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Jairus Byrd says he hasn't given upcoming trade deadline much thought

By Jay Skurski

Bills safety Jairus Byrd's name has been a popular one floated in trade rumors seemingly from the time he reported to the team over the summer.

With the trade deadline in the NFL arriving at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Byrd was asked today whether he had an expectation of what might happen.

"No, not really. I haven't really given it too much thought," he said. "I mean, I'm focused on winning games here. If something happens, it happens, but right now my focus is with my teammates here and just trying to win games."

Byrd is coming off his most extensive playing time of the season in Sunday's 35-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He was in on 90 percent of the defensive snaps (63 of 70), registering three tackles and one pass defensed.

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Snap counts: Marquise Goodwin doesn't get much work

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills went big in an effort to protect quarterback Thad Lewis on Sunday in Miami.

No. 2 tight end Lee Smith played 32 of 67 offensive snaps for the team against the Dolphins, which was 48 percent. Smith, as he usually is, was used almost exclusively in a blocking role, although he did make his second catch of the season, for 18 yards.

Even with the bigger lineup, the Dolphins still managed to get four sacks of Lewis, and hit him six times.

The Bills also used Frank Summers on 11 snaps (16 percent). He got his first two carries of the season, and gained 14 yards.

Most interesting among the snap counts for the Bills' offense was the use of rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin. Coming off his huge 40-yard touchdown catch against the Bengals in Week Six that sent the game to overtime, Goodwin saw only five offensive snaps (7 percent) against Miami. Robert Woods (63 snaps, 94 percent) and Stevie Johnson (60 snaps, 90 percent) played almost the entire game, most often joined by T.J. Graham (34 snaps, 51 percent) when the Bills went three wide.

Running back Fred Jackson (39 snaps, 58 percent) came back from a knee injury in the first quarter to lead the team with 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 49. Jackson's leadership, however, doesn't show up in the stats book. C.J. Spiller managed just 14 snaps (21 percent), while third back Tashard Choice played 12 snaps (18 percent).

The starting offensive line -- including left guard Doug Legursky in his first start of the season -- played the entire game (67 snaps).

Rookie tight end Chris Gragg (six snaps, 9 percent) also saw his first action of the season.

Continue reading "Snap counts: Marquise Goodwin doesn't get much work" »

Day 16: Two-minute drill saves an otherwise bad day for the offense

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD – A pair of two-minute drills that resulted in touchdowns saved what was otherwise a day to forget for the Bills’ offense this morning.

Kevin Kolb directed the first scoring drive, completing three straight passes to Stevie Johnson to start. After a run for no gain and a sack by Jamie Blatnick, Kolb connected on a 39-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, who beat Nickell Robey down the right sideline.

Jeff Tuel was next, and his first play in the two-minute session was a big one: a 49-yard gain down the right sideline to Da’Rick Rogers. Tuel then completed consecutive passes to Brandon Kaufman and Marcus Easley for short gains, before two straight run plays by Tashard Choice. On third-and-goal, Tuel hit Choice on a swing pass for a touchdown.

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Manny Lawson back on field, hopes to give Bills D some rattle

By Tim Graham

Outside linebacker Manny Lawson, the Buffalo Bills' first free-agent signing, was on the second-team defense today. He missed 10 voluntary workouts and must climb the depth chart.

Free-agent defensive tackle Alan Branch also missed voluntary workouts. He was on the third unit today.

"It's definitely not a position I want to be in," Lawson said after the opening of mandatory minicamp. "Anybody that's competitive, you don't want to be on the second team. You want to be a starter. That's what I'm going to strive for, getting that starting position back."

What you should know about Lawson and Branch's absences is that they came with coach Doug Marrone's blessing. Lawson and Branch were with their wives, who delivered babies.

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Kyle Moore signs with Bears; Revolving Bills roster updated

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills lost another free agent.

Kyle Moore, a surprise performer last year on a disappointing defensive front, signed a one-year contract Monday with the Chicago Bears.

Moore, despite being inactive the first four games, started seven straight games in November and December. Moore made 24 tackles, three for losses. He notched the first three sacks of his career.

Analytics website rated Moore 25th in pass-rushing among all 4-3 defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their teams' snaps. The site tallied 23 quarterback hurries for Moore, tying him for 30th in the NFL.

Moore had arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but a source informed The Buffalo News the Bills wanted to re-sign him. But last month's acquisition of linebacker Manny Lawson might have made Moore expendable.

Moore was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fourth-round draft choice in 2009 and eventually landed on the Detroit Lions' practice squad, from where the Bills plucked him in November 2011.

An update accounting of the comings and goings on Buffalo's roster in free agency:

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Running back Tashard Choice
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Colin Brown
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights have been retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Quarterback Kevin Kolb
  • • Defensive tackle Alan Branch
  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson (Cleveland Browns)
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Defensive end Kyle Moore (Chicago Bears)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

Bills DT Alan Branch hopes to help Mario 'get some food on his plate'

Newly signed defensive lineman Alan Branch speaks at One Bills Drive on Tuesday. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

By Mark Gaughan

Defensive lineman Alan Branch looked around at the players on the Buffalo Bills' defensive front and decided he has the chance to look good this season in their uniform.

Branch became a new piece of the Bills' defensive puzzle by signing a one-year contract today. Branch started the past two seasons for Seattle. He's a 324-pound run stopper who adds to the Bills' ability to play a 3-4 front.

Now the Bills can put Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Branch on the defensive line, flanked by Mario Williams and Manny Lawson at outside linebacker. Fourth-year man Alex Carrington can push Branch for time. If fourth-year man Torell Troup comes back from back surgery, all the better.

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Seattle DL Alan Branch visits Bills

Former Seattle Seahawks' Alan Branch during a game against the Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Mark Gaughan

(UPDATED) Free-agent defensive lineman Alan Branch is visiting the Buffalo Bills today, coach Doug Marrone confirmed this morning.

Branch is a stout run-stuffer who started the past two seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. Adding him would help the Bills' efforts to play a 3-4 defensive front. The Bills have Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams returning as starters at defensive tackle.

In a 3-4 front, Mario Williams can play outside linebacker opposite newly acquired Manny Lawson. The next best down lineman on the roster is Alex Carrington, who served a backup defensive tackle role last season. Veteran Spencer Johnson saw the fourth most playing time at DT last season. He's 31, he's a free agent, and he's not expected to be back with the Bills. The Bills also have big Torell Troup coming back. He missed all last season after having back surgery.

Branch is a six-year veteran. He was a backup his first four years in Arizona. He's a 6-foot-6, 324-pounder who was a second-round pick of the Cardinals out of Michigan in 2007. His strength is run-stopping. He played about 55 percent of the snaps for the Seahawks the past two seasons. He was a bit more effective in 2011 than in 2012.

Branch's contract with Seattle paid him $3.5 million a year. The Bills had interest in Jets unrestricted free-agent down lineman Mike DeVito early in free agency but he was quickly signed by Kansas City.


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 |