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First-quarter analysis: Big plays killing the Bills

By Jay Skurski

It took all of 4 seconds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to jump ahead of the Buffalo Bills today in Raymond James Stadium.

Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey raced 80 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on Tampa’s second play from scrimmage to give his team a 7-0 lead. Rainey blew past Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso to get into the open field.

It was a career-long run for Rainey, who took over as the starter for the Bucs after season-long injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James.

Bucs hit another big one: Tampa Bay went up, 14-3, on a 38-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to receiver Vincent Jackson. Glennon scrambled right, then heaved a bomb to the end zone that Jackson tracked down despite being interfered with by Bills cornerback Nickell Robey.

Penalty help: A pair of personal foul penalties against Tampa Bay assisted the Bills in the first quarter. The first came against linebacker Dekoda Watson, who ran into punter Brian Moorman. The Bills, however, were not able to capitalize and Moorman punted again four plays later. On Buffalo’s next possession, Bucs linebacker Mason Foster was penalized for hitting defenseless Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills got a 40-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter on the drive.

Lineup changes: The Bills started rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Gragg at tight end in place of Scott Chandler. Buffalo also benched fullback Frank Summers, making him inactive in favor of Evan Rodriguez.

EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis appear ready for Pittsburgh

By Tim Graham

Looks like Jeff Tuel will go from starter one week to inactive the next.

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone announced today that recovering quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Thad Lewis made it through practice fine and are on track to dress for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. A final determination has yet to be made, but Tuel seems the odd man out.

"EJ wasn't sore or anything," Marrone said of Manuel's response to Wednesday's practice. "That was the one thing we were waiting for. Barring any setbacks the next couple days, both he and Thad are ready."

Unless Manuel's knee experiences a problem between now and kickoff, the Bills will start their third quarterback in three weeks.

Marrone added that as long as both are healthy, the Bills will continue their habit of keeping only two quarterbacks active for the game.

The concern with dressing a third quarterback is wasting an active roster spot on a player with a better likelihood of contributing. Teams like to have as many linemen or special-teamers on hand as possible.

"If someone's not 100 percent healthy, you might go in with three" quarterbacks, Marrone said. "But a lot of times you've got to be careful because a lot of times the position it affects the most are special teams."

Rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin was limited at today's practice, while colleague Robert Woods was absent.

Marrone said Goodwin "will be ready to go from what I've seen today. Woods will make the trip to Pittsburgh and probably be a game-time decision.

Marrone also announced newly signed fullback Evan Rodriguez will play Sunday, at least on special teams.

New Bills fullback Evan Rodriguez has two alcohol-related arrests this year

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills showed at the draft in April they are willing to take a chance on players with a checkered past.

Both linebacker Kiko Alonso and safety Duke Williams had alcohol-related arrests during college, but the Bills were satisfied those issues were behind them.

The Bills acquired another player today who has had issues with alcohol in fullback Evan Rodriguez, who was arrested twice within a three-month span earlier this year.

Rodriguez was first arrested in March for resisting an officer without violence and disorderly intoxication after a car in which he was a passenger in was involved in a traffic incident in Miami. The charges were eventually dropped.

He was also arrested in May for driving under the influence, leading to his release from the Chicago Bears.

"A lot of decisions go into where that person is now in their life. Have they learned from that mistake?" Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "Character is a big thing ... coming onto this team."

Rodriguez is a former fourth-round draft pick of the Bears in 2012 out of Temple. He played in 12 games with five starts as a rookie.

"When someone comes along, you know there's a short leash. They have to convince people that they've learned from that mistake, that they're ready to move on, and then once they do that then they have to get on the field and obviously perform," Marrone said.

Rodriguez ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. He did 18 reps on 225-pound bench press.

"I know that he's very athletic. Can help us in the H-back mode and I think that he can also help us on special teams, but I think I'll wait to see what actually happens on the field," Marrone said.

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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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