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Bills activate some young scratches to see what they can do

By Tim Graham

TAMPA, Fla. -- A few Buffalo Bills youngsters will get a chance to show what they can do this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium.

Activated today are a few players who haven't been dressing. Among them are running back Ronnie Wingo, guard J.J. Unga and linebacker Ty Powell. Tight end Chris Gragg, who played six straight games but was benched last week, will dress again today.

Buccaneers who were listed with injuries but will dress include cornerback Darrelle Revis and receivers Vincent Jackson and Chris Owusu, who had hamstring strains.

Buccaneers defensive end Steven Means, a Buffalo native, will dress.

Here are all the inactives for today's game:

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Jeff Tuel
  • Fullback Frank Summers
  • Tight end Tony Moeaki
  • Guard Mark Asper
  • Guard Antoine McClain
  • Linebacker Jamaal Westerman
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Fullback Lonnie Pryor
  • Guard Patrick Omameh
  • Guard Carl Nicks
  • Defensive tackle Gary Gibson
  • Linebacker Danny Lansanah
  • Cornerback Deveron Carr
  • Safety Bradley McDougald

Bills continually plowing under bottom of roster, practice squad

By Tim Graham

To everything, churn, churn, churn ...

In hopes of maximizing personnel, the Buffalo Bills have been busy rototilling the bottom part of their roster and practice squad this fall.

Over the past nine weeks, the Bills have made 33 player transactions. Few were forced by injuries. Most were made simply to improve depth and bring aboard raw prospects.

"That's something that we're always trying to do because I believe development in this league is extremely important," Bills coach Doug Marrone said, "and that's the way that we can develop players, bringing players in and out and seeing which one sticks."

While the Bills are mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, much of the focus has shifted to player evaluation for the future. That's why veteran running back Tashard Choice was cut, and former practice-squad player Ronnie Wingo will get a look-see over the final four weeks.

Marrone said he meets "constantly" with General Manager Doug Whaley and player personnel director Jim Monos about tweaking the roster with an eye toward the future.

"That's where sometimes those guys pop, and that's where they come from," Marrone said. "I think when you look at the situation that we're in, when I think you look at salary cap, I think that there are certain positions you need to develop. If you don't develop those positions, you're going to get in trouble from a salary cap standpoint and not be the best team you can be if you're relying on paying players at the highest price to play certain positions."

As you'll see below, the Bills regard some developmental positions more prominently than others.

In the final season with GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey, the Bills made 28 practice-squad signings or releases. That total does not include players who were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, only those who were added to the developmental squad or released outright.

After the 2012 Bills signed their eight practice-squad players at the start of the year, they didn't make another move for four weeks.

Under Whaley and Marrone, the Bills have made 25 practice-squad moves already. They've also patrolled other teams' taxi squads, plucking defensive tackle Stefan Charles and guard J.J. Unga for the 53-man roster.

After signing their original eight, the Bills made three moves in September, six in October and six in November. The Bills have made two transactions so far in December.

The Bills already have matched last year's number of practice-squad players promoted to the active roster. They've elevated five, most notably quarterback Thad Lewis.

Of last year's promotions, receiver Marcus Easley is the only one still on the active roster. Wide receiver Kevin Elliott is on injured reserve. Safety Mana Silva left the team without permission in training camp, but remains Bills property.

A breakdown of practice-squad transactions the past two years:

2012

Final practice squad: running back Zach Brown, tight end Derek Buttles, offensive lineman Andrew Jackson, tackle Adam Grant, defensive end Corbin Bryant, defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, linebacker Brian Smith.

Total moves (not counting promotions): 28.

Moves by position: nine offensive lineman, five receiver, four defensive back, three tight end, three defensive tackle, two linebacker, one running back.

Promotions to active roster: defensive tackle Jay Ross, offensive lineman David Snow, receiver Marcus Easley, safety Mana Silva, Ross again after being cut and re-signed and receiver Kevin Elliott.

2013

Current practice squad: quarterback Dennis Dixon, receivers Cordell Roberson and Tommy Streeter, tackles Edawn Coughman and Jamaal Johnson-Webb, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, linebacker Jacquies Smith, cornerback Mario Butler.

Total moves (not counting promotions): 25.

Moves by position: eight defensive end, five cornerback, five guard, two quarterback, two receiver, two offensive tackle, one running back.

Promotions to active roster: cornerback Johnny Adams, quarterback Thad Lewis, cornerback Brandon Smith, guard Mark Asper, running back Ronnie Wingo.

The breakdown shows the developmental emphasis shifted to defensive end, from one move last year to a team-high eight so far this year.

Also interesting is that previous Bills management didn't bother with a developmental quarterback, but the new regime has placed an importance there. Good thing, because Lewis helped the Bills remain competitive when rookie EJ Manuel missed four games with a knee injury.

Bills release RB Tashard Choice

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills announced running back Tashard Choice has been released.

A sixth-year NFL veteran, Choice joined Buffalo midway through the 2011 season and has served as the No. 3 running back since.

He had 35 carries this season for 126 yards. Throughout his time with the Bills, he had 105 carries for 389 yards in 29 games.

Choice played six snaps on offense over the past three games. Overall this year, he averaged 8.5 offensive plays a game, or 11 percent of the snaps.

Ronnie Wingo is the other halfback on the BIlls' roster, after C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

Kyle Williams active for Bills

By Tim Graham

TORONTO -- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams will dress for this afternoon's game against the Atlanta Falcons in the Rogers Centre.

Williams' status was suddenly in question when he wrenched his back getting out of bed Friday morning.

The inactives:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Running back Josh Vaughan
  • Guard Harland Gunn
  • Tackle Terren Jones
  • Tackle Sean Locklear
  • Defensive tackle Travian Robertson
  • Linebacker Omar Gaither
  • Safety Kemal Ishmael

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Jeff Tuel
  • Running back Ronnie Wingo
  • Tight end Chris Gragg
  • Guard J.J. Unga
  • Guard Antoine McClain
  • Linebacker Ty Powell
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith

Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods are back and other Bills notes

By Tim Graham

Some notes from the start of Buffalo Bills practice today in the field house:

Wide receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods were on the field and appeared to be participating in all the drills for the portion of practice reporters are allowed to watch. Johnson (groin) missed the Bills last game. Woods (ankle) missed the past two.

"They looked good," Bills coach Doug Marrone said of Johnson and Woods. "They looked fresh."

Rookie cornerback Jonathan Meeks (ankle) was on the field today, the earliest he could return to practice since being placed on recallable injured reserve. The Bills can activate Meeks in two weeks.

Marrone said running back Ronnie Wingo wasn't at practice today because of a missed flight.

"He'll be fined," Marrone said.

The Bills signed tackle Manase Foketi to the practice squad and released guard Bryant Browning.

Ed Reed to start for Jets; David Nelson will be captain

By Tim Graham

No major announcements when it comes to the scratches for today's game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

But the Jets have announced Ed Reed will start at safety. The Jets signed him three days ago after the Houston Texans cut him.

You also can bank on former Bills receiver David Nelson being a captain. Jets coach Rex Ryan likes to do that when his players go up against their old teams.

All the inactives:

New York Jets

  • Quarterback David Garrard
  • Running back Alex Green
  • Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley
  • Guard William Campbell
  • Tackle Ben Ijilana
  • Tackle Oday Aboushi
  • Linebacker Garrett McIntyre

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Jeff Tuel
  • Running back Ronnie Wingo
  • Wide receiver Stevie Johnson
  • Wide receiver Robert Woods
  • Guard Antoine McClain
  • Cornerback Justin Rogers
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith

Bills at Steelers inactives: Robert Woods, Jeff Tuel scratched

By Tim Graham

PITTSBURGH -- The Buffalo Bills won't have rookie receiver Robert Woods today against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Woods is out with an ankle injury that kept him from practicing. He has 26 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

Here are all the inactives:

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Jeff Tuel
  • Running back Ronnie Wingo
  • Wide receiver Robert Woods
  • Guard Antoine McClain
  • Linebacker Ty Powell
  • Cornerback Justin Rogers
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Quarterback Landry Jones
  • Wide receiver Derek Moye
  • Tight end Richard Gordon
  • Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo
  • Linebacker Kion Wilson
  • Linebacker Chris Carter
  • Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke

Bills promote RB Ronnie Wingo to 53-man roster for Saints

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills promoted running back Ronnie Wingo to the 53-man roster today in preparation for Sunday's game against the Saints in New Orleans.

The moves adds depth at running back with C.J. Spiller listed as doubtful and not likely to play in the game.

Wingo, 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds, is a big, hybrid running back-fullback. He has been on the practice squad the first seven weeks of the season. He was undrafted in April out of the University of Arkansas and was released by Atlanta in preseason.

He saw action in 49 games in college. His best season was his junior year, when he shared the lead running back duties and rushed for 458 yards and three touchdowns. His senior year he got just 12 carries for 59 yards. 

Bills fill out practice squad

Adams
Johnny Adams ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. (Associated Press)

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills completed their eight-player practice squad today with the signings of cornerback Johnny Adams, offensive tackle Edawn Coughman and running back Ronnie Wingo.

Adams, 24, signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent following this year's NFL draft. He spent time with both the Texans and Indianapolis Colts in training camp before being released Aug. 26. The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder started 39 of 54 career games in college at Michigan State, making 157 tackles, 35 passes defensed and 11 interceptions.

Coughman, 25, came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. He spent a portion of last season on their practice squad, then signed in May with the Dallas Cowboys. He was released overthe weekend. Coughman, a 6-4, 313-pounder, played 11 nine games with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League in 2011 after playing collegiately at Shaw.

Wingo was an undrafted free agent signing of the Atlanta Falcons after this year's draft. He was part of the team's final cuts over the weekend. The 22-year-old, 6-3, 231-pounder played in college at Arkansas, where he was teammates with current Bills tight end Chris Gragg. Wingo gained 1,089 yards on 206 carries with eight touchdowns in 49 college games.

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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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