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Bills still fans of Jeff Tuel as development quarterback

By Tim Graham

Doug Marrone declared faith in Jeff Tuel to be the starting quarterback on opening day.

Seven weeks later, Tuel sought out Marrone to find out where he stood with the Buffalo Bills.

"Actually, Jeff came in to see me," Marrone said of the Bills' decision to bring in Matt Flynn today. The Bills now have four quarterbacks. Tuel would appear to be last on the depth chart.

"I told him, I said, 'It hasn't really changed," Marrone said. "I said, 'Here was our plan in the beginning. This is what we wanted to do. This is how we see you. We see you as a young quarterback that's developing.'

"We reaffirmed with him all the things I said here: 'Hey, we like you. You're a young, developing quarterback. In a perfect world we were probably thinking practice squad. You played extremely well.' "

Continue reading "Bills still fans of Jeff Tuel as development quarterback" »

What to look for at today's Bills practice

By Jay Skurski

A steady barrage of news has filtered out of One Bills Drive in the last week.

To recap, in the past seven days alone, the Bills have:

    • Lost veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb to a concussion that ultimately landed him on the injured reserve list.
    • Lost No. 1 cornerback Stephon Gilmore for 6-8 weeks because of a broken wrist.
    • Signed and then eventually released former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart. They also traded with the Detroit Lions for another quarterback, Thad Lewis, only to release him, too. 
    • Announced they are planning to start undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel against the New England Patriots, which would make NFL history, if first-round draft pick EJ Manuel isn't ready because of knee surgery.
    • Welcomed back Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, who doesn't sound thrilled to be back. Then watched as Byrd had a second opinion on a foot injury.
    • Signed one of their team leaders in center Eric Wood to a contract extension.
    • Made a round of cuts Friday, then another one Saturday that left them three players under the maximum roster limit of 53.

So when the Bills get back to work today to prepare for the season opener against New England next Sunday, here's what to look for.

Continue reading "What to look for at today's Bills practice" »

Bills make 18 cuts, send three to injured reserve

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills made several roster moves today in advance of the 6 p.m. Saturday deadline to reduce their roster to 53 players.

Released/waived

  • Quarterback Matt Leinart
  • Running back Zach Brown
  • Running back Kendall Gaskins
  • Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman
  • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • Tight end Nick Provo
  • Center David Snow
  • Guard Antoine Caldwell
  • Guard Zack Chibane
  • Tackle Zebrie Sanders
  • Defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert
  • Defensive end Kourtnei Brown
  • Linebacker Keith Pough
  • Linebacker Brian Smith
  • Cornerback Crezdon Butler
  • Cornerback T.J. Heath
  • Cornerback Jordan Dangerfield
  • Cornerback Kip Edwards

Injured reserve

  • Quarterback Kevin Kolb (concussion)
  • Fullback Drew Smith (thumb)
  • Wide receiver Brad Smith (ribs)

For Bills' bubble receivers, preseason finale an unfair catch

By Tim Graham

A few Buffalo Bills wide receivers went into Thursday night's preseason finale fighting for their livelihoods. They needed opportunities, as many plays as possible, quality passes to catch.

With less than eight minutes left in a 35-13 loss to the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium, Bills wide receivers had three catches for 12 yards.

Roster aspirants Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Brandon Kaufman haven't had it easy. They spent the summer catching passes from two rookies and a veteran journeyman who has missed much of camp with injuries and a family funeral.

Then, with their jobs on the line Thursday night and 53-man roster cuts due at 6 p.m. Saturday, the Bills used a pair of quarterbacks who weren't on the team four days earlier.

Continue reading "For Bills' bubble receivers, preseason finale an unfair catch" »

Points after: Lions 35, Bills 13

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' exhibition loss to Detroit Lions tonight in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: On one hand, nothing. It's the preseason. But getting outscored 65-13 over a seven-quarter span could mean a little something. The Bills are trying to change a culture of losing, and with several depth players in the spotlight and fighting for jobs, few showed any life.

Matt Leinart does little: The Heisman Trophy winner looked like a quarterback who didn't know the offense. Because he didn't. He signed with the Bills four days ago. But I'm certain he hoped for better than three completions on 10 attempts for 11 yards and two interceptions that each led to a Lions touchdown one play later. He also was sacked once. His career could be over.

Down on the corners: Buffalo's cornerbacks were atrocious, leading to some gaudy stats for Detroit backups Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore. Matthew Stafford was plagued by overthrows and dropped passes, or else the score would have been more lopsided. T.J. Heath and Crezdon Butler had particularly rough performances, allowing big plays and committing penalties.

Bills star of the game: Thad Lewis didn't look too shabby for someone who just showed up. With limited knowledge of the playbook, he scrambled on just about every play. He completed seven of 16 passes for 132 yards and a long touchdown with no interceptions. He ran seven times for 51 yards.

Play of the game: Midway through the fourth quarter, wide receiver Marcus Easley got a step on a defender up the right sideline. Lewis hit Easley in stride for a 79-yard touchdown.

Unfair night for receivers: One of the most interesting battles was at wide receiver. Easley, Brad Smith, Chris Hogan and Brandon Kaufman needed opportunities, but with a pair of backup quarterbacks, there weren't many quality throws to go around. With eight minutes left in the game, Bills wide receivers had three catches for 12 yards.

Injury report: Rookie receiver Marquise Godwin left at the end of the first quarter and didn't return after getting poked in the eye. ... Hogan was hurt on the second-half kickoff. He remained down before walking off with a limp but returned to the game. ... Smith was in the locker room having his ribs checked out in the third quarter. ... Left guard Doug Legursky was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an apparent left knee injury.

Penalty rundown: The Bills had trouble with penalties throughout the preseason. They had nine for 74 yards against the Indianapolis Colts, 14 for 106 yards against the Minnesota Vkings, seven for 38 yards against Washington and nine for 60 yards tonight.

Coming up: The Bills open their regular-season schedule Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Matt Leinart gets start for Bills; almost every regular resting

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are resting all of their starters aside from linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerback Crezdon Butler -- if, in fact, they're starters.

The Bills will protect undrafted rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart will start despite being signed four days ago. Tashard Choice is the running back, with Marquise Goodwin and Chris Hogan at receiver.

Butler and T.J. Heath will start at cornerback.

What to look for in tonight's Lions at Bills blockbuster

By Tim Graham

Yes, that headline is sarcasm.

But as far as exhibition finales go, there's some interesting stuff to monitor.

Here are a handful of things I'll be looking for tonight, when the Buffalo Bills wrap up their preseason against the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

What in the world is going on at quarterback? We won't get any definitive answers for opening day until presumptive starter EJ Manuel's injury status is known. In the meantime, we have undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel and two guys who weren't Bills five days ago. Matt Leinart wasn't even in the league. Thad Lewis was fourth-string with Detroit. How coach Doug Marrone divvies up the reps will be interesting, especially for Leinart. The former Heisman Trophy winner might be suiting up for his final chance to stay in the NFL.

Cornerbacks in focus. Buffalo's best, Stephon Gilmore, will be out six to eight weeks after surgery to repair a broken wrist. The next-best cornerback was in disconcerting dispute when Gilmore was healthy. So now what? Leodis McKelvin would appear to have one spot cinched up, while Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers, T.J. Heath and Ron Brooks jockey for the other assignments.

One last look at the wide receivers. It's totally unfair that players such as Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Brandon Kaufman are down to their last audition and will have to track down passes from Leinart and Lewis. The Bills have difficult decisions to make after the top four: Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Strong undercard battle for the third running-back role. C.J. Spiller is away from the team to mourn with his family after Saturday's tragedy in Lake Butler, Fla. Fred Jackson will be preserved. That leaves beaucoup carries for Tashard Choice, Kendall Gaskins and Zach Brown. Expect the Bills to run as much as they can tonight given their quarterback situation.

Opening-day start would be historic for Bills QB Jeff Tuel

By Tim Graham

During a break at the final night practice of training camp last Tuesday, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Jeff Tuel chatted on the sidelines.

From behind them walked Jim Kelly to say hello. Tuel's eyes lit up.

"Hi, I'm Jeff," Tuel said with an extended hand.

Less than a week later, Tuel has gone from introducing himself to the Bills' iconic quarterback to the verge of starting for them on opening day.

Continue reading "Opening-day start would be historic for Bills QB Jeff Tuel" »

Poll: Biggest story on Mammoth Monday at One Bills Drive?

By Tim Graham

Today will be packed with news from One Bills Drive.

The Bills made two additions at quarterback Sunday and might have lost their veteran insurance policy. We should get updates on quarterback EJ Manuel's knee, cornerback Stephon Gilmore's wrist, Da'Norris Searcy's head and whether running back C.J. Spiller is with the team.

Today also will be the first time reporters will have an opportunity to speak with safety Jairus Byrd since he signed his franchise tender and returned to the Bills last week.

Rosters must be reduced to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, but many teams have announced those moves. Perhaps the Bills will today.

Former first-round pick Matt Leinart signs with the Bills

By Mark Gaughan

Heisman Trophy winner and former first-round draft pick Matt Leinart has agreed to terms on a contract with the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

The emergency signing comes a day after Bills veteran Kevin Kolb suffered concussion-like symptoms after a blow to the head in the exhibition game at Washington. The Leinart agreement first was reported this afternoon by Mike Garofalo of FOX Sports.

Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is expected to start Thursday’s exhibition finale, and perhaps the regular-season opener if rookie first-round draft pick EJ Manuel can’t make a speedy recovery from knee surgery.

Leinart, 30, provides a veteran presence behind Tuel. Leinart's six-year NFL career has been a disappointment after he enjoyed one of the most celebrated college quarterbacking careers ever at the University of Southern California. Besides winning the Heisman in 2004, Leinart helped USC to two national titles, in 2003 and 2004.

Leinart's NFL career, however, never has gained traction. The Bills will be his fourth team. He is 8-10 for his career as a starter, and he has made only two starts in the last four seasons. At 6-foot-5, Leinart brings good size and a good arm. The Bills' coaches will have to give him a crash course on the offensive system over the next two weeks in preparation for the Sept. 8 game against New England.

He was the 10th overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. He got a late start on his rookie training camp after a contractual holdout then went 4-7 as a starter that season. He entered the 2007 season as the starter and went 3-2. But the Cardinals had veteran Kurt Warner behind him and turned the job over to Warner, who went on to great success. Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2009.

Leinart lost the Cards' starting-job battle to Derek Anderson entering the 2010 season, and he was released. He spent the next two seasons as a backup to Matt Schaub with the Houston Texans. He spent the 2012 season as a backup to Carson Palmer with Oakland.

Leinart has not been in a training camp this summer. He had a tryout with Seattle in April, but he Seahawks opted to sign Brady Quinn.

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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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