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Games-played streaks in jeopardy for C.J. Spiller, Manny Lawson

By Tim Graham

Two of the Buffalo Bills who didn't practice Wednesday are at risk of having long consecutive-games streaks snapped.

C.J. Spiller (ankle) has the NFL's fifth-longest streak for a running back:

  • Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars 82
  • Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans 71
  • Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers 55
  • Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings 53
  • C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills 44

Bills coach Doug Marrone suggested Wednesday he might make the decision to hold Spiller out of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

Marrone said Spiller's ankle had gotten worse compared to the same point last week. Spiller, however, told Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan the ankle felt "10 times better."

Linebacker Manny Lawson (hamstring) also has the NFL's fifth-longest streak at his position:

  • London Fletcher, Washington 246
  • Stephen Tulloch, Detroit Lions 119
  • Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings 102
  • Curtis Lofton, New Orleans Saints 86
  • Manny Lawson, Buffalo Bills 81

Marrone said Wednesday he expected Lawson to play Sunday, but the team wasn't ready to say so definitively.

Fletcher's streak began on opening day of his rookie season -- not bad for an undrafted Ohio Athletic Conference player -- and includes five seasons with the Bills.

Fletcher's streak is the longest for any position in the NFL by a vast margin. That includes punters and kickers.

Next closest is Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, whose streak will end this week because of a season-ending knee injury. Wayne has played 57 fewer consecutive games, the equivalent of 3.6 seasons.

Other streaks of note:

  • Baltimore Ravens cornerback and Turner-Carroll alum Corey Graham is second at 100 games (two behind Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay).
  • Former Bills special-teamer John Wendling is second among safeties at 101 games (two behind Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin).
  • Former Bills guard Andy Levitre is fourth (third in consecutive starts) at 71 games.

Points after: Bills 23, Dolphins 21

723519 McCoy Sports Bill#67

By Tim Graham

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' victory over the Miami Dolphins in Sun Life Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills are 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the AFC East. They avoided a three-game losing streak and won their first division road game in nine tries.

Welcome back: Dan Carpenter, cut by the Dolphins this year, kicked a 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds to play. He made a 39-yarder in the second quarter and a 20-yarder in the fourth quarter. His Dolphins replacement, Caleb Stugis, missed a 51-yard attempt in the second quarter.

Bills MVP: Mario Williams was quiet for much of the afternoon but notched a pair of crucial sacks in the fourth quarter. The Bills hadn't sacked Ryan Tannehill until there were seven minutes left. Williams beat right tackle Tyson Clabo for a pancake. Williams then caused the fumble that Kyle Williams recovered with 2:48 to play.

Play of the game: Mario Williams' strip was pivotal to setting up the winning field goal. Special mention to cornerback Nickell Robey, who returned Tannehill's first pass attempt 19 yards for a touchdown 93 seconds into the game. 

Player of the game: A free agent this past offseason, Brandon Gibson wanted to play alongside his buddy, Stevie Johnson, with the Bills. The Bills never called. Maybe they regretted not acting as they watched Gibson catch five passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. 

Dolphins play of the game: Gibson's first touchdown was highlight-reel quality. With time running out in the first half and Miami on Buffalo's 13-yard line, Tannehill dumped it to Gibson at the 10. Gibson found some pace to the left and, from about the 3-yard line, made a tumbling leap over defensive backs Da'Norris Searcy and Aaron Williams for the touchdown with 21 seconds left.

Preliminary injury report: Robey injured his left shoulder while covering a punt in the second quarter. He returned to the game. ... Linebacker Manny Lawson left with a hamstring injury in the third quarter.

Coming up: The Bills visit the New Orleans Saints next Sunday in the Superdome.

Third-quarter analysis: On the doorstep ...

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills ended the third quarter today on the doorstep of regaining the lead against the Miami Dolphins.

Miami took the lead with an 11-play,  66-yard drive that took 6:43 off the clock. Ryan Tannehill connected with Brandon Gibson for a 4-yard touchdown, Gibson’s second of the day, to give the Dolphins a 21-17 lead.

Miami forced a three and out on the Bills’ first possession coming out of halftime, then went on their long march.  Miami converted a pair of third-and-1 plays on the drive, with runs by Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller, respectively.

At the end of three quarters, time of possession is almost identical, with Miami leading, 22:45-22:15.

Continue reading "Third-quarter analysis: On the doorstep ..." »

C.J. Spiller returns to practice on a limited basis

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller quoted Ice Cube today in describing his return to practice.

"Today was a good day," he said.

Spiller's sprained left ankle has limited him the past two weeks. He's played only 30 combined snaps against Cleveland and Cincinnati, both losses for the Bills.

"I'm not really frustrated at all. Injuries happen, stuff like that happens. You just have to deal with it. It's not going to do me any good to sit around and complain," he said. "That's not going to change the situation. You just try get as healthy as you can as quickly as you can. You wish that it wouldn't happen, but when you're playing a sport like this, you know things like this are going to happen."

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller returns to practice on a limited basis" »

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: Bills 23, Ravens 20

Doug Marrone explains failed challenge call against Patriots

By Jay Skurski

One of the unanswered questions from Sunday's game against New England was why Bills coach Doug Marrone used a challenge to dispute a ruling that Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was down by contact after a 3-yard rush in the first quarter.

Officials reviewed the play and upheld the call on the field, that Ridley was down and had not fumbled. What made the challenge perplexing from the Bills' perspective is that the Patriots appeared to recover the fumble. Marrone explained today why he threw the red challenge flag.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone explains failed challenge call against Patriots" »

Day 17: Stephon Gilmore fine after a scare

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills fans can take a deep breath.

Second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore left practice this evening at St. John Fisher College to have his right foot looked at, but coach Doug Marrone said afterward that he should be fine.

"It was just a toe," Marrone said on the practice field at St. John Fisher College. "Obviously we kept him out here, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just a re-taping and he should be fine."

Gilmore was looked at by head trainer Bud Carpenter on the sideline, with Marrone and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine stopping by to check in on him. After putting his cleat back on, he watched the rest of practice.

The Bills were without defensive tackle Jay Ross tonight, who was dressed for practice, but was excused as his wife was set to deliver a baby.

Missing practice were quarterback EJ Manuel and defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who rode a stationary bike on the sideline.

Highlights from the two-hour session on the turf field included an interception by defensive lineman Marcell Dareus off a tipped ball thrown by Jeff Tuel. Dareus then had the sold-out crowd of about 5,000 at Growney Stadium roaring as he rumbled to the end zone.

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso continues to make plays, as he knifed into the backfield to blow up a run play by Zach Brown, then came back to break up a pass over the middle three plays later.

Linebacker Manny Lawson came in for a sack of Tuel during the second set of 11-on-11 drills, and a short time later things got testy.

After a completion to Brandon Kaufman, cornerback Jumal Rolle got over-aggressive in trying to rip the ball out after the play was whistled dead. Kaufman replied with a shove, then Rolle ripped his helmet off and gave a violent shove back before teammates intervened.

On the next play, linebacker Arthur Moats and guard Zach Chibane exchanged words after a brief skirmish.

In the fourth and final 11-on-11 session of the night with Tuel at quarterback, Crezdon Butler recorded an interception that he took back for a touchdown.

The Bills’ final practice at St. John Fisher comes Wednesday, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Doug Whaley contends Buffalo has enough edge-rushers

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Defensive end Mark Anderson was healthy when the Buffalo Bills released him last week.

General Manager Doug Whaley contends they have plenty of edge rushers on their roster as it is.

"We feel pretty good about it," Whaley said today at his first news conference of training camp. "We think the competition will make people better, and it makes the cream rise to the top."

Anderson will go down as a bust after the Bills signed him to a four-year deal worth about $20 million. He received a $6 million signing bonus, a $100,000 workout bonus and made a $1.9 million base salary last year.

Continue reading "Doug Whaley contends Buffalo has enough edge-rushers" »

Manny Lawson back on field, hopes to give Bills D some rattle

By Tim Graham

Outside linebacker Manny Lawson, the Buffalo Bills' first free-agent signing, was on the second-team defense today. He missed 10 voluntary workouts and must climb the depth chart.

Free-agent defensive tackle Alan Branch also missed voluntary workouts. He was on the third unit today.

"It's definitely not a position I want to be in," Lawson said after the opening of mandatory minicamp. "Anybody that's competitive, you don't want to be on the second team. You want to be a starter. That's what I'm going to strive for, getting that starting position back."

What you should know about Lawson and Branch's absences is that they came with coach Doug Marrone's blessing. Lawson and Branch were with their wives, who delivered babies.

Continue reading "Manny Lawson back on field, hopes to give Bills D some rattle" »

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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 |