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RB Choice re-signs with Bills

Running back Tashard Choice agreed to a new contract with the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

Choice was used in a third-down role the last part of the season after Fred Jackson was lost to injury Choice gained 70 rushing yards on 23 carries with a touchdown and added seven catches for 51 yards in six games with Buffalo in 2011 after being claimed off of waivers from Washington on Nov. 23.

The 5-10, 210-pound Georgia Tech product has 1,216 career rushing yards on 279 carries with nine touchdowns and 72 receptions for 550 yards in 61 games with four starts. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of Dallas in 2008 before spending a portion of the 2011 season with Dallas and Washington.

 

Road to the Draft: Brandon Brooks

Brandon Brooks, G, Ohio
6-foot-5, 346 pounds
Draft projection: Middle rounds

Lowdown: Brooks is one of the better players not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and he’s probably going to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds. Despite his weight, he ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.99 seconds and had a 32-inch vertical jump. His 20-yard shuttle time (4.58) was faster than any interior lineman at the combine except for the No. 1 rated guard, David DeCastro of Stanford. Brooks is strong. He bench-pressed 225 pound 36 times. Only one offensive lineman did better at the combine. He was a four-year starter at Miami, only missing six games due to injury as a junior. Brooks can provide a big, stout, physical force in the interior of the line. He graduated in December with a degree in psychology, and his Miami bio states his favorite website is economist.com.

 ---Mark Gaughan

Road to the Draft: Olivier Vernon

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami, Fla.
6-foot-2, 261 pounds
Draft projection: fourth or fifth round

Lowdown: Vernon has the body of a quality pass rusher. But he’s very raw and entered the draft a year early, before getting the chance to develop his skills. He was caught up in Miami’s booster scandal last fall and was suspended for the first six games for accepting about $1,200 in benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro. (Seven other Hurricanes were suspended, too.) He managed 1.5 sacks in the final six games. As a sophomore in 2010, he had six sacks, 3.5 of them coming against Florida A&M. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss. The fact he left Miami early while still so green will have scouts wondering about his “stick-to-itveness.” Still, his good initial burst and long arms (33 inches) make him an intriguing prospect. He ran a pretty good 40 time (4.80) at the combine. He had a broad jump of 10 feet, 2 inches, fourth best at his position. He has the tools to succeed in the NFL. But he’s a projection because of his limited production.

Vernon on the suspension: "I was in high school and the person who recruited me introduced me to Nevin Shapiro. I met with him on three occasions, and when he got incarcerated he said I took benefits from him. That's what happened. that's what got me six games."

On declaring for the draft: "I played solid games, and after the season I just told my parents I'm leaving. I just had confidence in myself; I knew I was ready, I knew I had the right skill set."

---Mark Gaughan

 

Martin's pro day: Better in pads than shorts

Most of the attention at the Stanford pro day workout on Thursday was focused on quarterback Andrew Luck.

Bills fans would be more interested in offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, a prospect who could fit Buffalo's needs in the first round of the draft. Martin has quick feet and did a good job protecting the blind side of Luck as starting left tackle the past three seasons. Martin is better on the field than he is in shorts. Martin's pro day workout was not overwhelming. Martin ran the 40-yard dash in relatively slow times of 5.33 and 5.43 seconds (the second was into the wind), reports Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. Martin lifted 225 pounds 20 times. He had a 30-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 8 feet, 8 inches. The top tackle, Southern Cal's Matt Kalil, ran a 4.99 in the 40. Kalil did 30 bench-press reps. He had a 27-inch vertical jump. Martin's test numbers are similar to those put up by Michael Oher, who Baltimore drafted in the first round in 2009.

Martin has ideal size (6-5, 307), quick feet and played at a high level in college. Martin said he has upcoming visits scheduled to the Bills, Vikings and Browns in the coming weeks, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

---Mark Gaughan

Stevie shows off music talent

Bills receiver Stevie Johnson is the featured performer this week, showing off his rapping skills on The NOC, which is an entertainment channel about the personalities and lives of athletes. Johnson is featured in the "Ice Bucket" section of the site, which features athletes demonstrating their hobbies and adventures off the field.

Johnson records one of his tracks in the studio with rapper and actor Game, who has been nominated for two Grammy awards.

Here's the background on the video, provided by The NOC: In this episode of Ice Bucket, the Bills' star takes to the studio to lay down a track with hip hop veteran, Game. As Game quickly finds out, Stevie isn't your average athlete-turned-rapper - he can really spit.  Blown away, Game's creative juices kick in; the veteran lyricist pens a verse of his own and joins Stevie on the mic. When all is said and done, the slick new track, "Run it back," has earned a spot on Game's upcoming mixtape. We're thrilled with how the feature turned out; more than just quality time with two of our favorite people, it's also a front row seat to a truly unforgettable studio experience.

The link: 

---Mark Gaughan

And here's The NOC site: http://www.youtube.com/user/NOC

Reactions on DE Mark Anderson

Here are some reactions to the Bills' signing of defensive end Mark Anderson on Wednesday.

The most noteworthy is from Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post. Gabriel drafted Anderson in 2006 when he was head of college scouting for the Chicago Bears.

Writes Gabriel: In Buffalo, Anderson should flourish. He will not be asked to play fulltime but rather in the same role as he played in New England. Playing opposite Mario Williams will help both him and Williams because the offense is going to have to pick their poison on passing downs. They won’t be able to double team both.

The move also gives the Bills added flexibility in the draft. Having signed two pass rushers in free agency they now have the luxury of drafting the proverbial “best available athlete.” Picking at 10, the Bills could go in any of several directions. They may be looking at a quality wide receiver, which they could use. They could draft probably the second-best corner in the draft (Dre Kirkpatrick) or they could choose to go offensive line (Riley Reiff). No matter what they decide to do, they have upgraded their team tremendously. You have to like the moves Buddy Nix is making in Buffalo
http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/What-Mark-Anderson-does-for-Buffalo.html

Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com acknowledges that Anderson is a loss for the Pats. However, he writes that this is just business as usual for New England, which is not about to overpay for a player who is not one of the team's core guys.

So now the Patriots hope that free-agent signing Trevor Scott (one year, $1.15 million) can do what Anderson did in 2011, and recapture some of the pass-rush burst from earlier in his career. Maybe 2011 sixth-round draft choice Markell Carter makes an impression, or perhaps veteran Andre Carter re-signs when healthy and continues to turn back the clock with a strong performance. Then there is always the draft, where the Patriots have multiple picks in the first and second round and could target a pass-rusher at one of those spots.

Sure, it hurts to lose two solid contributors, but with respect to both, this isn't in the same category as cornerback Asante Samuel's departure to Philadelphia in 2008 or defensive lineman Richard Seymour's trade to the Raiders in 2009

http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/7720723/2012-nfl-free-agency-new-england-patriots-let-benjarvus-green-ellis-mark-anderson-walk-bill-belichick-knows-fold-pot-gets-too-big

Jeff Howe of the New England Sports Network strikes a similar note: The Patriots have already added defensive linemen Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott in free agency, and there's still a good chance they retain Carter if he's healthy enough to contribute in 2012. And with six picks in the first three rounds of the draft, the Patriots will try to replace Anderson's production in that forum, too.

http://www.nesn.com/2012/03/mark-anderson-earns-massive-payday-from-bills-after-lone-season-in-new-england.html

Point of information: Carter, who turns 33 in May, had 10 sacks in 14 games for the Pats before tearing a quadriceps muscle in mid-December. Scott, the University at Buffalo product, is a four-year veteran. He had no sacks in 2011 while playing about 16 snaps a game. He had 1.5 sacks while playing 10 full games (all starts) in 2010. He had 7 sacks in 2009 and 5 in 2008.

Meanwhile, ProFootballFocus.com had Anderson as New England's highest-rated pass rusher during the 2011 season and graded him as very consistent. He only had two sub-par games (Buffalo and Denver), according to the scouting site. The site rated Anderson as grading out 13th best in the league in 2011 among 4-3 defensive ends. The site actually gave him credit for 15 sacks (he had 12.5 officially), and 36 quarterback pressures while playing 47 percent of the snaps. By comparison, the site had Marcell Dareus as the Bills' leader in pressures with 24. Dareus played 723 snaps for the Bills, according to News figures. Anderson played 640 snaps for the Pats, according to ProFootballFocus.

Finally, here's a reaction from Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams: I think at the end of the day you can never have enough good players, No. 1. He’s been a productive guy every where you’ve seen him play. I’m glad to have him. ... We were in school at the same time. I remember playing him at Alabama when he was in school. We actually played at the Senior Bowl together. He’s a good pass rusher, tenacious guy that’s going to get after the quarterback. Like I said before, you can never have too many guys that can make plays, not just tackles here and there but guys that can get after the quarterback and create some things. You put him our room with all the guys we have now, he’s going to do good."

---Mark Gaughan

 

  

Schobel will stay retired

Former Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel reports from his home in Texas that he plans to stay retired. Schobel said he did get a call from an NFL team this offseason (not the Bills) and was flattered by the interest. But he's retired. Schobel, who will be 35 in September, finished his nine-year Bills career after the 2009 season with 78 sacks, second most in team history. Bruce Smith is first with 171. Phil Hansen is second with 61.5.

---Mark Gaughan

Road to the Draft: Cam Johnson

Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
6-foot-3, 268 pounds
Draft projection: Second or third round

Lowdown: Johnson is a late-bloomer who looks like his best football is ahead of him after spending only the past two years at the defensive end position. He starred at receiver and defensive back in high school. He said he had an offer to play receiver at Pitt. He had basketball scholarship offers from George Mason and George Washington. He was recruited to Virginia to play safety or outside linebacker. He spent two seasons at outside ‘backer in Al Groh’s 3-4 defense, starting 16 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons. Then he switched to strong-side defensive end. He had 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss as a junior and four sacks with 11 tackles as a senior. He’s still growing into his body. His explosiveness was shown at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had a 35-inch vertical jump, best among defensive ends this year. He ran 4.38 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, top 15 at his position. He has long arms (33.5 inches). He’s probably a bit too stiff to play outside linebacker in the pros, but he has plenty of size for defensive end. Will he be able to raw talent into production as a pro? Johnson is the kind of edge rusher the Buffalo Bills might like if he's there at the right spot in the draft.

Asked if he was pleased with his senior year, Johnson said: “Personally, no. I expected to be more effective statistically. But I was plagued by a leg injury that hindered my play a little. I’m feeling better and hoping to be more productive.”

He looked good at the Senior Bowl: “That’s what I’ve been hearing. I just played as best as I could, and I just wanted to show that I could compete with some of the best players. And I felt like I did that.”

---Mark Gaughan


 

Bills sign DE Anderson

The Bills have signed free agent defensive end Mark Anderson, the team announced today. Anderson signed a four-year deal, worth $27.5 million, including $8 million guaranteed according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The team will hold a news conference at 3:15 p.m. to announce the signing.

Anderson had 10 sacks last season for the New England Patriots and would give the Bills a edge-rush option with solid credentials opposite newly acquired Mario Williams. FoxSports also has reported a deal is close.

---Mark Gaughan

Scott: 'I'm still a Bill!" (updated)

Free-safety Bryan Scott has re-signed with the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

Scott, who turns 31 in a few weeks, tweeted the news, complete with a picture of his new contract.

A nine-year veteran, Scott played in all 16 games last season and started seven as a hybrid linebacker/safety. Scott finished with 66 tackles, six pass deflections and two interceptions. He played about 56 percent of the defensive snaps, almost all in the nickel defense.

The hybrid 'backer-safety role has become more important in the NFL, particularly against teams with quality tight ends. The backer-safety provides a little better support vs. the run than a sixth defensive back and a little more coverage than a second linebacker. Scott gives the Bills more veteran insurance in the secondary. Da'Norris Searcy, a fourth-round pick last year, is expected to get a chance to show what he can do in that spot as well.

---Rodney McKissic, Mark Gaughan

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic

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