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EJ Manuel's first-round status not scaring Kevin Kolb

Manuel and Kolb
EJ Manuel, left, and Kevin Kolb are battling for the QB spot.


By Tim Graham

If the Buffalo Bills, the fans or the media are selling EJ Manuel as the opening-day starter simply because they drafted him in the first round, then Kevin Kolb's not interested in listening to the pitch.

"I don't buy what's being sold, I guess," Kolb said.

The Bills' quarterback competition began to crystallize Monday night, when they released Tarvaris Jackson. That leaves Kolb as the only veteran on the depth chart against Manuel. Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is lining up as the third-stringer.

Continue reading "EJ Manuel's first-round status not scaring Kevin Kolb" »

Poll: Disaster! Lone options are JaMarcus Russell, Trent Edwards

By Tim Graham

Unemployed former Buffalo Bills starter Trent Edwards reportedly will be one of three quarterbacks the Chicago Bears bring in this week for a tryout.

Captain Checkdown, however, isn't the headliner. Not even close.

The Bears are taking a look-see at 2007 top draft choice JaMarcus Russell, considered by many the worst draft pick of all-time.

Continue reading "Poll: Disaster! Lone options are JaMarcus Russell, Trent Edwards" »

Doug Marrone gives Da'Rick Rogers a talking-to and other notes

By Mark Gaughan

The defense looked better than the offense today as the Buffalo Bills finished their last voluntary, organized-team activity practice. The defenders were able to force a lot of short, check-down passes from the quarterbacks, and the completion percentages were not real high for any of the Bills' passers.

Second-year receiver T.J. Graham made the offensive play of the day, beating cornerback Ron Brooks down the left sideline and making a 50-yard catch on a throw into the wind from Tarvaris Jackson.

The Bills have had officials on the field for every practice that has been open to the media this spring.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone gives Da'Rick Rogers a talking-to and other notes" »

Tarvaris Jackson pragmatic about competing with high-profile rookie

By Mark Gaughan

The competition landscape facing Buffalo Bills veteran quarterback Tarvaris Jackson looks ominously similar to what he encountered last spring in Seattle.

The Bills acquired a veteran in free agency in Kevin Kolb and drafted EJ Manuel in the first round. Last year, Jackson was in a competition with Matt Flynn, a veteran who had been acquired in a trade, and Russell Wilson, a third-round draft pick who showed up with a glittering college resume.

It didn't work out for Jackson in Seattle. He was traded to the Bills in August for a seventh-round pick.

Nevertheless, Jackson is taking a realistic approach to his battle. All he can worry about is playing his best.

"There's a lot of similarities, to be honest with you," Jackson said. "Pretty much the same."

Continue reading "Tarvaris Jackson pragmatic about competing with high-profile rookie" »

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 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)

Kevin Kolb won't change Buffalo's philosophy on drafting a QB

The Buffalo Bills introduced new quarterback Kevin Kolb today. (Photo: John Hickey/Buffalo News)


By Tim Graham

A rookie quarterback is on his way to the Buffalo Bills, regardless of the Kevin Kolb signing.

If Kolb wants to win the gig and keep it, then he'll need to be successful straight away. A rugged start to the season and Bills fans will be screaming for the supposed franchise quarterback.

"You've always got to be on your toes," Kolb said. "You've always got to be ready. I'm ready for it. I'm excited about it. I want to be on the field and be the starter."

Continue reading "Kevin Kolb won't change Buffalo's philosophy on drafting a QB" »

Buddy Nix sold Tarvaris Jackson on returning to Bills

By Mark Gaughan

One might think Buffalo would be the last place Tarvaris Jackson would want to play this year after his experience in 2012. He was kept buried on the Bills' depth chart as the No. 3 quarterback behind Tyler Thigpen.

Nevertheless, Jackson said this week he was sold on returning to the Bills after his after-season conversation with Bills General Manager Buddy Nix.

"Before I left I had been talking to Buddy Nix and that was really one of the main reasons why I came back," Jackson said. "Just talking to him it seemed they really wanted me to come back. That was No. 1 on my list. It was a no-brainer.

"It was just talking about how things played out and it'll be a little different this year. I'll get a chance to compete, so that's all you can ask for."

Jackson, who turns 30 in a couple weeks, is 17-17 as a starting quarterback. Presuming the Bills follow through on their desire to take a rookie QB in the NFL Draft, it may not be easy for Jackson to rise up above No. 3 on the depth chart this year, either. The Bills have a deal with Kevin Kolb, who is 9-12 as an NFL starter.

Jackson said he liked the idea of staying where he had some familiarity. He wasn't expecting to be dealt from Seattle last August.

"This is a different year for me," Jackson said. "It's a new challenge for me, a new offense, a new team. The good thing about it is I've been here already. I'm familiar with the city. I'm familiar with the players, and now I'm trying to get familiar with the coaches. So that's a plus.

"When I was talking to Buddy before I left and he asked me one question, and it made a lot of sense. He said, 'I know you're tired of moving.' I said, 'Yeah I am.' That was a big part of it, just that whole transition again.

"The way I had to do it last year was kind of totally off guard. I kind of figured something was going to happen somewhere, but I didn't know exactly where. I think this is probably as far as you can get from Seattle, right? I had a long way to go."

The Bills and Kevin Kolb: Mutual desperation?

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills and Kevin Kolb look like they could be a match made out of necessity … or perhaps mutual desperation?

The Bills need more insurance behind whatever rookie quarterback they pick in the NFL draft. Right now they have only veteran Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp on the roster. Kolb needs to land a job before the draft, because teams usually are much less enthusiastic about veterans once they stock their roster with rookies.

The Bills reportedly have interest in Kolb, sources tell The Bills currently have the least amount of competition at quarterback of any NFL team.

The Arizona Cardinals released Kolb earlier this month in a move that resembled the Bills' release of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Kolb was cut loose just before Arizona was due to pay him a $2 million bonus.

Kolb, who turns 29 in August, has had too many injuries to step in as the favorite for a team's starting QB job. He played in only five games last season, getting knocked out for the year in Arizona’s Week Six loss to the Buffalo Bills due to detached ribs and a sprained shoulder. Kolb suffered a serious concussion that caused him to miss the last three games of the 2011 season. He missed two games in the 2010 season due to a concussion, as well. He played nine total games in 2011 and five in 2010. His overall record as an NFL starter is 9-12.

Besides the Bills, the teams with the most unsettled quarterback situations are Oakland, Jacksonville, the New York Jets and Arizona. Oakland’s starter, Carson Palmer, might be released if he does not accept a pay cut. Terrelle Pryor is Oakland’s backup. Jacksonville's top two QBs are Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. The Jets' list includes Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow. Tampa Bay could use a backup quarterback. The Bucs have Dan Orlovsky behind entrenched starter Josh Freeman. Arizona is left with Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton.

A total of 48 different players started NFL games at quarterback last season, which actually represented more stability than normal in an NFL campaign. Many years see more than that number starting games. There were 63 different starters, for instance, in 2010.

Donovan McNabb thinks Bills could use Vince Young

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills gave the Vince Young experiment a shot last summer. It looked like he had the No. 2 job locked up after a good showing in the third preseason game. Then he did little in the preseason finale and was released by former coach Chan Gailey in favor of ... Tyler Thigpen.

Young still is looking for another chance to revive his NFL career, and former NFL star quarterback Donovan McNabb thinks he belongs in the NFL.

McNabb on the NFL Network Tuesday:

"He deserves a second chance. Quarterback play has been really declining by a lot of different teams. A lot of guys are restructuring contracts [and] releasing their quarterbacks.

"Give him an opportunity to get back on his feet and also get himself established in this league. He was able to apologize to [coach Jeff] Fisher and move on with his life. Give him an opportunity,  bring him into camp and show his talents once again. He did it at the Texas Pro Day [Tuesday]. Obviously, a lot of eyes were focused on him. He was able to elevate and show he is still working hard to get back be an elite quarterback."

Continue reading "Donovan McNabb thinks Bills could use Vince Young" »

Doug Marrone wants to know what a franchise QB is

By Tim Graham

New Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone's ability to avoid answering a question like Fran Tarkenton on a desperation scramble is becoming fodder for national media outlets.

It turns out Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks was the one who asked Marrone at the NFL owners meetings about the Bills' decision to cut Ryan Fitzpatrick, eliciting a response that would make Sergeant Schultz proud.

Banks recounted his interaction with Marrone at the NFL owners meetings. Their Q&A included Marrone admitting he didn't know the Bills have missed the playoffs 13 straight seasons and haggling over the definition of what a franchise quarterback is.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone wants to know what a franchise QB is" »

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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 |