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Bookmark heads up: Nothing to see here

by Tim Graham

The Buffalo News launched its new Bills blog, "Press Coverage," this morning.

The BillBoard is no more.

So say a little prayer, pour out a 40 or do whatever you must to cope. And then head over to the "Press Coverage" blog and update your bookmarks.

Never forget.

Dareus fired up about conditioning

Bills second-year defensive tackle Marcell Dareus says he's excited about how much better he could get now that he has a season of pro ball to his name. Dareus was pretty outstanding last season, making the NFL's all-rookie team. 

Dareus was listed at 340 pounds last season. He weighed in at 331 at the start of spring practices. He says he aims to be about 325 for the start of the season.

Said Dareus after Thursday's practice: "I want to bring to the table a more in shape Marcell. I want to be more in shape, flying to the ball more than I did last year, more than I did ever. So I really want to get off the ball, get to the ball, run to the ball, be non-stop, have a motor that’s non-stop going. I want to be in better shape physically and mentally ready to go."

---Mark Gaughan

Hansen, Smerlas at Kelly Tourney

Here are some quotes from Bills greats at the 26th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic, held today in Batavia:

Kelly on the absence of Kent Hull, who died at age 50 in October: “It’s good to see all these guys. This year it’s bittersweet. When you lose a guy like Kent Hull, the sweet part is the memories we’ve had. He was such a big part of this tournament. I think he might have missed one or two in the 26 years. He’s sorely going to be missed today and throughout the rest of my tournaments – to the 50th anniversary.”

Phil Hansen on his candidacy for a Minnesota state senate seat: “I kind of had a burning desire for a long time to do it but the timing has never been right. I had a young family. My kids are all in school now. There’s a retiring senator from the district which I plan to represent, and I want to make a difference. I want to do something more than just vote, and it’s manifested itself in running for office. Hansen said fiscal discipline is at the core of his political philosophy. “That should be a core of anyone’s philosophy,” he said. “You just don’t spend more than you have. And In every state, I think it’s about jobs, creating an environment for jobs, for business owners to succeed and hire employees.”

Fred Smerlas on the problem former players face in dealing with the concussions they suffered during their careers: "It’s a huge problem. I have a broken ankle (that has bothered him) since ’83. I’ve had 24 operations. I don’t sleep. Anger problems, headaches. They should have, when you had a concussion, not just given you smelling salts and icing the back. They should have sat and observed. They knew they should have done that. Another thing they should have done is when you get out of the league they have should done something (about treatment) after we got out. They needed to have a place for us to go (for specialized care). They never cared about the guys who got out. I played 14 years and had five Pro Bowls. They shut the door ... They shouldn’t have done that."

---Mark Gaughan

Wannstedt on Gilmore

Bills defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt spoke with the media today following the team's first week of organized team activities.

Here's what he had to say when asked about his initial impressions of first-round pick Stephon Gilmore: "He doesn’t appear, and you watch him warm up in drills, to be as fast as he is but nobody runs by him. I think playing quarterback (in high school), he’s got a little bit more savvy than some corners might and obviously he’s a size guy. He’s got size and he can run and he’s got great feet. I used the word great, he’s got great hand-eye coordination. When the ball’s in the air, he’s going to go after it."

The Bills have been working with Gilmore on jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, something he didn't do a lot of with South Carolina.

"That will all come in training camp when we really get the pads on. Right now we can't do one-on-one in press, you know all the one-on-one stuff we do you have to be off because of contact," Wannstedt said. "So we're kind of limited a little bit there. But he's getting enough of the work. ... He's learning the coverages, he's learning the techniques and he's learning the terminology. The physical part will come."

---Jay Skurski

Merriman 'breaks down' Spurs

Irreverent NBA analyst Charles Barkley may want to steal a few ideas for his TNT broadcast from Bills linebacker Shawne Meriman on the breakdown of the Western Conference finals series between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Merriman joked that he sees NFL-like schemes in the Spurs' dominant offense. San Antnoio is unbeaten in the postseason.

Does Merriman see the Spurs losing a game this postseason? "They’ll lose one. The Spurs will lose one, but I watched the game the other day and it’s like they’re running a clinic out there. There’s guys running all over the place. I think I saw some football patterns during the Spurs game. I saw one guy running the slant and one guy running a 5-yard out pattern on the other side of the basketball court. They’re shooting threes all over the place. It looks like some audibles."

---Mark Gaughan

Merriman excited to be full-go

Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman walked off the practice field in a full sweat and full of optimism. He said he participated fully in practice and has been cleared by doctors for full participation this spring.

"It felt great, just walking out there with the guys," Merriman said. "I’ve been here the whole entire offseason. Every day. Working with the guys full on. Just doing everything my teammates are doing. That just made me happy, because theyse guys never got a chance to see me go out and really work. I came in the middle of the year (in 2010), then we had the lockout (in 2011). This was the first offseason I got a a chance to actually have a full offseason in three years."

Merriman visited Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday to get his Achilles tendon checked out. Andrews is the renowned orthopedic surgeon based in Birmingham, Ala., who operated on Merriman's problem Achilles in early November. It has been seven months since the surgery. Merriman did not rupture the Achilles. He said Andrews went in to repair tears and "clean up" the tendon area. He called it a six-month injury.

"I'm glad they went in and did it when they did," Merriman said. "If they didn’t who knows? It could have been one of those things that would be much tougher to come back from."

Merriman had 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons in the league. He has just six over the past four seasons. He has missed most of three of those campaigns. He played the first five games of last season for the Bills before going on the injured-reserve list.

Said Merriman: "It was a hard three years when you’re dealing with something like the Achilles and you don’t know whether to go get something done. You’re a game-time decision. You don’t know if you can practice. You’re in pain. You can’t go out there and play the way you can play. I just felt that I was in a  position that I couldn’t go out and perform. I couldn’t go out and do the things I do best. I couldn’t explode. So what people have seen from the last three years wasn’t Shawne Merriman. It was a guy going out and trying his best for what I had at the time."

---Mark Gaughan


Bills add CB to roster

The Bills added cornerback Isaiah Green to the 90-man roster today and released linebacker Garrick Williams. Green, 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, is an undrafted rookie from Fresno State. He played 46 games for the Bulldogs.

--Mark Gaughan

Bills set 15 training camp practices

The Bills will open training camp on Thursday, July 26, at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester, the team announced.

The Bills will have 15 training camp practices open to the public. Four of them are night practices, which will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The schedule (all are 3 to 5:30 p.m., except when noted): July 26, July 27, July 28, July 29 (night), July 31, Aug. 1 (night), Aug. 2, Aug. 3, Aug. 4, Aug. 6, Aug. 7, Aug. 11 (night), Aug. 12, Aug. 13, Aug. 14 (night).

Meanwhile, the Bills also announced the signing of a free-agent wide receiver - Derek Session. He was one of the free-agent tryout players invited to the rookie minicamp a few weeks ago. Session, 6-1, 225, is an undrafted rookie from Maine who had 132 catches for 1,364 yards and five TDs in a 48-game college career. The Bills released lineman Paul Madsen.

---Mark Gaughan


Lights on for Merriman

Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman says via his twitter account he has been cleared to practice by doctors who checked out his Achlles tendon. He is expected to practice with the team at the second organized-team-activity workout on Thursday at One Bills Drive.

"Got the thumbs up can't wait to join my teammates in practice tomorrow," Merriman wrote.

In the Bills' best-case scenario, Merriman would give the Bills a New York Giants-like, multi-directional pass-rush cast, because he would be the third option behind Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. ... That's if he can stay healthy.

---Mark Gaughan

83 Ex-Bills in Concussion Litigation

There currently are 81 concussion-related lawsuits filed against the NFL, and they include 2,265 former players as of about a week ago.

There is a website - - that rounds up news on the lawsuits. That website includes a listing of all the plaintiffs in the cases. Based on a review of that list, The News counts 83 former Bills among the plaintiffs. Some played in Buffalo a long time, some only a matter of weeks.

There are lots of Hall-of-Famers who have joined in the suits, including Eric Dickerson, Joe DeLamielleure, Chris Doleman, Tony Dorsett, Fred Dean, Bob Lilly, Leroy Kelly and Art Monk, among others. Here are the ex-Bills who are included on the listing, according to the website:

Chidi Ahanotu, Ethan Albright, Gary Baldinger, Don Beebe, Rodney Bellinger, Curtis Brown, Bobby Burnett, Jeff Burris, Derrick Burroughs, Carl Byrum, Mario Clark, Tony Cline, Robert Coons, Paul Costa, Joe Cribbs, Matt Darby, Kenneth Davis, Joe DeLamielleure, Conrad Dobler, Kevin Everett, Joe Ferguson, Jay Foreman, Byron Franklin, Donnie Green, Drew Haddad, Dwight Harrison, Dale Hellestrae, J.D. Hill, Raion Hill.

And: Kelly Holcomb, Corey Hulsey, David Humm, Bill Hurley, Scott Hutchinson, Darrell Irvin, Harry Jacobs, Bruce Jarvis, James Jeffcoat, Ron Jessie, Jack Johnson, Rob Johnson, Trumaine Johnson, Trey Junkin, Rex Kern, Merv Krakau, Bill Laskey, Teddy Lehman, Mark Maddox, Shane Matthews, Ron McDole, Reggie McKenzie*, Seth McKinney, Ted McKnight, Aaron Merz, James Mueller, Ryan Neufeld.

And: Tom Nutten, Joe Panos, Robert Penchion, Lou Piccone, David Pool, Daryl Porter, Mike Pucillo, Constantin Ritzmann, Sam Rogers, Butch Rolle, Mike Schneck, Dennis Shaw, Daimon Shelton, John Skourpan, Fred Smerlas, Thomas Smith, Art Still, Anthony Thomas, Tavares Tillman, Richard Trapp, Maurice Tyler, Phil Villapiano, Dave Washington, David White, Art Whittington, Donald Wilson, Jeff Yeates. (*-Believed to be the ex-Bill by that name. There also is a James Williams among the litigants, but it is not know if he's the one of numerous NFLers named James Williams who played for the BIlls. A Bills draftee, Bernard Ford (third round, '88) is on the list, but he never got in a game with Buffalo.).

Here's a link to a Buffalo News story by reporter Henry Davis on the suit filed by Jacobs, the middle linebacker from the Bills' AFL championship teams.

---Mark Gaughan



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