Bills safety Jairus Byrd and his father, Gil, who is an assistant coach with the Chicago Bears, had to deal with a strange circumstance due to the NFL lockout this offseason. NFL personnel were not allowed to have contact with players. So whenever Byrd and his father spoke on the phone, the elder Byrd had to document the time of each phone conversation and report it to the league.
"To me it really wasn't an issue, I talked to him, I saw him," the Bills' safety said. "It was the same as normal to me. ... But he had to report it when we talked, any conversation."
The Bills have announced the first training camp practice at St. John Fisher College is set for 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
On Sunday the Bills will practice from 7:30 to 9 p.m. As in the past, free tickets are required for admission to the night practices, which always are roughly 7 to 9 p.m. The second night practice is Thursday, Aug. 4. Tickets for those first two night workouts are available starting today at Ticketmaster. For ordering tickets online, there is a $1.75 charge per ticket.
There will be four more night practices - Aug. 6, Aug. 10, Aug. 15 and Aug. 17. Tickets for the first three of those will be available starting Friday at three Verizon Wireless stores in Rochester (on W. Ridge Road in Rochester, on Monroe Avenue in Rochester and at the EastView Mall in Victor).
Here's the full camp schedule for practices that are open to the public:
Saturday 3-5 p.m.; Sunday 7:30-9 p.m.; Monday 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Tuesday 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 3, off; Aug. 4, 7:15-9:15 p.m.; Aug. 5, 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 6, 7:15-9:15 p.m.
Aug. 7, 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 8, 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 9, off; Aug. 10, 7:15-9:15 p.m.; Aug. 11, 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, travel day to Chicago.
Aug. 15, 7:30-9 p.m.; Aug. 16, 3:20-5:30 p.m.; Aug. 17, 7:15-9:15 p.m.; Aug. 18, 2:20-4:30 p.m.
One of the most anticipated free-agent deals involving the Buffalo Bills has come to pass: The Bills have agreed to terms with quarterback Tyler Thigpen.
The deal reunites the 27-year-old quarterback with Bills coach Chan Gailey, who coached him in 2008 as Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. Thigpen got pretty good reviews that season, even though he went 1-10 as a starter on a woeful Chiefs team. He passed for 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and he had some big games. He threw for 320 yards in a 38-31 loss to Miami. He passed for 266 in a 20-19 loss to San Diego and for 280 yards in a 28-24 loss to the New York Jets.
"He's extremely looking forward to it," said Joel Turner, Thigpen's South Carolina-based agent. "He knows the system, he knows the coach. He loves Chan. His heartstrings really pulled him to Buffalo."
Turner said Thigpen had six teams call on Tuesday, and he said there were two others that "were very legitimate suitors."
Thigpen is 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds. He played in the Pistol offense at Coastal Carolina. He has good mobility and a decent arm. He rushed for 386 yards for the Chiefs in '08. He appeared in parts of five games for Miami last season and made one start.
Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny has reached an oral agreement to sign a six-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars when free agency begins on Friday.
Posluszny's agent, Michael McCartney, said it was a tough decision but the chance to play in Jacksonville's 4-3 defensive scheme was the deciding factor for the 26-year-old player.
"I have so much respect for the Buffalo organization," McCartney said. "They did everything the could to keep him. ... But he felt more comfortable in a 4-3 defense. He felt he came into the league playing the Mike in the 4-3. I want to emphasize how much respect I have for Jim Overdorf and the Bills. It was a tough decision."
Posluszny can't sign a deal until 6 p.m. Friday. But the decision has been made.
Had a chance to speak with former St. Joe's and University at Buffalo star Domonic Cook, who confirmed he'll sign a contract with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. Cook will report to One Bills Drive at 8 a.m. Wednesday to make things official.
Cook, who played cornerback and safety at UB, expects to get work at both positions with the Bills as they determine where his best fit will be. Cook will join former St. Joe's and UB teammate Naaman Roosevelt with the Bills.
"It’s meant to happen for both of us to play on the same team. I’m so excited to be on the sideline with him again," Cook said. "Hopefully everything works out."
Cook has been working out with John Opfer of Proformance Sports Training in the Northtown Center. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.6-second range.
"I know the most important thing [to make the roster] is just learning all the information that you need to learn. They wouldn’t talk to you if you didn’t have the skill level that they were looking for," he said. "I just have to get as familiar as I can with the information they give me, and let my skills go to work on the field."
The Bills announced this afternoon that individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, Aug. 5.
The team also said there will be a special online pre-sale for Bills Backers members and friends of the Official Buffalo Bills Page on Facebook three hours before the general public, at 9 a.m. Aug. 5. Additionally, fans who sign up to receive email, text or Twitter updates will also be granted early access.
Tickets will be made available to the general public after the pre-sale through Ticketmaster, online at ticketmaster.om and at Western and Central New York Ticketmaster locations. Tickets can also be purchased at www.buffalobills.com, over the phone at 1-877-BB-TICKS or at the Ralph Wilson Stadium ticket office.
The team is offering a military discount for games against the Jets, Titans, Dolphins and Broncos. Current military members and veterans can receive up to $13 off per ticket.
Trying to keep up with these reports of undrafted free agent signings. Here we go ...
A report on gatorsports.com says Florida running back Emmanuel Moody has signed with the Bills. That was seconded by a tweet from Bills receiver David Nelson, who wrote: "welcome my boy Emmanuel Moody to the squad! Just Agreed to join as an UDFA."
The Bills also have reportedly reached an agreement with Domonic Cook, the former St. Joe's and University at Buffalo star.
Of course, until these moves are confirmed by the team, they should be read cautiously.
As an example, early reports said the Bills had signed Marshall ILB Mario Harvey, but that proved not to be the case. Harvey signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
We will update the list of confirmed free agent signings throughout the day on the blog.
The Buffalo Bills have reached a contract agreement with undrafted tight end Zack Pianalto from North Carolina, a source has told The News. Pianalto is 6-foot-3, 256 pounds and likely would have been drafted but he broke his collarbone after six games. He was fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in receiving at the time of his injury. He was a top recruit for Tar Heels coach Butch Davis out of high school, picking North Carolina over Texas and some other big schools. But his college career was injury plagued. His sophomore season was cut short by a broken leg. His junior season was shortened by a foot injury. He's athletic with good hands.
The Bills also signed Houston offensive tackle Isaiah Thompson, a 6-3, 298-pounder who played defensive tackle his first three years. Thompson started his entire senior year at offensive tackle.
Good morning from One Bills Drive, which is nice to say.
The NFL is back in business. The Buffalo Bills are set to update everyone on their plans in just a few minutes. CEO Russ Brandon, General Manager Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey will address the assembled media here in the Bills' media room.
Reports of undrafted rookie free agents are trickling in, including Domonic Cook, the former St. Joe's and UB star. We'll see how many of those we can confirm today.
I'll provide some quotes during the presser, providing my fingers type fast enough. After the press conference, check back here for full audio.
Talk to you in a few minutes ...
9:16 a.m.: Bills' PR staff provided rosters to the media in attendance. Nice. They joked that they'll be good for a few minutes, which is true. Here's a list of the Bills' unrestricted free agents: S Donte Whitner, CB Ashton Youboty, CB Drayton Florence, LB Akin Ayodele, LB Paul Posluszny, LB Keith Ellison, DE John McCargo.
9:18 a.m.: Brandon and Nix are at the podium, Gailey will be coming later.
9:19 a.m.: Team will report to St. John Fisher on Friday, take physicals, have meetings. Start practice Saturday.
9:20 a.m.: On the salary cap, Nix says: "We've said from day one we're never going to be big spenders in free agency."
9:21 a.m.: Nix says team's philosophy remains to draft and develop players, then re-sign them. On not having an exclusive rights window: "I'm really not disappointed." On bringing Posluszny back: "He's a leader for us. He's our kind of guy. He's a tough guy, smart."
9:22 a.m.: Nix said team found out at 6:40 last night that teams could negotiate with undrafted UFAs.
9:24 a.m.: Brandon on the league's revenue sharing plan: "It was important to our organization and many of the small markets throughout the league. ... We voted for it, so we're pleased with it."
9:30 a.m.: Nix on if there's been any change with Whitner's status: "You'd have to ask Donte. There's been no change with me." Translation: don't expect him back.
9:31 a.m.: League year can't begin until CBA is formally ratified, which could be until Aug. 4.
9:32 a.m.: Brandon on ticket sales: "We are not where we were a year ago on new sales. ... We have a lot of inventory to move in a short amount of time."
9:34 a.m.: Can't confirm any signings of UFAs until they are actually under contract.
9:36 a.m.: Gailey now at the podium as well.
9:36 a.m.: Gailey on practice changes in the new CBA, including less padded practices: "I'm really more concerned about right now than I am next spring. That has my full attention right now."
9:38 a.m: Gailey: "It used to be, you were trying to get everybody ready for the first preseason game, now the whole process is geared toward Sept. 11 (the season opener)." On no two-a-day practices: "A lot more walk-thrus than we've ever had before."
9:43 a.m.: Gailey on Eric Wood practicing at center: "We're going to talk to both he and Geoff (Hangartner). I want to talk to them about the plan before I talk to anybody else."
9:44 a.m.: Nix on possibly extending quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract, which expires after this season: "We've thought about him since that's a pretty important position. ... A guy that's producing is a guy we'll spend our money on."
9:49 a.m.: Gailey said he doesn't anticipate regulars playing longer in the preseason. "Have to build them up to Sept. 11. The conditioning is more important right now."
Presser is over, ran 27 minutes. We'll have the audio up shortly.
Bills CEO Russ Brandon, GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey
10:07 a.m.: Fitzpatrick is addressing the media currently. "We've got a lot of work to do. I think everybody knows that."
10:10 a.m.: Fitzpatrick seems very at ease. I liked this quote: "This is my show from the very beginning."
10:12 a.m.: "The guys have been getting back here early in anticipation this thing was going to get done."
10:14 a.m.: On being ready for the season opener: "Not concerned at all, we're going to be fine."
10:15 a.m.: "I'm always excited going into a season, but it's a whole different deal when you're the guy. Being the starter, being the guy, I'm ready."
10:18 a.m.: Guest appearance from backup quarterback Levi Brown, who had the funniest moment of the press conference: "Fitz are you kidding me? We've got meetings, let's go!"
10:20 a.m.: Fitzpatrick specifically mentions WR Marcus Easley. "The combination of his size and speed is a rarity." Calls him a special talent.
Fitz is done addressing the media. Will have his audio shortly.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
UPDATE: Wide receivers Marcus Easley and Stevie Johnson also met with the media here today. Audio from them is below.
The Bills' players will report to training camp at St. John Fisher on Friday, Bills Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon said in a statement released by the team.
Barring a change in plan, look for the Bills' first practice open to the public on Saturday. The Bills are expected to release their camp schedule soon. Players can start reporting to One Bills Drive at 10 a.m. Tuesday to meet with coaches, get a physical and do conditioning work.
Said Brandon: “We will have our full training camp schedule at St. John Fisher College with players reporting this Friday. Our open practice schedule for our fans will be posted on buffalobills.com as soon as it is finalized. St. John Fisher is a great host and has provided us a wonderful place to prepare. We are extremely excited to head east to Rochester!”