The Bills had a players-only meeting today to try to get their bad start turned around.
Linebacker Reggie Torbor was the main speaker a day after the Bills fell to 0-5 with a loss to Jacksonville.
Said Torbor: "As far as specifics, I'd rather keep it between us. I think some things don't need to be put on display. It kind of loses its meaning once it goes from something that was heartfelt to something that was for publicity. And I don't want it to turn into that. But I will say it was something that I felt I'm one of the older guys here, and for the first time in my career we don't have those. Michael Strahans and Jason Taylors. I kind of woke up this morning and, whoa, I'm one of those guys now. I've been fortunate enough in my career to play with Hall of Fame guys and guys who have done things the right way. I'm not even talking about on the field. I'm talking about off the field. I've learned from them and just relayed some of those messages that I've learned over the years to them about just being a professional. Coming to work every day and not taking this for granted. Everybody thinks they'll play 10 years in this league coming out of college and it just doesn't work that way. You never know what day is gonna be your last. ... So having a young team I thought that was important."
Said RB Fred Jackson: "We did have a team meeting where it was just players only. We kinda talked amongst ourselves on what we needed to do to get things turned around. I don't think it's negative around here. We're not happy with where we are. But I think we're focused on trying to turn that around. ... Reggie Torbor was one of the main guys talking. He was just talking about being on that team with the Giants and how they had to turn that around. A lot of guys took a lot out of it. This being the bye week I think we'll get some good work in. ... It wasn't just a negative meeting. It was a positive meeting, too. ... We have to prepare even this week like it's a game week."
Said QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: "We had a couple of the older guys step up and get some stuff off their chest. I think it was good just to clear the air a little bit. We've got a bye week. We've got to refocus and re-evaluate where we are right now. ... It's one thing to listen to the coaches talk but to hear some of your peers talk and really from the heart. Guys that have been around it for awhile, kind of pouring out their feelings and what they think it's gonna take to turn the thing around."
Torbor was part of the 2007 Super Bowl winning Giants team that rebounded from a poor start to win the title.
Said Torbor: "More important than my last year in New York was my first year. People look at us winning the Super Bowl and think that that happened overnight. My first year was 6-10. We lost seven of the last eight games. People just all of a sudden see the benefits of the hard work we put in and say how’d we do it? We’d been doing it for three years. We come in here. This organization hasn’t been where anyone wants it to be but it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes time. Once you put in the hard work and you reach the playoffs and win the Super Bowl you can look back and say remember when we started 0-5.
The Buffalo Bills activated tight end Shawn Nelson today and released defensive lineman Chris Ellis to make room on their 53-man roster.
Nelson missed the first four games of the season due to a suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. He practiced on a limited basis this week.
Ellis was a third-round pick in 2008 out of Virginia Tech with a reputation as a pass rusher. He registered one sack with the Bills.
This further depletes the outside linebacker lineup and looks like a signal the Bills will stick with their "big front" that they used against the Jaguars. That includes rookie Torell Troup on the field with linebacker Reggie Torbor off the field in normal down and distance situations. With Ellis gone, the Bills outside backers are Chris Kelsay, Torbor, Aaron Maybin and Antonio Coleman. Rookie Arthur Moats, who has an elbow injury, has played outside, too. Ellis, drafted as a 4-3 end, did not play any defensive snaps the past two games.
Rookie running back C.J. Spiller will have his number retired by Clemson in a ceremony this weekend. Spiller, who wore No. 28, is the third player in school history to have his number retired joining Steve Fuller, who wore No. 4 (1975-78), and Banks McFadden, who wore No. 66 (1937-39).
Coach Chan Gailey said after practice today that Terrence McGee, Bryan Scott, Keith Ellison and Arthur Moats are out for Sunday's game vs. Jacksonville. Andra Davis and Marcus Stroud practiced fully and will play. Ashton Youboty was limited and is very questionable ... more like doubtful. Tight end Shawn Nelson, coming back from an NFL suspension, was limited. Gailey said he has not yet decided whether Nelson will play Sunday.
With McGee and Youboty down, the Bills have three healthy cornerbacks. It's probably good they're not playing a spread team like New England or Green Bay this week.
The Bills could be without two key defensive reserves on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coach Chan Gailey revealed after practice Thursday that inside linebacker Keith Ellison and strong safety Bryan Scott could miss the game because of knee injuries. Gailey indicated the injuries weren’t serious, but added they could be sidelined “a game or two.’’
Both players were hurt in last Sunday's loss to the New York Jets. They were not on the practice field Thursday during the period the media is allowed to see.
Scott usually lined up next to inside linebacker Paul Posluszny in the Bills’ nickel defense. Ellison also played in the nickel as an injury replacement for Posluszny.
The Bills had to play without inside linebacker Andra Davis (shoulder) and defensive end Marcus Stroud (ankle) last week, but both are practicing and should start on Sunday.
Cornerback Ashton Youboty returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with a hamstring injury. It is not known if he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.
The only players officially ruled out for Sunday are cornerback Terrence McGee (leg) and outside linebacker Arthur Moats (elbow).
The Bills aren't too worried about going into Sunday's game shorthanded at cornerback because the Jaguars don't use a lot of four-receiver formations, ala the Patriots. The Bills can use safety Donte Whitner at corner in a pinch.
Buddy Nix on the timing of the Marshawn Lynch trade: "To be honest with you, as we started looking at it. Obviously when we kept him and got two guys hurt the first six plays of the preseason it felt really good to have three backs. Now once we got ‘em all healthy and they’re not getting the number of touches then we decided ti was time. There’s no need in me trying to say we’d have been better off to have done it then or now or whatever. I don’t understand what good it does to go through the summer or the preseason with a draft pick in your pocket that you can’t use till April. Why not do it when we did it. It’s the same draft pick, it’s in our pocket and we can’t use it ‘till April."
Nix on Trent Edwards: "I said this to start with. We wanted to see for ourselves what Trent could do. We knew he had the ability. He’s willing. He’s intelligent. He did all the things we asked. We went through OTAs. We went through preseason, camp, the whole deal, and he did everything we asked him to do and there was promise there. Buffalo’s got people all over the league that have been here that are playing good for other people. I didn’t want to come in here and cut guys that could help us win. Then we got into the regular season and it didn’t work out. We didn’t have the production that we wanted. We decided that wasn’t the answer for us or for him. So we made the change."
Nix on Chris Kelsay's contract extension: "The thing you don’t want to do is take your core guys and your leaders out of your system. We decided obviously we’ve got four, five, six guys like that. Maybe not be great players but are good players that set the tone for what you want everybody else to be. Chris Kelsay is a good payer. He exemplifies what we want players to do and how we want ‘em to be. So that’s the reason he’s here."
Here's audio of Bills General Manager Buddy Nix, who spoke with reporters today.
Here are some of his thoughts on various topics:
On the frustration of the Bills' fans: "The only thing I would say is I know they’re frustrated. They’re not any more frustrated than we are. They’re putting their money and tickets in and we’re putting seven days a week in to try to get it turned around. It’ll be fun when it happens. And trust me, it’ll happen."
On his plan: "Here’s what I said when we started and I’m gonna say it again. This is the way we’ll do it. We’re going to build through the draft, we’re going to get as many draft picks as we can. We’re going to be very careful about giving up draft picks because that’s our future. The other part of the plan is if a guy’s not producing, we’re not going to keep doing the same thing – and that being losing – with the same people doing the same thing. We’re not going to do that. After a point it doesn’t change. To be honest with you nobody’s safe. You’ve got to produce and we evaluate ‘em every day."
On whether he underestimated the rebuilding project: "I think everybody knew that this wasn’t going to be – just because you hired a different guy, that everything was going to change. I think things have changed. I think we’ve got a plan. I know we get questioned about that at times. I promise you this: we’re going to stay the course. So what we set out to do and the way we set out to do it is not the speedy way, it’s painful, but you’re just going to have to have patience because as long as I’m here we’re going to stay the course and do it the way we planned because I know it works."
"Obviously I’m frustrated just like you and the fans and everybody else. We didn’t expect to be here, but we are where we are and we’ve got to deal with it. We’ve got to dig our way out. That’s what we try to do every day."