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Long field goal some vindication for Rian Lindell

By Jay Skurski

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers kicker Rian Lindell had a grand time facing his old team Sunday.

Lindell went 2 for 2 on field goals, including a 53-yarder in the second quarter that had plenty of leg to spare.

"That was nice," he said after the game. "At the time, you just want to hit a good ball, and I don't care what the other jersey looks like or who we're playing. But yeah, kind of looking back, taking it all in a little bit, it is nice. It’s nice to hit a long one."

The Bills, of course, released Lindell during training camp in part because they thought rookie Dustin Hopkins would be better at those long field goals. Lindell left the team after 10 seasons with 980 points -- just 31 short of Stevie Christie’s franchise record of 1,011.

"It was odd trying to warm up because the training staff and equipment guys, weight room guys, those are the guys I've been around with for however many years," Lindell said. "It's great to see all of them. … It’s nice to get a win. I thought I kicked well all day. Obviously during the game is when it counts, but even pregame, it's nice to hit a clean ball, you know what I mean? It's nice that the day cooperated."

Hopkins never did end up replacing Lindell after suffering a groin injury prior to the season opener and landing on injured reserve. Veteran Dan Carpenter was signed to take his place and has had a solid season. Carpenter scored the Bills’ only points Sunday on field goals of 40 and 46 yards. He now has 101 points on the season, the 24th time in franchise history a player has surpassed the century mark.

Bills place kicker Dustin Hopkins on injured reserve

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills opened up a spot on their 53-man roster today to promote quarterback Thad Lewis by placing rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins on injured reserve.

Hopkins, 23, joined the Bills as a sixth-round draft choice out of Florida State in April. He beat out veteran Rian Lindell for the team's kicking job in training camp, but suffered a groin injury prior to the start of the regular season and has not appeared in a game.

Bills coach Doug Marrone said Hopkins, who returned to practice on a limited basis last week, is still not able to perform kickoffs, which is why the team made the move.

"The problem was that we were bringing him along, we were one step in kicking field goals. The bigger issue is once we did the kickoff, which is obviously a much different type of movement, then it was like 'whoa.' So we didn't really know where we were until we got to that step. ... That movement is far behind," Marrone said.

Veteran Dan Carpenter was signed to fill in for Hopkins and has been a reliable replacement. Carpenter missed his first field goal of the season, but has gone 11 of 12 since, including two makes from 50-plus yards.

First-quarter analysis: A dream start

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills couldn’t have scripted a better start to tonight’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Bills forced a three and out on their first defensive series, got a 25-yard punt return from Jim Leonhard deep into Cleveland territory, then scored a touchdown on their third offensive play – a 1-yard rush by running back Fred Jackson. Buffalo got the ball on the Browns’ 1-yard line after a bit of trickery on their second play. Receiver T.J. Graham threw a deep pass intended for Stevie Johnson in the end zone on a reverse. Johnson was interfered with on the play by the Browns’ top cornerback, Joe Haden, a 29-yard penalty.

On the next play, Jackson dove in for a touchdown just 1:39 into the game.

Hoyer goes down: Cleveland starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was hurt after running just seven plays. Hoyer scrambled for 11 yards on a second-down play on Cleveland’s second possession. At the end of the run, he slid late and was tackled by Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso. Hoyer has a knee injury, and his return is questionable.

Leodis, C.J. active, but don’t start: Cornerback Leodis McKelvin and running back C.J. Spiller both are dressed for the Bills tonight, but neither started. McKelvin did, however, come in for a third-down play on the Bills’ first possession, and has been on the field extensively since. Spiller, however, has been seen for just one play, and does not have any rushes. He appears to be an emergency option for the Bills behind Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice.

Carpenter good from deep: Bills kicker Dan Carpenter is making things interesting. He drilled a 52-yard field goal to give Buffalo a 10-0 lead. After missing his first field goal of the season, he’s made 11 straight. With rookie Dustin Hopkins yet to prove himself because of a groin injury that has kept him out the first five weeks, Carpenter is making a push to at least be considered for the job full time.

C.J. Spiller, Leodis McKelvin, Doug Legursky get green light

By Tim Graham

CLEVELAND -- Running back C.J. Spiller's injured ankle won't keep him out of tonight's game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Buffalo Bills have announced their inactive list for tonight, and Spiller isn't on it. Neither is cornerback Leodis McKelvin nor guard Doug Legursky.

But two-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd is.

Here is the complete list:

Buffalo Bills

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin
  • Tight end Chris Gragg
  • Offensive lineman Sam Young
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
  • Safety Jairus Byrd
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins

Cleveland Browns

  • Quarterback Jason Campbell
  • Running back Fozzy Whittaker
  • Offensive lineman Patrick Lewis
  • Offensive lineman Martin Wallace
  • Defensive lineman Billy Winn
  • Linebacker Jabaal Sheard
  • Linebacker Quentin Groves

Leodis McKelvin, Jairus Byrd unavailable; Ray Rice active

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin has been ruled out, and safety Jairus Byrd will not make his season debut.

A pregame workout of McKelvin's hamstring wasn't encouraging enough for the Bills to dress him for today's game against the Baltimore Ravens in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowler, will miss his fourth straight game with plantar fasciitis.

For the Ravens, running back Ray Rice is active and will start. He was sidelined last week with a hip injury.

Here are all of the inactives:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Wide receiver Jacoby Jones
  • Wide receiver Brandon Stokley
  • Guard Jah Reid
  • Center Ryan Jensen
  • Defensive tackle Terrence Cody
  • Inside linebacker Arthur Brown
  • Safety Jeromy Miles

Buffalo Bills

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin
  • Guard Doug Legursky
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin
  • Safety Jairus Byrd
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins

Jairus Byrd, Leodis McKelvin questionable on final injury report

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone has announced the team's final injury report for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

Out

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand)
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist)
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin)

Questionable

  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring)
  • Safety Jairus Byrd (feet)

Probable

  • Running back C.J. Spiller (quadriceps)
  • Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring)
  • Guard Kraig Urbik (knee)
  • Guard Doug Legursky (knee)
  • Defensive end Mario Williams (ankle)
  • Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle)
  • Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles)

Important Bills defenders do more at practice today

By Tim Graham

As expected, some Buffalo Bills participated more today after not practicing Wednesday.

Most notable were defensive linemen Mario Williams and Kyle Williams and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Kyle Williams confirmed he sat out Wednesday's session to rest his surgically repaired Achilles. He said it's important to get whenever he can, especially with the quick turnaround for next Thursday's road game against the Cleveland Browns.

Bills coach Doug Marrone reiterated that McKelvin's availability for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens likely won't be determined until just before the game.

Did not practice

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand)
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist)
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks (foot)
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin)

Limited practice

  • Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring)
  • Guard Kraig Urbik (knee)
  • Defensive end Mario Williams (ankle)
  • Defensive tackler Kyle Williams (Achilles)
  • Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle)
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring)
  • Safety Jairus Byrd (feet)

Full practice

  • Running back C.J. Spiller (quadriceps)
  • Guard Doug Legursky (knee)

C.J. Spiller, Mario Williams say they're OK; secondary not so much

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone needed half a minute this afternoon to rattle off all his team's injuries.

Did not practice

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand)
  • Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring)
  • Guard Kraig Urbik (knee)
  • Defensive end Mario Williams (ankle)
  • Defensive tackler Kyle Williams (Achilles)
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist)
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hamstring)
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks (foot)
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin)

Limited practice

  • Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle)
  • Safety Jairus Byrd (feet)

Full practice

  • Running back C.J. Spiller (quadriceps)
  • Guard Doug Legursky (knee)

Defensive end Alex Carrington had quadriceps surgery and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Spiller and Mario Williams expressed confidence they'll play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"The biggest thing, I wasn't hesitant," Spiller said. "That was really going to be my biggest mental hurdle, if I was going to be hesitant on my cut, and I wasn't. I was able to push off it.

"Still some soreness in it, not completely where I want it to be. But I think by Sunday it'll be completely gone."

Kyle Williams had a rest day, and Marrone indicated his defensive line will remain intact.

"We're fine up front," Marrone said.

The secondary is in trouble. Marrone said, "Leodis is in the mix still, and it's day-to-day," but safety Aaron Williams (last year's coverage foil) and Justin Rogers (Sunday's coverage foil) were the first-team cornerbacks in practice today.

"We're going through different combinations, different combinations of schematics, man, zone, matchups," Marrone said. "We'll see what gives us the best opportunity to be successful. That process is going to be day-to-day."

Third-quarter analysis: One rookie good, one very bad

By Jay Skurski

While one rookie continues to struggle, another has made a big play to keep the Buffalo Bills in today’s game.

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso perfectly read Jets quarterback Geno Smith, intercepting him and returning the ball 32 yards to the New York 13-yard line. Alonso became the first Bills rookie to intercept passes in consecutive games since Jairus Byrd in 2009. 

The Bills’ offense led by rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, however, continues to struggle horribly. After two runs by Fred Jackson on the drive set up by Alonso's interception, Manuel threw out of bounds, intended for T.J. Graham. It was a continutation of a game-long struggle for the Bills' rookie quarterback.

Continue reading "Third-quarter analysis: One rookie good, one very bad" »

Jairus Byrd inactive again for Bills

By Tim Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd will not make his season debut today.

The Bills have scratched Byrd for this afternoon's game against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

Here are all of the inactives:

Buffalo Bills

  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin
  • Tight end Chris Gragg
  • Guard Doug Legursky
  • Cornerback Ron Brooks
  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
  • Safety Jairus Byrd
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins

New York Jets

  • Quarterback Brady Quinn
  • Wide receiver Ryan Spadola
  • Guard Will Campbell
  • Tackle Ben Ijalana
  • Tackle Oday Aboushi
  • Linebacker Ricky Sapp
  • Linebacker Scott Solomon
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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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