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Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali

By Jay Skurski

Things got pretty heated between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs during their last meeting, which came in Week Two of the 2012 season.

The Bills accused Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali of attempting to injure former Bills guard Andy Levitre and left tackle Cordy Glenn on consecutive plays late in the first half of what ended up being a 35-17 victory. Levitre said after the game that Hali tried twisting his neck in an attempt to injure him. Then on the next play, the Bills said Hali tried to twist Glenn's arm out of its socket.

"You get a team down, and like I said, they're going to take some shots at you. That's why we weren't taking our foot off their throats at the end," Bills center Eric Wood said at the time. "That stuff rubs you pretty wrong."

Continue reading "Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali" »

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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Games-played streaks in jeopardy for C.J. Spiller, Manny Lawson

By Tim Graham

Two of the Buffalo Bills who didn't practice Wednesday are at risk of having long consecutive-games streaks snapped.

C.J. Spiller (ankle) has the NFL's fifth-longest streak for a running back:

  • Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars 82
  • Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans 71
  • Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers 55
  • Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings 53
  • C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills 44

Bills coach Doug Marrone suggested Wednesday he might make the decision to hold Spiller out of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

Marrone said Spiller's ankle had gotten worse compared to the same point last week. Spiller, however, told Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan the ankle felt "10 times better."

Linebacker Manny Lawson (hamstring) also has the NFL's fifth-longest streak at his position:

  • London Fletcher, Washington 246
  • Stephen Tulloch, Detroit Lions 119
  • Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings 102
  • Curtis Lofton, New Orleans Saints 86
  • Manny Lawson, Buffalo Bills 81

Marrone said Wednesday he expected Lawson to play Sunday, but the team wasn't ready to say so definitively.

Fletcher's streak began on opening day of his rookie season -- not bad for an undrafted Ohio Athletic Conference player -- and includes five seasons with the Bills.

Fletcher's streak is the longest for any position in the NFL by a vast margin. That includes punters and kickers.

Next closest is Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, whose streak will end this week because of a season-ending knee injury. Wayne has played 57 fewer consecutive games, the equivalent of 3.6 seasons.

Other streaks of note:

  • Baltimore Ravens cornerback and Turner-Carroll alum Corey Graham is second at 100 games (two behind Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay).
  • Former Bills special-teamer John Wendling is second among safeties at 101 games (two behind Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin).
  • Former Bills guard Andy Levitre is fourth (third in consecutive starts) at 71 games.

Second-quarter analysis: Conservative playcalling fails

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills elected to play the field position game near the end of the first half, and it came back to bite them.

Facing a fourth and 3 from the Carolina 45-yard line, the Bills elected to punt. The decision backfired.

The Panthers took the ball from their 10-yard line and marched 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Cam Newton went 7 of 8 for 70 yards on the drive, finishing it with a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen. The Panthers took a 7-3 lead into halftime.

Making amends: Dan Carpenter redeemed himself for a miss from 42 yards in the opening quarter by drilling a 55-yard field goal toward the scoreboard end of the stadium. Carpenter’s kick opened the scoring.

Missing Andy: Colin Brown isn’t doing anything to make the Bills forget Andy Levitre. The Bills’ left guard completely whiffed on a block in the first quarter that led to Fred Jackson being dropped for a 4-yard loss. Brown was then called for a false start in the second quarter, the first penalty of the game.

Short homecoming: Panthers cornerback Josh Thomas suffered a concussion and will not return to the game. Thomas, a University at Buffalo product, was hurt making a tackle of Bills receiver Robert Woods on a reverse early in the second quarter.

Plantar fasciitis, the injury of the moment

By Jerry Sullivan

Mario Williams says he's healthy and ready to go for the opener against New England. His foot injury has apparently healed, and coach Doug Marrone suggested that his star pass-rusher is 110 percent. Marrone said the same thing about EJ Manuel, so things are looking up for the Bills, who need their top players to be at optimum health -- or even better, for the 110 percenters -- to deal with the vaunted Patriots.

I'm not 100 percent sure what was ailing Williams, though. The Bills never reported the actual diagnosis. But when Jairus Byrd revealed that he was suffering from plantar fasciitis -- an inflammation in the connective tissue in the bottom of the foot -- he said it was "what Mario had." So the assumption is that Williams was also suffering from the condition, which has no cure aside from rest and therapy.

Williams suffered from plantar fasciitis during his rookie year with the Texans in 2006. In the second half of that season, in which he failed to live up to the status of No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Williams rarely practiced but never missed a game. He was given high marks for playing through injury.

There had been no reports of recurring plantar fasciitis with Mario during the intervening seven years. So evidently it's an injury that can come and go. A history of plantar fasciitis, along with a variety of other minor ailments during his time in Houston didn't stop the Bills from giving Williams a $100 million contract last year in free agency. Presumably, the condition won't flare up again any time soon.

That brings us to Byrd, who supposedly suffered from plantar fasciitis a year ago, but played through it. There were no reports of the condition. It only surfaced after he signed his franchise deal with the Bills and reported to the team, clearly disillusioned with his inability to get a long-term contract.

I'm reluctant to question a player's injury. Byrd went to a specialist for plantar fasciitis. But you can't help being a little skeptical here. If Byrd had signed a five-year, $42.5 million contract with the Bills, do you really think the plantar fasciitis would have become an issue? Do you think Byrd would have taken the $20 million signing bonus, then announced the injury and sat out practice?

I doubt it. It seems to me that plantar fasciitis is a very convenient injury. It's legitimate, but difficult to judge. It has no cure, and as we found from Mario, it can disappear for years. It's a pain in the soft tissue of the foot, a sore foot -- both feet, in Byrd's case. It can be a serious condition, one that compromises careers in all sports. It's what shut down Albert Pujols this season. But word of Byrd's injury surfaced at an awfully convenient time, and I wonder if his agent, Eugene Parker, is trying to make things as difficult as possible for the Bills.

Maybe the Bills were concerned about the injury and were reluctant to pay Byrd elite safety money because of it. I know they had some concerns about Andy Levitre's knee when they decided not to pay him. I do think Byrd would have toughed it out and played through his foot injury if he had signed a long-term contract. He has played hurt in the past, same as Mario Williams.

But the uncertainty of a plantar fasciitis injury can allow Byrd to drag this thing out if he wants to use it as leverage against the Bills. It can be a lingering thing, just like a contract dispute.

Doug Marrone: Don't get used to Cordy Glenn at left guard

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Cordy Glenn was drafted to be the Buffalo Bills' franchise left tackle, among the three most important positions on the field.

This morning, Bills coach Doug Marrone had Glenn playing left guard and Thomas Welch at left tackle, but stressed we should read nothing into that. Marrone said he's merely investigating who the team's top swing lineman should be.

Which made me wonder: How many franchise left tackles around the NFL get work at left guard?

Continue reading "Doug Marrone: Don't get used to Cordy Glenn at left guard" »

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" »

Doug Legursky used to playing to whistle

By Mark Gaughan

If new Buffalo Bills guard Doug Legursky learned anything in Pittsburgh the past four years, he learned to play to the whistle.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a hard man to bring down. No matter how much blitzing the Steelers faced or pressure they allowed, the linemen knew that they could never presume Roethlisberger had been tackled or had delievered the ball. He's a master at keeping plays alive.

"That's probably the No. 1 coaching point I've had over the past five seasons in Pittsburgh," Legursky said. "There's no clocks. Blocking for him, he's a scramble-type quarterback. If there's a clock in your head and you stop for one second, that's when that guy could make a play.

Continue reading "Doug Legursky used to playing to whistle" »

Video: Gaughan, Graham and Skurski recap Bills' draft luncheon

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)
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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 |