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Second-quarter analysis: Jamaal Charles being held in check

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills' defense is doing a good job of preventing the big play today against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bills have given up only 115 yards of total offense through the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. In particular, Buffalo has done a good job against Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles, limiting him to 26 yards on six carries and only 8 yards on five catches. 

Linebacker Kiko Alonso made a terrific play against Charles, dropping him for a loss of 4 yards on a third-and-7 play just before halftime to force a punt.

Continue reading "Second-quarter analysis: Jamaal Charles being held in check" »

First-quarter analysis: Marquise Goodwin hits 'turbo boost'

By Jay Skurski

There's a reason they call Marquise Goodwin "Flash."

The Buffalo Bills' rookie receiver showed why during the first quarter today against the Kansas City Chiefs. Goodwin caught a perfectly thrown ball from rookie undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel, who's making his first career start, for a 59-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Goodwin beat press coverage on the play, then simply caught up to the ball that looked like it might have been overthrown when Tuel let it go. It's Goodwin's second touchdown of 40 or more yards this season.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming: Tuel has started the game 5 of 7 for 112 yards and a touchdown. One of the incomplete passes was a drop by tight end Scott Chandler. 

Continue reading "First-quarter analysis: Marquise Goodwin hits 'turbo boost'" »

Marcell Dareus on his way to destroying last year's stat line

By Tim Graham

On the subject of breakout seasons, Buffalo Bills fans are most likely to think of rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.

But as Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan wrote for today's paper, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus consistently has been showing elite skills so far.

The third overall pick of the 2011 draft was pretty good as a rookie but took a step backward last year while dealing with the death of a younger brother in a shooting.

Dareus is on pace to obliterate his stats from last year, when he finished with 26 tackles, five for losses and 5.5 sacks.

Continue reading "Marcell Dareus on his way to destroying last year's stat line" »

Snap counts: Marquise Goodwin doesn't get much work

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills went big in an effort to protect quarterback Thad Lewis on Sunday in Miami.

No. 2 tight end Lee Smith played 32 of 67 offensive snaps for the team against the Dolphins, which was 48 percent. Smith, as he usually is, was used almost exclusively in a blocking role, although he did make his second catch of the season, for 18 yards.

Even with the bigger lineup, the Dolphins still managed to get four sacks of Lewis, and hit him six times.

The Bills also used Frank Summers on 11 snaps (16 percent). He got his first two carries of the season, and gained 14 yards.

Most interesting among the snap counts for the Bills' offense was the use of rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin. Coming off his huge 40-yard touchdown catch against the Bengals in Week Six that sent the game to overtime, Goodwin saw only five offensive snaps (7 percent) against Miami. Robert Woods (63 snaps, 94 percent) and Stevie Johnson (60 snaps, 90 percent) played almost the entire game, most often joined by T.J. Graham (34 snaps, 51 percent) when the Bills went three wide.

Running back Fred Jackson (39 snaps, 58 percent) came back from a knee injury in the first quarter to lead the team with 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 49. Jackson's leadership, however, doesn't show up in the stats book. C.J. Spiller managed just 14 snaps (21 percent), while third back Tashard Choice played 12 snaps (18 percent).

The starting offensive line -- including left guard Doug Legursky in his first start of the season -- played the entire game (67 snaps).

Rookie tight end Chris Gragg (six snaps, 9 percent) also saw his first action of the season.

Continue reading "Snap counts: Marquise Goodwin doesn't get much work" »

Imagine that: Doug Marrone, Kiko Alonso talk finance ... in a hot tub

By Jay Skurski

Linebacker Kiko Alonso has been a lot of things for the Buffalo Bills in his rookie season.

Leading tackler in the NFL and "Legend" among them.

One thing Alonso is not, however, is a dynamic, eloquent public speaker.

Bills coach Doug Marrone was asked Wednesday whether he had had any conversations with Alonso that had lasted more than 20 seconds.

"I think I'm like everybody else. I think it's the same situation. He's kind of short, to the point. I try to keep it as direct as possible and try to take any gray out of it," Marrone said.

"The one thing I appreciate from him is he's just trying to go out there and play. That's all he's concerned about right now, is playing well and being productive," the coach said. "Not to speak for Kiko, but some of that may just be a guard to keep him focused and concentrated on doing what he's doing because he's doing extremely well right now. I don't think he wants to break that."

There's more to Alonso than what you see on the surface, however, according to Marrone.

"I have had social conversations and he's extremely bright from that standpoint. We actually had a conversation one time in the hot tub; we were talking about some financial things. All of the sudden you're like, 'Whoa.' "

Whoa, indeed.

Snap counts: Nigel Bradham busy in place of Manny Lawson

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills turned to Nigel Bradham on Sunday after linebacker Manny Lawson was hurt against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bradham played 39 of the Bills' 86 defensive snaps, or 45 percent. That's by far the busiest he has been all season. He played 19 defensive snaps (21 percent) against the New England Patriots in Week One, then did not have more than eight snaps over the next four games before Sunday.

"It's not what I expected, but it is what it is," Bradham said of his playing time. "Pretty much just have to be ready for your opportunity. Manny went down so I had to be able to just be ready and go out there and play."

Bradham said he spent a lot of time in practice last week reviewing Lawson's role.

"It's one of the things where it's a different scheme and we have so many different packages that you just have to be ready for all the packages and just be ready for whenever anybody gets hurt," he said.

Continue reading "Snap counts: Nigel Bradham busy in place of Manny Lawson" »

Game ball: Bengals 27, Bills 24 (OT)

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'" »

Game ball: Browns 37, Bills 24

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.

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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 |