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Proposed analytics department not part of Bills' equation yet

By Tim Graham

The year 2014 takes place deeper into the future than 2013.

And that includes the extent of my analytics for today.

When the Buffalo Bills announced on Jan. 1 that Russ Brandon was taking over as president, one of the highlights of his news conference was his declaration the club would "create and establish a very robust football analytics operation" to guide football operations.

Nearly four months later, Brandon revealed their analytics department doesn't exist yet.

Continue reading "Proposed analytics department not part of Bills' equation yet" »

J.C. Tretter, Luke Tasker were almost roommates again

By Jay Skurski

For the past four seasons, Luke Tasker and J.C. Tretter have been roommates on the road with the Cornell football team.

They almost got a chance to do the same at the next level.

Tretter was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft on Saturday by the Green Bay Packers. Tasker went undrafted, but was close to signing as a free agent with the Packers before ultimately deciding to join the San Diego Chargers.

Continue reading "J.C. Tretter, Luke Tasker were almost roommates again" »

Chargers sign St. Francis alum Luke Tasker to rookie deal

By Tim Graham

Some St. Francis High love is going down in San Diego.

Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has signed fellow Frannies grad Luke Tasker to a free-agent rookie contract.

Tasker is the son of Buffalo Bills special-teams trailblazer Steve Tasker.

Luke Tasker had 75 catches for 1,207 yards and eight touchdowns last season at Cornell. He ranked fifth nationally in Division I-AA with an average of 120.7 receiving yards a game and ninth with 7.5 catches a game.

Da'Rick Rogers: 'Tell Bills fans they got the steal of the draft'

By Tim Graham

Almost half the NFL's 32 teams wanted Da'Rick Rogers on their rosters.

None of them had enough confidence to draft him.

"That puts a bigger chip on my shoulder," Rogers told me over the phone today. "The Buffalo Bills get that much. They get a hard-working player that's got the biggest chip in the world on his shoulder.

"That just drives me that much more. I do take personally. I do take it to heart."

Continue reading "Da'Rick Rogers: 'Tell Bills fans they got the steal of the draft'" »

Buddy Nix sees Jerry Hughes as versatile fit for defense

By Mark Gaughan

Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix thinks newly acquired defender Jerry Hughes can fit a couple of roles on the defense of coordinator Mike Pettine. Hughes spent the past three seasons mostly as a backup for the Indianapolis Colts.

"We think this defense and the way they're going to play him will fit what he does best," Nix said by phone with reporters this afternoon. "He was a defensive end at TCU, played with his hand on the ground, did that at first with the Colts, and then when they went to the 3-4, he played a little bit of both.

"But he played behind Robert [Mathis] and Dwight Freeney, so playing time wasn't a lot. We think this will give him an opportunity to do what he does best."

Continue reading "Buddy Nix sees Jerry Hughes as versatile fit for defense" »

Bills add 16 undrafted rookies, release four long shots

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills formally announced the signing of 16 undrafted rookies:

  • Jeff Tuel, Washington State quarterback
  • Kendall Gaskins, Richmond running back
  • Drew Smith, Albany fullback
  • Kevin Norrell, Stony Brook receiver
  • Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech receiver
  • Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington receiver
  • Ryan Turnley, Pittsburgh center
  • Zack Chibane, Syracuse guard
  • Izaan Cross, Georgia Tech defensive end
  • Aaron Tipoti, California defensive tackle
  • Keith Pough, Howard linebacker
  • Nickell Robey, USC cornerback
  • Kip Edwards, Missouri cornerback
  • Jumal Rolle, Catawba cornerback
  • Vernon Kearney, Lane cornerback
  • Jordan Dangerfield, Towson defensive back

The Bills also announced they've released four players:

  • Quarterback Aaron Corp
  • Tight end Joe Sawyer
  • Tackle Adam Grant
  • Kicker Chris Koepplin

Top three tacklers gone: Bills trade Kelvin Sheppard for Jerry Hughes

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills now have gotten rid of their top three tacklers from last season.

The Bills announced this afternoon they've traded linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts for pass-rusher Jerry Hughes.

Hughes was the 31st overall pick in the 2010 draft, but has been a disappointment, starting only seven games in his three NFL seasons.

Hughes made 41 tackles and added a career-high four sacks for the Colts last year.

Sheppard, a 2011 third-round pick, was third on the Bills last year with 77 tackles, three for losses, two sacks and a pass breakup.

The Bills previously cut leading tackler Nick Barnett and No. 2 tackler George Wilson. The Bills' fourth-leading tackler, safey Jairus Byrd, isn't under contract.

Da'Rick Rogers will control whether he's a player or a flop

By Tim Graham

Two months ago at the NFL scouting combine, Da'Rick Rogers said he didn't care when he got drafted.

The former Tennessee receiver knew his pockmarked past would damage his draft stock.

"It's no big deal to me," Rogers said in Indianapolis. "Just getting my foot in the door is a blessing. All I can do is go in and work hard and get my opportunity."

Rogers didn't get drafted, but he quickly agreed to a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night, a team source confirmed.

The Bills are taking a low-risk, high-reward chance with Rogers. He can play. The problem is poor off-field judgement that raised red flags.

The Buffalo News also has confirmed Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel, Eastern Washington receiver Brandon Kaufman, Howard linebacker Keith Pough and USC cornerback Nickell Robey will be among the Bills' initial crop of undrafted rookies.

Rogers, though, is the headliner. He might be the NFL's most significant undrafted rookie of 2013.

Continue reading "Da'Rick Rogers will control whether he's a player or a flop" »

Bills draft picks could be legit Rookie of the Year candidates

By Tim Graham

This just in from the Unnecessary Added Expectations Department ...

The Buffalo Bills probably have two of the top preseason candidates for 2013 offensive rookie of the year: quarterback EJ Manuel and receiver Robert Woods.

Since the award's inception in 1967, a quarterback, running back or wide receiver has won the award every year. This year's draft was heavy on offensive linemen and feather-light on quarterbacks and running backs in the early rounds.

Continue reading "Bills draft picks could be legit Rookie of the Year candidates" »

Bills less likely to sign Karlos Dansby with Kiko Alonso in fold

By Tim Graham

The chances of Karlos Dansby becoming a Buffalo Bill have withered.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix indicated the addition of Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso in the second round has diminished the likelihood of signing Dansby, a free agent who visited One Bills Drive a few days ago.

"We're still going to keep the dialogue open with him," Nix said, "but we do think it's changed some because Alonso can play both places."

The Miami Dolphins made Dansby the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history three years ago but released him last month after signing Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in free agency.

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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 |