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Doug Marrone wants Marquise Goodwin to get more chances

By Tim Graham

Doug Marrone wants to give Marquise Goodwin more work.

Marrone wants T.J. Graham to work more.

As colleague Miguel Rodriguez wrote earlier today, the Buffalo Bills' speedy receivers have been shut out over the past two games.

After they combined for eight catches, 155 yards and two touchdowns in a big victory over the New York Jets with leading receiver Stevie Johnson sidelined, Goodwin and Graham have been targeted nine times -- all unsuccessfully -- in losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goodwin had zero targets Sunday.

"We could get them more involved," Marrone said today at One Bills Drive. "I think those guys have talent. No doubt, they have talent. They have, obviously, better-than-average speed.

"We have to get a way to get the right group of people in the game that can be productive. That's what we're looking at with anybody."

Asked specifically about Goodwin and Graham having zero catches in back-to-back games, Marrone noted he has spoken to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett about getting one of them more opportunities.

"Marquise Goodwin -- and I've talked to Coach Hackett about this -- we have to get him in there more," Marrone said. "I think T.J. has to keep working and become more consistent."

Goodwin, a third-round rookie, has 16 receptions for 261 yards. His three receiving touchdowns are tied with Johnson for the team lead.

Graham, a third-round draft choice last year, has 18 catches for 272 yards and one touchdown.

Doug Marrone says Bills should simplify offense for EJ Manuel

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- At a time when Buffalo Bills fans hoped they'd know more about rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, coach Doug Marrone delivered some sobering news.

Marrone said after Sunday's comprehensive, 27-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it probably was time to simplify the offense for Manuel.

"We've been giving him more and more, and now it's a point where you have to re-evaluate that," Marrone said outside the visitors' locker room in Raymond James Stadium. "We've been going fast with his progression, and now we just have to look at it and get him started again.

"It's not starting over. Don't get me wrong. We've got to look to see what we can do and probably cut down on what we're doing."

Manuel had his worst game as a pro. The first-round draft choice from Florida State was 18 of 33 for 184 yards and no touchdowns with four interceptions. He was sacked seven times.

"A disappointing day in my performance," Manuel said. "It starts with me, especially on offense. I'm the quarterback. I'm the leader. These guys feed off of me, and I was supposed to be facilitating the ball to these guys.

"I didn't do a good job today, plain and simple. Got to get better, plain and simple."

Stevie Johnson: It's all about accountability, sort of

By Jerry Sullivan

TAMPA, Fla. -- By now, I've come to learn that you never know what Stevie Johnson is going to do or say next.

After Sunday's 27-6 loss to the Bucs, he talked about the importance of players being accountable -- seconds after shrugging off a question about a pass that deflected off his hands for an interception.

Early in the second quarter, the Bills had a second-and-3 at their own 44. EJ Manuel threw a pass over the middle that bounced off Johnson's hands and was picked off by Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David. The throw was a bit high, but Stevie should have caught it.

Here's what he had to say about the play later:

"That was early in the game and that's all I have to say about that. That don't really matter."

On the very next question, Johnson was asked what Doug Marrone's primary message had been to the team after the loss.

"Just accountability," Johnson said. "He came out and said we've got to be accountable for what's going on. We can't be afraid to speak our minds to each other. That's how you know you're playing with each other, when you got guys who can say whatever, not be just -- quote, unquote -- yes men. Got to be real with each other. That's what he was saying."

Evidently, suggesting that an interception didn't matter is Stevie's idea of being real and accountable. And you wonder why critics are saying the Bills should get rid of the guy.

Bills enter last quarter of the season quite healthy

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills will be healthy for Sunday's road game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bills coach Doug Marrone announced only receiver Marquise Goodwin (calf) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles) are on the final injury report, and each is probable.

Tight end Scott Chandler was back at practice after his wife gave birth to another girl Thursday night. Chandler will make the trip to Tampa.

Marrone revealed Thursday that newly signed tight end Tony Moeaki likely will not play Sunday.

New TE Tony Moeaki unlikely to suit up for Bills on Sunday

By Jay Skurski

Tony Moeaki’s first practice with the Buffalo Bills went well, but he’s not expected to play Sunday, according to coach Doug Marrone.

"Schematically, I don't want to give anything away, but obviously I don't think so," Marrone said. "I think it would be very difficult to get a player ready to go when you bring him in in the middle of the week."

Still, Marrone liked what he saw from the former Kansas City tight end in his first practice with the team.

"I thought he did some nice things out there,” the coach said. ”It’s the first day back. He’s been out for a while, but he looked good. Normally you’re going to be a little bit rusty, but he looked very smooth.”

Moeaki was released from the Chiefs’ injured reserve late in October after suffering a fractured shoulder in a preseason game.

"Obviously we brought him in here for a reason and again, the question is -- and it's not a secret -- can he get back to the level of play when he was in this league and playing?" Marrone said. "Because when he did play, he was extremely productive."

Bills continually plowing under bottom of roster, practice squad

By Tim Graham

To everything, churn, churn, churn ...

In hopes of maximizing personnel, the Buffalo Bills have been busy rototilling the bottom part of their roster and practice squad this fall.

Over the past nine weeks, the Bills have made 33 player transactions. Few were forced by injuries. Most were made simply to improve depth and bring aboard raw prospects.

"That's something that we're always trying to do because I believe development in this league is extremely important," Bills coach Doug Marrone said, "and that's the way that we can develop players, bringing players in and out and seeing which one sticks."

While the Bills are mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, much of the focus has shifted to player evaluation for the future. That's why veteran running back Tashard Choice was cut, and former practice-squad player Ronnie Wingo will get a look-see over the final four weeks.

Marrone said he meets "constantly" with General Manager Doug Whaley and player personnel director Jim Monos about tweaking the roster with an eye toward the future.

"That's where sometimes those guys pop, and that's where they come from," Marrone said. "I think when you look at the situation that we're in, when I think you look at salary cap, I think that there are certain positions you need to develop. If you don't develop those positions, you're going to get in trouble from a salary cap standpoint and not be the best team you can be if you're relying on paying players at the highest price to play certain positions."

As you'll see below, the Bills regard some developmental positions more prominently than others.

In the final season with GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey, the Bills made 28 practice-squad signings or releases. That total does not include players who were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, only those who were added to the developmental squad or released outright.

After the 2012 Bills signed their eight practice-squad players at the start of the year, they didn't make another move for four weeks.

Under Whaley and Marrone, the Bills have made 25 practice-squad moves already. They've also patrolled other teams' taxi squads, plucking defensive tackle Stefan Charles and guard J.J. Unga for the 53-man roster.

After signing their original eight, the Bills made three moves in September, six in October and six in November. The Bills have made two transactions so far in December.

The Bills already have matched last year's number of practice-squad players promoted to the active roster. They've elevated five, most notably quarterback Thad Lewis.

Of last year's promotions, receiver Marcus Easley is the only one still on the active roster. Wide receiver Kevin Elliott is on injured reserve. Safety Mana Silva left the team without permission in training camp, but remains Bills property.

A breakdown of practice-squad transactions the past two years:


Final practice squad: running back Zach Brown, tight end Derek Buttles, offensive lineman Andrew Jackson, tackle Adam Grant, defensive end Corbin Bryant, defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, linebacker Brian Smith.

Total moves (not counting promotions): 28.

Moves by position: nine offensive lineman, five receiver, four defensive back, three tight end, three defensive tackle, two linebacker, one running back.

Promotions to active roster: defensive tackle Jay Ross, offensive lineman David Snow, receiver Marcus Easley, safety Mana Silva, Ross again after being cut and re-signed and receiver Kevin Elliott.


Current practice squad: quarterback Dennis Dixon, receivers Cordell Roberson and Tommy Streeter, tackles Edawn Coughman and Jamaal Johnson-Webb, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, linebacker Jacquies Smith, cornerback Mario Butler.

Total moves (not counting promotions): 25.

Moves by position: eight defensive end, five cornerback, five guard, two quarterback, two receiver, two offensive tackle, one running back.

Promotions to active roster: cornerback Johnny Adams, quarterback Thad Lewis, cornerback Brandon Smith, guard Mark Asper, running back Ronnie Wingo.

The breakdown shows the developmental emphasis shifted to defensive end, from one move last year to a team-high eight so far this year.

Also interesting is that previous Bills management didn't bother with a developmental quarterback, but the new regime has placed an importance there. Good thing, because Lewis helped the Bills remain competitive when rookie EJ Manuel missed four games with a knee injury.

Marquise Goodwin, Scott Chandler added to Bills' injury report

By Jay Skurski

Rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin suffered a minor calf injury that forced him to leave today's practice early, Bills coach Doug Marrone said earlier today.

Marrone, though, expects Goodwin to be available to play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Tight end Scott Chandler missed today's practice, but it was not injury related. Marrone said Chandler's wife, Alissa, is expecting a baby.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams returned to practice on a full basis after getting his usual rest day Wednesday.

On the Buccaneers' side, receiver Vincent Jackson was limited for a second straight day because of a hamstring injury.

"You never know," Schiano told Tampa reporters about Jackson's availability. "When you have a leg injury and you're a receiver, your legs are your life and you've got to be able to run. We'll see when we give it a go, which I don't know when that will be -- if it will be tomorrow, or Saturday or Sunday. Vince is a pro. He'll know if he can do it or not, so it will be up to him."

Bucs receiver Chris Owusu was added to the Bucs' injury report as a limited participant today because of a hamstring injury.

Stevie Johnson on Darrelle Revis: 'We'll see who's the better man'

By Jerry Sullivan

Stevie Johnson will attempt to bounce back from his late, crucial fumble against the Atlanta Falcons when the Buffalo Bills travel to Tampa this weekend to take on the Buccaneers. He'll get a pretty stiff test --against his old nemesis, Darrelle Revis.

Johnson had a lot of success visiting Revis Island when the star cornerback was playing for the Jets. He couldn't say how much he'll see of Revis against the Bucs' zone defense.

"Who knows?" Johnson said. "I know we'll be competing. I feel like we'll match up more times than not, and when we do, we'll see who's the better man throughout the game. But once again, my concern is about getting the win, not an individual person."

Johnson is having his worst season in his four as a starter. Due to injuries and a dip in production, he has only 46 catches for 526 yards and three touchdowns. He would need to average 119 yards a game to reach 1,000 for the fourth year in a row. Considering that Stevie hasn't had a 120-yard receiving game since November of 2010, that's not likely.

Bills coach Doug Marrone, who met with Johnson last week to discuss the wideout's general frustrations, said he met with him against after Johnson's fumble late in regulation cost the team dearly in Toronto.

Marrone wouldn't characterize either meeting as a "clear the air" session, but more so as a chance to reassure Johnson that things will be fine as the team moves forward.

""Yes, we did have another meeting," Marrone said. "You have to appreciate that my meetings with the players are private. But it's the same thing. What I'm trying to do is push this team forward, making sure that when we look back we learn from our mistakes, no matter what they may be."

Doug Marrone loves St. John Fisher, wants camp to last longer

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills boss Russ Brandon proclaimed this morning everything about how the club operates will be reviewed to maximize winning.

His comments on WGR pertained to playing regular-season games in Toronto, but Brandon also mentioned the Bills will re-evaluate their training-camp partnership with St. John Fisher College.

Bills coach Doug Marrone also would like the front office to reconsider St. John Fisher. He wants to stay longer.

"I'm a very firm believer, and I said this during the interview process, of going away for training camp," Marrone said. "I love it."

Marrone has experienced taking camp on the road twice in his NFL career, the summer Hurricane Katrina chased the New Orleans Saints to Jackson, Miss., and again this year in Pittsford.

"I did think we got everything we wanted out of that experience," Marrone said. "I liked staying there. If anything, I'd like to stay there longer, to be honest with you. ... I like staying away as long as possible."

The Bills opened camp July 28 and left the St. John Fisher campus Aug. 21, three days before the third preseason game.

Marrone didn't have much to say about Brandon's comments on Toronto.

"My job is to win football games, whether it's at home, in Toronto, on the road, whatever we have to do," Marrone said. "That's my focus. My focus goes outside of that ... what I believe in my core, then I'm not doing my job.

"I've got to get this team ready. We have to play better. We're not consistent."

Doug Marrone: 'I'm struggling' to deal with anxiety of 4-8 record

By Tim Graham

Doug Marrone admitted that some questions provide a fleeting moment of relief.

When reporters remind him this was supposed to be a rebuilding season anyway or ask about the bounces that could've put the Buffalo Bills in the middle of the playoff race, Marrone conceded those are easy exits ramps to escape his angst.

Marrone, though, said he's not like that.

Marrone closed his eyes, rested his head in one hand and kneaded his forehead while fielding questions at Sunday's postgame news conference. He was glum again this afternoon for the postmortem of a 34-31 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto.

"My expectations are extremely high," Marrone replied at One Bills Drive today when asked about acceptable growing pains. "I'm very disappointed in myself, with where we are, and it starts with me.

"I've got to find a way to get it better because I really believe that if I come across as the head coach and don't have those expectations, then we'll fall short of our goals at the end. I want to make sure that we're accountable, starting with myself, and keeping those things extremely high and keep fighting for that. We can do that.

"That's where I'm struggling. We have players here that are capable of winning games. We have coaches here that are capable of winning games, and we're not getting that done. That's where I'm struggling, to get ourselves over that top and creating that consistency."

The Bills, like many teams, break down their season schedule by quarters and try to win each four-game set. The Bills are entering their final quarter and have gone 2-2, 1-3 and 1-3 over their first three quarters.

The Bills have not been mathematically eliminated from the postseason yet, but their chances are microscopic. Plus, three of their last four games are on the road.

Marrone spoke today like a coach who's motivating his players not to pack it in.

"There has to come a point where you have to go forward and work and get the foundation right," Marrone said. "It's a work in progress, and I don't want to be that guy that stands up here and says that, but it is what it is.

"We're not satisfied, obviously, with the record or where we are. Being competitive and playing close is not what we do. What we're here to do is to win. At the end of the day, we haven't gotten that done consistently."

The Bills are 1-5 away from Ralph Wilson Stadium. They haven't won consecutive games since Weeks Two and Three last year, but they've had their chances to win more than four times.

They should have beaten the Falcons on Sunday, but late fumbles from Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler ended their hopes. The also lost the New England Patriots on a field goal with five seconds left, fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime and had the Kansas City Chiefs on the ropes but gave up a pair of defensive touchdowns to lose by 10 points.

"It's difficult," Marrone said. "It gives you a moment of relief to think 'What if? What if?'

"But, for me, the way I handle things, it gives me high levels of anxiety. It hurts me that we collectively -- players and coaches, and it starts with me -- can't get it over the top where you can start that run."

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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 |