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Matt Flynn, Jeff Tuel might be battling for Bills QB job this week

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' quarterback situation has gotten even murkier.

Thad Lewis, their starter for the past three games, has the flu and sore ribs from Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. He was unable to practice today and is iffy for Thursday.

Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel and veteran Matt Flynn split the first-team reps in practice today and could start Sunday's game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

EJ Manuel was limited in practice but already has been ruled out because of his injured right knee. Bills coach Doug Marrone also announced practice-squad quarterback Dennis Dixon is not an option for Sunday.

If Lewis can't play, then Marrone said he feels better about Tuel but only because he's less familiar with Flynn, who has been the third quarterback since he was signed two weeks ago.

Marrone said he's evaluating the position "rep by rep" this week.

Jeff Tuel taking first-team snaps in preparation for 8-0 KC

By Mark Gaughan

Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel was taking the first-team snaps at quarterback today as the Buffalo Bills began on-field preparation for Sunday's game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Thad Lewis, who started the past three games in relief of EJ Manuel, was not on the practice field. Lewis took a severe shot to the ribs at the start of Sunday's game in New Orleans, although he played the entire game.

Manuel was back on the practice field and participating in individual drills. Manuel was doing drop-backs reasonably well and making throws during the early session. However, this is just an initial return-to-work session for Manuel. He is not going to be in the mix to be on the top three of the QB rotation this week. Manuel's earliest return probably would be for the home game against the New York Jets on Nov. 17, although the game against Atlanta Dec. 1 still may be more likely.

Matt Flynn was taking the second-team snaps and practice-squad QB Dennis Dixon was the third man in at the position.

Bills coach Doug Marrone will address the media after practice.

Bills sign DT Stefan Charles off Titans practice squad

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills have signed 323-pound Stefan Charles off the Tennessee Titans' practice squad and onto their 53-man roster.

The 6-foot-5 Charles entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie this spring. He's a native of Oshawa, Ont., and played college football in Canada with the University of Regina. In 22 career games with Regina, he had 19.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

He missed most of his fourth college season due to a hand injury. He was the No. 2 ranked Canadian prospect entering the 2013 Canadian Football League draft and was picked 10th overall. He's 25.

Ex-Xerox analyst Michael Lyons named Bills director of analytics

By Mark Gaughan

The Bills have named former Xerox information technologist Michael Lyons as new director of analytics.

Lyons, 50, will be responsible for analyzing and developing strategic performance initiatives for all functions of the Bills organization, including football operations, business development and marketing.

An East Aurora native, Lyons served Xerox for 26 years as a data analytics expert responsible for analyzing raw data and creating business solutions for the Rochester-based, multi-national document management company. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

Bills' deadline activity limited to release of DT Jay Ross

By Jay Skurski

The least-exciting sports day of the year, otherwise known as NFL trade deadline day, has come and gone, with the Buffalo Bills standing pat.

The Bills opted to keep safety Jairus Byrd today, as the deadline arrived at 4 p.m. The team did make one move, however, by releasing defensive tackle Jay Ross from the 53-man roster.

Ross, 26, has played sparingly in five games for the Bills this season, registering just one tackle. His release leaves the Bills with an opening on their active roster.

The team did fill out its eight-player practice squad by signing wide receiver Cordell Roberson. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder attended Stephen F. Austin University. He finished as the school's all-time leader in catches (221), receiving yards (3,191) and touchdown catches (39).

He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns, but was released prior to the start of the regular season, and also spent time on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad.

How the locals fared: Week Eight

By Jay Skurski

Our weekly rundown on the Press Coverage blog of the players from Western New York (along with the University at Buffalo) currently in the NFL:

Steven Means: The Buffalo native and Grover Cleveland and University at Buffalo product -- a rookie defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- played 11 defensive snaps (17 percent), making one tackle in a 31-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Means also seven snaps on special teams (24 percent).

Mike Williams: The Tampa Bay receiver -- a Buffalo native and Riverside product -- made three catches for 20 yards against the Panthers. He played 58 snaps (83 percent), but unfortunately, his season came to an end when the Bucs placed him on injured reserve Monday because of a torn hamstring. His season ends with 22 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

James Starks: The Green Bay Packers running back, a Niagara Falls and University at Buffalo product, returned after missing three games because of a knee injury to rush for 57 yards on just seven carries, an average of 8.1 yards per carry, in his team's 44-31 win over Minnesota. Starks, who played just 11 offensive snaps, also scored his second touchdown of the season.

J.C. Tretter: The Akron product, a fourth-round draft pick of the Packers in April, is on the team’s physically unable to perform list after he broke his ankle in May. He is eligible to come off the list and begin practicing. The team then must decide within three weeks to activate him to the 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve for the season.

Rob Gronkowski: The Amherst native played in his second straight game after missing the first six of the season following surgeries on his forearm and back in the offseason. Gronk played 50 percent of New England's offensive snaps (33 of 66), making two catches for 27 yards in a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Brett Kern: The Grand Island native was on a bye week with the Tennessee Titans. Kern punted six times for 263 yards in a 31-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week Seven. He put three of those punts inside the 20-yard line, and averaged a terrific 43.8 net yards. Only two of the six punts were returned, and those went for 0 yards.

Corey Graham: The Baltimore Ravens' cornerback, a Buffalo native and Turner/Carroll product, was on a bye. Graham played 28 defensive snaps (49 percent) in a 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Seven, making four tackles and one pass defensed. He also played 11 snaps (44 percent) on special teams.

Note: Local players Dan Gronkowski, Chris Gronkowski Jeremy Kelley, Naaman Roosevelt and Doug Worthington are currently free agents. 

UB players

Josh Thomas: Thomas was made a healthy inactive for the Carolina Panthers by coach Ron Rivera in his team's 31-13 victory over Tampa Bay. Thomas was benched after allowing two completions of 60-plus yards in Week Seven against St. Louis (one was called back on a penalty). He has started five games this season for the Panthers.

Trevor Scott: Scott was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the team's 31-13 loss to Carolina. He had played in four games with the Bucs, making three tackles.

Bills announce a change to postgame traffic pattern

There will be a new egress process for traffic leaving Ralph Wilson Stadium following home games for the Buffalo Bills, beginning Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bills announced today that a portion of Big Tree Road (Route 20A) will be closed to westbound traffic during postgame only.

At the start of the fourth quarter, about 3:30 p.m., Route 20A will be closed for about two hours -- or until traffic clears. For 1 p.m. games like Sunday, that means the road is expected to be closed until about 5:30 p.m.

Continue reading "Bills announce a change to postgame traffic pattern" »

Bills must pick up statistical pace over final eight games

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' season is halfway over, and I know how to multiply by two.

So look out.

We've heard much about Mario Williams being on pace to break Bruce Smith's club record for sacks. Overall, however, the Bills are trending toward some disconcerting stats for coach Doug Marrone's first campaign.

Before we take a gander at the numbers, consider the 3-5 Bills have faced a slightly tougher schedule than they will in the second half of the season.

Continue reading "Bills must pick up statistical pace over final eight games" »

Audio: What to make of Buffalo's loss in New Orleans?

By Tim Graham

My weekly segments with Shredd and Ragan on 103.3 The Edge are a recurring exercise in trying to figure out whether fans should be excited or disappointed with the Buffalo Bills' performance the day before.

Once again, the answer was, "Yes."

The New Orleans Saints trampled the Bills in the Superdome, but there wasn't too terribly much to be ashamed about. The Bills simply aren't in the Saints' class.

Thad Lewis was gutsy. Fred Jackson was productive for the one quarter Buffalo rode him. Stevie Johnson had a great series before being hobbled by a hip flexor. Buffalo's defense generated unusual pressure on Drew Brees, who still threw five touchdown passes. Nickell Robey gave up a pair of touchdowns despite tight coverage.

So listen to these 20 minutes of radio excellence and take away what you will.

C.J. Spiller dealing with high-ankle sprain

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills finally made the decision Sunday to rest running back C.J. Spiller.

A day later, it became a little more clear as to why.

Spiller is suffering from a high-ankle sprain, coach Doug Marrone told reporters.

"It's like a spot that's sore," Marrone said. "It is a high ankle, which normally is a bit worse than the other ones."

Spiller was first injured in Week Four against Baltimore. He played sparingly the next three weeks, but Marrone indicated last week the team may need to sit Spiller in an effort to get him back to 100 percent. That happened Sunday.

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller dealing with high-ankle sprain" »

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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