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Eligibility for the IR-designated to return list

By Jay Skurski

From the in-case-you-were-wondering dept.:

None of the five players the Buffalo Bills have on injured reserve -- quarterback Kevin Kolb, wide receivers Kevin Elliott and Brad Smith, fullback Drew Smith and tight end Mike Caussin -- are eligible for NFL's injured reserve-designated to return list. Their seasons are over.

That's because those five players were put on injured reserve before the team had established its 53-man roster. 

To be eligible for the IR-designated to return label, a player must first be on the 53-man roster. Any time after 4 p.m. Tuesday, a player then can be placed on the list.

In the Bills' case, they have one injured player who may qualify. That is guard Doug Legursky, who suffered a knee injury Thursday in the final preseason game against the Detroit Lions. If the Bills did put Legursky on the list, it would keep him out for the first eight weeks of the season.

The team has already said cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who is out with a broken wrist, will not be put on the list, because they believe he will be ready to play in fewer than eight weeks.

Chris Gragg's Rookie Journal: Chapter 4

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Three times already in training camp, the Buffalo Bills have expressed dissatisfaction with their tight end depth.

Before the first air horn, they cut Mickey Shuler. The Bills added Nick Provo on Aug. 4. They waived Mike Caussin on Wednesday.

Rookie tight end Chris Gragg knows he's not supposed to pay attention, but it's difficult when a player at his position isn't there one day or a new guy shows up.

"It just shows you that this NFL is a business," Gragg said after Wednesday night's practice at St. John Fisher College. "You try not to really think about it. You hear about it in the media and Coach tells us the business of the day, everyday. You just try to focus on your job."

That can be difficult when your father is keeping such close tabs on roster spots and makes it a point to keep score.

"He texts me every time somebody gets released and tells me he's glad it wasn't me," said Gragg, the seventh-round draft choice who has agreed to share his rookie journey with BuffaloNews.com throughout training camp.

"I try to block it out, just focus on your job at hand," Gragg said. "Coach Marrone told us [Tuesday] in the team meeting, when you think about stuff like that and you're always worried, it can affect your play, and I just don't want anything to affect my play.

"I think if I put everything good on film, I think I have a good chance to be on the team."

Gragg's NFL career began well Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. He started along with Dorin Dickerson in a two-tight formation and saw more snaps than any other Bills tight end. Gragg called it "a great experience."

He took 57 offensive snaps. Provo was next at 32 plays, followed by Lee Smith with 16 and Dickerson with 15.

Gragg caught two of the four passes thrown his way. His catches went for 6 and 8 yards. He had one drop.

"I would probably give myself a B," Gragg said. "I never try to give myself an A. I mean, it was my first game.

"I know I had a pretty good day blocking. I know that's one of the things my coaches want to see from me, could I block at the NFL level? I think I did that."

With only four preparation days between games, Gragg is eager for Friday night's exhibition against the Minnesota Vikings. It'll be his first game in Ralph Wilson Stadium and a chance to square off against a high school and college teammate, Vikings receiver Jarius Wright.

The quick turnaround between games provides a healthy whirlwind for Gragg, who doesn't have enough downtime to dwell on NFL realities.

"You just look at the schedule and know the cut days are coming close," Gragg said. "That's the only thing. When the cut days get closer, it might be a little harder. Right now, I'm just getting prepared for Minnesota."

As focused as Gragg is supposed to be on the here and now, he admitted he's already looking beyond next Wednesday, the last day of training camp at St. John Fisher.

"It's been hard, especially my rookie year," Gragg said. "It's been a long year. From January, I've been living out of suitcases, getting ready for the combine, getting ready for rookie minicamp and things like that. ... I'm ready for it all to be over and get settled."

Bills make a pair of roster moves; cut Caussin, sign Westerman

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- The Buffalo Bills have made a pair of roster moves today, cutting injured tight end Mike Caussin and signing former New York Jets linebacker Jamaal Westerman.

Caussin has been sidelined for most of his NFL career. He signed with the Bills in 2010 after failing to make the Jacksonville Jaguars roster as an undrafted rookie out of James Madison.

Caussin had all five of his NFL catches and both career starts in 2011. He suffered a knee injury at the end of that season and missed all of 2012. He had missed two weeks of this year's training camp with a hip injury.

Westerman played for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with the Jets. Westerman played 36 games over his three seasons there and recorded 5.5 sacks. He split time with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals last year, but had just one sack in three games.

Westerman is 6-foot-3, 255 pounds. He went undrafted out of Rutgers in 2009.

Bills add another Syracuse product in tight end Nick Provo

By Jay Skurski

Tight end Nick Provo, who played under Bills coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse, was signed Sunday by the team.

Provo, 24, participated in the Bills' voluntary minicamp in April on a tryout basis. The 6-foot-4, 249-pounder set a Syracuse school record for career catches by a tight end, with 92. His 1,027 receiving yards were the second most in school history for a tight end.

Provo signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, but was released prior to the start of the regular season.

The Bills need some depth at the position, as Scott Chandler is being eased into the lineup after surgery to repair a torn ACL, and reserve Mike Caussin injured his hip Friday.

To make room on the roster for Provo, the team released offensive lineman Hutch Eckerson.

Buffalo Bills wrap spring practices with red-zone work

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills closed their spring practices today with a lot of red-zone work.

Once again, quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel split most of the work, with Kolb getting the first snaps for the starting unit. Once again, the defense probably was a little ahead of the offense, which is to be expected at this point in the offseason.

Coach Doug Marrone on the end of the team's three-day minicamp and five-week spring workout schedule:

Continue reading "Buffalo Bills wrap spring practices with red-zone work" »

Kyle Moore signs with Bears; Revolving Bills roster updated

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills lost another free agent.

Kyle Moore, a surprise performer last year on a disappointing defensive front, signed a one-year contract Monday with the Chicago Bears.

Moore, despite being inactive the first four games, started seven straight games in November and December. Moore made 24 tackles, three for losses. He notched the first three sacks of his career.

Analytics website ProFootballFocus.com rated Moore 25th in pass-rushing among all 4-3 defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their teams' snaps. The site tallied 23 quarterback hurries for Moore, tying him for 30th in the NFL.

Moore had arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but a source informed The Buffalo News the Bills wanted to re-sign him. But last month's acquisition of linebacker Manny Lawson might have made Moore expendable.

Moore was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fourth-round draft choice in 2009 and eventually landed on the Detroit Lions' practice squad, from where the Bills plucked him in November 2011.

An update accounting of the comings and goings on Buffalo's roster in free agency:

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Running back Tashard Choice
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Colin Brown
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights have been retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Quarterback Kevin Kolb
  • • Defensive tackle Alan Branch
  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson (Cleveland Browns)
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Defensive end Kyle Moore (Chicago Bears)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

Comings and goings: Buffalo Bills offseason moves so far

By Tim Graham

And on the seventh day of free agency, the Press Coverage blog reviewed the Buffalo Bills' offseason personnel moves to date ...

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights were retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

Scott Chandler's knee injury scaring Bills into a tight end need

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Scott Chandler suffered the same knee injury in December that fellow Buffalo Bills tight end Mike Caussin did in 2011.

Both injuries occurred in Week 16. Caussin was unable to play a game last season.

Given that, the Bills have a major need at tight end for 2013. Chandler, who scored six touchdowns each of the past two seasons, might not be able to contribute.

Continue reading "Scott Chandler's knee injury scaring Bills into a tight end need " »

Dwayne Bowe? Mike Wallace? Maybe Bills should go 'all in' at TE

By Tim Graham

Buddy Nix has been up front about the Buffalo Bills' offensive needs.

Nix has stated publicly his desire to draft a quarterback, acquire receivers and get help at tight end. In other words, the Bills need to overhaul their passing game for new coach Doug Marrone.

Options at quarterback are limited in free agency, and the college prospects will be dissected ad nauseum.

But the Bills can improve their targets with an assortment of moves through free agency and the draft.

Continue reading "Dwayne Bowe? Mike Wallace? Maybe Bills should go 'all in' at TE" »

For the record: Breakdown of Bills 2013 free-agent class

By Tim Graham

Here is a breakdown of the Buffalo Bills' 2013 free-agent class and what their designations mean.

Unrestricted free agents (13)

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights, but once free-agency begins, players are free to negotiate with other clubs. Original team receives no compensation if the player signs elsewhere.

The original team has the option to place a franchise tag on one unrestricted free agent (a guaranteed one-year salary at the average of the five highest-paid players at the position or a 20 percent raise, whichever is greater) or one transition tag (a guaranteed one-year salary at the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the position).

"Exclusive" franchise tags prohibit the player from negotiating with other clubs. A team that uses a "nonexclusive" franchise tag on a player and then declines to match an offer sheet from another club will receive two first-round draft choices from that team. Transition tags offer no such compensation.

  • • Jairus Byrd, safety
  • • Tashard Choice, running back
  • • Tarvaris Jackson, quarterback
  • • Spencer Johnson, defensive end
  • • Andy Levitre, left guard
  • • Ruvell Martin, wide receiver
  • • Corey McIntyre, fullback
  • • Leodis McKelvin, cornerback
  • • Shawne Merriman, defensive end
  • • Kyle Moore, defensive end
  • • Chad Rinehart, offensive lineman
  • • Bryan Scott, linebacker
  • • Tyler Thigpen, quarterback

Restricted free agents (3)

The player may negotiate with other teams. But if the original club extends a qualifying offer to the player, then it retains right of first refusal to match any outside contract offer. There are three types of qualifying offers, offering different levels of payment and draft compensation if the player leaves.

Exclusive-rights free agents (2)

ERFA's are free agents in name only. They are players with two years of NFL experience or less and have expiring contracts. They may not negotiate with other clubs. If they are extended a contract offer, they must accept or not play at all.

  • • Mike Caussin, tight end
  • • Dorin Dickerson, tight end/fullback
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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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