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Two Right Smack: Anatomy of a game-winning play

By Tim Graham

The play took a heartbeat to say and 3.3 seconds from snap to completion.

It felt like an eternity.

With six seconds left in Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Buffalo Bills were 2 yards away from a touchdown they had to have. The Carolina Panthers were up by six points.

EJ Manuel, his eyes darting about after 9-yard scramble, called the play:

Two Right Smack.

Continue reading "Two Right Smack: Anatomy of a game-winning play" »

Spotlight on: RT Erik Pears

By Jay Skurski

Bills head coach Doug Marrone has gone out of his way on a few occassions since the start of training camp to talk about the improvement he's seen in right tackle Erik Pears.

That's good news, because the Bills will need Pears at his best on Sunday. The 6-foot-8, 316-pounder will line up against Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson when the Bills host Carolina at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Johnson, 27, has started 48 games the past four seasons for the Panthers. Over that time, he's got 34 sacks, including one of Seattle's Russell Wilson in Week One. Johnson had 12.5 sacks in 2012, a total that tied for sixth best in the NFL.He's currently third in Carolina team history with 44 career sacks in seven seasons.

Pears, 31, is entering his eighth NFL season. He's signed through 2014 and has a cap hit this season of $2.8 million. He originally joined the Bills as a free agent late in the 2010 season and started one game that year. He started all 16 games in 2011, making him a good value signing by former General Manager Buddy Nix.

Pears, though, dealt with a sports hernia injury last season and was limited to just seven games. It was expected that Chris Hairston was going to push him in training camp for the starting right tackle job, but that never came to be because of an illness suffered by Hairston.

Pears thus locked down the job, and has impressed Marrone.

"The funny thing is people look and they'll say 'gosh, this guy has been here six years or eight years and he is what he is.' A lot of times, those players, they can continue to get better," Marrone said last month. "I see him as a guy, even though he's a veteran, he's really got a lot better."

Pears played all 64 offensive snaps in Week One against New England and had a strong game. The website Pro Football Focus, which charts every snap of every NFL game, charged him with just one quarterback hurry allowed.

Doug Marrone: O-line continuity an overrated concept

By Tim Graham

One of the joys of covering a new head coach is learning how he thinks. As various situations unfold or problems arise, we find out how he likes to address them.

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone today revealed he disagrees with a time-worn football chestnut.

He claimed offensive-line continuity is overrated.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone: O-line continuity an overrated concept" »

Erik Pears, Alex Carrington new non-participants at practice

By Jay Skurski

Right tackle Erik Pears and defensive lineman Alex Carrington were not participating in practice today as the Buffalo Bills continued preparations for Sunday's season opener against the New England Patriots.

Coach Doug Marrone will provide an update on the status of Pears and Carrington at the end of practice.

Also not taking part were cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and guard Doug Legursky (knee). Neither of them is expected to play against New England.

Running back C.J. Spiller was back on the practice field. Quarterback EJ Manuel was also taking part in individual drills for the second straight day.

Safety Jairus Byrd looked to be extremely limited in the portion of practice open to the media.

Erik Pears nails down starting right tackle job

By Jay Skurski

Erik Pears was supposed to be pushed for his starting right tackle job this season with the Buffalo Bills.

But with Chris Hairston unable to practice during training camp, that never happened. Whatever chance there was for the competition ended Monday when Hairston was put on the reserve/non-football illness list, ending his season.

The good news for the Bills is that coach Doug Marrone has been pleased with Pears' performance.

Continue reading "Erik Pears nails down starting right tackle job" »

Chris Hairston out for season after going to reserve/non-football injury list

By Jay Skurski

Offensive tackle Chris Hairston, who was expected to compete for the starting job on the right side of the Buffalo Bills' offensive line this season, will not get that chance.

Hairston's season is over after the Bills moved him to their reserve/non-football injury list this afternoon.

Hairston did not practice at all during training camp while on the team's active/physically unable to perform list. His activity was limited to slow walks around the practice field at St. John Fisher College.

The move means Erik Pears is the likely starter on the right side, with Thomas Welch serving as the team's "swing tackle," the primary backup to both Pears and starting left tackle Cordy Glenn.

The Bills' active roster now sits at 75 players, meeting the maximum that will be allowed at the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday. Safety Jairus Byrd has a two-week exemption from counting against that number.

Additionally, the Bills reached an injury settlement with guard Keith Williams and released him from injured reserve.

Bills' undisciplined moments had Doug Marrone seeing yellow

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills scored 44 points and delivered touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in their preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Not all was peachy with Bills coach Doug Marrone, though.

Marrone was disappointed his team committed nine penalties for 74 yards and committed a pair of turnovers.

Continue reading "Bills' undisciplined moments had Doug Marrone seeing yellow" »

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" »

How easy would it be to replace Andy Levitre?

By Tim Graham

If the Buffalo Bills are unwilling or unable to re-sign left guard Andy Levitre, then there's little reason to get critical of his departure until we know on whom the club will choose to spend its money.

Buffalo News senior columnist Jerry Sullivan examined Levitre's situation for this morning's paper. The Bills don't have to re-sign Levitre.

From a practical standpoint, however, the Bills would have one more hole to fill without him. They would need to replace a quality guard who hasn't missed a start since he turned pro in 2009.

NFL.com editor Gregg Rosenthal ranked Levitre the best guard and ninth-best player at any position in this year's free-agency class.

Continue reading "How easy would it be to replace Andy Levitre?" »

PFF analytics show which Bills provided most, least value in 2012

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Bills rebooted their operations in January, a point of emphasis was the creation of an analytics department. While no details have been divulged on how the Bills will implement analytics, a common usage around the league is in determining contract values.

ProFootballFocus.com, one of the most popular analytics sites, has applied its metrics to the Bills' 2012 roster to determine who underperformed and outperformed their salary-cap figures last year.

You can check out PFF for its explanation of each player, but here are the lists:

Undervalued

  • 1. Jairus Byrd, safety
  • 2. C.J. Spiller, running back
  • 3. Andy Levitre, left guard
  • 4. Kyle Williams, defensive tackle
  • 5. Alex Carrington, defensive tackle
  • 6. George Wilson, safety
  • 7. Nick Barnett, linebacker
  • 8. Scott Chandler, tight end
  • 9. Bryan Scott, linebacker
  • 10. Cordy Glenn, left tackle

Overvalued

  • 1. Mario Williams, defensive end
  • 2. Chris Kelsay, defensive end
  • 3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback
  • 4. Brad Smith, wide receiver
  • 5. Terrence McGee, cornerback
  • 6. Spencer Johnson, defensive tackle
  • 7. Mark Anderson, defensive end
  • 8. Tyler Thigpen, quarterback
  • 9. Erik Pears, right tackle
  • 10. Shawne Merriman, defensive end

The Bills already have released two of the PFF's 10 most undervalued players (Barnett and Wilson). Byrd, Levitre and Scott could become unrestricted free agents in a couple weeks.

From the overvalued list, the Bills have dumped McGee. Kelsay announced his retirement Wednesday night. From the free agents on the list, we safely can assume Thigpen won't be back, Merriman's probably a goner and Johnson isn't worth re-signing.

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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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