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Gailey on goals for the weekend

A total of 45 rookies and first-year players took the field this afternoon for the Buffalo Bills' first rookie minicamp. The team will hold three more practices this weekend, two on Saturday and one on Sunday (all sessions are closed to the public).

Of those 45, 21 are with the team on a tryout basis, including Western New York natives Byron Mulkey and Domonic Cook. They face the longest odds of finding a spot on the team's 53-man roster at the end of training camp, but that's a long way off.

For now, coach Chan Gailey described his focus for the weekend as the following: "You try to see the effort that a guy gives. You try to see if a guy is a lazy guy or a worker. You're trying to figure that out. You're trying to figure out, does a guy retain what you teach him? Can he hold on from day one to day two what you taught in day one, and add on to day two? So you're looking at that. Those are the two main things. They're talented guys, or they wouldn't be here to start with."

Along with Cook and Mulkey, the other 19 tryout players are: C Taylor Boggs, RB Zach Brown, DE Vince Browne, TE Derek Buttles, WR Roddell Carter, LB Nick Clark, WR Gino Crump, FB Dorin Dickerson, DE Sean Ferguson, WR Kevin Fitzpatrick, DE Corey Hart, DT Johnny Hollins, LB Brian Smith, S Nick Saenz, WR Derek Session, DE Bernard Smith, QB Alex Tanney, LB Jeff Thomas and DT Logan Walls.

---Jay Skurski

@JaySkurski on Twitter

Buddy & Chan on VY

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix after the team's rookie practice today on the signing of free-agent quarterback Vince Young:

"We’re looking always to try to improve our team – get deeper and get more competition, and that’s what this is. It’s a competition for the backup quarterback job. Not the starter, obviously, I’ve said that 100 times. He knows it. That’s the way it is. It’s just to try to get us better."

"We’ve got two of the best quarterback coaches in the business, starting with Coach Gailey and then David Lee. Those guys are good teachers. They will do what he can do best. Trust me he’s a big good athlete who can do a lot of things for you."

"The guy’s been to two Pro Bowls. He’s 31-19 as a starter in this league. We think he can do that again. If he has to play, he can give us a chance to win the game or at least this, he will make Tyler (Thigpen) better. One of ‘em will be better. So that will make our team better."

Gailey on Young's strengths: "Well, he's got a great arm. When he worked out here, he threw it very well. Everybody knows his mobility. He brings you that. And he's won football games in the NFL. That's another positive."

Gailey on how Young's abilities fit the Bills' spread scheme: "We tend to fit the offense around what people do. We don't make people fit in to our offense. If he ends up ... if we get an injury to Fitz and he ends up playing, we'll tailor some things to do what he does, using his movement skills."
Does Gailey see Young being part of a Wildcat package?

"Right now, I ain't even had him here. It's hard to say what a guy might do, but when he gets here, we'll teach him the basics and go from there. There's no telling what he can do."

---Mark Gaughan

VY agrees to terms with Bills

The Buffalo Bills have taken out a high-profile insurance policy on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Bills have agreed to terms on a contract with Vince Young, the team announced. ESPN reported the deal is for one year and is worth $2 million with another $1 million in incentives.

The move gives the Bills added security behind Fitzpatrick. Young will be the favorite to win the No. 2 job in a competition with incumbent Tyler Thigpen, who spent last season as Fitzpatrick’s backup.

“We think adding Vince to our roster will create more competition for the backup quarterback position,” said Bills General Manager Buddy Nix. He brings with him some unique physical abilities that most are aware of and that will make the competition interesting. It’s all about improving our team.”

"Thanks to Buddy Nix and Coach (Chan) Gailey for giving me the opportunity to come in and play and compete," said Young in a statement released by the team. "I am looking forward to playing with the guys and helping where I am needed.  I have always respected the Bills organization and am looking forward to being a part of the team."

Young became a free agent in Febraury when Philadelphia decided not to pick up the option on his contract after he spent one season backing up Michael Vick. Young, who turns 29 this month, was 1-2 in relief of Vick last season and threw four touchdown passes with nine interceptions. The Eagles signed ex-Bill Trent Edwards to be Vick’s backup for the coming season.

Young, 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, spent his first five seasons in Tennessee and made two Pro Bowls (in 2006 and 2009). But he lost his job to Kerry Collins in 2010 and fell out of favor with then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher. He was released after the season. Young has a career record as a starter of 31-19. His career completion percentage is 57.9, and he has 46 TD passes and 51 interceptions.

Thigpen, 28, saw almost no action last season, only entering in mop-up duty in a loss at San Diego. Thigpen is a former seventh-round draft choice who has played five seasons and has 12 career starts. He went 1-10 with a Kansas City team that finished 2-14 in 2008. He has just one start since, for Miami in 2010.

---Mark Gaughan

Six draft picks signed by Bills

Six of the nine members of the Bills' 2012 draft class will be under contract Friday when the team opens rookie minicamp.

The Bills announced tonight the signings of the following players: outside linebacker Nigel Bradham (fourth round), cornerback Ron Brooks (fourth round), offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders (fifth round), linebacker Tank Carder (fifth round), offensive lineman Mark Asper (sixth round) and kicker John Potter (seventh round).

That leaves first-round pick Stephon Gilmore, the cornerback from South Carolina, Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn (second round) and North Carolina St. wide receiver T.J. Graham (third round) as the team's drafted players still unsigned.

---Jay Skurski

Florence lands on feet

Recently released Bills cornerback Drayton Florence didn't take long to find a new job - and it's a good one.

Florence has signed with the Denver Broncos, according to Florence is a consummate professional, and it's good to see him go to a team that has a good chance to go to the playoffs. Denver, with new QB Peyton Manning, figures to be the favorite to repeat as AFC West titlist. Florence has not been to the playoffs in five years, since he was with San Diego in 2007.

According to ProFootballTalk, Florence will make $3 million this year, and his deal is worth $4.5 million over two years, with another $1 million in incentives. He was due to make $4 million this year had he made the Bills' roster. Denver has 33-year-old star Champ Bailey at one cornerback spot. The Broncos four-year veteran Tracy Porter from New Orleans in free agency. Porter started the past three years but has had some durability issues, missing 10 games the past three years. It's a good spot for Florence.

---Mark Gaughan




Video: Gaughan, Sully analyze Jackson receiving extension

Video: Jackson, Fitzpatrick discuss RB's contract extension


Bills sign RB Jackson

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson has struck a two-year contract extension that keeps him tied to the team through 2014.

The deal was announced today at One Bills Drive. Jackson was entering the final year of a contract he signed in May 2009.

Jackson, 31, rushed for 934 yards in just 10 games last season before being lost for the season with a fractured fibula. At the time of his injury, his 1,376 yards from scrimmage ranked second in the NFL. Jackson accounted for 40 percent of the Bills’ offense the first 10 games.

"I'm excited because I feel like something special is about to go down and I want to be a part of it," Jackson said. "I've always said I wanted to be here, now I have the opportunity to be here."

"He is a huge piece of the puzzle for us," said Bills General Manager Buddy Nix. "We always said we want to try to keep our good players, and we've done it again today, with what we think is one of the best backs in the league."

Jackson's average salary more than doubles during the two-year extension, rising to about $4.5 million a year. It could go up to about $11 million for the two new years if he hits all incentives. Jackson has produced three straight outstanding seasons for the Bills. In 2010 he rushed for 927 yards and caught 215 yards in passes. In 2009, he rushed for 1,062 yards and caught 371 yards in passes.

Last season, Jackson led all NFL running backs in yards per carry, at 5.49 yards an attempt. That was the best total by a Bills running back since O.J. Simpson averaged 5.52 a carry in 1975.

Jackson was playing under a four-year deal that averaged $1.87 million a year. Jackson was an exclusive-rights free agent at the time he signed that deal, which meant he had little leverage in negotiations. The deal also was stuck with the NFL staring at the prospect of a lockout in 2011 that could have wiped out a full season. Had that happened, Jackson still might not have been an unrestricted free agent coming out of the lockout. He felt pressured by the circumstances to strike a deal, and he never was fully satisfied with it. Jackson wound up signing with a new agent, Buffalo-based Ron Raccuia, and he negotiated the new contract.

---Mark Gaughan


Stevie on MTV2 at 11 am. today

< a href="" style="color:#439CD8;" target="_blank">Sucker Free - MTV2


MTV2 shot a segment billed as a day in the life of Bills receiver Stevie Johnson that is airing at 11 a.m. today on MTV2. It's part of the show Sucker Free Countdown that goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Above is a brief clip that's part of the segment.

---Mark Gaughan

How CB battle shapes up

Here's how the Buffalo Bills' cornerback lineup shapes up in the wake of the release of veteran Drayton Florence (see previous blog item):

First-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore and eight-year veteran Terrence McGee are the favorites to start. Second-year man Aaron Williams will push McGee for a starting job. In the nickel defense, Gilmore and Williams are the favorites to be the outside coverage men, with McGee bumping inside on the slot.

However, there's plenty of competition, and the Bills could create more playing opportunity for cornerbacks by using a dime (six defensive back) scheme, something they used almost never the past couple seasons. Second-year man Justin Rogers saw extended action the last six games of last season and probably would open training camp as the second slot man in a dime defense. Fourth-round draft pick Ron Brooks covered outside receivers and worked in the slot for Louisiana State. The Bills tend to throw rookies into action on the outside before working them on the slot, but we'll see how fast Brooks picks things up. Leodis McKelvin, entering the last year of his contract, has been used almost exclusively outside. He will aim to have a good training camp and preseason to try to force his way into action. McKelvin also led the Bills on punt returns, averaging 19.5 yards on eight returns. That included an 80-yard TD return against Denver.

Many teams keep six cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. That would be a top six for the Bills. The Bills have two other young corners. Prince Miller is a second-year man from Georgia. In 2010, he spent a month on the Ravens' roster and a month on the Lions' roster. He was on the Bills' practice squad last season. Cris Hill is an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech.

---Mark Gaughan


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