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Words from The Turk: Don't get comfy, 53

By Tim Graham

On the night teams had to reduce their rosters to 53 players, The Turk gets the final word.

"Players who made it through the initial cuts, they'll exhale," said an unidentified Turk who spoke on the condition of anonymity for a story that depicted his role in beckoning those who don't make the team.

Reserves still on the roster today shouldn't feel comfortable yet. Hundred of players were released today around the league. Some are free agents. Most must go through waivers, allowing other teams to claim them by noon Saturday.

"The waiver wire comes out, and the team wants to pick up a guy," The Turk said. "Well, you have to release somebody.

"You think you made it, but maybe eight hours later you're going to get cut. That's almost worse than the shock of not making final cuts."

John Potter featured among Bills keepers

By Tim Graham

Now that we've cataloged the 21 players the Buffalo Bills released, let's take a look at who they kept.

We've known for a few hours the Bills were keeping backup quarterbacks Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith along with newcomer Tarvaris Jackson and that they were cutting all of their bubble receivers. We knew they were keeping H-back Dorin Dickerson.

As for the others, there were few interesting decisions.

Based on Twitter interest all day, fans were fascinated with the status of kickoff specialist John Potter. The seventh-round draft choice from Western Michigan survived, although two players drafted ahead of him -- fifth-round linebacker Tank Carder and sixth-round center Mark Asper -- did not.

Potter was near perfect in the preseason, drilling kick after kick out of the end zone for touchbacks. Bills head coach Chan Gailey said a few weeks ago he needed convincing that Potter was worth a spot on the 53-man roster, and his play -- along with some lobbying from special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven -- must've done the trick.

For the record, the Bills released two other recent draft choices today: wide receiver Marcus Easley (fourth round, 2010) and running back Johnny White (fifth round, 2011).

Defensive tackle Alex Carrington made the roster. That's significant because that keeps three draft choices from 2010 on the active roster. First-round running back C.J. Spiller and sixth-round linebacker Arthur Moats were the only players from General Manager Buddy Nix's first draft class who were considered safe. Second-round defensive tackle Torell Troup is on injured reserve.

When the Bills cut pass-rusher Shawne Merriman two weeks ago, there was a belief Robert Eddins and Jarron Gilbert could benefit from the added reps, but both were cut. Kyle Moore was the only defensive end kept aside from free-agent notables Mario Williams and Mark Anderson and mainstay Chris Kelsay.

Here is the positional breakdown for the moment:

* 4 quarterbacks
* 4 running backs
* 4 wide receivers (not counting QB Brad Smith)
* 3 tight ends/H-backs
* 9 offensive linemen
* 8 defensive linemen
* 7 linebackers
* 10 defensive backs
* 4 specialists

Bills drop 21 players, place Sanders on IR

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills announced they released 21 players and placed rookie tackle Zebrie Sanders, a fifth-round draft choice, on injured reserve.

Here's a quick look at the cuts ...

Running back Zach Brown: Undrafted rookie out of the University of Pittsburgh.

Running back Johnny White: Fifth-round draft pick last year had a dozen carries for 38 yards.

Wide receiver Kamar Aiken: Was on Bills practice squad last season.

Wide receiver Marcus Easley: Third-year pro has yet to play an NFL down because of an injury and heart surgery.

Wide receiver Derek Hagan: Journeyman had 24 catches for 252 yards and one touchdown last year for the Bills and Raiders.

Wide receiver Ruvell Martin: Special-teams contributor had seven catches for 82 yards last year.

Wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt: St. Joe's and UB grad had 16 catches for 257 yards and a touchdown last season.

Tight end Kevin Brock: Has been property of the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Bears, Raiders, Cowboys and Bills -- since 2009.

Center Mark Asper: Sixth-round draft choice had trouble with assignments.

Guard David Snow: Undrafted rookie from University of Texas.

Guard Keith Williams: Steelers sixth-round draft choice last year was on Bills practice squad in 2011.

Tackle James Carmon: Undrafted rookie from Mississippi State.

Defensive end Robert Eddins: Practice squad player who seemed to have a shot at the roster when the Bills cut Shawne Merriman.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards: Ninth-year pro signed as 3-4 defensive end, was too expensive as a backup 4-3 defensive tackle ($4.1 million base salary this year).

Defensive tackle Kellen Heard: Signed off Raiders practice squad in 2010 and played 15 games last season, starting two.

Defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert: Bears 2009 third-round draft choice was signed off the Jets' practice squad last season.

Linebacker Tank Carder: Drafted with the fifth-round pick acquired from Seattle in the Marshawn Lynch trade.

Linebacker Scott McKillop: Former 49ers fifth-round pick didn't play for two seasons because of a knee injury.

Safety Isaiah Green: Undrafted rookie from Fresno State.

Safety Nick Saenz: Undrafted rookie from the University of Houston.

Punter Shawn Powell: Monster leg brought in to compete with incumbent Brian Moorman, but struggled with directional and pooch kicks.

Bills VP Mary Owen: RCW "doing very well"

By Mark Gaughan

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. remains hospitalized in good condition, said Mary Owen, team executive vice president for strategic planning.

"Thank you very much for your thoughts for Mr. Wilson, we've heard from a lot of people," Owen said this evening at sponsors event at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "He is still in the hospital but he’s doing very well."

Asked the reason for Wilson's hospitalization, Owen said: "I’m just going to leave it at that, but he’s in good condition."

Wilson, 93, last made a public appearance four weeks ago in Canton, Ohio, during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend ceremonies.

Owen and other Bills officials were at the stadium to entertain a group of more than 400 sponsors and guests attending a "Kickoff at The Ralph" dinner and fund-raiser. Proceeds of the event benefitted the Buffalo Bills Alumni Association, which has raised more than $1.4 million in recent years to benefit Western New York charities.

"We ran an event in June that was the Ultimate Field Day for Kids," Owen said. "What we found through that event is that everyone loves being on the field. They don’t get to be on the field. They watch players for years and years and years and watch the Bills play on the field. So we said how can we give them that access again?"

Bills keep Thigpen, cut all five bubble WRs

By Tim Graham and Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills will keep both Tyler Thigpen and Tarvaris Jackson as backup quarterbacks and have released five wide receivers, a team source has informed The Buffalo News.

The Bills have kept the five receivers everybody knew they would: Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones, T.J. Graham and Brad Smith (also a quarterback).

Gone are all the rest: Kamar Aiken, Marcus Easley, Derek Hagan, Ruvell Martin and Naaman Roosevelt.

The Bills are keeping H-back Dorin Dickerson, the source said.

The Bills kept six receivers, including Smith, to open last season.

Fred Jackson: Fitzpatrick rib injury was big issue

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been coy when discussing the possibility he played the second half of last season with a rib injury.

Did he have one? Didn't he? If so, how bad was it?

Fitzpatrick won't say, but running back Fred Jackson recently discussed the injury on Cleveland sports-radio station 92.3 The Fan with co-hosts Dustin Fox (the former Bills defensive back) and Adam "The Bull" Gerstenhaber (the former Batavia Muckdogs play-by-play voice).

Jackson was asked how much Fitzpatrick's rib injury played a role in the quarterback's late-season slump.

"It was a huge part of it," Jackson said. "Not a lot of people knew about it because we kind of just wanted to keep it under wraps. But any time you have ribs that are bothering you and you're a quarterback it's going to be hard to throw the football.

"So that's the thing about this year. He's healthy. We think he's going to be able to make some plays for us. As long as we keep him upright and give him a chance to see things down the field, he's going to make some plays for us. That's what we're looking forward to and what we know he's capable of doing."

Jackson touched on several Bills topics throughout the interview and echoed General Manager Buddy Nix's remarks about not being afraid of the New England Patriots.

"We were able to compete with those guys last year," Jackson said, "and put some points up on them and get a win here and go down to New England and jump out to an early lead down there.

"They're a good team, and they got all their accolades for a reason. But we feel like we can compete with them. This is always a tough division to play in. We expect that every year, and we're going to be one of the teams that everybody else has to contend with as well.

"That being said, if we go out and take care of our business we think we can compete with anybody, and we have a good chance of winning this division."

Dwan Edwards emerges as first Bills cut

By Tim Graham

The Turk has summoned at least one Buffalo Bills player so far today.

The Bills have cut defensive lineman Dwan Edwards, an NFL source told The Buffalo News. Edwards played deep into Thursday night's preseason finale in Detroit. That wasn't a good sign for a veteran entering his ninth NFL season.

Buffalo signed Edwards as a free agent two seasons ago, when they were transforming to a 3-4 defense. He was a defensive end in that scheme and started 24 games for the Bills.

Edwards seemed out of place at defensive tackle, as new coordinator Dave Wannstedt reverts back to a 4-3 base. Edwards also would have been an expensive backup to Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. Edwards would have received a $4.1 million base salary this year.

Teams have until 9 tonight to reduce their rosters to 53 players.

More to come.

Live NFL Chat with Mark Gaughan

SI gives Gronkowski cover treatment, favors Bills

By Tim Graham

GronkSIYou'll recognize the guy on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. He's that kid who played for Williamsville North High School, was taken one draft choice after the Buffalo Bills selected Torell Troup and has redefined what an NFL tight end is capable of.

That's New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, and his family is the cover story for this year's NFL preview double issue.

In "The Last Happy Man," SI reporter Chris Ballard takes an in depth look at the "Patron Saint of Meatheads" and his prolific social life, with glimpses of what family life was like growing up in Amherst with three future NFL players under one roof and a fourth possibly on the way.

Ballard writes: Rob Gronkowski is an "idiot, jester, hero, foil, buffoon and prodigy, the embodiment of a pathetic bro-centric culture.''

"People say, 'He's doing way too many things,' but [I do them] because I got nothing to do," Gronkowski tells Ballard. "That's why I hit up every charity event, why I hit up every party I'm invited to. If I'm just sitting at home, that's not productive. That's boring. I like going out, meeting new people, having a good time. I guess that's why I'm all over the papers. I don't have any girlfriends, no kids. Basically I work out two hours every single day, and then I have 12 hours to do whatever I want."

Also in Sports Illustrated this week, Peter King delivers his 2012 predictions.

King has the Buffalo Bills going 9-7, squeaking out the second wild-card playoff berth and losing in the first round to the AFC West champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

King's Super Bowl prediction is the Green Bay Packers over the Denver Broncos, 33-30.

One quibble with King's predictions: He has Romeo Crennel winning coach of the year.

If the Bills make it to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, then Chan Gailey would have to be the favorite. Voters historically honor the coach who overcomes the longest odds to reach the postseason, and the Chiefs were there two years ago and went 7-9 last year.

Poll: What should the Bills do with backup QBs?

By Tim Graham

The preseason is over, and the Buffalo Bills' quarterback situation remains cloudy.

We know Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter. We think we know Brad Smith will be the third quarterback, although he suffered a groin injury in Thursday night's preseason finale.

Bills head coach Chan Gailey said he didn't think Smith's injury was significant. Still, it's another variable to consider.

And what do we make of Tyler Thigpen's status? Newcomer Tarvaris Jackson plainly showed he doesn't know enough of the playbook yet, getting pulled on the final drive because he couldn't run the two-minute offense.

Thigpen rallied from a sloppy start to conduct three scoring drives in a 38-32 loss to the Detroit Lions.

"Tyler played good," Gailey said. "He made it tough. And it was all on the line. He did a good job."

Teams must reduce their roster to 53 players by 9 tonight.

Tell us what you think the Bills should do with their QB depth chart.

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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 |

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 |

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 |