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EJ Manuel will need days of practice before green light

By Tim Graham

EJ Manuel probably will need to be cleared for full practice by next Wednesday for the Buffalo Bills to be comfortable enough to start him in the season opener against the New England Patriots.

Bills coach Doug Marrone gave insight into a realistic timetable that would allow Manuel to return from a knee procedure and play Sept. 8. If Manuel can't play, then Jeff Tuel would become the first undrafted rookie to start on opening day in the modern NFL.

"If the doctor said, 'You're not going to get him on that field until Thursday, and then he'll be ready to play on Sunday,' I would be concerned about doing that," Marrone said. "If they said, 'Hey, we can get him on that field on Monday or Wednesday, I would see how he played and make a decision."

Continue reading "EJ Manuel will need days of practice before green light" »

Doug Marrone coping with 'Welcome to the NFL' moment

By Tim Graham

All rookies eventually experience their "Welcome to the NFL" moment.

Whether it's absorbing a bone-crushing hit, making a youthful error or getting punked by a veteran, it happens to the best of them.

Coaches, too.

First-year head coach Doug Marrone likely is encountering his "Welcome to the NFL" moment right now. After a relatively smooth offseason and a 2-0 preseason start, the Bills have hit nasty turbulence.

"It's funny," a bemused Marrone said Monday. "My first thought process when I was younger was, when these things happened, I would say to myself, 'What did I do in my past to deserve this? ... I go to church on Sunday. I'm a good father, a good husband. Why did this happen?' "

Continue reading "Doug Marrone coping with 'Welcome to the NFL' moment" »

Doug Marrone wouldn't change way he structured QB competition

By Jay Skurski

With the recent injuries to Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel, there has been talk the Bills erred in releasing veteran Tarvaris Jackson earlier this season.

Coach Doug Marrone, however, has no regrets on how he structured the quarterback competition heading into his first training camp.

"Obviously that wasn’t in the plan of what happens," Marrone said of the injuries to Manuel and Kolb. "We went in with a plan to draft a quarterback, and this goes way back, this was the initial stages of where we were going to go with our numbers, that we were going to draft a quarterback and that we knew that we wanted to go to camp with three with the thought process being more playing time, better reps, more quality reps during that to try to get somebody ready to be the starting quarterback."

Continue reading "Doug Marrone wouldn't change way he structured QB competition" »

Video: With QB injuries, Marrone plans to start Jeff Tuel against New England

Bills head coach Doug Marrone discusses the quarterback injury situation and his plan to start Jeff Tuel against New England.

Video: An eventful Monday at One Bills Drive

The News' sports reporters Mark Gaughan, Jay Skurski and Tim Graham discuss the QB situation and Stephon Gilmore's injury on an eventful Monday at One Bills Drive.

C.J. Spiller leaves Bills to mourn with family in Florida

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller has left the team to be with his family in Florida.

Spiller's step-grandfather, Hubert Allen Jr., allegedly shot two men to death and wounded two others before killing himself Saturday morning in Union County, Fla.

"I think we all feel the same way," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims as well as CJ and his family in this situation.

"I don't have any answer of when he's going to come back, but we're in communication, just making sure that we're there to support him, that he's doing well. And then obviously we're monitoring of when he needs to come back, but we want to make sure that he handles what he needs to handle."

Allen was married to Spiller's maternal grandmother, Nettie Pearl Allen. The Allens were instrumental in helping Spiller's mother raise her family. Spiller's father wasn't involved in his life until Spiller was 18 years old.

Spiller considers Grandma Nettie the most influential person in his life. She helped raise Spiller until she died when he was in the eighth grade.

Chris Hairston out for season after going to reserve/non-football injury list

By Jay Skurski

Offensive tackle Chris Hairston, who was expected to compete for the starting job on the right side of the Buffalo Bills' offensive line this season, will not get that chance.

Hairston's season is over after the Bills moved him to their reserve/non-football injury list this afternoon.

Hairston did not practice at all during training camp while on the team's active/physically unable to perform list. His activity was limited to slow walks around the practice field at St. John Fisher College.

The move means Erik Pears is the likely starter on the right side, with Thomas Welch serving as the team's "swing tackle," the primary backup to both Pears and starting left tackle Cordy Glenn.

The Bills' active roster now sits at 75 players, meeting the maximum that will be allowed at the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday. Safety Jairus Byrd has a two-week exemption from counting against that number.

Additionally, the Bills reached an injury settlement with guard Keith Williams and released him from injured reserve.

Doug Marrone on release of Da'Rick Rogers: 'We feel that we have better players'

By Jay Skurski

Da'Rick Rogers' production with the Buffalo Bills simply never lived up to the hype.

Because of that, he's now a former Bill.

Rogers was one of five players released this morning, an unceremonious end to a brief career that began as an undrafted free agent in April. Rogers' size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) and production in the Southeastern Conference with Tennessee in 2011 (67 catches, 1,040 yards, nine touchdowns) led many to believe he had the potential to be the steal of draft weekend — despite the character concerns he came with. Rogers was booted from Tennessee for multiple failed drug tests, and played last season at Tennessee Tech.

But throughout training camp, he was stuck behind players like Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Brad Smith and Brandon Kaufman on the depth chart. In Saturday's preseason game at Washington, Rogers did not get an offensive snap.

"He definitely has skill," Bills coach Doug Marrone said today of Rogers. "Along with DeMarco Sampson, who's played well for us in the preseason, but I think when you look at the production of that group, and who's produced for a long period of time, it's just a matter of, it's just as simple as, we feel that we have better players on the roster right now than the players that we released. That's what I've communicated to them."

Marrone said Rogers' production right now, more so than his potential in the future, factored into the decision. In three preseason games, he finished with just one catch (which went for a 6-yard touchdown against Indianapolis).

"I'm a big believer on the production part of it right now rather than what are we going to get down the road," the coach said. "So I think all those players that were released have the ability to play, but we feel as an organization that we just have better players right now."

Along with Rogers and Sampson, the Bills also released conerback Jumal Rolle, defensive back Dominique Ellis and center Ryan Turnley.

Jairus Byrd doesn't deny he has asked Bills for a trade

By Tim Graham

Jairus Byrd sounded bitter and resigned over his status with the Buffalo Bills.

Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowl safety, met with reporters today for the first time since ending a long contract squabble with the Bills last week.

He often referred to "the business side" when asked about his future and insisted he's "focusing on football." But his aggravation with the Bills' front office was obvious at times.

Continue reading "Jairus Byrd doesn't deny he has asked Bills for a trade" »

Opening-day start would be historic for Bills QB Jeff Tuel

By Tim Graham

During a break at the final night practice of training camp last Tuesday, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Jeff Tuel chatted on the sidelines.

From behind them walked Jim Kelly to say hello. Tuel's eyes lit up.

"Hi, I'm Jeff," Tuel said with an extended hand.

Less than a week later, Tuel has gone from introducing himself to the Bills' iconic quarterback to the verge of starting for them on opening day.

Continue reading "Opening-day start would be historic for Bills QB Jeff Tuel" »

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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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