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Monday Morning QB chat with Rodney McKissic

Game ball: Bills 40, Broncos 14

Mark Gaughan's Friday NFL Chat

Barkley decision & Bills

The decision today by Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley to return to school for his senior year throws a wrench in a the NFL Draft and probably will decrease speculation about the Bills thoughts of taking a quarterback with their first pick.

Barkley probably would have been a top-five pick. Now Southern Cal will be one of the favorites for the national championship in 2012. Four other Trojans who are top prospects announced their plans. Tackle Ryan Kalil (a top-five prospect) and defensive end Nick Perry are turning pro. All-America safety T.J. McDonald is returning for his senior season.

It already was looking like a long-shot that the Bills would be in position to get a top quarterback in the draft, even if they finished 5-11. Now it's looking like a longer shot.

Indianapolis probably can't pass on Andrew Luck with the first pick. There are four other teams with an interest in a quarterback picking ahead of the Bills. They include Jacksonville (4-10), Cleveland (4-10), Washington (5-9) and Miami (5-9).

The strength-of-schedule tie-breaker between the Bills and Dolphins figures to go down to the wire at the end of the season, if they remain tied. Miami finishes with games against New England and the New York Jets. Washington easily could win one of its last two games. The Redskins play at home against Minnesota this week then finish on the road in Philadelphia. Cleveland plays Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Jacksonville plays Tennessee and Indianapolis. The Jaguars' strength of schedule currently is a bit easier than that of the Bills, and if that holds, the Jaguars would pick ahead of Buffalo even if the two finish tied.

---Mark Gaughan


Broncos-Bills injury report

---Bills tight end Scott Chandler was limited once again in practice today, but said he hopes to play on Saturday when the Bills host Denver.

“I’m dying to get out there, so hopefully I’ll get out there this week and get some playing time,’’ Chandler said. “It’s feeling better everyday, I think I’ll be out there and be fine.’’

Chandler has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle and if he isn’t available the only options are Mike Caussin and two newly acquired players, Fendi Onobun and Kevin Brock.

Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin) was limited in practice but should be fine for Saturday’s game, but rookie running back Johnny White (concussion) did not participate in practice and wide receiver Ruvell Martin (hamstring) also sat out. Martin was limited in practice on Wednesday.

Safeties Brian Dawkins (neck) and David Bruton (Achilles) were limited for Denver on Thursday, while linebacker Von Miller (thumb), running back Willis McGahee (hamstring), defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley (knee), and tight end Daniel Fells (thumb) all practiced.

---Rodney McKissic


Chandler limited, Dareus ready

Bills tight end Scott Chandler was limited in practice today, while defensive tackle Marcell Dareus practiced fully. 

Chandler has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle and still is feeling the affects of the injury. But Bills coach Chan Gailey is hopeful he will be ready to face Denver on Saturday.

"I think we've got a decent chance," Gailey said. "I'm not ready to give my full endorsement but I think we've got a decent chance."

Chandler's availability is important, because the Bills lost their No. 2 tight end, Lee Smith, to an ankle injury last week. Smith has been a pretty capable blocker, and the Bills could use some extra blockers on the edge against Denver pass rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. That leaves Mike Caussin and two newly acquired players, Fendi Onobun and Kevin Brock, as the other options at the position.

Meanwhile, Gailey said both Dareus and receiver Stevie Johnson should be good to face the Broncos. Dareus injured his hand against Miami. Johnson was limited in practice with a sore groin. Receiver and special-teamer Ruvell Martin also was limited in practice. Running back Johnny White did not practice due to a concussion.

Denver is in good health entering the game. Safety Brian Dawkins (neck) was limited.

---Mark Gaughan


Surprise! Bills game blacked out

The Bills' seven-game losing streak has overshadowed the presence of star quarterback Tim Tebow from a ticket-buying perspective.

The Bills announced Saturday's game against Tebow and the Broncos will be blacked out. There are roughly 24,000 tickets remaining. The game may see the lowest attendance at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Bills since 2001 or 2002. The Bills drew 47,850 for a season-finale against Cincinnati in 2002. They drew 45,527 for a snowstorm game against the Pats in 2001.

---Mark Gaughan 

24,000 tickets left for Denver

Don't count on seeing Tim Tebow play the Buffalo Bills on television in Western New York. There are 24,000 tickets left for the game, meaning a local TV blackout is a certainty. It will be the third blackout - and the third straight - for the Bills.

---Mark Gaughan


Gailey on Spiller's workload

Chan Gailey said after the Miami loss Sunday he did not want to overwork running back C.J. Spiller.

Spiller had 12 carries for 91 yards and nine catches for 76 yards.

"We’re trying not to wear the guy completely out,” said Gailey after the game. “He’s not the biggest back in the world. I don’t think he can go out there and carry it 25 or 30 times. I don’t want to put him in that position to carry it 25 to 30 times. I think we’ve got to split the carries and let Tashard have some of those packages to take some of the hits off of C.J.”

Asked to elaborate on his approach with Spiller, Gailey said today:

"He really didn’t play the whole first half, the whole two-thirds of the season. I don’t want to put 25-30 carries on him right now. At some point, he may get 25-30 carries, but if he’s going to be involved in the passing game, he’s going to touch it 15-20 times and that’s what he needs to do. We need to try to make sure he touches it in some way, shape or form 20 times a game. That’s what you hope to have from a guy like that. Again, he’s not a 215-, 220-pound back like Fred (Jackson). You can’t expect him to be one, and if all his runs are edge runs, he might can be 25 times. But if he’s going to run it up inside, which we need him to do, he’s going to take some pretty good licks and I’m not sure I want that at this point in his career. Maybe in the future, yeah, but not now."

---Mark Gaughan


Chandler limited; TE promoted

(UPDATED) Bills tight end Scott Chandler has a chance to return for Saturday's game against Denver. But Chandler was very limited in practice today. Chandler has missed the last two games due to a sprained ankle. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus suffered a left hand injury in the Miami game. Gailey sounded optimistic about Dareus' availability.

"Scott Chandler is going to practice today and hopefully he’ll continue to get better," Gailey said. "I have hopes for him playing Saturday but I’m not 100 percent sure. But it looks better this week than it has at any other time, at least he’s getting on the practice field. Marcell will be out there, we’re going to have to really protect that hand to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged any further."

Receiver Stevie Johnson is being held out of practice today to rest  sore groin, but he's expected to play Saturday. Also sitting out was running back Johnny White.

Meanwhile, the Bills promoted tight end Kevin Brock to the active roster and placed tight end Lee Smith on the injured reserve list. Smith suffered a serious ankle injury against Miami. Brock, 6-5 and 260, played in college at Rutgers and entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Carolina in 2009. He was cut by Oakland on Dec. 6.

---Mark Gaughan 

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