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Several Sitting Tonight: Even though some starters are seeing playing time tonight several players are sitting including Stephon Gilmore, Corey Graham, Chris Williams, Mario Butler, Jonathan Meeks, Bobby Felder, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Lee Smith. Many other starters especially on defense will just make a cameo if they play at all. Gilmore, Graham, and Chandler have not been missing time in practice so they might just be getting a break. Williams, Butler, Felder, Moeaki, and Smith have been missing time with various injuries.
Bills to Face Lions:The Bills wrap up their preseason games tonight at Ralph Wilson Stadium when they take on the Detroit Lions. This will be the fifth preseason game for the team as they had an extra game by playing at the Hall of Fame to kickoff the preseason. Some starting players are expected to see playing time tonight, although coach Doug Marrone was non-committal about who would play and for how long. He said he would like to see some guys get some reps together that haven't had much time together, suggesting that the offensive line could see at least some starting players. After a dismal preseason it may be important for the starting offense to play a short time and gain some confidence - that may be more important than extra reps for some players at this point. The game will be blacked out locally in WNY but will re-air on the NFL Network on Sunday morning at 7 a.m.
Bills Get Punter:The Bills made a somewhat surprising waiver wire acquisition yesterday when they were awarded punter Jordan Gay off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. Gay saw time punting as well as being used as a kickoff specialist and kicking some field goals. Gay was cut by the Panthers earlier this offseason, saw some time with the Giants and then returned to the Panthers before being placed on waivers. He has reportedly struggled with consistency at times and it is unknown how he would be utilized if he makes the final Bills roster - some say he could replace Brian Morrman and/or be a kickoff specialist.
Alonso on IR:The Bills placed line backer Kiko Alonso on the Injured Reserve/Non Football Injury list. The designation leaves open the possibility that he could return this season, although that is very unlikely. The designation is seen mainly as a way to prevent Alonso from obtaining an accrued NFL season, meaning he would have one more season as a restricted free agent before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Stadium Report:The consultants putting together a report on possible new stadium sites for the Cuomo administration has reportedly cut the list of site recommendations down to four, all of them in Erie County. Removed from the list were sites in Niagara Fall and Buffalo's outer harbor. The consultants evidently ruled these sites out due to accessibility issues and the need to build several new bridges for each location to make them viable. The final report will likely be released after a new owner is named as the state does not want to be seen as interfering with the selection of a new owner.
Bills To Add Quarterback and Cut Thad Lewis: Multiple media sources report the Bills are set to sign quarterback Jordan Palmer and bring him in as a backup to E.J. Manuel. Pro Football Talk reports that to make room for Palmer, backup Thad Lewis has been cut. Lewis started some games for the Bills last season but has not shown much in the preseason this year. Palmer is the younger brother of Arizona's Carson Palmer and is available after being cut from the Chicago Bears when the backup role went to Jimmy Clausen. Palmer is reported to be a player-coach type who could provide mentoring for Manuel. Buffalo coach Doug Marrone has not been shy about being dissatisfied with the play of his backup quarterbacks, but availability at the position has limited his options.
Blackout: The Bills announced on Monday that Thursday's contest at Ralph Wilson stadium has not sold out in time to avoid the NFL balckout rule, meaning Thursday's final preseason contest against Detroit will not be televised locally.
Watkins Practices: Bills first round pick Sammy Watkins returned to full practice without any restrictions after suffering a rib injury in the preseason game in Pittsburgh. Watkins says he is still sore but understands playing through bumps and bruises is part of the game. The Bills offensive starters will reportedly see some action on Thursday night - it is not known whether that will include Watkins.
Bills Trim Roster: The Bills cut 11 players this morning as they work to have the roster down to 75 by Tuesday as required by the league. Cuts included Dennis Dixon, Dustin Hopkins and Jake Dombrowski, confirming roster spots at kicker and punter and hinting that both Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis could be kept at QB. Other cuts included Derek Brim, Tori Gurley, Jajuan Harley, Damien Jacobs, Macky MacPherson, Chris Summers, J.J. 'Unga and Ronnie Wingo
Bills Preseason Home Opener Debacle: Saturday's game was billed as the best chance to see the real 2014 Buffalo Bills and conditions were near perfect - a home crowd with beautiful weather in a newly-renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium. A few key players sat out, notably Sammy Watkins who was nursing sore ribs, and Kyle Williams who was listed as out with an undisclosed leg injury. All eyes were on the first team offense as the unit had failed to score a touchdown in their first 3 games. The starters took the field and did not look good. Against Tampa's starters for the first half, the Bills were shutout and never moved the ball closer to the Tampa 43. The stats were terrible - 8 drives, 6 first downs, 2 fumbles, 1 interception, 2 sacks, 7 penalties for 53 yards and 82 total yards on offense. E.J. Manuel did nothing to silence his critics as he was hurried in the pocket, looked flustered and was inaccurate. In the first half he was 9-18 for 67 yards with a paltry 3.7 yards per attempt. When the Bills left the field at halftime down 24-0 coach Marrone called the teams' play "awful" and the players were serenaded with boos from the stands. Against Tampa's reserves in the second half the Bills starters turned it around with Manuel going 10-10 and leading 2 touchdown drives but it was too little, too late. The good news is that no major injuries were reported. The Bills will need to do some serious soul searching over the next two weeks if they want to be considered a playoff team - they did not look like one yesterday and it may be time to start worrying.
Branch Released after Arrest: Updating our earlier story, embattled DT Alan Branch was released by the Bills on Sunday afternoon following his Saturday arrest on suspicion of DWI. Police in Cheektowaga stopped Branch after they saw him vomit from the window of his car. A breathalyser showed his BAC at .14, nearly twice the legal limit. Since signing a contract extension Branch skipped voluntary OTAs, arrived at training camp out of shape and failed his physical. His release was widely anticipated and was announced by a simple one-line statement from the front office.
Bills Preseason Home Opener: After three preseason games outside the friendly confines of Orchard Park, the Bills finally return home for their fourth preseason contest when they face the Bucs this afternoon. The game will be aired locally as well as live on NFL Network at 4:30 for out of market fans. The first team offense will try and make a statement afterfailing to score a touchdown through the first three preseason games. Starters are expected to see significant playing time as this is the second to last preseason game. The game marks the debut of new offseason renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium and is also Kids Day.
Conflicting Bid Information: A story earlier this week in Forbes reported that all of the initial bids for the Bills fell short of the $900 million mark, suggesting that the bids were so low it could be uncomfortable for the NFL. Now a new story by John Kryk of Canadian news site Canoe claims to know definitively that the Bon Jovi Toronto group bid $1-$1.1 Billion as groups were allowed to specify a bid range in initial bids. Forbes reported Terry Pegula's bid was $890, but if Kryk's report is correct it would suggest that Pegula's bid is either not the top offer or that initial reports of the bid being in the $1.3 Billion range may have been closer to the actual mark. At this point the only thing that is certain is that few are privy to the world of sports ownership high finance and there is plenty of speculation and bad information to go around.
No Bids Over $900 Million: Forbes reports that the highest bid received in the initial bidding process for the Bills was by the Pegulas for a low amount of $890 Million. The Bon Jovi group bid was reportedly $820 Million while Donald Trump reportedly bid $809 Million. The magazine suggests the low bids means the trust should fire Morgan Stanley and start over. There is no report that will happen. The Associated Press reports that the final bids from all groups is due just after Labor Day. The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Bon Jovi bid is on life support and they are considering dropping out before the final bids. John Wawrow of the AP was on WGR today and said there is a chance of a surprise bidder coming forward but he echoes the sentiments of everyone else that it is the Pegulas' to lose. Tom Golisano also reportedly bid on the team. The bidders are receiving tours of the renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium this week. The Pegulas reportedly toured today along with another potential unnamed bidder. The Bon Jovi group was suppose to tour the stadium yesterday but it was cancelled fueling the speculation that they will drop out.