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Bills activate Jonathan Meeks, drop Jamaal Westerman

The Bills activated defensive back Jonathan Meeks from the injured reserve/designated to return to the 53-man roster and released linebacker Jamaal Westerman.

Meeks, a fifth-round pick last April, went on injured reserve Oct. 14 but returned to practice Nov. 25.

The Bills also signed receiver Brandon Kaufman to the practice squad after cutting receiver Tommy Streeter.

Kaufman, 6-foot-5, was a rookie free agent from Eastern Washington who was released by the Bills before the regular season. He had 3,731 yards and 33 TDs in college.

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)

For Bills' bubble receivers, preseason finale an unfair catch

By Tim Graham

A few Buffalo Bills wide receivers went into Thursday night's preseason finale fighting for their livelihoods. They needed opportunities, as many plays as possible, quality passes to catch.

With less than eight minutes left in a 35-13 loss to the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium, Bills wide receivers had three catches for 12 yards.

Roster aspirants Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Brandon Kaufman haven't had it easy. They spent the summer catching passes from two rookies and a veteran journeyman who has missed much of camp with injuries and a family funeral.

Then, with their jobs on the line Thursday night and 53-man roster cuts due at 6 p.m. Saturday, the Bills used a pair of quarterbacks who weren't on the team four days earlier.

Continue reading "For Bills' bubble receivers, preseason finale an unfair catch" »

Points after: Lions 35, Bills 13

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' exhibition loss to Detroit Lions tonight in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: On one hand, nothing. It's the preseason. But getting outscored 65-13 over a seven-quarter span could mean a little something. The Bills are trying to change a culture of losing, and with several depth players in the spotlight and fighting for jobs, few showed any life.

Matt Leinart does little: The Heisman Trophy winner looked like a quarterback who didn't know the offense. Because he didn't. He signed with the Bills four days ago. But I'm certain he hoped for better than three completions on 10 attempts for 11 yards and two interceptions that each led to a Lions touchdown one play later. He also was sacked once. His career could be over.

Down on the corners: Buffalo's cornerbacks were atrocious, leading to some gaudy stats for Detroit backups Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore. Matthew Stafford was plagued by overthrows and dropped passes, or else the score would have been more lopsided. T.J. Heath and Crezdon Butler had particularly rough performances, allowing big plays and committing penalties.

Bills star of the game: Thad Lewis didn't look too shabby for someone who just showed up. With limited knowledge of the playbook, he scrambled on just about every play. He completed seven of 16 passes for 132 yards and a long touchdown with no interceptions. He ran seven times for 51 yards.

Play of the game: Midway through the fourth quarter, wide receiver Marcus Easley got a step on a defender up the right sideline. Lewis hit Easley in stride for a 79-yard touchdown.

Unfair night for receivers: One of the most interesting battles was at wide receiver. Easley, Brad Smith, Chris Hogan and Brandon Kaufman needed opportunities, but with a pair of backup quarterbacks, there weren't many quality throws to go around. With eight minutes left in the game, Bills wide receivers had three catches for 12 yards.

Injury report: Rookie receiver Marquise Godwin left at the end of the first quarter and didn't return after getting poked in the eye. ... Hogan was hurt on the second-half kickoff. He remained down before walking off with a limp but returned to the game. ... Smith was in the locker room having his ribs checked out in the third quarter. ... Left guard Doug Legursky was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an apparent left knee injury.

Penalty rundown: The Bills had trouble with penalties throughout the preseason. They had nine for 74 yards against the Indianapolis Colts, 14 for 106 yards against the Minnesota Vkings, seven for 38 yards against Washington and nine for 60 yards tonight.

Coming up: The Bills open their regular-season schedule Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

What to look for in tonight's Lions at Bills blockbuster

By Tim Graham

Yes, that headline is sarcasm.

But as far as exhibition finales go, there's some interesting stuff to monitor.

Here are a handful of things I'll be looking for tonight, when the Buffalo Bills wrap up their preseason against the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

What in the world is going on at quarterback? We won't get any definitive answers for opening day until presumptive starter EJ Manuel's injury status is known. In the meantime, we have undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel and two guys who weren't Bills five days ago. Matt Leinart wasn't even in the league. Thad Lewis was fourth-string with Detroit. How coach Doug Marrone divvies up the reps will be interesting, especially for Leinart. The former Heisman Trophy winner might be suiting up for his final chance to stay in the NFL.

Cornerbacks in focus. Buffalo's best, Stephon Gilmore, will be out six to eight weeks after surgery to repair a broken wrist. The next-best cornerback was in disconcerting dispute when Gilmore was healthy. So now what? Leodis McKelvin would appear to have one spot cinched up, while Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers, T.J. Heath and Ron Brooks jockey for the other assignments.

One last look at the wide receivers. It's totally unfair that players such as Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Brandon Kaufman are down to their last audition and will have to track down passes from Leinart and Lewis. The Bills have difficult decisions to make after the top four: Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Strong undercard battle for the third running-back role. C.J. Spiller is away from the team to mourn with his family after Saturday's tragedy in Lake Butler, Fla. Fred Jackson will be preserved. That leaves beaucoup carries for Tashard Choice, Kendall Gaskins and Zach Brown. Expect the Bills to run as much as they can tonight given their quarterback situation.

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.

Day 17: Stephon Gilmore fine after a scare

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills fans can take a deep breath.

Second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore left practice this evening at St. John Fisher College to have his right foot looked at, but coach Doug Marrone said afterward that he should be fine.

"It was just a toe," Marrone said on the practice field at St. John Fisher College. "Obviously we kept him out here, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just a re-taping and he should be fine."

Gilmore was looked at by head trainer Bud Carpenter on the sideline, with Marrone and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine stopping by to check in on him. After putting his cleat back on, he watched the rest of practice.

The Bills were without defensive tackle Jay Ross tonight, who was dressed for practice, but was excused as his wife was set to deliver a baby.

Missing practice were quarterback EJ Manuel and defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who rode a stationary bike on the sideline.

Highlights from the two-hour session on the turf field included an interception by defensive lineman Marcell Dareus off a tipped ball thrown by Jeff Tuel. Dareus then had the sold-out crowd of about 5,000 at Growney Stadium roaring as he rumbled to the end zone.

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso continues to make plays, as he knifed into the backfield to blow up a run play by Zach Brown, then came back to break up a pass over the middle three plays later.

Linebacker Manny Lawson came in for a sack of Tuel during the second set of 11-on-11 drills, and a short time later things got testy.

After a completion to Brandon Kaufman, cornerback Jumal Rolle got over-aggressive in trying to rip the ball out after the play was whistled dead. Kaufman replied with a shove, then Rolle ripped his helmet off and gave a violent shove back before teammates intervened.

On the next play, linebacker Arthur Moats and guard Zach Chibane exchanged words after a brief skirmish.

In the fourth and final 11-on-11 session of the night with Tuel at quarterback, Crezdon Butler recorded an interception that he took back for a touchdown.

The Bills’ final practice at St. John Fisher comes Wednesday, from 2 to 5 p.m.

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.

Continue reading "Day 16: Two-minute drill saves an otherwise bad day for the offense" »

Rookies account for all points but 6 in Bills' record-setting exhibition

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills set a club preseason record Sunday with 44 points against the Indianapolis Colts.

Rookies played a part in all but six of those points. They scored on offense, defense and special teams. A rookie quarterback took each snap.

"Man, I told the guys before leaving the field, as a unit we did really well," third-round pick Marquise Goodwin said. "We got a lot of things that we can work on.

"The rookie players came in and we did what we were supposed to. We did our job ... and made the Buffalo Bills organization look good out there."

Goodwin, a third-round pick, scored on a spectacular 107-yard kickoff return. Undrafted quarterback Jeff Tuel threw touchdown passes to undrafted receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Brandon Kaufman. Undrafted cornerback Jumal Rolle returned an interception for a touchdown.

The only veteran to score a touchdown, tight end Dorin Dickerson, caught a 17-yard strike from first-round pick EJ Manuel.

Sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins kicked two field goals and two extra points.

Second-round pick Robert Woods didn't get into the end zone, but he was an important part of Manuel's touchdown drive at the end of the first half. Manuel connected with Woods three times, twice for first downs, on the series.

"We're very proud," Manuel said. "We're all really good friends. Obviously, this is just the first preseason game. We have a long way to go. But I think we're starting to get ourselves some confidence."

Rookie quarterbacks took every Bills snap because Kevin Kolb didn't play. Manuel was 16 of 21 for 107 yards and a touchdown. Tuel completed his first nine passes and was 19 of 23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Neither threw an interception.

Second-round linebacker Kiko Alonso had three tackles and a pass defensed.

Doug Marrone pleased with his quarterbacks after Day One of rookie camp

EJ Manuel
EJ Manuel prepares to make a pass during practice at the Bills mini-camp on Friday. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)


By Jay Skurski

Quarterback EJ Manuel and the rest of the Buffalo Bills' rookies or first-year players completed a crisp practice of about two hours today inside the team's fieldhouse.

"Our goal as coaches was to come out here, get with these players, and start teaching them the playbook -- whether it be offense, defense or special teams," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "Really just try to get a chance to know them, how they learn, what they do, and really teach them our tempo of practice and what our expectations are out of them. That was the goal going into today, trying to make sure that they know that."

Marrone said his staff was particularly looking to see who showed up in shape. Not surprisingly, most eyes of the media in attendance were focused squarely on Manuel, the team's first-round draft pick. 

"I thought both quarterbacks did a nice job coming in here," Marrone said of Manuel and undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel. "We gave them -- not a large package -- but we got them off and both the quarterbacks got off to a good start. But, again, the offensive line really blocked well today.

That last part, of course, was a joke. The Bills have just three offensive linemen in rookie camp. Thus, they only held 7-on-7 drills. Marrone said he wasn't paying any extra attention to the quarterbacks, even if the focus of media and fans will undoubtedly be on the position.

"I was interested in looking at the wide receivers also. I think you guys have seen me enough that I do rotate around (to different positions) quite a bit," he said. "People are going to be looking at that (the quarterbacks). I don't doubt that. But I was excited today by those groups of receivers. I thought they did a nice job."

The Bills will hold two more sessions with their rookies and first-year players who do not yet have an accredited season toward the NFL pension over the next two days. The players in camp are as follows:

    Quarterbacks: EJ Manuel, Jeff Tuel.
    Wide receivers: Robert Woods, Da'Rick Rogers, Kevin Norrell, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin, Brandon Kaufman.
    Tight end: Chris Gragg.
    Running backs: Zach Brown, Kendall Gaskins, Drew Smith.
    Offensive linemen: Zack Chibane, Ryan Turnley, Hutch Eckerson.
    Defensive backs: Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Nickell Robey, Kip Edwards, Jumal Rolle, Jordan Dangerfield, Dominique Ellis.
    Linebackers: Keith Pough, Kiko Alonso, Kourtnei Brown, Brian Smith.
    Defensive linemen: Corbin Bryant, Izaan Cross, Aaron Tipoti. 
    Specialists: Brian Stahovich (punter), Dustin Hopkins (kicker).

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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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