in college at the University of California.

Asked what he'd say if the Pack braintrust wanted his input on Lynch, Rodgers said, "Bring him on,"

Asked about Lynch's character questions, Rodgers said: "He's a great player. And any character issues the team might see, I think in a situation like that, and I think you've seen that with other players across the league, when you give a guy a change of scenery and a guy like that who feels he might have something to prove, and surround him with two guys, (Desmond) Bishop and myself who played with him. ... I think that can only help him feel comfortable and see a lot of production."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Rodgers' comments.

Grant's injury has prompted some speculation that Green Bay should part with inside linebacker A.J. Hawk in order to get Lynch. Hawk is a former No. 5 overall pick. He starts but comes off the field on third downs and passing situations for the Pack. Hawk's contract runs through 2011.

---Mark Gaughan

 


 

Injuries: Hangartner OK

Bills center Geoff Hangartner sat out Wednesday's practice on the grass field behind the team's fieldhouse in Orchard Park. Hangartner has a sore ankle from Sunday's game against Miami.

Coach Chan Gailey said after practice it was not a significant injury. "It's something he did in the game. It's precautionary. I'm sure he'll be out there tomorrow," Gailey said.

Linebacker Reggie Torbor, who missed the Miami game due to a chest injury, participated fully. Torbor's availability may not be particularly critical this week, since Green Bay runs so many multiple-receiver formations. The Bills figure to be in their nickel or dime defense a lot.

For Green Bay, starting cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), reserve linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and reserve rookie defensive end Mike Neal (ribs) did not practice. Starting left tackle Chad Clifton (knees), starting outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), and starting defensive end Cullen Jenkins (hand) were limited. So was third cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder). Underwood has been out three weeks.

---Mark Gaughan

Gailey on Trent

Bills coach Chan Gailey said today he's not worried about Trent Edwards throwing the ball deeper downfield. He'll do it, Gailey said. Here are his comments on the recurring topic of conversation:

"He can’t be more aggressive if we don’t allow him to be and call the stuff and they run the coverage that dictates that he throws it down the field. There’s too much put on whether he’s throwing the ball downfield or not. It’s the plays called, it’s the coverage they run. It’s all that together. … He’s got to do what the plays tell him to do and what the reads tell him to do within those plays. … He’ll throw it down the field. I’m not worried about that. Are there times that he could have taken a shot? There might have been a couple. But more it was what we were trying to do with the football and what we told him to do with the football against certain coverages."

PRACTICE UPDATE: Center Geoff Hangartner was not at practice today. He had an ankle wrapped after the game against Miami. We'll get an update after practice. Linebacker Reggie Torbor was practicing. So was linebacker Antonio Coleman. Special teamer Cary Harris was riding a stationary bike on the side. Paul Posluszny was not on the field. 

More Gailey on the offense, which went 0 for 8 on third-and-10 or more vs. Miami:

"That’s the thing we’ve got to avoid is negative plays. We’ve got to go up there and keep out of those third and longs, which percentages say you’re not going to make.

"We’re trying to get back to basics with what we started with. Just basic blocking schemes, basic routes that we’ve run. Things like that. Just try to get back to where we started with this whole thing and build from there."

---Mark Gaughan

Bills update from coach Chan Gailey

Bills coach Chan Gailey spoke with the media today about Reggie Torbor's status, Keith Ellison replacing injured linebacker Paul Posluszny, and David Nelson's talent as a rookie receiver.

Gailey also addressed Green Bay's offensive weapons.

"Instead of the defense playing mind games with him, he plays mind games with the defense," he said of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Here's more from the news conference:

A Matthews Plan

Defensive teams sometimes put a "spy" on a hard-to-defend offensive threat, such as a running quarterback or game-breaking running back. The Bills are going to have to put some kind of special plan in place for Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday. Matthews was all over the field in Green Bay's season-opening victory over Philadelphia in Week One. He had 5.5 pressures, including two sacks. He knocked Eagles QB Kevin Kolb out of the game with a concussion. He overwhelmed Eagles tight end Brent Celek.

Said Bills coach Chan Gailey: "He’s an excellent football player. You’ve got to have a plan for him, because he’s good enough to warrant that. So we’ll try to make sure we have people around him, either people sliding to him or people around him, something to help us a little bit from time to time. Maybe not every snap but from time to time."

---Mark Gaughan

Former Bills DE Denney finds a home

The Houston Texans signed a former Bills defensive end Tuesday, it's just not the one everyone thought it might be.

Houston agreed to a contract with Ryan Denney, who had spent all eight seasons of his career with the Bills after being a second-round draft pick in 2002.

It's a good fit for Denney, who is an all-around good guy. It also goes to show Aaron Schobel is serious about retirement, since he would have made perfect sense for the Texans if he was at all interested in playing.

Denney wasn't the only defensive end signed by the Texans, as Adewale Ogunleye also signed Tuesday. Ogunleye spent four seasons with the Dolphins and the last six with Chicago. He had 6.5 sacks with the Bears last season before breaking his leg in December.

---Jay Skurski

Bills add TE Myers to practice squad

Tight end Rob Myers was signed to the Bills' practice squad Monday, while tight end DajLeon Farr was placed on the Practice Squad, Injured list.

Myers joins the Bills after being released by New England on Sept. 4. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Utah State product spent part of 2009 on the practice squads of the Eagles and Patriots. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets in '09 before being released prior to the start of training camp.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

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