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Bills trade with Lions for QB Lewis, adding to concern for Kolb

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills have acquired another quarterback, Thad Lewis, in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

The move, coupled with the signing of free-agent Matt Leinart earlier Sunday, reflects a major concern on the part of the Bills over the long-term health of veteran Kevin Kolb, who suffered concussion-like symptoms after taking a blow to the head against Washington on Saturday. Kolb, a seventh-year veteran, has had at least two prior concussions, one of them major. Another significant head injury is a worry for Kolb's career.

The acquistion of Lewis comes in return for third-year linebacker Chris White, who announced his departure from the team on Twitter. The deal comes just hours after the Bills agreed to terms with Leinart, the former first-round pick entering his eighth NFL season.

Lewis was running as the fourth-string quarterback in Detroit and was considered unlikely to beat out third-stringer Kellen Moore. White was veteran presence on the Bills' special teams units. However, he was running with the third team at linebacker. His odds of making the 53-man roster this season were uncertain, at best. White played in 15 games for the Bills last season but only saw eight snaps all season with the defense. He was third on the team in special-teams tackles with nine.

Lewis was undrafted out of Duke University in 2010. He set Duke records for passing yards (7,931) and touchdown passes (56). He was undrated because he's on the short side for an NFL QB, at 6-foot and 1-2 inches, and he doesn't have elite physical tools. He moves pretty well, but he's not viewed as a running quarterback.

He spent the 2010 season on the practice squad of the St. Louis Rams. He was a backup for the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and 2012. He got into one game, starting against Pittsburgh in the season finale last year. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards in a 24-10 loss. 

Bills reportedly schedule tryouts for Matt Leinart, John Beck

By Tim Graham

With EJ Manuel recovering from a knee procedure and Kevin Kolb experiencing "concussion-like symptoms," the Buffalo Bills are reevaluating their quarterback depth chart and won't waste any time bringing in veterans to audition.

Multiple reports state former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart and John Beck are headed to Orchard Park to work out Sunday.

Leinart, the 10th overall draft choice in 2006, has played for three NFL teams. He spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, then one apiece with the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.

Continue reading "Bills reportedly schedule tryouts for Matt Leinart, John Beck" »

Points after: Redskins 30, Bills 7

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' harrowing loss to Washington today at FedEx Field ...

What it means: This game was quintessentially queasy for those who think the objective for any preseason exhibition is to escape without any serious injuries. The Bills lost quarterback Kevin Kolb (head), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and safety Da'Norris Searcy (head) in the first half. C.J. Spiller (knee) went down in the first quarter but returned.

Bills star of the game: Spiller was a surprise starter after the tragic report involving his step-grandfather this morning. We're unsure as of this posting if Spiller knew about it. Spiller might've sat out, but he didn't. He also could've declined to return after his knee scare, but he didn't. Spiller ran eight times for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Stat line of the day: It's not a glittery set of numbers, but they're interesting. Jeff Tuel wasn't supposed to play so much, but with Kolb knocked out of the game, Tuel saw three quarters and went 10 of 17 for 63 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Receivers impacted: With the Bills not throwing much (probably out of caution to not get Tuel hurt), the receiver competition didn't crystallize. Only 12 catches were made. Stevie Johnson had a team-high four catches for 28 yards. Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Da'Rick Rogers had zero receptions.

Defense struggles against backup QBs: Washington was without Robert Griffin III and second-stringer Kirk Cousins. Rex Grossman and Pat White combined to go 18 of 35 for 267 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. White also ran three times for 26 yards and a touchdown.

Penalties improve: This was one of Doug Marrone's main points of emphasis. The Bills committed nine penalties in their preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts and 14 last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Today, they were charged with seven for 38 yards.

Coming up: The Bills close out their preseason schedule Thursday night against the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Bills endure miserable day in blowout loss to Redskins

By Mark Gaughan

LANDOVER, Md. – It was all bad news for the Buffalo Bills Saturday, and the fact they lost to the Washington Redskins, 30-7, was hardly the team's worst development.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb suffered from concussion like symptoms after taking a blow to the head in the first quarter. With rookie EJ Manuel already out due to last week’s knee surgery, that leaves undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel as the only healthy quarterback on the roster.

The Bills play their exhibition finale at home against Detroit in five days. Manuel already has been ruled out for the game. It seems certain the team will have to sign some free-agent quarterback to fill in.

Whether Manuel can be ready for the season opener against New England remains in serious doubt. Kolb, meanwhile, has had numerous concussions in his career.

Also on the injury front, the Bills lost their top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, to a hand injury in the second quarter. Starting safety Da'Norris Searcy left the game in the second quarter after taking a blow to the head.

Meanwhile, star running back C.J. Spiller faces a personal crisis this week in the wake of a shooting spree in Florida. Spiller's step-grandfather reportedly has been identified as the gunman who killed two men and injured two others before committing suicide this morning in Union County, Florida.

The ABC affiliate in Gainesville, Fla., reported Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead has announced Hubert Allen Jr. went to his former place of employment, Pritchett Trucking, and shot an employee.

Allen then reportedly went to the family farm of company owner Marvin Pritchett, killed him and a farmhand and shot another man before returning home to kill himself.

Kevin Kolb's head injury puts Bills in precarious QB position

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' quarterback depth chart has even more question marks today, and it's difficult to fathom they're not in the market to sign another one soon. Perhaps they're already on the phone.

Kevin Kolb went into today's exhibition game against Washington with a chance to reinsert himself into the quarterback competition but left in the first quarter with a head injury.

Kolb was kneed in the back of the head on a scramble. He was taken to the locker room for evaluation and diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms. Kolb has had concussion problems before.

Continue reading "Kevin Kolb's head injury puts Bills in precarious QB position" »

What to watch for in today's Buffalo at Washington exhibition

By Tim Graham

Here is a handful of areas I'll be looking at this afternoon, when the Buffalo Bills play Washington at FedEx Field:

Kevin Kolb can't win the job, but he can lose it. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was the frontrunner before a knee injury cropped up. Kolb is coming off a 55.9 passer rating in his preseason debut against the Minnesota Vikings. Even if he's sensational today, he won't capture anyone's imagination like Manuel has. But if Kolb struggles, then it's Manuel's job as soon as the rookie is healthy enough to play.

Several notable injured players could see action. The Bills could have their full complement of receivers, with Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham and Brad Smith on the field. All have missed time with hamstring injuries. Johnson has yet to dress. Pass-rusher Mario Williams (foot), middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (shoulder) and cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin (groin) and Justin Rogers (hamstring) also are expected to play.

Can cornerbacks not named Stephon Gilmore provide reassurance? The sight of Gilmore's right foot being examined by athletic trainer Bud Carpenter on Tuesday night was unsettling for any Bills fan in attendance at Growney Stadium. The other cornerbacks have been erratic at best. Injuries have made the depth chart look more disconcerting.

Receivers, receivers, receivers. As mentioned already, Johnson will be back. But it would be more educational if he didn't play much. We know what he can do. The Bills will have some difficult decisions to make at receiver, and we'd learn a lot more if players such as Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Da'Rick Rogers got as many targets as possible.

Special-teamers aren't safe yet. The Bills recently awarded their kicking jobs by cutting kicker Rian Lindell and punter Brian Stahovich. Rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins hasn't lined up for a field goal longer than 39 yards in a preseason game yet. Powell shanked an ugly punt last week against the Vikings. They need to be consistently good to maintain Doug Marrone's trust.

Day 16: Two-minute drill saves an otherwise bad day for the offense

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD – A pair of two-minute drills that resulted in touchdowns saved what was otherwise a day to forget for the Bills’ offense this morning.

Kevin Kolb directed the first scoring drive, completing three straight passes to Stevie Johnson to start. After a run for no gain and a sack by Jamie Blatnick, Kolb connected on a 39-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, who beat Nickell Robey down the right sideline.

Jeff Tuel was next, and his first play in the two-minute session was a big one: a 49-yard gain down the right sideline to Da’Rick Rogers. Tuel then completed consecutive passes to Brandon Kaufman and Marcus Easley for short gains, before two straight run plays by Tashard Choice. On third-and-goal, Tuel hit Choice on a swing pass for a touchdown.

Continue reading "Day 16: Two-minute drill saves an otherwise bad day for the offense" »

Doug Marrone doesn't rule Jeff Tuel out of starting QB race

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD -- All eyes, understandably, have been on EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb in the competition to be the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback this season.

While the job will likely still go to either the team's first-round pick or the seventh-year veteran signed as a free agent, a darkhorse has emerged in the race.

Undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel has put together a pair of solid preseason games in his role as third quarterback. Tuel is 21 of 26 for 236 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 130.1 in three quarters of play.

With the news that Manuel will miss the rest of the preseason following minor knee surgery today, I asked coach Doug Marrone if Tuel was now competing with Kevin Kolb for the starting job.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone doesn't rule Jeff Tuel out of starting QB race" »

EJ Manuel has 'minor procedure' performed on left knee

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD -- While his team took the practice field here at St. John Fisher College, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was having a "minor procedure" performed on his left knee back in Buffalo.

Exactly how the Bills' first-round draft pick was hurt Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium remains a mystery.

"During the course of the game, obviously, we did not get anything communicated from him or anyone else as far as what might have occurred," coach Doug Marrone said after this morning's practice. "After the game was over, it was 'I felt a little bump.' Checked stability, it was good. And really that night, that's all we were going on.

"The next day I think is the most important thing to focus on. There was a little bit of swelling, obviously then you get a concern. Our staff checked him out with an MRI, you know, saw something, went through a minor procedure."

Continue reading "EJ Manuel has 'minor procedure' performed on left knee" »

Poll: How confident are you in Buffalo Bills' QB situation now?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' quarterback depth chart has given fans reasons to get excited and reasons to feel deflated.

The three-man group consists of an unproven first-round pick who'll need at least two weeks to return from a knee procedure, an injury-prone journeyman and an undrafted rookie.

The news that exciting youngster EJ Manuel will undergo a procedure to reduce swelling in his knee could test the confidence of Bills fans for the upcoming season -- or at least the start of it.

With that in mind, share your feelings on this latest development:

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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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