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With Bills down to two, a rundown of QBs who didn't make final cuts

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills this afternoon cut their second quarterback in 24 hours, releasing the recently acquired Thad Lewis.

That leaves the Bills with rookies EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel on the QB depth chart. While some teams keep only two quarterbacks on the active roster, going with an injured rookie and an undrafted rookie would seem like a trailblazing (i.e. reckless) idea.

Manuel is coming off a knee procedure and might not be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the New England Patriots. Tuel didn't start a preseason game and didn't play a down Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the quarterbacks other teams cut over the past two days to reach their 53-man rosters by 6 p.m. today:

  • David Carr, New York Giants
  • Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers (injured)
  • Aaron Corp, Miami Dolphins (injured)
  • Dayne Crist, Baltimore Ravens
  • Austin Davis, St. Louis Rams
  • Dennis Dixon, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Trent Edwards, Chicago Bears
  • Ryan Griffin, New Orleans Saints
  • Caleb Hanie, Baltimore Ravens
  • Chandler Harnish, Indianapolis Colts
  • Mike Kafka, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • G.J. Kinne, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Greg McElroy, New York Jets (injured)
  • Jordan Palmer, Chicago Bears
  • Brady Quinn, Seattle Seahawks
  • Matt Scott, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • John Skelton, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Rusty Smith, Tennessee Titans
  • Alex Tanney, Dallas Cowboys
  • Tim Tebow, New England Patriots
  • Seneca Wallace, San Francisco 49ers
  • Vince Young, Green Bay Packers

Dabo Swinney: Don't worry Bills fans; C.J. Spiller the real deal

By Tim Graham

SpillerMugThe sports world is rife with frauds.

Fans are quick to embrace sports heroes yet so often are disappointed to learn they are flawed, sometimes nefarious, people.

C.J. Spiller, his college coach insists, will not be one of those. To hear Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney's praise, Buffalo Bills fans won't ever have to toss their rumpled Spiller jerseys into the back of the closet or dump them into a trash can.

"He's real. He's a real dude," Swinney told me a week ago. "You have to always be careful when you pull for somebody because some people might have a façade. But he's as real as they come, as genuine as they come."

I interviewed Swinney for The Buffalo News' 2013 NFL preview cover story. The section will be available Sunday. Not all of Swinney's thoughts made it into the profile. I wanted to share some more here.

Continue reading "Dabo Swinney: Don't worry Bills fans; C.J. Spiller the real deal " »

LB Bryan Scott, DT Torell Troup, QB Thad Lewis among Bills cuts

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are under the roster limit after dropping five more players this afternoon. Teams had until 6 p.m. to reduce their rosters to 53 players.

The released players:

  • Quarterback Thad Lewis
  • Defensive end Jamie Blatnick
  • Defensive end Izaan Cross
  • Defensive tackle Torell Troup
  • Linebacker Bryan Scott

Although Lewis was an interesting sidelight over the past week, Scott and Troup are the most notable cuts of this quintet.

Scott has played 10 NFL seasons as a defensive back and linebacker. He was a hybrid defender who the Bills hoped would help guard the NFL's new wave of athletic tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham.

Scott was fifth in tackles last year with 64. His four interceptions and eight pass breakups each ranked second on the team. He returned one of his interceptions for the Bills' only defensive touchdown of the season. He also had two forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Troup will forever remembered as the player the Bills selected one spot ahead of Gronkowski in the 2010 draft. Troup played 15 games as a rookie and started two. he played only six games in his second season and zero last year.

Buffalo News' 2013 NFL preview section

2013NFLPreviewCover
The Buffalo News' 2013 NFL preview edition hit newsstands Sept. 1.

What you'll find:

• A long profile of C.J. Spiller and how his seemingly unshakable resolve has driven him to the brink of superstardom.

• Mark Gaughan's feature on EJ Manuel's path to the Bills' starting quarterback job as a rookie.

• Jerry Sullivan's column that shares his cynicism for the Bills' upcoming season.

• Jay Skurski's AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South and NFC West previews and Fantasy column on emerging stars who, like Spiller, are entering their fourth seasons or fewer.

• Gaughan's team preview specific to the Bills and their new regime.

• A game-by-game breakdown of the Bills schedule through Gaughan's eyes.

• Skurski's feature on Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who's eager to bounce back from a difficult season and prove he was worth the third overall pick.

• A story from contributor Jenna Laine on Riverside High grad Mike Williams trying to make a statement after signing a big contract extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

• Staff predictions for division champions, wild cards, conference champs and Super Bowl winner.

The section was produced by The News' award-winning design staff, with Vince Chiaramonte and Andrea Zagata, and edited by Greg Connors, Jim Wojtanik, Fletcher Doyle and Milt Northrop.

The cover features a Spiller photo taken by James P. McCoy in the News' downtown studio.

Eric Wood: 'I would've never forgave myself' for leaving Buffalo

By Tim Graham

Eric Wood has toiled for the Buffalo Bills. He has slogged through losing seasons. His legs have been mangled in pursuit of success.

He doesn't want all that to be for naught.

Wood, the Bills' veteran center, signed a multiyear contract extension today. Terms of the deal were not yet known, but Wood's intentions were clear.

Wood said, "I would've never forgave myself," had he not re-signed with Buffalo, "especially with the direction we're going and to watch them make the playoffs without me."

Continue reading "Eric Wood: 'I would've never forgave myself' for leaving Buffalo" »

Bills make 18 cuts, send three to injured reserve

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills made several roster moves today in advance of the 6 p.m. Saturday deadline to reduce their roster to 53 players.

Released/waived

  • Quarterback Matt Leinart
  • Running back Zach Brown
  • Running back Kendall Gaskins
  • Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman
  • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • Tight end Nick Provo
  • Center David Snow
  • Guard Antoine Caldwell
  • Guard Zack Chibane
  • Tackle Zebrie Sanders
  • Defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert
  • Defensive end Kourtnei Brown
  • Linebacker Keith Pough
  • Linebacker Brian Smith
  • Cornerback Crezdon Butler
  • Cornerback T.J. Heath
  • Cornerback Jordan Dangerfield
  • Cornerback Kip Edwards

Injured reserve

  • Quarterback Kevin Kolb (concussion)
  • Fullback Drew Smith (thumb)
  • Wide receiver Brad Smith (ribs)

Seasons are over for Kevin Kolb, Brad Smith

Kevin Kolb and Brad Smith
The Bills placed quarterback Kevin Kolb and receiver Brad Smith on injured reserve.

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have placed three players on injured reserve, ending their seasons.

Although several cuts were reported, the only official moves for now are quarterback Kevin Kolb, fullback Drew Smith and receiver Brad Smith heading to IR.

Left guard Doug Legursky suffered a nasty left knee injury in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Detroit Lions, but the Bills haven't declared their intentions for him yet.

Rosters must be trimmed to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday.

Kolb was diagnosed with a concussion from last weekend's exhibition at Washington. He has had at least three in his career, and the Bills couldn't afford to hold a roster spot open for such a serious and unpredictable injury.

Brad Smith injured his ribs Thursday night. Drew Smith has a thumb injury that will require surgery.

Bills extend contract with Eric Wood

By Mark Gaughan

WoodMugThe Buffalo Bills have extended its contract with center Eric Wood, sources close to the talks tell The News.

Wood, 27, is entering the fifth and final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2009. He was a first-round pick from Louisville. He is widely viewed as the most elite player the Bills have on their offensive line, and he's considered one of the Bills' team leaders.

Wood has rebounded from two serious injuries in his four pro seasons. He suffered a broken leg 10 games into his rookie season. He came back to play 14 games in 2010. Then he suffered a knee injury in Dallas in the ninth game of the 2011 season. He came back to play at a high level in 14 games last season.

Final cuts: Beware The Turk

GrimReaperGetty

(This blog was posted on Aug. 31, 2012. It is being reprinted with permission of the author, which was easy to obtain. Teams must cut their rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday.)

By Tim Graham

Through the morning fog, on a fire-breathing black steed rides an unflinching specter. His deadly blade is drawn and ready to sever poor souls in his path.

The Turk cometh.

"The name carries some connotations that sound more like somebody with a scimitar," former New England Patriots head coach Rod Rust once told me, "going around, cutting people's heads off."

The Turk is a haunting, mythical figure. He's a shapeshifter, taking on different identities in various regions -- but always the harbinger of doom.

"The Turk has been many people and a much-storied individual, that's for sure," added former New York Jets coach Al Groh. "He's somebody that you don't want to know."

And he probably has peach fuzz, runs a lot of office errands and bought his first legal beer a year or two ago.

The Turk is a menacing character in NFL lore. He's the one who approaches players at the team facility and says "Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook." At that moment, the player knows he has been cut.

Essentially, as Rust analogized, a head has been lopped off.

In reality, The Turk usually is fresh out of college and trying to climb the NFL ladder. He's an intern, an entry-level coach or a scouting apprentice.

The Turk never has more power throughout the year than he does today. He's in his most fearsome glory for the NFL deadline to reduce rosters to 53 players arrives at 9 tonight.

"Eighty percent of the guys know, but it's never easy," said a one-time Turk, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the interview wasn't authorized by his team.

"It's a coldhearted business. It's a necessity in all sports."

GaileyThigpenThe Turk traditionally is an entry-level employee not only because it's a job nobody wants, but also because it lessens the chance for confrontation when the sickle swings.

"It's pretty impersonal," Rust said, "but the person's not at any emotional risk because he clearly is not the one who made the decision. There's a psychology there, obviously."

John Rauch Jr. was only 16 years old when his father anointed him The Turk for Oakland Raiders camp in 1966. Rauch Jr. carried out the duties for five years, including 1969 and 1970, when his dad was Buffalo Bills head coach.

"My father would give me the list of names the night before," Rauch Jr. said by phone from Maryland. "I would have to knock on the doors every morning and need a positive response from each room that they were awake so they wouldn't be late for meetings.

"When I did those rounds, I would inform those on the cut list that 'Coach wants to see you before the morning meeting, and bring your playbook.' "

Said the anonymous former Turk, whose experience was fairly recent:

"It sucks being the young guy. You get a lot of the crap work, especially with the younger players. You pick them up at the airport when they first get to town. You shuttle them everywhere. They depend on you. They vent to you. You develop relationships with them. You get closer to them than other people do."

Rauch Jr. had a similar experience. He often had to break the harsh news to players he had considered buddies.

Rauch Jr. was a ball boy at his father's camps. By the time Rauch Sr. took over the Bills and reported to Niagara University, Rauch Jr. was in college, of drinking age and owned a car.

Players would pile into the car and head to town. They would eat steamed clams and pound Genesee Cream Ales at a Lewiston tavern known as the Bucket of Blood.

Fitting for The Turk, no?

"Some of them I really liked and they had become friends of mine," said Rauch Jr., who played receiver at East Tennessee State. "Others, I didn't care for and it didn't bother me. There were some who were bad guys, and I relished telling them. But I hated telling the ones that I liked."

Rauch Jr. said he "got a charge" out of informing kicker Stefan Schroder, a 13th-round draft choice in 1970, to turn in his playbook.

"He was a real jerk," Rauch Jr. said. "He was a very cocky guy for being a kicker, and he didn't take it well at all. He threw a fit and cursed and told me to get out of his room. I just laughed at him and walked out."

The toughest cut for Rauch Jr. was star AFL receiver Lionel Taylor, the first to catch 100 passes in a season (and when there were 14 games). Taylor was trying to hang on with Oakland in 1967, but was in a battle with a young Fred Biletnikoff and Glenn Bass, who'd come to the Raiders along with quarterback Daryle Lamonica in a trade with the Bills.

"Biletnikoff was coming off a knee operation, Bass had broken his leg the year before, and Taylor was in his mid-30s at the time," Rauch Jr. said. "I was always a big fan of Taylor's, and when I had to tell him, I think that was the one that affected me the most. I always thought he was so great."

Rauch Jr. was on the other end years later. He was visited by The Turk when his tryout with the Chicago Winds of the World Football League fizzled. He opted for a career in the Navy and, at 61, works at Naval Air Systems Command in Patunxent River, Md.

The Turk who spoke anonymously for this story declined to share any specific stories for the record because he didn't want to reveal his identity.

But he did pull back the curtain on how The Turk operates -- and it's not nearly as heartless as the players dread.

"You're there to do a job, and they know that," the anonymous Turk said. "It's just those couple days before and those couple days after. You don't make eye contact. You walk with your head down. You're not as jovial. You know it's getting to be that time.

"Then on the day of the cutdowns, you get in there bright and early. The coach gives you the list of who to look for way before any of them come in. When they come in you start grabbing them, one by one. 'Hey, man. Sorry. Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.' Then the air comes out of them."

The process of getting cut is more than getting a good-bye pep talk from the coach and turning in playbooks and iPads.

Players have to fill out human-resource forms, get an exit physical, turn in a forwarding address for their locker contents, documents or any pay checks that are due.

"That's the last thing they want to do, fill out all that paperwork after their dreams were just shattered," the unnamed Turk said. "Then the absolute worst part is driving them to the airport afterward. What do you say to them? His career just ended."

The anonymous Turk claimed the job is an art. The Turk can't be emotional, but must always be mindful of the player's circumstance.

So I asked the unidentified source to give his list of dos and don't of quality Turking.

What Good Turks Do

• Deliver the boilerplate coach-playbook-iPad line and nothing else: "Say the bare minimum because their whole world is about to be turned upside down."

• Work quickly: "Make it as painless and business-like as possible."

• Let the player dictate conversation: "Feel free to let them vent."

• Listen without speaking: "The more you talk, the more awkward it gets."

What Good Turks Don't Do

• Fail to collect the playbook: "Make sure. Sometimes the player's playbook is back in the hotel. You think 'OK, I'll get it.' Well, you've got to remember to go get it."

• Miss anybody: "Sometimes the guys come into the facility all at once and a couple guys can slip through the cracks."

• Joke around: "For obvious reasons."

• Agree or disagree with what the player says about his opportunity: "Don't speak for the team."

(Bills Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News; Grim Reaper photo: Getty Images)

Doug Marrone on preseason finale performance: 'We are not going to be that football team'

By Tim Graham

Many Buffalo Bills fans certainly are tempted to dismiss Thursday night's putrid preseason finale as a meaningless exhibition.

Head coach Doug Marrone won't be with them.

"I'm a little bit of the opposite," Marrone said. "I think everything means something."

Marrone seethed after the 35-13 loss to the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills are trying to reverse their culture of losing, and whether the players on the field Thursday night will be on the roster after it's pared to 53 men by 6 p.m. Saturday, they were in Bills uniforms.

"It's easy," Marrone said, "to stand up here and, when things go well, I can promote it to the people in front of me and say, 'Hey, this is what we're doing really well,' and I think when things don't go well it's very easy for me to turn around and say, 'Well, it's just the preseason.'

"I think it's the opposite, too, when things go well you can turn around and say, 'Well, it's just the preseason,' and if things don't turn around, if things don't go well, you can turn around and say, 'Oof, are you nervous about this?' "

Marrone readily admitted he was concerned about the Bills' depth, which looked onion-paper-thin against the Lions.

The Bills already could be down to their third-string quarterback for the Sept. 8 season opener against the New England Patriots. So the Bills felt compelled to rest undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel. They also protected cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin, Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks. Does that mean they will be the top three to face Tom Brady?

"I think for me, honestly, and it's the truth, I take everything in," Marrone said. "I look to see the individuals. I look to see how they play.

"I'm big on when we're out on the field and we have the Bills helmet and the Buffalo Bills uniform on, that's who we represent. It's our responsibility of who we put on that field, that when we put people on that field that we believe we can get it done."

The Bills committed three turnovers deep in their own territory. They committed nine penalties for 60 yards.

"I told the team that we are not going to be that football team," Marrone said. "Whatever we have to do as coaches, as players to make sure that we don't do that, that's what we need to do because history has shown, if we've learned one thing, that's the one way that we don't give ourselves a chance.

"If we give this football team a chance, then they'll have the opportunity to win some games."

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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 | tgraham@buffnews.com


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 | mgaughan@buffnews.com


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 | jskurski@buffnews.com

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