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Snap counts: Nigel Bradham busy in place of Manny Lawson

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills turned to Nigel Bradham on Sunday after linebacker Manny Lawson was hurt against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bradham played 39 of the Bills' 86 defensive snaps, or 45 percent. That's by far the busiest he has been all season. He played 19 defensive snaps (21 percent) against the New England Patriots in Week One, then did not have more than eight snaps over the next four games before Sunday.

"It's not what I expected, but it is what it is," Bradham said of his playing time. "Pretty much just have to be ready for your opportunity. Manny went down so I had to be able to just be ready and go out there and play."

Bradham said he spent a lot of time in practice last week reviewing Lawson's role.

"It's one of the things where it's a different scheme and we have so many different packages that you just have to be ready for all the packages and just be ready for whenever anybody gets hurt," he said.

Continue reading "Snap counts: Nigel Bradham busy in place of Manny Lawson" »

Bills bring back Jim Leonhard

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills are rolling six deep at safety.

Coach Doug Marrone said today that the Bills will sign safety Jim Leonhard, provided he passes a team physical, which he was taking this afternoon. 

"We're waiting for the physical, but he's in the building," Marrone said.

Update: The Bills announced Leonhard's signing via email shortly after 3 p.m.

Leonhard should come in much further along than a normal player signing six days before the season opener. That's because he has plenty of experience playing on a defense run by coordinator Mike Pettine. 

After beginning his NFL career with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2005, Leonhard signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He spent one year there, then followed Pettine and coach Rex Ryan to the New York Jets in 2009. Leonhard spent three years in New York, and along with his season with the Ravens, that four-year stretch marks the most productive of his career. During that time, Leonhard started 53 of 56 games, made 254 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 21 passes defensed.

"Yeah, that's a bonus," Marrone said of Leonhard's experience with Pettine. "He's played well."

Leonhard made a free-agent visit to the Bills prior to the 2012 season, but ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos, starting one game. Leonhard was in training camp with the New Orleans Saints, but was one of the team's final cuts.

Leonhard joins Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks on the Bills' 53-man roster.

Nigel Bradham's marijuana ticket first notable problem in 4 years

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills were known as a team of high character under General Manger Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey.

In their three years, one Bills player was arrested. Wide receiver Paul Hubbard, a training-camp body, was busted for driving drunk and, as expected, didn't make the team. That was the extent of the Bills police-blotter activities from June 2009 through this weekend.

Tonawanda News reporter Jessica Bagley wrote today that Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham was issued a ticket for marijuana possession in the Town of Tonawanda a few hours after starting for the Bills in a preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.

Although not arrested, Bradham could face NFL discipline and becomes the most notable Bill to have a run-in with the law since Cleveland police Tasered and arrested safety Donte Whitner in April 2009.

Continue reading "Nigel Bradham's marijuana ticket first notable problem in 4 years" »

Hoops bust Chris Herren gives NFL rookies a wake-up call about drug addiction

By Tim Graham

AURORA, Ohio -- The AFC's newest players were struggling to pay attention this afternoon at the NFL Rookie Symposium.

Doctors talked about steroids being a banned substance and how many beers it takes for a 200-pound man to get drunk and that a government-issued ID is required every time a player takes a urine test and ... Zzzzzzzzzzz.

The rookies squirmed in their chairs, rubbed their scalps and rolled their necks around simply to stay awake. One player, mouth agape and face pointed toward the ceiling, openly slept.

Rest assured, they were awake when Chris Herren walked onto the stage and told his life story.

Continue reading "Hoops bust Chris Herren gives NFL rookies a wake-up call about drug addiction" »

Cowboys unlikely awed by Bills' 2013 draft class

By Tim Graham

The Dallas Cowboys' draft plans apparently weren't foiled by anything the Buffalo Bills did. has reconstructed Dallas' 2013 draft board, which was used as a backdrop for interviews owner Jerry Jones gave to the team's official site. A similar revelation was made in 2010, and the board was confirmed to be the real deal.

With that in mind, we can see what the Cowboys would think of the Bills' draft haul. The Cowboys likely were unimpressed.

Continue reading "Cowboys unlikely awed by Bills' 2013 draft class" »

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).

Bills 'not concerned' about Jairus Byrd, but preparing anyway

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon said he's "not concerned" star safety Jairus Byrd remains unsigned.

But by all appearances the club is getting ready for life without him just in case.

The Bills today drafted safeties Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks in the fourth and fifth rounds.

"Obviously, we will be prepared for whatever happens," Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said.

Continue reading "Bills 'not concerned' about Jairus Byrd, but preparing anyway" »

Bills draft safeties in numbers, take Jonathan Meeks in fifth round

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills took safeties with their first two draft picks today, adding Clemson captain Jonathan Meeks in the fifth round.

The Bills took Nevada safety Duke Williams in the fourth round.

Meeks was not invited to the NFL scouting combine but is considered an underrated safety with enough size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) and speed. Bills scout Darrell Moody said Meeks was forced to play deep coverage on Clemson's defense because of personnel issues.

Continue reading "Bills draft safeties in numbers, take Jonathan Meeks in fifth round" »

Bills drawn to Duke Williams' aggressiveness, versatility

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills say fourth-round draft choice Duke Williams can play both safety positions, but probably leans more toward strong safety for them -- and maybe can play some nickel cornerback, too.

"If you're going to label him as one or the other," Bills scout Brad Forsyth said, "you'd probably say he's more of a strong safety, but I think he has enough skills."

Safeties are interchangeable in Nevada's defense, as they were for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with the New York Jets.

Continue reading "Bills drawn to Duke Williams' aggressiveness, versatility" »

Bills draft Duke Williams, another defender with suspensions

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills drafted another defensive problem child this afternoon.

A day after taking linebacker Kiko Alonso, suspended twice at Oregon for alcohol-related arrests, the Bills selected Nevada safety Duke Williams in the fourth round.

Williams has multiple arrests on his record and was suspended three times within his first 12 months at Nevada.

Continue reading "Bills draft Duke Williams, another defender with suspensions" »


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 |