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Former Bills coach lands on his feet

DALLAS -- Sean Kugler was not retained as the Bills' offensive line coach when head coach Chan Gailey was hired, but Kugler found a nice landing spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So the Lockport native goes from a team mired in a losing culture to one that is synomous with winning championships. Kugler's work with the Steelers' banged-up offensive line has been integral in the team reaching the Super Bowl.

Injuries have forced Kugler to use multiple starters on the line, but it's something he was used to after using seven different starting combinations with the Bills last season.

"Koogs is pretty good at dealing with misery," joked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

There is nothing miserable about working for a team going for its seventh Super Bowl title. Kugler has been joined by former Bill Jonathan Scott, who has started 11 games at left tackle.

He didn't look too good in a Bills uniform, but he has played well enough to help running back Rashard Mendenhall rush for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns while keeping Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright.

"Playing for the Steelers is special,'' Scott said. "The thing I like about it the most is every offensive lineman on this team is a joy to work with. Everybody has a desire to win and bust their butts to be better. This is a very good team. I’ve never seen this much talent on a single team since my college days [at Texas].''

As for Kugler, he was glad to have a chance coach with the Bills. But there is no denying that he's in a much better situation with the Steelers.

"I enjoyed every minute in Buffalo and I respect everybody in that organization," Kugler said. "But to have a chance to work for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization is a great opportunity. It’s been a fun year and a challenging year. Hopefully we can put the work in and get one more done."

---Allen Wilson

Cross gets the ax

It didn't take Bills coach Chan Gailey long to shake up his staff. Six days after the season finale, Gailey dismissed inside linebackers coach Demontie Cross.

Cross was one of three assistants Gailey retained from the Dick Jauron regime. Cross just completed his fifth season with the Bills. He joined the team as a defensive assistant/special teams in 2006 before spending the next three years as an assistant linebackers and assistant special teams coach.

Gailey did not give a reason for Cross' firing. The Bills finished in the bottom eight of the NFL in defense and were dead last against the run.

---Allen Wilson

Maybin: In, out or out of town?

Gailey mum on potential changes, trade deadline

The NFL trade deadline looms at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Bills coach Chan Gailey addressed the deadline following Monday's practice.

"Right now Buddy and I have not talked about any changes on the horizon, but we've got until 4 o'clock tomorrow, so you never know what might happen," the coach said.

Gailey was also tight-lipped about potential lineup changes heading into Sunday's game at Baltimore.

"Well if I did [make any changes] I wouldn't tell you because you'd write it and Baltimore would know," he said. "There may be some changes and their may not be. ... We evaluate everybody every week and we've got some extra time to do that this week."

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

 

 

Kawika released

The Bills and linebacker Kawika Mitchell parted ways Friday after the two sides reached an injury settlement. Mitchell was put on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury five days before the season opener. It's the second time in as many years he has been on the IR list. He suffered a torn quadriceps muscle in Week Five last season.

According to sources, Mitchell had asked to be released. It's the smart move. With him missing 27 games over two years, he was facing the very real possibility of being waived after the season anyway.

Mitchell can sign with another team, but it probably won't happen until later this season, if at all. He said earlier this week that he's looking at a 12-week recovery.

It would be in his best interests to play this season if he can. There is a strong chance of an NFL lockout that could wipe out the 2011 season. Mitchell would then be out of football for more than two years, which would seriously jeopardize his career.

---Allen Wilson

Bills Replay Live Chat

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Gailey rips fans

PITTSFORD -- Moments after the Bills' final practice at training camp, head coach Chan Gailey walked over towards the stands and chewed out a group of teenaged fans that were heckling some of the players, most notably quarterback Trent Edwards.

After telling the fans the players wouldn't be signing their autographs, he offered this parting shot:

"You dog one of us, you dog all of us!"

Gailey also told the fans, who stood in stunned silence, the players would not be coming to sign autographs for them.

”They said some things during practice that were derogatory to a couple of our players,'' Gailey explained to the media a few minutes later. "And if you say something derogatory to one of us you say it to all of us, so I told [the players] not to sign for that group.''
 
Perhaps Gailey would have been wise to rise above the taunts, but he defended his position.

"In my opinion, if you do something you tell people why,'' he said. "When we make a decision with our football team, I tell them why. I told [the players] why we weren't going to [sign autographs] and I told [the group of fans] why we weren't coming over there.”

Gailey did show appreciation for the support of most fans who attended camp the past 2 1/2 weeks.

“That’s what this game is about, for the fans,” he said. “We’re trying to play the game so that we get people excited and enthusiastic about pulling for their team. And their team is the Buffalo Bills so that’s what it’s about. That’s a big part of what we’re trying to get done, being successful for the fans.”

Whether or not you agree with Gailey's actions, his players appreciated that he had their back.

“That’s nice when you have a coach that’ll fight for you,'' Edwards said.
 
Outside linebacker Aaron Maybin added: "When you have a coach like that, as a team you kind of have that support behind you, it really makes you want to go out and give your all for a guy like that.''

As for the heckling directed at him, Edwards took it in stride.

"Obviously I’m going to get some criticism. Hopefully there are more people praising me. We obviously have fans that want to win and I definitely want to win. And they’re more than willing to say what they want to say, when they need to say it.

“I’m a fan of the L.A. Dodgers and they’re not playing very good baseball right now. I could probably go off on a couple of their players. I probably wouldn’t to their face, and if I did I would expect [manager] Joe Torre to come after me and say something to me. So that’s nice that I have a head coach that’ll do that, but they’re more than welcome to say whatever they want.”

---Allen Wilson 

Gailey goes full blast with teaching

---Coach Chan Gailey has a hands-on teaching approach and it's not because the Bills have so many young players.

"That's the only way I know how to coach 'em if you're trying to get a point across you have to show 'em what you want, you have to talk through it," he said. "I think there's a lot of coaches out there on that field who know how to teach. Everybody has to be involved in that, it's not just one or two guys."

When asked how the veteran players take to approach, Gailey said if a coach can help the player improve he'll embrace the concept.

"If he doesn't feel like what you're saying is worth anything, then he ain't willing to pay attention to you,'' Gailey said. "If you can help them, then they'll pay attention.''

Two weeks into OTAs, Gailey sees progress, but it's satisfied.

"I feel like we're going forward each day," he said. "As a football coach, it never goes well enough, fast enough or good enough, that's just life as a football coach. But we are going forward each day which is a positive. If we can not have the negative days, we've got a chance to be pretty good before it's over with."

---Running back Marshawn Lynch still hasn't reported to the Bills voluntary OTAs which continued on Wednesday and when asked by a reporter if he's talked to Lynch and expected him to report soon, Gailey answered tersely, "No." There were rumors that Lynch arrived in Buffalo Tuesday night but if he did, he didn't show up for OTAs on Wednesday.

---Gailey didn't give any indication who he likes at QB but Ryan Fitzpatrick took reps with the first team on 11-on-11 drills while Trent Edwards took the first snaps on 7-on-7. ... The Bills ran a lot of draw plays and screens during 11-on-11 drills and the play of the day was when the offense picked up the blitz, then right tackle Nick Hennessey created a huge hole for running back C.J. Spiller for a big gain.  

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Bills OTAs Day Two

Ryan Fitzpatrick was the first quarterback in the rotation during 7-on-7 and team drills at practice on Wednesday. He was followed by Trent Edwards in 7-on-7, while Brian Brohm took second-team snaps during 11-on-11 session with Edwards working as the third-team QB. Rookie Levi Brown was the fourth quarterback in both drills.

Edwards got all the first-team snaps, followed by Fitzpatrick on Tuesday.

 

---Allen Wilson

Gailey eyes a running back in the draft

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey said Tuesday that offensive line, wide receiver and possibly quarterback are on the team's list of draft priorities. He also said the Bills would select a running back, probably in the middle rounds.

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch are the only running backs on the roster. Gailey wants to add a small, scatback-type of runner that would provide a change of pace and bring more versatility to the backfield.

"We've got to upgrade there in some way, shape or form, and there are some good running backs in the draft this year, different from what we've got,'' Gailey said. "So a change of pace is may something we could do there with a different type of player. The guys who are coming out now, there's a bunch of those 5-9, 180 to 185-pound, quick-as-a-cat water bugs that are running backs/receivers that might give you a little bit of a punch on the field and maybe make a big play.'' 

One running back that fits what Gailey is looking for is Mississippi's Dexter McCluster, a 5-foot-9, 172-pound speedster with excellent hands and outstanding elusiveness in the open field. He's also a dynamic kick returner. Most projections have him going in the third or fourth round.

---Allen Wilson

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