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Mark Gaughan's Friday NFL Chat

Merriman to appear on Biggest Loser

---Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman is one of six current and former NFL players who will appear on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” which airs at 8 p.m. on Tuesday on Ch.2

Joining Merriman will be Drew Brees, Eric Dickerson, Tony Gonzalez, Clay Matthews and Tim Tebow. The players will participate in a football-throwing challenge and putting contestants through last chance workouts.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Stevie returns, McGee out vs. Bengals

---Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin), who didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, returned on Thursday. Others on the team’s injury report who participated fully were rookie running back Johnny White (ankle), linebacker Kirk Morrison (hamstring) and nose tackle Torell Troup (lower back).

Gailey said cornerback Terrence McGee, who missed the last two games, is “”getting closer’’ but will miss Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Right guard Kraig Urbik (knee) is also out as well as rookie linebacker Chris White (hamstring) and rookie corner Aaron Williams (collarbone).

McGee and Urbik were working with trainers on the sidelines.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

More Chan on Fitz

Bills coach Chan Gailey, speaking with media in Cincinnati, and asked if he doesn't have to worry about making the game plan too complex for Ryan Fitzpatrick: "No, uh-uh. Matter of fact, he's a lot smarter than I am. I mean, it's not even close. So I don't have to worry about that. We're keeping it simple for me, not for him."

---Mark Gaughan

The Truth About Cincy D?

Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills will provide a better indication of the quality of the Cincinnati Bengals' defense. Cincinnati ranked 15th in yards allowed last year and 24th in points allowed. They lost their best cornerback (Jonathan Joseph) in free agency but replaced him with a capable veteran in Nate Clements. They don't have their best linebacker (Keith Rivers), who is hurt. They did improve their pass rush with the addition of Manny Lawson in free agency.

Through three games this year, the Bengals rank third in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed.

The caveat: The three offenses the Bengals have faced rank 26th (Cleveland), 27th (Denver) and 32nd (San Francisco) in the league in yards gained. Conversely, the three defenses the Bills have faced rank 23rd, 28th and 32nd (that would be Kansas City, Oakland and New England, respectively).

Whose numbers are more legitimate? We find out Sunday.

Something will have to give when the BIlls try to run the ball. Cincinnati is No. 1 in the league in yards-per-rush allowed, at only 2.9 yards a carry. The Bills' offense is second in the NFL in yards per carry, at 5.6.

---Mark Gaughan

Fitzpatrick named AFC offensive player of the month

---Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the AFC offensive player of the month for September. Fitzpatrick led Bills to a 3-0 start and to consecutive come-from-behind victories in each of the last two weeks.  Buffalo is the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games in which it trailed by at least 18 points.

Fitzpatrick ranks second in the AFC in touchdown passes with nine and a passer rating of 103.5.  He has completed 72 of 111 passes for 841 yards with three interceptions.  He has led an offense which is tied for the conference lead with 11 red zone TDs.  Buffalo’s 78.6 red zone TD percentage ranks second in the AFC.

The Harvard graduate becomes the first Bill to receive the honor since Drew Bledsoe in Sept. 2002.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Stevie resting

Bills receiver Stevie Johnson is being rested today as the team returns to practice in preparation for Sunday's game in Cincinnati. Johnson has battled a sore groin for more than a month and sat out last Wednesday's practice, too. Johnson was watching from the side and is expected to play against the Bengals. Also not practicing were guard Kraig Urbik, cornerbacks Terrence McGee (hamstring) and Aaron Williams (shoulder), and linebacker Chris White (hamstring). McGee, injured in the opener, was working on the side with a trainer, an indication he's improving.

---Mark Gaughan

Cover boys

Florence
---Bills corner Drayton Florence is featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated's Oct. 3 issue. Florence is shown scoring a TD after intercepting Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's upset victory. The headline reads: "Stampede: The Bills Stun The Pats To Go 3-0."

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is featured in the magazine. The last time the Bills made SI's cover was back in 2003 when Sam Adams returned a Brady interception for a touchdown. That was the last time the Bills defeated the Pats - a streak of 15 consecutive losses - until last Sunday.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Wheatley adds to DB depth

With Terrence McGee and Aaron Williams both injured, the Bills supplemented their cornerback depth by moving Terrence Wheatley from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

McGee is down with a hamstring injury. Williams is out several weeks with an injury to the collarbone and shoulder area. Drayton Florence and Leodis McKelvin are the Bills' starters at cornerback, and Reggie Corner now is No. 3. No. 4 is rookie Justin Rogers. Wheatley was a second-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2008. He was the ninth cornerback taken in the draft that year and ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.37 seconds before the draft. But he never has been able to stay healthy. He was cut at the end of preseason by Jacksonville this summer.

Said coach Chan Gailey on Wheatley: "He's got some quickness. He's a good man-to-man cover guy. I haven't seen him, but I think he can probably help us in special teams. He hasn't learned everything. He hasn't been here long enough. But he'll get it slowly but surely."

The Bills released veteran tight end David Martin to make room for Wheatley. They also signed defensive back Brandon Bing to the practice squad. He went undrafted out of Rutgers last spring and was released by Denver prior to the regular season. Bing, 5-11 and 177, started 13 of 41 games in college.

---Mark Gaughan

Fitz Fandemonium

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick talked about the notoriety he's receiving nationwide over the team's fast start to the NFL season.

"My brother, Brandon, was in a bar in Santa Fe (N.M.) watching the game," Fitzpatrick said. "He was talking to some people, and they found out who he was. And a 65-year-old guy comes up to him and says, 'Can I get your autograph?' And my brother says to him, 'No, it's my brother who plays forthe Bills.' And they guy says, 'I know, I know you're his brother, can I get your autograph?' So there's been some stuff where they've had some funny run-ins. I think they think it's cool. But it's one of those things, you know that as quickly as it's come, everyone could leave once we lose a few games or if we lose a few games. It's something you can't put too much stock into."

Brandon Fitzpatrick did give the guy his autograph.

A little later, Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked about his receivers speaking positively about him. Fitz cracked: "I think those guys know they have to compliment me or I’m not going to get them the ball."

---Mark Gaughan

 

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