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Kidney disease forces Donald Jones to retire from NFL

By Tim Graham

Donald Jones' final NFL down will have been played for the Buffalo Bills.

Jones, released from the New England Patriots on July 19, announced on his Twitter account that he was retiring because his kidney condition has worsened.

"As some of you may know, I have been suffering from a kidney disease throughout my entire life. As a result of recent advances in my disease, I am no longer able to pursue my career in the National Football League. Playing in the NFL was a lifelong dream of mine, and though I have the opportunity to continue my career, stepping away from the game is absolutely best decision for my family and for my health.

"While it will be difficult, I am comforted by the love and support of my family, friends and doctors and am excited about my continued involvement with the various kidney foundations I've worked with in raising awareness for health, nutrition, preventative medicine and kidney disease.

"I want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization, especially Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix, for allowing me to pursue my NFL dream and Coach Gailey for changing my life. I also want to thank the New England Patriots and their doctors for assisting my medical team in fighting this disease.

"Thank you all for your prayers and wishes."

Jones told Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports the condition is called lgA nephropathy and that Jones might need a transplant eventually. Jones said his blood pressure accelerated to 250 over 110 while taking a stress test as part of a recent physical with the Indianapolis Colts. 

The American Heart Association website suggests anyone with a systolic (upper number) reading over 180 or any diastolic (lower number) reading over 110 should seek emergency medical care.

"I'll always look at it like I was definitely an up-and-coming guy who had a bright future ahead of him. But if I look at it that way, I'll just get down," Jones told Garafolo. "I just try to be positive about everything and realize everything happens for a reason. Playing in the NFL, for me, was bigger than just playing. I want to get awareness up. Playing in the NFL was just a stepping stone to get my awareness up."

Jones, undrafted out of Youngstown State in 2010, played three seasons with the Bills. They declined to re-sign him as a restricted free agent in March.

Jones played 35 games and started 22. He caught 82 passes for 887 yards and six touchdowns.

Although he missed the final four games because of his illness last year, he made with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns (all second on the Bills behind Stevie Johnson) and recorded the team's longest play from scrimmage, a 68-yard touchdown against the Patriots in Week Four.

Looking back: Buddy Nix's five biggest hits as Bills GM

Ralph Wilson, C.J. Spiller, Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey
You can argue whether the Bills should have drafted a running back with the ninth overall pick in 2010, but you can't dispute Nix selected a good one in C.J. Spiller. (James P. McCoy/News file photo)


By Tim Graham

How will we remember Buddy Nix's tenure as Buffalo Bills general manager? With the help of beat reporter Mark Gaughan, we look back on the past three seasons and four drafts under Nix.

Here are his five biggest hits:

Continue reading "Looking back: Buddy Nix's five biggest hits as Bills GM" »

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 ProFootballFocus.com 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)

Bill Belichick on Donald Jones: 'He's a young, tough kid'

By Tim Graham

Donald Jones' versatility is what made him appealing to the New England Patriots.

The Buffalo Bills declined to bring back the wide receiver, and the Patriots signed him to a three-year contract last week.

"We felt like he would be able to be competitive on our football team at his position," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this morning at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "He's played in the kicking game. He's had production on both the inside and the outside as a receiver.

Continue reading "Bill Belichick on Donald Jones: 'He's a young, tough kid'" »

Comings and goings: Buffalo Bills offseason moves so far

By Tim Graham

And on the seventh day of free agency, the Press Coverage blog reviewed the Buffalo Bills' offseason personnel moves to date ...

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights were retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

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

Source: Brandon Gibson interested in Bills, but they never called

By Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins continued to upgrade their offense today.

One of the players they signed apparently wanted to play for the Buffalo Bills -- but the Bills didn't call.

A source informed me shortly after wide receiver Brandon Gibson signed a three-year deal with the Dolphins that Gibson wanted to play with his buddy, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. The sentiment was mutual, based on what Johnson told the NFL Network about Gibson last week.

But the Bills, said the source, never reached out.

The New York Jets also were interested in signing Gibson and brought him in for a visit, but the Dolphins got him.

NFL.com ranked Gibson the fifth-best receiver available in this year's free-agency group. The Dolphins signed the No. 1 player on that list, Mike Wallace, earlier this week and tight end Dustin Keller. The Dolphins also signed the top available linebacker, Dannell Ellerbe.

Continue reading "Source: Brandon Gibson interested in Bills, but they never called" »

Donald Jones visiting Patriots today; big numbers against them

By Tim Graham

Boston sports-talk host Lou Merloni, the former Red Sox infielder, retweeted my report that wide receiver Donald Jones is visiting the New England Patriots today.

The response from one his followers: "Who the eff is Donald Jones?"

Jones was the Buffalo Bills' second-best wide receiver last season with 41 receptions for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Undrafted out of Youngstown State in 2010, he was a restricted free agent this year. But the Bills declined to extend a qualifying offer, surrendering his rights.

Patriots fans should remember Jones. Bill Belichick certainly does.

He had eight catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots last season. His 68-yard catch and run in Week Four was the Bills' longest play from scrimmage last year.

Jones had five receptions for 101 yards in the Bills' victory over the Patriots in 2011 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

He has played five games against New England. His first was as a reserve, but in the other four games he notched 18 receptions for 319 yards and two touchdowns.

Video: The Bills and the crop of free-agent wideouts


Watch all the segments from the most recent Bucky & Sully Show here.

So Bills need receivers; What does free-agent market look like?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills need to restock the shelves at wide receiver, a process Stevie Johnson talked with me about for a Press Coverage blog posted this morning.

The Bills could add the best receiver in this year's draft class with the eighth overall pick, but they'll have a chance to address their needs in free agency as early as next week.

NFL.com writer Marc Sessler examined the receivers in this year's class and the 11 teams that should be most active in trying to acquire them.

Sessler ranked receivers Nos. 1 through 9 in categories labeled "impact players" (Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker), "solid starters" (Danny Amendola, Brian Hartline), and "role players with questions" (Brandon Gibson, Donnie Avery, Julian Edelman).

Unless the Bills have their hearts set on using the eighth pick on a wide receiver, I would expect them to aim for someone in the above group. Johnson told me he has been talking up Buffalo to Bowe and Jennings directly.

A year ago, the Bills courted Robert Meachem as soon as free agency began but lost him to the San Diego Chargers. They never found a receiver of that caliber, choosing instead to draft T.J. Graham in the third round.

Graham was a disappointment, and the receiving corps as a whole has deteriorated since they took Meachem to dinner in Allentown. The Bills have announced they don't want Donald Jones and David Nelson back.

Jones and Nelson were ranked Nos. 12 and 13 overall on Sessler's list. They were under the "rotational/situational" heading, right after Domenik Hixon and a washed-up Randy Moss and ahead of Brandon Stokley, Josh Cribbs and Ted Ginn.

Sessler then lumped the rest of the receivers for teams that are desperate or need to fill out a roster. That's where you'll find Ruvell Martin's name along with the likes of Roscoe Parrish, Mike Sims-Walker, Greg Camarillo, Legedu Naanee and Derek Hagan.

Stevie Johnson excited to learn who his new WR mates will be

SJohnsonTennis
Stevie Johnson is eager to see how the Buffalo Bills will juggle their wide-receiver depth chart for 2013. (Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
 

By Tim Graham

Stevie Johnson accounted for a preponderance of the numbers posted by Buffalo Bills wide receivers the past two years.

Subtract the contributions from David Nelson and Donald Jones, as the club did when it announced it won't re-sign them, and Johnson practically is on his own.

Of the wide receivers still on Buffalo's roster, Johnson has been responsible for 70 percent of the catches, 74 percent of the receiving yards and 76 percent of the receiving touchdowns in 2011 and 2012.

Continue reading "Stevie Johnson excited to learn who his new WR mates will be" »

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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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