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How the locals fared: Week Two

By Jay Skurski

Our weekly rundown on the Press Coverage blog of the players from Western New York (along with the University at Buffalo) currently in the NFL:

Steven Means: The Buffalo native and Grover Cleveland and University at Buffalo product -- a rookie defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- was inactive in Week Two. Means made his NFL debut in Week One, playing five snaps on special teams in an 18-17 loss at the New York Jets. He did not register any statistics.

Mike Williams: The Tampa Bay receiver -- a Buffalo native and Riverside product -- was targeted six times by quarterback Josh Freeman, making just two catches for 9 yards in a 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week Two.

Continue reading "How the locals fared: Week Two" »

How the locals fared: Week One

By Jay Skurski

Our weekly rundown on the Press Coverage blog of the players from Western New York (along with the University at Buffalo) currently in the NFL:

Steven Means: The Buffalo native and Grover Cleveland and University at Buffalo product made his NFL debut for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing five snaps on special teams in an 18-17 loss at the New York Jets. Means did not register any statistics. The rookie defensive end was a fifth-round draft pick in June.

Mike Williams: The Buffalo native and Riverside product was targeted eight times by Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman, making four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Jets.

James Starks: The Niagara Falls native is in his fourth season as a running back for the Green Bay Packers. He caught one pass for 8 yards and did not attempt any rushes in a 34-28 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Continue reading "How the locals fared: Week One" »

Where the Western New Yorkers are after final cuts around the NFL

By Jay Skurski

Five local players could not survive final roster cuts over the weekend, leaving a total of seven from Western New York on active rosters (or in one case, a physically unable to perform list) heading into the 2013 NFL season. Another two players from the University at Buffalo are also in the NFL. Here is an update on each of them:

Steven Means: The Buffalo native and Grover Cleveland and University at Buffalo product is listed as the backup right defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted Means in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft. Mean impressed the Bucs earlier in the preseason with his athleticism.

James Starks: The Niagara Falls native is entering his fourth season with the Green Bay Packers. He’s listed as the starter at running back on the depth chart, but has promising rookies in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin behind him.

J.C. Tretter: The Akron product, a fourth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in April, will start the season on the team’s physically unable to perform list after he broke his ankle in May. He will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

Continue reading "Where the Western New Yorkers are after final cuts around the NFL" »

LB Bryan Scott, DT Torell Troup, QB Thad Lewis among Bills cuts

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are under the roster limit after dropping five more players this afternoon. Teams had until 6 p.m. to reduce their rosters to 53 players.

The released players:

  • Quarterback Thad Lewis
  • Defensive end Jamie Blatnick
  • Defensive end Izaan Cross
  • Defensive tackle Torell Troup
  • Linebacker Bryan Scott

Although Lewis was an interesting sidelight over the past week, Scott and Troup are the most notable cuts of this quintet.

Scott has played 10 NFL seasons as a defensive back and linebacker. He was a hybrid defender who the Bills hoped would help guard the NFL's new wave of athletic tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham.

Scott was fifth in tackles last year with 64. His four interceptions and eight pass breakups each ranked second on the team. He returned one of his interceptions for the Bills' only defensive touchdown of the season. He also had two forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Troup will forever remembered as the player the Bills selected one spot ahead of Gronkowski in the 2010 draft. Troup played 15 games as a rookie and started two. he played only six games in his second season and zero last year.

Can Bills steal a victory from 'average' Patriots on opening day?

By Tim Graham

The New England Patriots probably won't have any household names catching Tom Brady's passes on opening day.

Does that mean the Buffalo Bills will catch a break?

NFL Network reporter Albert Breer explored how much the defending AFC East champs could struggle at the beginning of the season.

To recap a Press Coverage story in which Jim Kelly a couple weeks ago called the Patriots "vulnerable," 88 percent of New England's catches, 87 percent of its yards and 88 percent of its touchdowns are off the roster or hurt. Gone are Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead. Aaron Hernandez is awaiting a murder trial. Rob Gronkowski is recovering from another surgery.

Continue reading "Can Bills steal a victory from 'average' Patriots on opening day?" »

Looking back: Buddy Nix's five biggest misses as Bills GM

Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey
Chan Gailey, right, had his moments, but went 16-32 as the Bills' head coach. (James P. McCoy/News file photo)


By Tim Graham

How will we remember Buddy Nix's tenure as Buffalo Bills general manager? With the help of beat reporter Mark Gaughan, we look back on the past three seasons and four drafts under Nix.

Here are his five biggest misses:

Continue reading "Looking back: Buddy Nix's five biggest misses as Bills GM" »

Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills know something nobody else does?

That idea alone is fascinating.

The chance of it being true is small based on the organization's track record. But maybe -- just maybe -- the Bills were smart to name EJ Manuel their franchise quarterback.

And if that decision is proven to be correct, while gathering two additional draft picks, then the possibilities are endless.

Continue reading "Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?" »

Bills best and worst draft picks, from Tom Cousineau to Jim Kelly

By Tim Graham

NFL.com has been running a series of articles examining every team's best and worst draft picks since 1966, the start of the Super Bowl era.

The Bills' breakdown was posted today, with five finalists in each category accompanied by a poll that allows fans to select the superlative picks.

Best

  • • Jim Kelly, 14th overall in 1983
  • • Bruce Smith, first overall in 1985
  • • Thurman Thomas, 40th overall in 1988
  • • Andre Reed, 86th overall in 1985
  • • O.J. Simpson, first overall in 1969

Worst

  • • Mike Williams, fourth overall in 2002
  • • Aaron Maybin, 11th overall in 2009
  • • Tom Cousineau, first overall in 1979
  • • J.P. Losman, 22nd overall in 2004
  • • James Hardy, 41st overall in 2008

While it's difficult to argue with any of the "best" candidates, what about those longshots who had fine careers? Hitting on the first overall pick shouldn't be difficult. Simpson was a no-brainer in 1969.

I'd like to have seen one of those late-round fliers get consideration. Right tackle Howard Ballard was an 11th-round stab in 1987 but was a two-time Pro Bowler who started 10 NFL seasons. Defensive lineman Kyle Williams was a 2006 fifth-round pick who's gone to a couple Pro Bowls.

As for the "worst" candidates, I have a problem with Cousineau making the list. What made him a bad pick wasn't his talent -- he started more NFL games than 1972 first overall pick Walt Patulski -- but the fact he refused to sign with the Bills.

Besides, the Bills turned Cousineau into the draft pick that became Kelly. Without the Cousineau selection and the subsequent contract squabble, the Bills wouldn't have gotten their Hall of Fame quarterback.

Defensive tackle Torell Troup, taken one pick ahead of superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski in 2010, warrants a spot in the poll.

And why should Hardy be considered worse than Perry Tuttle (19th overall in 1982) or Tony Hunter (12th overall in 1983) or Erik Flowers (26th overall in 2000) or John McCargo (26th overall in 2006)?

Rob Gronkowski enlightened about gay teammate issue

By Mark Gaughan

Williamsville native Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots' All-Pro tight end, has a reputation as a big, fun-loving jock.

Gronk, nevertheless, offered a relatively enlightened viewpoint today on the prospect of having a gay teammate during a radio interview on ESPN New York. 

"You have to accept the player," Gronkowski said. "Everyone has their own ways to live their life, and as long as he's respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, then I will respect him back. If he's being a great teammate and he's a guy on the field doing a great job, then you have nothing to complain about. He’s another teammate and another friend.

"If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win, that's all you can ask for."

Continue reading "Rob Gronkowski enlightened about gay teammate issue" »

Buffalo Bills fans to Wes Welker: Good riddance

By Tim Graham

If Tom Brady is upset, then Buffalo Bills fans should be thrilled.

Prolific slot receiver Wes Welker went bye-bye, leaving the New England Patriots for the Denver Broncos.

For the first time in nine seasons, Welker won't be in the AFC East. The Bills won't have to worry about him zipping across the middle of the field for 10 yards, 9 yards, 12 yards relentlessly.

Brady apparently was not amused by this development. Comcast Sportsnet New England reporter Tom E. Curran quoted someone close to Brady as calling the development a "disgrace" and a "disservice."

Yahoo! Sports writer Michael Silver also spoke with another source close to Brady, and the reaction was equally unpleasant.

"If the offense doesn't perform at a high level, they're screwed," the source was quoted by Silver. "This is unbelievable. It's hard not to feel like they've sold him out."

Continue reading "Buffalo Bills fans to Wes Welker: Good riddance" »

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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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