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Eric Wood says its high time for players to get called out, grow up

By Tim Graham

Walls should need new coats of paint in One Bills Drive.

The old stuff should get peeled off the wall today while Buffalo Bills coaches and players review the film from Sunday's 27-6 abomination against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bills center Eric Wood declared the time has arrived for guys to be called out.

"I'm sure that'll happen today," Wood, one of three team captains, said this morning. "I think that'll probably be within the position groups, but that needs to happen."

The Bills were crushed in nearly every measurable way. They were the only team that didn't score a touchdown out of the 28 teams that played Sunday and set an NFL record with 90 TDs on a given date.

The Bills had five giveaways, allowed seven sacks, committed 13 penalties and converted one of their 11 third downs.

Against a middling opponent that gave up nine sacks its previous two games, the Bills' league-leading pass-rushers registered one quarterback hit. Four of the Bills' five starting offensive linemen had at least one penalty.

"Just a couple of weeks ago we were saying we're not far off from where we want to be as a team," Wood said. "Then you go and lay an egg like yesterday and you feel like you're starting over at Square One.

"We're not. We have good players on this team. We've just got to do some growing up."

Bon Jovi pursuing the Bills: As big as '80s hair or just a tease?

By Tim Graham

Jon Bon Jovi reportedly wants to buy the Buffalo Bills. Imagine all that hairspray in the owner's box. The team store would be unable to keep acid-wash jeans in stock.

And know this: He wouldn't laugh at your Zubaz.

But a Bon Jovi public-relations agent named Ken Sunshine, reached today by Associated Press reporter John Wawrow, called Sunday's reports "preposterous."

Regardless, Bon Jovi was a topic at One Bills Drive today.

Because there's no shortage of preposterous occurrences in the NFL.

"That's out there," Bills center Eric Wood said. "Of all the theories ... If Jim Kelly was going to buy the team or whoever, Bon Jovi probably is the most out there.

"But those rock stars accumulate a ton of money. Who knows? If he's big enough of a football fan, I'm sure he can assemble the money."

Bon Jovi is primary owner of the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League and has ties to Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre.

Bills coach Doug Marrone was asked if he knew Bon Jovi, a friend of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Kansas University coach Charlie Weis.

"I'm from the Bronx," Marrone said. "I didn't grow up with special privileges.

"I'm just a football coach. I'm not a groupie."

Doug Marrone urges C.J. Spiller to hold O-line accountable

By Tim Graham

Maybe it's time for C.J. Spiller to stop being such a nice guy.

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone suggested after today's game that Spiller should get into his offensive linemen's grills about blocking better.

Spiller had another miserable game even though his Bills waylaid the New York Jets, 37-14, in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"I know it was terrible today," Spiller said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know I didn't have a good day rushing the ball. I probably was in negative yards."

Not quite, but almost.

Spiller ran 13 times for 6 yards. His longest gain was 3 yards. He was tackled for no gain or negative yards five times.

One play was particularly aggravating. Against a loaded box about five minutes before halftime, the Bills ran anyway. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson shot through the Bills' line and tackled Spiller for a 4-yard loss.

You could almost see the steam shooting from the ear holes in Spiller's helmet as he walked to the sideline.

Marrone made it a point to speak with Spiller. Marrone was upset with the offensive line, noting they were falling down and whiffing on some run blocks.

"If you're a running back and you're getting the ball, that's something you don't expect," Marrone said. "You can live with the other stuff.

"I told him afterward, 'You know what? I'd be pissed, too. But the difference between me and you -- and this is what you have to do now -- is go over to that group right there, that offensive line, and you tell them. You tell them you're pissed.' "

Spiller had no quarrel with Marrone's advice.

"He's exactly right," Spiller said. "When things aren't going right, it's about holding each other accountable. It's nothing about degrading my teammates or anything like that. It's just letting them know that we have to get going."

Spiller admitted that venting isn't a foreign concept to him. He recently spoke to Thurman Thomas about this very topic, asking the Hall of Fame running back how to confront negative issues without turning into a controversy.

Bills center Eric Wood acknowledged Spiller's frustrations and welcomed his input.

"If he's not comfortable saying something, then maybe him doing that is not the best way," Wood said. "But if he's comfortable saying something, we respect him. We know what he can do when we give him holes. We've got to do a better job for him."

Legendary Bills receiver Andre Reed attended today's game and was in the locker room afterward. Reed laughed when asked whether Thomas had the temerity to confront Pro Bowl linemen such as Jim Ritcher, Kent Hull and Howard Ballard.

"If it ain't going right and you're the main guy, you get up in somebody's face regardless," Reed said. "Get up in the offensive line's face and say something. Thurman didn't give a damn who he was talking to.

"If it's bothering me, I'd get in somebody's face. Hell, I'm out here working, too."

Spiller's backfield mates, Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice, didn't fare much better Sunday. The Bills combined for 68 yards on 38 rushing attempts.

"We have the guys that can get the job done," Spiller said. "There wasn't a whole lot of room out there, but we'll get it corrected. That's the encouraging part."

Eric Wood has followed Richie Incognito story from afar

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood has shared a locker room with Richie Incognito. The two players have the same agent in David Dunn.

So Wood knows Incognito, and has followed the case involving the currently embattled guard for the Miami Dolphins, from afar. Incognito is currently at the center of a raging controversy in Miami over allegations that he bullied teammate Jonathan Martin.

"I know Richie personally. That's a weird situation and not something I want to go too far in depth on," Wood said today. "Locker-room teasing in the NFL happens. Especially with rookies and stuff, but there is a line you can cross. I'm assuming now that there's a suspension, they feel a line has been crossed."

It's important to note that Wood spoke this morning before the latest allegations against Incognito were reported this afternoon, including that he referred to Martin by a racial slur and threatened his life, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Martin left the team last week after an incident in the team's lunch room, and is in California for "therapy," according to a report from Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo.

The Miami Herald reported this afternoon that Incognito is not expected to play for the Dolphins again.

Incognito played three games with Buffalo in 2009, during Wood's rookie season.

"He gets on everybody," Wood said. "Not everybody likes Richie Incognito. That's a fact. I can take his jabs and give it right back to him and we have fun with it. But if you don't have the right personality and he takes it a little too far, I could definitely see where something has come up out of it."

Wood said it is common in locker rooms that he has been in, especially among offensive linemen, for players to tease one another.

"That's the culture I was brought in on, and that's the culture we still have. I think that it can make you a tighter group, if everybody thinks it's fun, and you know that's your culture. But if one guy is getting really picked on, I could see where it can completely tear you apart," he said.

That certainly appears to be the case with what is currently happening in South Florida.

C.J. Spiller opens second half of season with his best game

By Tim Graham

The first half of C.J. Spiller's season was disenchanting.

His production disappointed. Injuries were bothersome.

Even so, the respect opponents have for Spiller apparently never waned, not when he gained 155 yards from scrimmage and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said they "did a great job" containing him today in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

One week after Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone pulled him from the lineup to rest a sprained ankle, Spiller posted season-highs in rushing and receiving yardage. Spiller ran 12 times for 116 yards and caught two passes for 39 yards.

"He's always a tough guy," Flowers said. "You can see every week whenever he's healthy that he can do some things with every touch.

"He's going to get his yards, but we just try to limit his plays, and I think we did a great job of it."

For the first time since Spiller ran for 103 yards in Week Two, he looked like the superstar who could go the distance on any play.

Spiller accounted for three of the Bills' four longest gains. He had carries up the middle for 61 yards and 29 yards and added a catch-and-run for 27 yards on a flare pass.

"It's still not there, but it's definitely very close," Spiller said of his ankle. "Today was very encouraging to me.

"My cutting ability and exploding off it was good, but tomorrow'll be a good day to see how it responds because this is the most work that's got since Week Four."

Spiller's 14 touches were the most since he carried 23 times for 77 yards in a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week Four.

Spiller has been on the injury report since the week of the Ravens game. First it was a strained quadriceps, then the high ankle sprain.

"He was banged up, and I think he came back explosive today," Bills center Eric Wood said. "It's not really fair to put a player like that, whose game is explosion, out there injured. I thought a week off did a lot for him.

"We know what he can do. He's lost no confidence from us. We knew he was gutting it out week-to-week. We appreciated that. We're not looking at averages, not looking at numbers with him."

The Bills amassed 470 yards against one the NFL's best defenses. They rushed for 241 yards, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Fred Jackson ran 16 times for 77 yards.

Spiller dismissed any notions about being relived to get back to his game-breaking ways.

"To me, I don't get caught up in the stats," Spiller said. "It's a great day for us to run the ball the way that we did today against a good team. They're 9-0 for a reason.

"But at the end of the day, we lost. That's the only thing that matters."

Midseason penalty report: Bills still have flag concerns

By Tim Graham

After four games, the Buffalo Bills were having an historically bad time with penalties.

They were on track to commit the second-most in club history for the most yards and first downs granted.

At the 2013 midpoint, the Bills have curbed their malfeasance a bit. Although the Bills still are awarding gift first downs at a record rate, they're on pace to finish with the 10th-most penalties and the eighth-most yards lost.


Continue reading "Midseason penalty report: Bills still have flag concerns" »

Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali

By Jay Skurski

Things got pretty heated between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs during their last meeting, which came in Week Two of the 2012 season.

The Bills accused Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali of attempting to injure former Bills guard Andy Levitre and left tackle Cordy Glenn on consecutive plays late in the first half of what ended up being a 35-17 victory. Levitre said after the game that Hali tried twisting his neck in an attempt to injure him. Then on the next play, the Bills said Hali tried to twist Glenn's arm out of its socket.

"You get a team down, and like I said, they're going to take some shots at you. That's why we weren't taking our foot off their throats at the end," Bills center Eric Wood said at the time. "That stuff rubs you pretty wrong."

Continue reading "Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali" »

Fred Jackson takes blame for goal-line failure

By Jay Skurski

Bills running back Fred Jackson shouldered the blame today for his team's failure to get into the end zone on four straight plays from inside the 2-yard line Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson gained a yard on first and goal from the Bengals' 2-yard line on the final play of the first quarter. He was then stuffed for no gain on two straight plays from the Cincinnati 1 to start the second quarter. The Bills went for it on fourth down, but were stopped when quarterback Thad Lewis rolled to his right and couldn't find anyone to throw to. He was eventually dropped for a 1-yard loss by linebackers James Harrison and Vincent Rey.

"I've got to make something happen. As a running back, you know, three opportunities to score on the goal line, you want to put that on yourself. I didn't get the job done," Jackson said. "That's something I've got to be motivated about and make sure it doesn't happen again. My coaches give me the ball, three straight shots at the goal line right there, I've got to make something happen. I haven't looked at it yet, but it's something I will look at and see what I can do and be better at, given another opportunity."

Continue reading "Fred Jackson takes blame for goal-line failure" »

Eric Wood: Browns' reaction to EJ Manuel injury was 'classless'

By Jay Skurski

The hit was fine.

It's the way the Cleveland Browns reacted after free safety Tashaun Gipson leveled Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel during the third quarter Thursday night that had Bills center Eric Wood fired up today in the locker room.

"The hit was fine. What ticked me off was the way they acted afterwards," Wood said late this morning, a little over 12 hours after the Bills were defeated, 37-24, in FirstEnergy Stadium. "I hope our defense never acts like that when they injure an opposing quarterback because, you know, you've got to show some class in that situation. There's a few guys over there that obviously didn't."

Gipson made direct contact with Manuel's right knee, which the Bills' quarterback immediately reached for. After getting up, Gipson looked right at Manuel and gave an emphatic fist pump.

Continue reading "Eric Wood: Browns' reaction to EJ Manuel injury was 'classless'" »

Bills offense switches from up-tempo to smashmouth

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills didn't look new-fangled today against the Baltimore Ravens.

Buffalo's fast-paced offense, criticized for leaving its defense on the field too long through the first three games, pumped the brakes.

Buffalo's offense huddled at times, ran way more often than it threw, used its fullback and played the kind of style your grandfather would recognize.

The result was a 23-20 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion.

The game was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, not the Rockpile.

Continue reading "Bills offense switches from up-tempo to smashmouth" »

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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 |