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Video: More being revealed four practices into Bills camp

Buffalo News reporters Mark Gaughan and Tim Graham review the happenings from the fourth practice of Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College.

Forbes ranks Buffalo the fourth 'most-miserable' sports city

By Tim Graham

Forbes magazine has ranked Buffalo the fourth most-miserable sports town in its annual list of heartbroken markets.

Seattle came in first (last?) ahead of Atlanta and Phoenix.

The list is based not on franchise futility but on a city's ability to get thisclose to glory but fall short.

Based on that criteria, Buffalo will rank high (low?) until it wins a championship. The Bills have lost all four of their Super Bowl tries, and the Sabres have dropped both of their Stanley Cup finals appearances.

Continue reading "Forbes ranks Buffalo the fourth 'most-miserable' sports city" »

Day 4: Gilmore playing physical; EJ looks good running

By Mark Gaughan

PITTSFORD -- Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is making his presence known in the first week of training camp by being around the ball and playing physical.

Gilmore delivered some solid "thuds" on the second day of full-pads practice. He got in a couple licks on breakups of passes for T.J. Graham and was aggressive with Stevie Johnson after a completion over the middle. Gilmore also had an interception during 7-on-7 drills by jumping a short pass over the middle from Kevin Kolb, intended for Marquise Goodwin.

Kolb had a decent day throwing the ball, about even with rookie EJ Manuel. But Manuel looked pretty impressive running the ball. On the sixth play of 11-on-11 drills, Manuel saw all of his receivers covered and took off around left end for what would have been a gain of at least 10 yards. It was a play that a quarterback with average physical tools would not make. Manuel will be a threat if pass rushers don't stay in their rush lanes.

Manuel looked good bursting off right end on a read-option running play at the end of the second 11-on-11 session. Kolb had a good run, as well, on a read-option, in which he faked to the running back and took off around end.

The snap count breakdown:

Continue reading "Day 4: Gilmore playing physical; EJ looks good running" »

Left guard competition is frustrating Doug Marrone so far

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone has declared his first disappointment of training camp, and it involves one of the team's biggest position battles.

Marrone today said he expected to see early separation from left guard candidates Colin Brown and Doug Legursky. Marrone now is considering another option for first-team reps.

"Both players are doing the best they can," Marrone said ominously. "I think that we've got to look to maybe throw someone else in the mix. I don't know if I see the separation that I like to see right now."

Continue reading "Left guard competition is frustrating Doug Marrone so far" »

Video: Mario Williams day-to-day with left foot injury, won't talk about it

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone gave a forthcoming update about Mario Williams today and experienced a much tidier interaction with reporters than he did Tuesday.

Williams, however, declined to answer when he got hurt, how he got hurt or when he might be back. Williams didn't have tape or a brace on either foot as he worked out with strength coaches on an adjacent field.

Marrone gave this opening statement for his daily post-practice news conference at St. John Fisher College:

"Obviously, everyone knows that Mario returned last night. He was back on the field today, observing practice. He returned to campus last night. I spoke to him after he spoke to the doctors on the way here. Obviously, we sent him out of Rochester. Our medical staff, with addition consultation with Dr. Anderson, determined that the best course of action was rest and treatment.

"Really, there's no timetable for his return. But it's day-by-day. So that's where his situation is right now."

Dr. Robert Andrews is a prominent foot specialist based in Charlotte, N.C. Marrone also confirmed the injury was Williams' left foot and, nearly 11 minutes into his news conference, fielded his first and only Williams question of the day.

I asked whether there's concern a star veteran such as Williams, who realistically can afford to miss practice more than other campers, will be out while new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine installs what's considered a complex system.

"With the time that we've had with him and the OTAs and the minicamp and being there and learning it ... Learning now is so different," Marrone said. "Because he's a player that has demonstrated those skills in the past, I feel better.

"I think now, hey, he can work on the day-to-day, but he can spend more time, really, looking and really getting involved in that playbook to see all the different things that are going on and learn what everyone's doing around him.

"I have no concern when it's day-by-day at this time of year. I think during the season, when you game plan, there obviously are some concerns."

Williams met with reporters immediately after Marrone's news conference and deferred all questions about the injury back to Marrone.

"Anything regarding being sore or bruises, aches, anything like that, I can't, because of what has been said as far as amongst our team and how we're supposed to handle those things, that's up to" Marrone, Williams said. "I can't discuss it."

How did it happen?

"I can't discuss it," Williams replied.

Is it a new injury?

"I can't discuss it," Williams replied.

Is there any concern this could become an ongoing issue like last year's wrist injury?

"No," Williams replied.

This is the second time in two seasons an ambiguous Williams injury put his coach in an awkward spot. I asked him why that has happened.

"At the end of the day, the coach handles all the injuries," Williams said. "However he goes about handling it, that's out of my control. We're told from Day One in our policies and how we're run that anything involving any ailments is discussed and brought to attention by him.

"We're all in this together. We're all on the same page. So however he portrays it to you guys, I know I've got to honor my word and honor him instead of just saying stuff."

Mario Williams returns to Bills

By Tim Graham

Mario Williams is back on campus.

The Buffalo Bills' star pass-rusher has returned to training camp at St. John Fisher College tonight, Bills Digest editor Mark Ludwiczak tweeted tonight.

The Bills confirmed the report to the Associated Press.

Williams has missed Buffalo's first three practices. He watched from the sideline Sunday night and was absent from the team the past two days reportedly to get a second opinion on a "sore foot."

Details about the injury have been sparse. Bills coach Doug Marrone, the only team representative who has spoken about the injury, has been unable to say which foot Williams hurt, how he hurt it or what the first diagnosis was.

Reports: Mario Williams left camp for a second opinion; foot OK

Mario Williams
Doctors tell Mario Williams to rest his foot.


By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills pass-rusher Mario Williams left training camp reportedly to get a second opinion on his injured foot, and the follow-up examination showed no significant problem. and Fox Sports 1 reporter Mike Garafolo tweeted a few minutes ago Williams should be fine.

NFL players are entitled to a second medical opinion if they inform the team in advance.

So what was the big deal? The Bills simply could have told reporters "Mario is getting a second opinion on his foot, and until the result from that examination comes back we're going to refrain from any comment about the injury."

That would have saved the team and coach Doug Marrone quite a bit of trouble the past couple days.

Video: Bills enter day three of camp and still no Mario

The News' sports reporters Tim Graham and Mark Gaughan discuss how Bills coach Doug Marrone reacted to the media's questions about Mario Williams' injury.

Day 3: Run game emphasized in Bills' first practice with pads

By Mark Gaughan

PITTSFORD -- The Buffalo Bills worked a lot on the running game, and Kevin Kolb got the majority of the snaps at quarterback during the team's first training camp practice in pads today.

There was no tackling to the ground, but defensive players hit the ball-carriers with a "thud" of the shoulder pads.

At one point the blocking got overheated. Cornerback Crezdon Butler took exception to the way he was being blocked by rookie receiver Robert Woods and the two went tumbling to the ground in a fight. Butler got in a few blows. Woods lost his helmet.

"We were able to really put our hands on guys when we blocked," Woods said. "Just doing my assignment. I'm just doing my job, that's it."

By unofficial count, Kolb took 38 snaps, EJ Manuel 22 and Jeff Tuel eight during the 11-on-11 session. (We may have missed a play or two while writing to keep up with the Bills' no-huddle offense.)

Manuel arguably threw the ball better than Kolb, although the veteran probably saw more blitzes than the rookie. Kolb underthrew an open Stevie Johnson on a deep ball, got a pass intercepted by Stephon Gilmore on a throw-away down the sideline and had near pickoffs by Gilmore and T.J. Heath. He also beat the blitz with a good quick throw to C.J. Spiller.

By unofficial count, Kolb was 7 of 16 during 11-on-11 work, while Manuel was 7 of 9. A note of caution on training camp completion figures, which we try not to emphasize. It's easy to have dump-off completions, and the defensive tactics and offensive casts differ with each QB. Nevertheless, Kolb's accuracy wasn't great, and Manuel was solid. Manuel got fired up and was exhorting Marquise Goodwin after the rookie made a good grab of a bullet from the QB on a slant route. Manuel hit Da'Rick Rogers for 18 yards on an intermediate crossing pattern. He hit Brad Smith on time on a short slant. The Woods-Butler fight came on a play in which Manuel ran the ball off right end for a good gainer.

Continue reading "Day 3: Run game emphasized in Bills' first practice with pads" »

Video: Doug Marrone annoyed, defensive about Mario Williams questions

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone had few answers about Mario Williams' foot injury again today and got chapped with reporters for asking about it.

Williams, the Bills' highest-paid player, was absent for a second straight day of practice at St. John Fisher College. He attended Sunday night's opening session but didn't participate in drills because of a sore foot.

The Bills still aren't saying when Williams will return to the team or how hurt he is.

Marrone made an opening statement about the first padded practice and fielded a question about the offensive line before Associated Press reporter John Wawrow asked for an update on Williams' status.

"I have not had any contact with anyone in regards to Mario," Marrone said.

Continue reading "Video: Doug Marrone annoyed, defensive about Mario Williams questions" »

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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 |