Bills coach Chan Gailey on the benefit of coaching the Senior Bowl on Saturday: "We've got a little bit of an advantage. Some guys will just watch the game and see how they play. We get to watch the game and see what they've taken that we've given them and applied it on the practice field. We know what they're supposed to do. Other guys that watch the film don't necessarily know what they're supposed to do. So we kind of get an advantage there."
We have a story in Friday's paper on players to watch in Saturday's Senior Bowl. With inside linebacker being a need position for the Bills, here are a few quotes on the two starters at the position - Louisiana State's Kelvin Sheppard (No. 11) for the South and Michigan State's Greg Jones (No. 53) for the North.
Jones, a two-time All-America, could be drafted anywhere from the second to fourth rounds. Sheppard might be a third- or fourth-rounder.
Bills coach Chan Gailey on Sheppard: "Shep’s a pretty good force inside. He has really taken charge of the defense, making all the calls for us on the defensive side. He’s done a great job of finding the football. He can come take on the run and he’s fast enough and aware enough to go cover up some pass situations. I’ve seen his instincts maybe as good as anybody’s on the football field. He has great instincts. He’s a big strong guy out of LSU. I’ve been very impressed."
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis on Jones: "Greg has had a good three days. He's playing in the defense that he's used to playing, so he's stood out."
Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed and Texas defensive end Sam Acho are a middle-round prospects who could be attractive to a 3-4 team. They will have to learn to play in space at linebacker, but it's a projection they might be able to make given their mobility. Acho is rated ahead of Reed and might be a late-second or third-rounder. "I have not watched the film yet so it’s hard for me to say how (Reed) did," Gailey said on Wednesday. "He kind of falls into that (Sam) Acho mold too. He’s had his hand on the ground being a rusher but he’s probably going to end up either being a pass rush guy or being a stand up linebacker in a 3-4 outside guy. He certainly is an intriguing guy. His motor is amazing. He has an amazing motor. Every snap he’s going as hard as he can go. You’ve got to give a guy like that a lot of credit. He’s going to play somewhere. I really believe he will play somewhere because he has the right mindset about the way to go after the game."
Bills General Manager Buddy Nix mentioned Erik Pears as a key addition in an interview Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Chan Gailey expressed optimisim about Pears' prospects after the season, as well. Pears is a 6-foot-8, 305-pounder who has played five years in the NFL. The Bills picked him up late in the season, and he started the season-finale for Buffalo. Pears started 10 games as a rookie at left tackle for Denver in 2006 and 16 games at right tackle for the Broncos in 2007. Pears spent much of the 2008 season on injured reserve. Former Denver coach Mike Shanahan liked him. But then Shanahan got fired, and Josh McDaniels took over. McDaniels' new broom swept clean, and Pears was released. He bounced from Oakland to Jacksonville before being added by Buffalo on Dec. 13.
“We picked up two third-rounders in (Kraig) Urbik and (Chad) Rinehart, and (Mansfield) Wrotto was a fourth-rounder," Nix said. "Then we got Pears who started at tackle for two years against us at Denver (when Nix was in San Diego). We got bigger and we got better and we got younger."
MOBILE, Ala. -- Bills head coach Chan Gailey said new assistant head coach Dave Wannstedt will spend "100 percent" of his time working on the defensive side of the ball.
Wannstedt, hired last week, is not in Mobile for the Senior Bowl this week. He's spending his time familiarizing himself with the Bills' personnel.
Gailey on the addition of Wannstedt: "I think it’s gonna be extremely valuable to have a guy with that kind of expeireince. That kind of abilty and knowledge is going to be a big help. Puls I know what kind of person he is."
Wannstedt has 16 years of NFL experience as a head coach or defensive coordinator. Wannstedt has the additional title of inside linebackers coach. Regarding his assistant head coaching role, Gailey said: "Basically I get to bounce things off him, somebody that’s been there done that."
MOBILE, Ala. -- The North squad held its first practice in pads this morning. Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi lived up to his billing as a first-round NFL Draft prospect. Carimi, 6-foot-7 and 327 pounds, looked good in one-on-one drills against the North team's pass rushers. He fended off Oklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal, Washington linebacker Mason Foster, Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen over four snaps.
The pass rushers who looked pretty good included Beal and Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan. Both Jordan and Beal could be second-round picks in the draft, although draft-round projections are very speculative for many players at this stage of the scouting process. Beal is 6-3, 267. Jordan is 6-4, 283.
The North's quarterbacks are Washington's Jake Locker, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi. Locker is 6-3, 230. Kaepernick is 6-6, 225. Stanzi is 6-4, 230. We'll see if Locker can have some eye-popping moments this week. He played through injuries much of his senior season for the Huskies. Sore ribs bothered him the second half of the season, and he played with a hairline fracture in a rib. Locker is a great athlete and clearly is the most mobile of the three North QBs. Tuesday's first workout was pretty routine in terms of passing by the three QBs.
Defensive linemen who looked pretty good for the South team during one-on-one and team drills included Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, Mississippi State defensive tackle Pernell McPhee and Texas defensive end/linebacker Sam Acho. All three could be second- or third round picks. Mississippi State linebacker K.J. Wright, who worked in the middle, is a physical presence. He could be a third-rounder.
Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker made a nice one-handed catch and showed good hands overall. He's a 6-6, 253-pounder. University of Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson, a 6-3, 205-pounder, made some nice catches.
Niagara Falls product and former University at Buffalo standout James Starks rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown in the Green Bay Packers 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears for the NFC Championship this afternoon.
Super Bowl-bound Starks, whose rise in the NFL has put his hometown at fever pitch, scored on a 4-yard run that with an extra point put the Packers up 14-0 at 11:13 in the second quarter.
Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) rushes to the end zone for a touchdown past Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) and defensive tackle Anthony Adams (95) during the first half of the NFC Championship NFL football game Sunday in Chicago. (AP Photo / Kiichiro Sato)
The Packers' win was their third straight road victory. They will face the Steelers, a 24-19 winner over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game.
The Bills tonight confirmed the finalization of their deal with Dave Wannstedt to join the team as assistant head coach.
Wannstedt has coached a lot of great players and had big success on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL. In his 16 seasons as a head coach or defensive coordinator in the NFL, his teams have ranked in the top 12 on defense 11 times. He will have the additional title of inside linebackers coach.
“We are extremely pleased to have Dave Wannstedt join our staff,” said head coach Chan Gailey in a team release. “Dave and I have known each other for quite awhile. I respected him when I worked for him, and I’m excited that he is going to be able to join our staff. He’ll have the title of Assistant Head Coach and will be coaching the inside linebackers. I look forward to him being able to help our team in many ways. With his amount of experience he certainly should be able to do that. We look forward to having him."
"I’m thankful for the opportunity given to me by Mr. Wilson and Buddy Nix to be part of a great organization with a rich tradition,” said Wannstedt. “I’ve coached in Ralph Wilson Stadium several times. I am excited to have those great Bills fans supporting our team and making it difficult for opposing offenses each week.”
“I’ve known Chan for several years,” said Wannstedt. “Chan’s had success everywhere he’s been. Knowing what he’s about as a football coach, knowing what he believes in and having worked with him in Miami, I know he has the winning formula. I’m excited to be part of this coaching staff and am looking forward to making a difference with this defense.”