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Bills activate Jonathan Meeks, drop Jamaal Westerman

The Bills activated defensive back Jonathan Meeks from the injured reserve/designated to return to the 53-man roster and released linebacker Jamaal Westerman.

Meeks, a fifth-round pick last April, went on injured reserve Oct. 14 but returned to practice Nov. 25.

The Bills also signed receiver Brandon Kaufman to the practice squad after cutting receiver Tommy Streeter.

Kaufman, 6-foot-5, was a rookie free agent from Eastern Washington who was released by the Bills before the regular season. He had 3,731 yards and 33 TDs in college.

Doug Marrone wants Marquise Goodwin to get more chances

By Tim Graham

Doug Marrone wants to give Marquise Goodwin more work.

Marrone wants T.J. Graham to work more.

As colleague Miguel Rodriguez wrote earlier today, the Buffalo Bills' speedy receivers have been shut out over the past two games.

After they combined for eight catches, 155 yards and two touchdowns in a big victory over the New York Jets with leading receiver Stevie Johnson sidelined, Goodwin and Graham have been targeted nine times -- all unsuccessfully -- in losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goodwin had zero targets Sunday.

"We could get them more involved," Marrone said today at One Bills Drive. "I think those guys have talent. No doubt, they have talent. They have, obviously, better-than-average speed.

"We have to get a way to get the right group of people in the game that can be productive. That's what we're looking at with anybody."

Asked specifically about Goodwin and Graham having zero catches in back-to-back games, Marrone noted he has spoken to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett about getting one of them more opportunities.

"Marquise Goodwin -- and I've talked to Coach Hackett about this -- we have to get him in there more," Marrone said. "I think T.J. has to keep working and become more consistent."

Goodwin, a third-round rookie, has 16 receptions for 261 yards. His three receiving touchdowns are tied with Johnson for the team lead.

Graham, a third-round draft choice last year, has 18 catches for 272 yards and one touchdown.

Accountability Monday

By Miguel Rodriguez

A day after a listless, lifeless and just downright horrible showing by the Bills during their 27-6 loss in Tampa Bay, accountability was the main topic during the player-interview segment during the hour the locker room was open to the media.

Offense and defense both played a role in the humiliating loss that all but officially killed the Bills' playoff hopes. The 4-9 team is still mathematically alive for the postseason but the odds of that happening are quite long, especially given Sunday's showing and a Week 15 contest on the road against the suddenly surging Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags (4-9) have won three in a row and four of their last five.

As a result the Bills find themselves in an all too familiar spot of thinking about next year and answering questions based on finding out who wants to be part of the solution to the riddle of the soon-to-be 14-year playoff drought.

“We want to get this thing turned around more than anybody because we’re the ones out there competing busting our butts," running back Fred Jackson said. "We don’t want to be sitting out here with four wins on the season with a 4-9 record. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not what we signed up to play this for. That’s not in our job description, come in and have a 4-9 season and be OK with it. That’s not what this locker room is about. We’ll continue working. We’re going to do everything we can to get these last three games under our belt and try to finish this thing with three wins.”

While Jackson said every Bill is in this together with a collective goal of winning, Kyle Williams' response regarding accountability seems to indicate the process is still on-going.

"If you don’t have everyone on the same page, you’re not going to be effective," Williams said. "If you have 40 guys who are accountable and doing the right things and you’re missing 10 it’s not good enough. … That’s something we really need to get everybody going.”

Should red flags go up with accountability being a source of discussion through 14 weeks of the season?

“I think you look at where we stand right now and everything is a red flag, everything is discouraging now. But we have to get guys, all of us, to respond and respond better,” Williams said.

Other topics:

-- Fred Jackson on coach Doug Marrone's comments on scaling back the playbook for rookie QB EJ Manuel: "It’s just what you have to do to help a young quarterback. … We’ve got to do what we can to help him. When you’re going to see a lot of defenses thrown at you in the NFL, it’s going to be tough to adjust to. One of the things we can do is scale back the playbook and help him in that fashion.”

-- C.J. Spiller on Sunday's stinker being a sign of regression by the Bills: “You can’t say it’s the same thing. Everybody’s still getting familiar with each other. Everybody’s still trying to figure things out, what we can do well and we just have to play well. We came in with high expectations. Our expectations was to make the playoffs. Obviously those chances are very slim now but that doesn’t mean this organization isn’t going in the right direction. We’ve got a great coach, we’ve got great leadership in Russ (Brandon) and Doug Whaley. They’re putting pieces together to make this organization a championship type of team. When you don’t see results right away everybody’s going to backlash and say it’s regression. To me, inside the building I feel this organization is headed in the right direction.”

Eric Wood says its high time for players to get called out, grow up

By Tim Graham

Walls should need new coats of paint in One Bills Drive.

The old stuff should get peeled off the wall today while Buffalo Bills coaches and players review the film from Sunday's 27-6 abomination against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bills center Eric Wood declared the time has arrived for guys to be called out.

"I'm sure that'll happen today," Wood, one of three team captains, said this morning. "I think that'll probably be within the position groups, but that needs to happen."

The Bills were crushed in nearly every measurable way. They were the only team that didn't score a touchdown out of the 28 teams that played Sunday and set an NFL record with 90 TDs on a given date.

The Bills had five giveaways, allowed seven sacks, committed 13 penalties and converted one of their 11 third downs.

Against a middling opponent that gave up nine sacks its previous two games, the Bills' league-leading pass-rushers registered one quarterback hit. Four of the Bills' five starting offensive linemen had at least one penalty.

"Just a couple of weeks ago we were saying we're not far off from where we want to be as a team," Wood said. "Then you go and lay an egg like yesterday and you feel like you're starting over at Square One.

"We're not. We have good players on this team. We've just got to do some growing up."

A step back for speedy receivers?

By Miguel Rodriguez

Who knew that T.J. Graham's and Marquise Goodwin's breakout games this year would take place not just in a game where the Bills played without their top two receivers but also on a windy, miserable day at Ralph Wilson Stadium?

It was just four weeks ago (three games and a bye) in which both speedy receivers stepped up their games and were playmakers and difference-makers for the Bills in a 37-14 rout of the Jets.

In that game Goodwin made six receptions for 81 yards and burned Antonio Cromartie badly on a 43-yard touchdown that pretty much wrapped up that victory. He was Goodwin also was targeted nine times.

Graham made two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, adjusting wonderfully on a deep but underthrown pass as EJ Manuel was being blitzed for the 34-yard score. He was targeted four times.

It made one wonder what the offense would be like if they continued to do that while in the presence of Johnson and Woods.

But since that breakout day by the speedy duo however, Goodwin and Graham have combined for zero, ZERO!, catches with Graham being targeted five times and Goodwin four times.

What gives?

“We’re still trying to get the ball deep," Graham said Monday morning during player availablity. "They’re heating up, they’re d-ing up up front. The pressures are different. If there’s not a lot of time up front then it’s hard to get the ball deep down field.”

Goodwin didn't come by his locker during the media availablity.

Perhaps the Bills should do more than try to throw deep to their speedsters. A little slant pattern or curl route to keep the D honest?

"When we watch the film today and tomorrow, we'll see and make adjustments accordingly," Graham said.

Graham and Goodwin both have similar stats with the second-year Graham catching 18 passes for 272 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and a lone TD. Goodwin has 16 catches for 261 yards (16.3 yards per catch) and three TDs.

Goodwin's contributions seem to standout more simply because one of his TD catches helped the Bills force overtime against Cincinnati back in Week Six.

Bills' offensive performance might be worst in four decades

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- In a week when NFL touchdowns were easier to order than a Super Pack at Mighty Taco, the Buffalo Bills turned in one of the worst offensive performances in their history.

Da'Rick Rogers, an undrafted rookie receiver the Bills cut in the preseason, scored twice as many points as they did Sunday.

Rogers had a pair of touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts, while the Bills were pulverized, 27-6, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium.

The particulars were foul. The Bills had five giveaways, allowed seven sacks and committed a dozen penalties.

A search of Pro-Football-Reference.com found the Bills became only the 13th team in NFL history to give up at least seven sacks, throw at least four interceptions and not score an offensive touchdown.

Pro-Football-Reference.com's database shows the last time the Bills met that thoroughly impotent criteria was 1971.

The Bills gave up nine sacks unofficially (sacks became an NFL stat in 1982) in a 43-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts at the Rockpile. Dennis Shaw threw three interceptions, and James Harris threw one. O.J. Simpson ran seven times for minus-10 yards.

Also Sunday, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel had the 15th game in Bills history with at least four interceptions and no touchdown passes. The last time was Drew Bledsoe against the Baltimore Ravens in 2004.

Joe Ferguson did it three times, including a six-interception (1974 against the Houston Oilers) and a five-interception (1982 versus the Miami Dolphins) game without a TD toss.

More info from Pro-Football-Reference: Buffalo had its 15th game in which it lost by at least 21 points, failed to score an offensive touchdown and committed five turnovers. But it has happened three times in the past four seasons.

Doug Marrone says Bills should simplify offense for EJ Manuel

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- At a time when Buffalo Bills fans hoped they'd know more about rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, coach Doug Marrone delivered some sobering news.

Marrone said after Sunday's comprehensive, 27-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it probably was time to simplify the offense for Manuel.

"We've been giving him more and more, and now it's a point where you have to re-evaluate that," Marrone said outside the visitors' locker room in Raymond James Stadium. "We've been going fast with his progression, and now we just have to look at it and get him started again.

"It's not starting over. Don't get me wrong. We've got to look to see what we can do and probably cut down on what we're doing."

Manuel had his worst game as a pro. The first-round draft choice from Florida State was 18 of 33 for 184 yards and no touchdowns with four interceptions. He was sacked seven times.

"A disappointing day in my performance," Manuel said. "It starts with me, especially on offense. I'm the quarterback. I'm the leader. These guys feed off of me, and I was supposed to be facilitating the ball to these guys.

"I didn't do a good job today, plain and simple. Got to get better, plain and simple."

Stevie Johnson: It's all about accountability, sort of

By Jerry Sullivan

TAMPA, Fla. -- By now, I've come to learn that you never know what Stevie Johnson is going to do or say next.

After Sunday's 27-6 loss to the Bucs, he talked about the importance of players being accountable -- seconds after shrugging off a question about a pass that deflected off his hands for an interception.

Early in the second quarter, the Bills had a second-and-3 at their own 44. EJ Manuel threw a pass over the middle that bounced off Johnson's hands and was picked off by Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David. The throw was a bit high, but Stevie should have caught it.

Here's what he had to say about the play later:

"That was early in the game and that's all I have to say about that. That don't really matter."

On the very next question, Johnson was asked what Doug Marrone's primary message had been to the team after the loss.

"Just accountability," Johnson said. "He came out and said we've got to be accountable for what's going on. We can't be afraid to speak our minds to each other. That's how you know you're playing with each other, when you got guys who can say whatever, not be just -- quote, unquote -- yes men. Got to be real with each other. That's what he was saying."

Evidently, suggesting that an interception didn't matter is Stevie's idea of being real and accountable. And you wonder why critics are saying the Bills should get rid of the guy.

Long field goal some vindication for Rian Lindell

By Jay Skurski

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers kicker Rian Lindell had a grand time facing his old team Sunday.

Lindell went 2 for 2 on field goals, including a 53-yarder in the second quarter that had plenty of leg to spare.

"That was nice," he said after the game. "At the time, you just want to hit a good ball, and I don't care what the other jersey looks like or who we're playing. But yeah, kind of looking back, taking it all in a little bit, it is nice. It’s nice to hit a long one."

The Bills, of course, released Lindell during training camp in part because they thought rookie Dustin Hopkins would be better at those long field goals. Lindell left the team after 10 seasons with 980 points -- just 31 short of Stevie Christie’s franchise record of 1,011.

"It was odd trying to warm up because the training staff and equipment guys, weight room guys, those are the guys I've been around with for however many years," Lindell said. "It's great to see all of them. … It’s nice to get a win. I thought I kicked well all day. Obviously during the game is when it counts, but even pregame, it's nice to hit a clean ball, you know what I mean? It's nice that the day cooperated."

Hopkins never did end up replacing Lindell after suffering a groin injury prior to the season opener and landing on injured reserve. Veteran Dan Carpenter was signed to take his place and has had a solid season. Carpenter scored the Bills’ only points Sunday on field goals of 40 and 46 yards. He now has 101 points on the season, the 24th time in franchise history a player has surpassed the century mark.

Game ball: Buccaneers 27, Bills 6

Points after: Buccaneers 27, Bills 6

Bills Buccaneers Footbal#19

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills stink. They had five turnovers, allowed seven sacks, gave up way too many big plays on defense and committed costly penalties.

Rookie QB showdown: Both were ugly, but Mike Glennon was a little less homely. EJ Manuel was 18 of 33 for 184 yards and no TDs with four interceptions, two of which were off his receivers' hands. Glennon, a third-round pick, had two interceptions and only 90 yards but threw a pair of TD passes.

Player of the game: Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David was a monster. He had two interceptions, a sack and a team-high eight tackles.

Moment of the game: On the second offensive play, Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey ran up the middle and past linebacker Kiko Alonso for an 80-yard touchdown. That was all the scoring the Buccaneers would need. The game was 18 seconds old.

Preliminary injury report: Bills cornerback Ron Brooks got hurt while covering a punt late in the first quarter. Although he remained on the field for several minutes, he returned in the second quarter.

Coming up: The Bills will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday at EverBank Field.

Third-quarter analysis: Keep the clock running

By Jay Skurski

TAMPA, Fla. -- EJ Manuel's nightmare afternoon continued in the third quarter today at Raymond James Stadium.

Manuel threw two more interceptions, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open a 27-6 lead.

Manuel was picked off by linebacker Mason Foster on Buffalo's second possession of the second half, and then Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David made his second interception of the game on Buffalo's next possession. 

David's interception set up a 32-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to give the Bucs their lead. Through three quarters, Manuel is 13 of 24 for 136 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Carpenter is solid: Bills kicker Dan Carpenter continues to have a good year. Carpenter hit a 46-yard field goal on Buffalo's first possession of the third quarter. He is now 25 of 27 on the season.

What if: Today's a classic, "but if you take out that 80-yard run," type of day for the Bills' defense. Tampa Bay running back Bobby Rainey has 17 carries for 22 yards after his 80-yard run on the game's second play.

Flags along the line: Four of the five members of Buffalo's offensive line have been hit with penalties today. Only left guard Doug Urbik has escaped.

Bills Live: Manuel throws four INTs, sacked seven times in 27-6 loss

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Second-quarter analysis: From bad to worse

By Jay Skurski

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's season-long struggles on the road are continuing today in Raymond James Stadium.

Manuel threw a pair of interceptions in the second quarter, and the Buffalo offense is mustering very little against the Buccaneers, who lead 24-3 at halftime.

Buffalo turned the ball over three times in the second quarter -- including two interceptions from Manuel. The first was a good throw to Stevie Johnson that bounced off the receiver's hands, while the second was an absolute disaster of a throw intended for T.J. Graham.

Manuel is a brutal 6 of 15 for 54 yards and those two interceptions for a passer rating of 10.8. 

Glennon not much better: It hasn't been a great day for rookie quarterback Mike Glennon on the other side, either. Glennon went 8 of 20 in the first half, also throwing two interceptions. Glennon, however, has two touchdown passes, the second of which went to tight end Timothy Wright and gave the Bucs their 24-3 lead.

It's good: Buccaneers kicker Rian Lindell buried a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter. That had to fel good for the former Bills kicker, who last season was not counted on for 50-plus yard field-goal tries by the team's former coaching staff.

Tough call: Bills safety Jairus Byrd was hit with a personal foul penalty for roughing the passer late in the second quarter. Byrd came in on a blitz and tackled quarterback Mike Glennon. Officials ruled that Byrd hit Glennon below the knees.

First-quarter analysis: Big plays killing the Bills

By Jay Skurski

It took all of 4 seconds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to jump ahead of the Buffalo Bills today in Raymond James Stadium.

Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey raced 80 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on Tampa’s second play from scrimmage to give his team a 7-0 lead. Rainey blew past Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso to get into the open field.

It was a career-long run for Rainey, who took over as the starter for the Bucs after season-long injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James.

Bucs hit another big one: Tampa Bay went up, 14-3, on a 38-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to receiver Vincent Jackson. Glennon scrambled right, then heaved a bomb to the end zone that Jackson tracked down despite being interfered with by Bills cornerback Nickell Robey.

Penalty help: A pair of personal foul penalties against Tampa Bay assisted the Bills in the first quarter. The first came against linebacker Dekoda Watson, who ran into punter Brian Moorman. The Bills, however, were not able to capitalize and Moorman punted again four plays later. On Buffalo’s next possession, Bucs linebacker Mason Foster was penalized for hitting defenseless Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills got a 40-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter on the drive.

Lineup changes: The Bills started rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Gragg at tight end in place of Scott Chandler. Buffalo also benched fullback Frank Summers, making him inactive in favor of Evan Rodriguez.

Ron Brooks returns after injury

Buffalo Bills defensive back Ron Brooks was injured covering a punt with 1:10 left in the first quarter, but was able to return to play in the second quarter.

He was treated on the field after getting caught between two teammates after a Brian Moorman punt.

Brooks was able to stand up after several minutes and was escorted slowly to the sidelines.

He was able to cover another Moorman punt with 9:15 left in the second quarter.

Bills activate some young scratches to see what they can do

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- A few Buffalo Bills youngsters will get a chance to show what they can do this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium.

Activated today are a few players who haven't been dressing. Among them are running back Ronnie Wingo, guard J.J. Unga and linebacker Ty Powell. Tight end Chris Gragg, who played six straight games but was benched last week, will dress again today.

Buccaneers who were listed with injuries but will dress include cornerback Darrelle Revis and receivers Vincent Jackson and Chris Owusu, who had hamstring strains.

Buccaneers defensive end Steven Means, a Buffalo native, will dress.

Here are all the inactives for today's game:

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Jeff Tuel
  • Fullback Frank Summers
  • Tight end Tony Moeaki
  • Guard Mark Asper
  • Guard Antoine McClain
  • Linebacker Jamaal Westerman
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Fullback Lonnie Pryor
  • Guard Patrick Omameh
  • Guard Carl Nicks
  • Defensive tackle Gary Gibson
  • Linebacker Danny Lansanah
  • Cornerback Deveron Carr
  • Safety Bradley McDougald

On the line from Vegas: Bills revert to low betting expectations

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- Things change quickly in the NFL.

Last week, we were talking about the Buffalo Bills being a favorite three, maybe four straight games.

Now we're back to the idea they probably won't be favored again for the rest of the season.

The Bills are 2.5-point underdogs this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium. Next week, the Bills will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars, winners in four of their past five games.

Maybe the Bills will be favored when they host the Miami Dolphins in Week 16. Maybe.

First, though, let's take a look at the Bills' chances to cover today.

As always, Las Vegas handicapper and Sloan native Joel Staniszewski has some trends for us to consider:

  • Buffalo is 1-4 against the spread and straight up over its past five games.
  • Buffalo is 1-6 against the spread in its past seven road games (not counting Toronto because, ahem, that was a home game).
  • Tampa Bay is 4-1 against the spread over its past five games.

Staniszewski pointed out, "These trends would have you think that the Bucs are the play." Then he added these:

  • Buffalo is 4-0 against the spread after allowing more than 150 yards rushing.
  • Buffalo is 7-2 over its past nine games following an against-the-spread loss.
  • Tampa Bay is 4-17 against the spread in its past 21 home games versus a team with a losing record.
  • Tampa Bay is 1-6 against the spread over its past seven games after allowing more than 250 passing yards previous game.

"Looking at these trends," Staniszewski said, "it's hard to try to find a play here.

"If we can establish a strong run game and hang onto the football this week, the Bills have a good chance to win this game. Let's hope for the best."

The Bills are 6-6 against the spread for the season. The Buccaneers are 5-7.

Lee Smith's work often unnoticed, which means he's doing it well

By Tim Graham

Of the Buffalo Bills' four tight ends, the one who gets talked about the least is Lee Smith.

That's because he has been quietly doing his grunt job all year.

Smith has three catches for 47 yards without a touchdown. But his primary job isn't to make downfield plays; it's to get in the defense's way.

ProFootballFocus.com rates Smith the NFL's best pass-blocking tight end.

Among tight ends who've played at least 25 percent of their teams' snaps, Smith is the only one not to have allowed a sack, hit or pressure. The Bills have used him on 98 pass plays and kept him in to block on 39 percent of them.

Smith has been used as a run blocker on 212 snaps, PFF's data shows.

PFF's charts also show why Scott Chandler, the Bills' second-leading receiver, rarely is asked to protect the quarterback.

He has played 416 snaps, but only 25 of them in a pass-blocking role. He has allowed a sack and three pressures.

Bills enter last quarter of the season quite healthy

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills will be healthy for Sunday's road game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bills coach Doug Marrone announced only receiver Marquise Goodwin (calf) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles) are on the final injury report, and each is probable.

Tight end Scott Chandler was back at practice after his wife gave birth to another girl Thursday night. Chandler will make the trip to Tampa.

Marrone revealed Thursday that newly signed tight end Tony Moeaki likely will not play Sunday.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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