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Bills sign five tryout prospects

By Tim Graham

The Bills announced they've signed five players they invited to participate in this week's voluntary workouts.

They are:

  • Running back Frank Summers (UNLV)
  • Defensive end Jamie Blatnick (Oklahoma State)
  • Linebacker Kourtnei Brown (Clemson)
  • Kicker Chris Koepplin (Massachusetts)
  • Punter Brian Stahovich (San Diego State)

The other three players invited to try out were:

  • Tight end Nick Provo (Syracuse)
  • Defensive tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (Baylor)
  • Defensive lineman Marcus Robinson (Miami)
  • Cornerback Mike Holmes (Syracuse)
  • Cornerback Byron Mulkey (Buffalo)
  • Long snapper James Winchester (Oklahoma)

Kyle Moore signs with Bears; Revolving Bills roster updated

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills lost another free agent.

Kyle Moore, a surprise performer last year on a disappointing defensive front, signed a one-year contract Monday with the Chicago Bears.

Moore, despite being inactive the first four games, started seven straight games in November and December. Moore made 24 tackles, three for losses. He notched the first three sacks of his career.

Analytics website rated Moore 25th in pass-rushing among all 4-3 defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their teams' snaps. The site tallied 23 quarterback hurries for Moore, tying him for 30th in the NFL.

Moore had arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but a source informed The Buffalo News the Bills wanted to re-sign him. But last month's acquisition of linebacker Manny Lawson might have made Moore expendable.

Moore was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fourth-round draft choice in 2009 and eventually landed on the Detroit Lions' practice squad, from where the Bills plucked him in November 2011.

An update accounting of the comings and goings on Buffalo's roster in free agency:

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Running back Tashard Choice
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Colin Brown
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights have been retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Quarterback Kevin Kolb
  • • Defensive tackle Alan Branch
  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson (Cleveland Browns)
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Defensive end Kyle Moore (Chicago Bears)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

Bills DT Alan Branch hopes to help Mario 'get some food on his plate'

Newly signed defensive lineman Alan Branch speaks at One Bills Drive on Tuesday. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

By Mark Gaughan

Defensive lineman Alan Branch looked around at the players on the Buffalo Bills' defensive front and decided he has the chance to look good this season in their uniform.

Branch became a new piece of the Bills' defensive puzzle by signing a one-year contract today. Branch started the past two seasons for Seattle. He's a 324-pound run stopper who adds to the Bills' ability to play a 3-4 front.

Now the Bills can put Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Branch on the defensive line, flanked by Mario Williams and Manny Lawson at outside linebacker. Fourth-year man Alex Carrington can push Branch for time. If fourth-year man Torell Troup comes back from back surgery, all the better.

Continue reading "Bills DT Alan Branch hopes to help Mario 'get some food on his plate'" »

Seattle DL Alan Branch visits Bills

Former Seattle Seahawks' Alan Branch during a game against the Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Mark Gaughan

(UPDATED) Free-agent defensive lineman Alan Branch is visiting the Buffalo Bills today, coach Doug Marrone confirmed this morning.

Branch is a stout run-stuffer who started the past two seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. Adding him would help the Bills' efforts to play a 3-4 defensive front. The Bills have Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams returning as starters at defensive tackle.

In a 3-4 front, Mario Williams can play outside linebacker opposite newly acquired Manny Lawson. The next best down lineman on the roster is Alex Carrington, who served a backup defensive tackle role last season. Veteran Spencer Johnson saw the fourth most playing time at DT last season. He's 31, he's a free agent, and he's not expected to be back with the Bills. The Bills also have big Torell Troup coming back. He missed all last season after having back surgery.

Branch is a six-year veteran. He was a backup his first four years in Arizona. He's a 6-foot-6, 324-pounder who was a second-round pick of the Cardinals out of Michigan in 2007. His strength is run-stopping. He played about 55 percent of the snaps for the Seahawks the past two seasons. He was a bit more effective in 2011 than in 2012.

Branch's contract with Seattle paid him $3.5 million a year. The Bills had interest in Jets unrestricted free-agent down lineman Mike DeVito early in free agency but he was quickly signed by Kansas City.

The Bills and Kevin Kolb: Mutual desperation?

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills and Kevin Kolb look like they could be a match made out of necessity … or perhaps mutual desperation?

The Bills need more insurance behind whatever rookie quarterback they pick in the NFL draft. Right now they have only veteran Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp on the roster. Kolb needs to land a job before the draft, because teams usually are much less enthusiastic about veterans once they stock their roster with rookies.

The Bills reportedly have interest in Kolb, sources tell The Bills currently have the least amount of competition at quarterback of any NFL team.

The Arizona Cardinals released Kolb earlier this month in a move that resembled the Bills' release of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Kolb was cut loose just before Arizona was due to pay him a $2 million bonus.

Kolb, who turns 29 in August, has had too many injuries to step in as the favorite for a team's starting QB job. He played in only five games last season, getting knocked out for the year in Arizona’s Week Six loss to the Buffalo Bills due to detached ribs and a sprained shoulder. Kolb suffered a serious concussion that caused him to miss the last three games of the 2011 season. He missed two games in the 2010 season due to a concussion, as well. He played nine total games in 2011 and five in 2010. His overall record as an NFL starter is 9-12.

Besides the Bills, the teams with the most unsettled quarterback situations are Oakland, Jacksonville, the New York Jets and Arizona. Oakland’s starter, Carson Palmer, might be released if he does not accept a pay cut. Terrelle Pryor is Oakland’s backup. Jacksonville's top two QBs are Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. The Jets' list includes Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow. Tampa Bay could use a backup quarterback. The Bucs have Dan Orlovsky behind entrenched starter Josh Freeman. Arizona is left with Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton.

A total of 48 different players started NFL games at quarterback last season, which actually represented more stability than normal in an NFL campaign. Many years see more than that number starting games. There were 63 different starters, for instance, in 2010.

TE Fred Davis stays with Redskins

By Mark Gaughan

(UPDATED) Free-agent tight end Fred Davis has decided to re-sign with the Washington Redskins, the team confirmed this morning.

Davis, a five-year veteran coming back from an Achilles tendon injury, agreed to a one-year deal.

Apparently, the prospect of putting up numbers with Robert Griffin III at quarterback was a bit more appealing than casting his lot with a rookie quarterback leading the Buffalo Bills' offense. The one-year agreement is not a surprise and looks like a wise move on Davis' part. Davis will hope to have a good year and parlay it into a better contract a year from now. Davis was suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy in 2011. Another violation would bring him a year-long suspension.

Davis, a former second-round pick, has more downfield ability than average tight ends. He had 24 catches in just over seven games last season and 59 catches in 12 games in 2011.

Fred Davis: Achilles progressing; TE will be a key in Buffalo's O

By Mark Gaughan

Free-agent tight end Fred Davis said today while visiting One Bills Drive he is very confident his Achilles tendon injury will be healed in time for next season.

Davis, a five-year veteran of the Washington Redskins, tore his left Achilles tendon in a game on Oct. 21. He had surgery that same week, performed by foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C.

Some players with Achilles tendon injuries can be out 10 to 12 months. Some return sooner. Baltimore Ravens pass-rusher Terrell Suggs, whose Achilles was repaired by Anderson last March, was out only five months before returning to help the Ravens win the Super Bowl.

Continue reading "Fred Davis: Achilles progressing; TE will be a key in Buffalo's O" »

Bills have to sell Fred Davis on opportunities

By Mark Gaughan

Free-agent tight end Fred Davis is visiting the Buffalo Bills today as part of what may be an AFC East tour.

The unrestricted veteran from the Washington Redskins said he has a visit scheduled with the New York Jets as well. The Redskins, meanwhile, have said they want him back.

So what do the Bills have to offer? Obviously the Bills will have to make a good contract offer. But Buffalo has no established quarterback and likely will be starting a rookie in 2013.

Continue reading "Bills have to sell Fred Davis on opportunities" »

Assessing the underwhelming veteran QB market

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills are feeling good that they’re going to get a quarterback they like in the NFL Draft.

That’s the obvious conclusion to be drawn as the unrestricted free agency season hits its third week. The Bills were willing to let Ryan Fitzpatrick leave town and have stood pat so far with Tarvaris Jackson as their only veteran on the roster.

On Tuesday another veteran who is not "the final answer" to a team’s quarterback solution, Jason Campbell, signed with the Cleveland Browns.

The Bills are among the teams that "have discussed" backup Matt Flynn with Seattle, which is trying to trade him, according to a report. Kevin Kolb, released by Arizona, is the most viable veteran still on the market, which also includes Brady Quinn, Rex Grossman, Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart, Kellen Clemens and ... ex-Bill Tyler Thigpen.

Continue reading "Assessing the underwhelming veteran QB market" »

Donovan McNabb thinks Bills could use Vince Young

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills gave the Vince Young experiment a shot last summer. It looked like he had the No. 2 job locked up after a good showing in the third preseason game. Then he did little in the preseason finale and was released by former coach Chan Gailey in favor of ... Tyler Thigpen.

Young still is looking for another chance to revive his NFL career, and former NFL star quarterback Donovan McNabb thinks he belongs in the NFL.

McNabb on the NFL Network Tuesday:

"He deserves a second chance. Quarterback play has been really declining by a lot of different teams. A lot of guys are restructuring contracts [and] releasing their quarterbacks.

"Give him an opportunity to get back on his feet and also get himself established in this league. He was able to apologize to [coach Jeff] Fisher and move on with his life. Give him an opportunity,  bring him into camp and show his talents once again. He did it at the Texas Pro Day [Tuesday]. Obviously, a lot of eyes were focused on him. He was able to elevate and show he is still working hard to get back be an elite quarterback."

Continue reading "Donovan McNabb thinks Bills could use Vince Young" »

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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 |