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The Senator and Solidarity

Bills safety George Wilson is a frequent voice of eloquence and reason in the Buffalo locker room. So it was no surprise to see "The Senator" provided some of the more passionate comments on the Saints and Vikings players' show of union solidarity before Thursday's opener. Wilson called the gesture a show of respect and said he "felt chills" when he saw it.

It's good to see the NFL players showing solidarity as the continue their difficult negotiations with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement. The players put their physical well-being on the line and take a huge physical toll over their careers, most of which are relatively short. I hope this is more than an empty gesture and the players stick together for the good of all. They should be wary about going to an 18-game schedule, which will put even more stress on their bodies and shorten careers.

How disappointing to hear the Cowboys' Roy Williams decline comment on the issue, saying he doesn't get into "politics". This is an association that has represented NFL players for decades and helped get Williams and his fellow players the lucrative salaries and benefits they enjoy. Sure, any union battle is by nature political. But it's weak for Williams to act as if he's above the fray.



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Chan on Spiller

C.J. Spiller is the nominal No. 1 running back on the Bills' current depth chart, but coach Chan Gailey suggested Wednesday that his star rookie won't be given the heavy workload of a typical featured back in this Sunday's opener against the Dolphins.

"We have to be very smart about how we handle him, especially early in the year," Gailey said on Media Day in the fieldhouse. "We have to make sure we don't throw too much on him very early in the season."

Gailey was quick to add that if the rest of his backs are healthy, giving too much responsibility to Spiller "should never be an issue."

Gailey said the Bills  have three No. 1 running backs (Spiller, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch). ""We've got three starters. Some people have trouble finding one starter and we have three."

Fred Jackson, who won the starting job last year, is expected to play but isn't fully recovered from his broken hand. It sounds as if Gailey intends to spread the carries around and take advantage of Jackson's ability to run inside. Jackson has done well against Miami in his career. In five games against the Dolphins, Jackson has 49 carries for 271 yards -- a 5.5 average. 

It will not be a surprise to see Spiller and Jackson (or Lynch) on the field at the same time. Spiller is a special player.  He'll get his touches. But Jackson proved he could be an every-down NFL back last year, and I suspect Gailey will want to maximize his talents while developing Spiller.
 

Bills Cuts

There were no major surprises among the Bills' 19 cuts today. I was mildly surprised that James Hardy got the pink slip. Hardy was a second-round pick just two years ago. He barely got on the field a year ago. But evidently, Chan Gailey saw all he needed to see in training camp and came to the same conclusion the coaches did late last year: Hardy simply isn't good enough. This qualifies as yet another black mark on the record of Tom Modrak, the chief college scout.

This move says Gailey and Buddy Nix had no emotional investment in Hardy just because the team used a high draft choice on him. He wasn't their mistake. It's a good sign that they're making moves based on merit and not a player's draft stature. They kept an undrafted rookie receiver, Donald Jones, who has more value on special teams. That's an indication that Bruce DeHaven, the veteran special teams coach, has influence with the top brass and needs help on his struggling units.

I didn't expect Joique Bell to be cut, though the Bills have three running backs ahead of him. He'll probably be on the practice squad and he's a promising asset for the future. I don't see Marshawn Lynch on this team long-term. It would have been a big surprise if they cut Lynch, but it's clear that the coaches feel Lynch can still help, especially if Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller get hurt.

Kirk Chambers was nominally the third offensive tackle, but he brings little to the table. It wouldn't be a shock if the Bills picked up an offensive lineman off the waiver wire. They're still very thin there.

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