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Berry wonders -- again -- about hit from Johnson

Chiefs safety Eric Berry told the Associated Press today to "make your own opinion" about whether the hit he took from Bills receiver Stevie Johnson in the season opener last September was intentional.

"You can look at the tape and make your own opinion about that. I mean, my opinion is my opinion," he told the AP.

On March 5, Berry tweeted: “Sometimes I sit n wonder if they had a bounty out on me...oh well...who cares. Either way u can't hold me down.”

Berry told the AP his tweet was, "pretty much a joke." He suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on the hit, which Johnson delivered legally in the open field.

Johnson has repeatedly denied any intention to hurt Berry.

Johnson was unavailable for comment today: he and his wife, Brittney, welcomed the birth of their third child, Mia, on Monday. Johnson's agent, CJ Laboy, issued the following statement:

"Eric Berry is a phenomenal football player who will be a Pro Bowler for years to come, but knowing the Bills organization and Stevie as well as I do and hearing Stevie's very public statements concerning 'bounties'as well as his apologies for the legal downfield block made on Eric, there is no doubt that the hit was unintentional. It is unfortunate that Eric suffered an injury during that game and we all look forward to seeing him back on the field in 2012."

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Time to play tag

---Teams can begin franchising players on Monday and here's a quick rundown on candidates from CBS Sports. According to NFL.com, the tag figure for wide recievers this season, you know guys like Stevie Johnson, is $9.4 million.

---Colts owner Jim Irsay, the Colts’ owner, told ESPN that quarterback Peyton Manning was more than welcome to stay in Indianapolis, as long as he reworked his contract: “We want this to be his decision. We want him back if he wants to come back. We can work out the contract if he wants to work it out. It’s going to be Peyton’s call.” Yeah, ok.

---The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have rolled over all available resources into the 2012 salary cap in anticipation of being more active in free agency.

---Randy Moss to the Cowboys? Don't think so.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Just visiting (update)

Stanford_Routt4

---Stanford Routt just arrived at the Bills training facility as planned.

---Free agent cornerback Stanford Routt today is scheduled to visit the Bills, one of several teams interested in his services. Routt, pictured above, was released by Oakland last week in part because the Raiders did not want to pay him a $5 million bonus due last week although they apparently managed to pony up $7.5 million for Richard Seymour.

Routt signed a huge contract before last season and spent seven years in Oakland. Detroit and Minnesota have also expressed interest in signing Routt, who had six interceptions and 28 pass break ups over the last two seasons.

---With help, Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff has moved on from his AFC title game miss although he is surprised there wasn't more backlash.

---A pair of high level wide recievers seek new deals and it looks like Philadelphia will franchise free agent WR DeSean Jackson, while Marques Colston will likely hit the market.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Brees is no Flutie

 

---Drew Brees said in a sideline interview of Sunday's Pro Bowl that when he and Doug Flutie had been teammates in San Diego Flutie, a master of the drop kick, had taught him how to do it.

So with Flutie in the broadcast booth, Brees decided it was the perfect moment to emulate him, but the kick for an extra point was too low. Brees told Flutie that his drop was too far forward and that he couldn’t get the necessary lift.

Back in 2006 with New England Flutie, the former Bills QB, converted the NFL’s first successful drop kick since 1941, making an extra point in the fourth quarter.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

FCC may move to end NFL blackouts

---The FCC on Thursday took a step that may lead to the elimination of all sports blackouts, of which the NFL’s are the most notable. The commission said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have effectively backstopped league policies by prohibiting cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.

Several public interest groups including Sports Fans Coalition, as well as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) had asked the agency to reconsider its rule in light of numerous NFL blackouts in cities around the country.

"This is a huge victory for sports fans around the country," Sports Fans Coalition executive director Brian Frederick said. "The government is now shining the light on the antiquated business of sports blackouts. It's time for fans to let the FCC know how unethical and counterproductive blackouts are."

The NFL’s blackout policy dictates that for a home game to be shown in the team’s market, it must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff. There were 16 blackouts in 2011, including the Bills final three home games. The Cincinnati Bengals led the league in blacked out games with six.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

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

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Dolphins-Bills blacked out

The Bills just announced that Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium will be blacked out on local television. About 7,000 tickets remain.  

 Tickets are still available for purchase by going online at buffalobills.com, at Ticketmaster outlets, the Ralph Wilson Stadium ticket office, or by calling 1-877-BB-TICKS (228-4257).  Club seats and other premium seating opportunities are also available.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

 

 

 

Titans-Bills blacked out

---The Bills announced that Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans at Ralph Wilson Stadium did not sell out by the league mandated deadline and will be blacked out on local television.

Tickets are available at buffalobills.com, Ticketmaster outlets, the Ralph Wilson Stadium ticket office, or by calling 1-877-BB-TICKS (228-4257).  Club seats and other premium seating opportunities are also available.

Former Bills kicker Steve Christie will be Sunday’s “Leader of the Charge” to wave the Bills team onto the field for pregame introductions.  Pregame activities also include the recognition of students and teachers from Buffalo area schools that participated in the Bills and NFL Play 60 program this season.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Injury report update

---Bills coach Chan Gailey said Ryan Fitzpatrick has been limited the last two days of practice with a chest bruise but it’s not significant enough to keep the quarterback from playing in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Gailey said he made a mistake by listing Fitzpatrick as a full participant for Wednesday’s practice because he didn’t take all the reps.  

“[The chest bruise] something that I’m working through but I’ll be fine,’’ Fitzpatrick said.

Linebacker Chris Kelsay (calf) was the only added to the injury report and was limited in practice on Thursday.

“That calf of his is tweaking on him a little bit so we’re just being conservative with him,’’ Gailey said.

Guard Andy Levitre (shoulder) and tackle Chris Hairston (ankle) were both limited on Thursday although both are expected to play. Levitre worked at left tackle and left guard, while Hairston worked at left tackle. Hairston started at left tackle against Philadelphia and the New York Giants but missed the game last Sunday against Washington.

“Right now we’ve had to rest Andy a little bit so Chris has probably gotten more reps than Andy has in the last two days,’’ Gailey said. “I bet before it’s over with that both will play left tackle in the game.’’

Gailey said wide receiver Donald Jones (ankle), who missed the last two games, practiced fully on Thursday. 

“He’s looked a lot better he really has,’’ Gailey said. “He’s done everything in practice. I can tell he’s not 100 percent so we’ll see, he may get to play Sunday.’’

Running back Johnny White (illness) also practiced fully while cornerback Aaron Williams (collarbone), who hasn’t been cleared for contact, was limited. Nose tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and left tackle Demetrius Bell (shoulder) did not practice and are out for Sunday.

New York Jets starting defensive end Mike DeVito was limited in practice due to a sore knee, which kept him out of the Jets’ last game, 11 days ago, against San Diego. Three other Jets starters listed on the injury report linebacker David Harris (ankle), center Nick Mangold (ankle) and linebacker Calvin Pace (groin) all participated fully in practice. Second-string nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (ankle) also practiced fully.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Lions-Bills game thread

---Final: Detroit 16, Bills 6. You didn't miss anything.

---Lions 10, Bills 0 halftime. The Lions’ Jerome Harrison ripped the Bills backups for 72 yards on seven carries.

---Lions 7, Bills 0 at the end of first quarter.

---Drops by Marcus Easley and Stevie Johnson means the offensive starters are done for the night. Bills starters played seven snaps on offense and defense.

---Offensive starters still in for Bills while the Lions have backups on the field. Starters for Detroit played four plays on offense and four on defense.

---Bills defensive starters in on second series but Lions have backup QB Shaun Hill in the game.

---C.J. Spiller starts at RB and rushes for 27 yards then catches a screen pass for a loss of a yard.

---Leodis McKelvin gets beat deep for 39 yards on the first play from scrimmage, but the Bills force Detroit to punt on their first series.

---The starters should be in and out of the game in no time.

---It's a minute before kickoff and there are less than 10,000 people in the stands at the Ralph.

---The Bills left a seat open in the press box for former Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski, who died suddenly Monday at age 51 of a heart attack. Kowalski covered the Lions for 30 years, first for the Oakland Press and later for Booth Newspapers and Mlive.com.

---Not in uniform tonight for the Bills are Kyle Williams, Roscoe Parrish, Felton Huggins, Naaman Roosevelt, Donald Jones, Jammie Kirlew, Arthur Moats, Ed Wang and David Martin.

---Torell Troup will start at nose tackle in place of Williams.

---Inactives for the Lions include Nate Burleson, Alphonso Smith, Nathan Vasher, Anthony Madison, Jason Fox, Johnny Culbreath, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nick Fairley.

---Lawrence Jackson will start at defense end for Vanden Bosch and Titus Young will start at wide receiver for Burleson.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)