By Tim Graham
When we reimagined this blog in the spring, we decided to include more elements than just the Buffalo Bills.
We wanted to broaden the NFL experience for our readers by including more AFC East storylines and local boys such as the Gronkowskis, Mike Williams and University at Buffalo kids who made the league.
That's why we named the blog Press Coverage instead of a Bills reference. We didn't want to limit ourselves.
This will be one of those non-Bills articles. Two UB alumni in particular are heading into the 2012 season with big hopes: Green Bay Packers running back James Starks and New England Patriots defensive end Trevor Scott.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Rob Reischel previewed the upcoming season for Starks, the Niagara Falls native entering his third NFL season. The Packers operate a pass-happy offense and haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2009, but Starks may bring them down to turf a little more.
"You hope that every guy gets better every year," said Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements, who used to have the same job with the Bills. "He has a lot of ability. He's powerful, runs hard, catches the ball out of the backfield pretty well. We're hopeful."
Starks has had injury problems dating back to UB, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Starks "Looks great. He had a breakout playoff run [in 2010]. Some guys just hit that injury phase in their careers and just have to work themselves out of it. ... Starks has some of that. He's had some tough challenges just getting hurt."
Reischel noted Starks is 6 foot 2, 218 pounds and has 7 percent body fat. Starks said he's "much faster today" than when he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds coming out of UB. "I can tell. I can feel it," Starks said.
Scott (pictured left) played his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He recorded 12 sacks and a forced fumble in his first two NFL seasons, but a knee injury limited him to only 1.5 sacks and no turnovers over his next two.
ESPN Boston reporter Mike Reiss noted when Scott signed with the Patriots in March, his deal even resembled the one Anderson signed with the Patriots. Reiss called it a "prove it" type of contract: one year with a $900,000 base salary and a $250,000 signing bonus.
Another UB alum is in Patriots camp. Offensive lineman Jamey Richard, a former Indianapolis Colts draft choice, would appear to be a long-shot to make the team. (Note: I previously wrote Richard was not on the Patriots' roster because he's not listed on their official website. But the NFL Players Association does have Richard on the Patriots' roster.)
Other UB players on 90-man rosters include Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Thomas, Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Newton and, of course, Buffalo Bills receiver Naaman Roosevelt.
(Photo: David Silverman/courtesy New England Patriots)