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Special Teams Cost Bills Opener

Chad MortonWebmasters Note: Our News archives replace our week in review column during the football season. The review will return in the offseason.

Heartbreaking Loss: The loss yesterday to the Jets was a heartbreaker but it was an exciting contest that showed the Bills could play with the best teams in the league on both sides of the ball. Now if they could come up with special teams plays then they will be able to put it all together. Complete Review.

Special Teams Fail Test: The Bills offensive and defensive play was definitely above average and better than most thought it would be on both lines especially. If it wasn't for the complete failure of the special teams the Bills win this game probably fairly easily. Gameday Grades.

Smith's Job Safe: Despite many fans thoughts that special teams coordinator Danny Smith should be fired after yesterday's debacle, don't count on it. After the game, Coach Williams blamed the returns on missed tackles not the scheme. Translation: Smith isn't blame his players are. If the Bills didn't cut Fred Jones this week, would he have made a tackle on one of those returns? Don't be shocked if the Bills make any player moves this week to shore up the coverage units. A player on the hot seat is Jason Bostic who missed a tackle on the overtime score.

Bills Escape Game Injury Free: One bit of good news after a gloomy loss is the fact that the Bills came out of the game injury free, they didn't even seem to get any players banged up. The Jets weren't as lucky since their start running back missed the second half with a sprained ankle thanks to a hit by Keith Newman. Injury Page.

Inactives: In a bit of a surprise second round pick Ryan Denney was inactive instead of undrafted free agent end Grant Irons who recorded a sack. Other inactives were: Tyrone Robertson, Kevin Thomas, Mike Pucillo, Mike Houghton, Joe Burns and Andre Rone.

Saturday September 7, 2002

Game Soldout: The game against the Jets is officially a sellout and the blackout has been lifted. That means the game will be seen in Western New York on CBS. There were a few hundred tickets remaining this week and the team had until 1pm on Friday to sell the remaining seats and did. The extra day from the usual 72 hour blackout period was because of the labor day holiday.

Kelly Gets A Road: The honors keep on coming for hall of fame QB Jim Kelly. He now has a road named after him. The section of Abbott Road just outside Ralph Wilson Stadium is now named Jim Kelly Boulevard.

Friday September 6, 2002

Morris Upgraded: The only player on the Bills injury report has been upgraded. Sammy Morris is now listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Jets. He was originally listed as questionable. Injury Report.

Thursday September 5, 2002

Players Only Meeting: It is move that is usually saved to stop a losing streak but the Bills veterans didn't want to wait that long. Led by Larry Centers the veterans held a players only meeting after today's practice. They just wanted to make sure the veterans and the young players were all on the same page heading into the season.

Starting Lineup Set: Coach Williams made it official that Chidi Ahanout will start at left defensive end. He will play mostly on first and second downs but he is in some pass rush packages. Ron Edwards will start next to him at left defensive tackle also known as the under tackle. Originally we thought rookie Justin Bannan or Tyrone Robertson would start there. Depth Chart.

Germany Suspended: The Bills have moved Reggie Germany from the reserved-injured list to the reserved-suspended list. The NFL had no comment on his suspension as they can't comment until the process is complete.

Geason To Play: Recently signed tight end Cory Geason is expected to see some action during the game this week on special teams and in short yardage situations. He's considered a very good run blocker.

Wednesday September 4, 2002

Morris Only Injured Player: The Bills do go into the season very healthy as the only player listed on the official NFL injury report is Sammy Morris he is questionable with an ankle sprain that he suffered Monday in practice. He was on the field during today's workout but did not particpate in drills. The Jets have four players listed on their report but only one or two players are expected to miss the game. Injury Report.

Stevenson Added: The Bills have added recently cut Dominique Stevenson to the practice squad. His signing fills up the five man unit. He is one of two seventh round picks now on that squad.

Coach Added: The Bills added a coach today by announcing that O'Neill Gilbert will stay on with the team to help out with the defensive line. Gilbert was in the club's minority fellowship program and had worked with Coach Williams in Tennessee. He may be the heir apparent to John Levra who is retiring as the defensive line coach after this year.

Williams Talks About Opening Day: Coach Williams talked to the New York media about the game calling Curtis Martin the key component of their offense and an unsung hero in this league. He acknowledged the Bills are very comfortable with the leadership they have as Drew Bledsoe brings a calming influence on the team. He feels the offensive line can be a dominating force over time saying they haven't played much together so far in the preseason. The offensive line practiced together on Monday with a sense of urgency to protect Bledsoe. He feels the big skill players can make the big plays needed to be successful. The coach says starting the season with a divisional matchup makes it doubly important. One positive is that Bledsoe knowing the division can help mask other problems with the young team. The coach knows they still have a lot of work to do over the long haul but the excitement is very helpful calling Buffalo a special place to be this weekend.

Bledsoe Feels Bills Can Win: Drew Bledsoe told the media that despite the poor preseason he feels the team will be very good and extremely competitive. He feels the team needs to avoid the stupid mistakes from the past two preseason games and if they do that, they feel they can win this week. He feels it is beneficial to start the season with a team that they are familiar with but cautioned that the Jets are a good team and they will have to be ready to play to win it. He feels the gameplan is good with a narrowed down list of packages to help be productive in the running game.

Tuesday September 3, 2002

Jets Preview: The Bills are optimistic about the season and get a tough test on opening day against the Jets. This game promises to be a shootout as the Jets should be able to move the ball on the ground while the Bills move the ball in the air. Check out our first preview of the season on our gameday homepage. Complete Preview.

Tight End Move: The Bills have made another move by releasing TE Sheldon Jackson and replacing him on the roster with Cory Geason. He has spent the last three years with the Steelers playing in 17 games the past two years.

Bills Add Three; Release Three: The Bills added three players off of waivers from other teams and released three. They added two at the linebacking position by signing for Patriot Maugaula Tuitele and former Brown Anthony Denman. They made room by releasing special teams ace Fred Jones and seventh round draft pick Dominique Stevenson. They also made a move to shore up the offensive line by releasing Kris Farris and adding Packers sixth round pick Mike Houghton. Stevenson is a candidate for the one open spot on the practice squad. Houghton is a guard that will add to thin depth at that position. He also played center at San Diego St. Tuitele has been with the Patriots the last two years and has played in two games. Denman was on the Browns last year and played in 11 games. Front Office.

Morris twists ankle: Sammy Morris and Grant Irons needed to leave yesterday's workout early. Morris twisted an ankle and Irons was suffering from flu like symptoms. Neither player returned. The club is off today for their regular Tuesday off. They return to the practice field on Wednesday. Injury Page.

Practice Squad: The Bills have added four players to the practice squad leaving one spot open. All four players were among the final cuts by the team on Sunday. The players are: WR Rodney Wright, TE Brady McDonnell, G Michael Early, and CB Ahmad Brooks. The open spot on the practice squad may be used by a player currently on the 53 man roster. A player may be released if the Bills sign some veteran help that is on the waiver wire. Coach Williams told reporters to "stay tuned" when asked if the club would like to get some help for the defensive line.

Wire To Start: The Bills announced today that Coy Wire will start at strong safety when the Bills face the Jets on Sunday. Wire is a surprise starter as it was thought that Billy Jenkins would start the season as the starter. Wire was burned for a touchdown bomb in the final preseason game which some thought cemented Jenkins as the starter. Coach Williams said that it will be a week to week thing but that Jenkins will see a lot of playing time in multiple packages. Wire joins fellow rookies Mike Williams and Justin Bannan in the starting lineup. Depth Chart.

Monday September 2, 2002

Last Week In Review Of Off Season: As we've done in the past, Bills Daily will put the week in review on hiatus during the off season. We will continue to backup our news in our archives library during the season like we have since 1998. In our last week in review of this off season we go over the roster cuts and the final preseason game against Detriot along with our take on the issues. Week In Review.

Bills Search Wavier Wires: Now that the Bills roster is set at 53 don't expect it to stay the way it is very long. The team needs depth at guard and linebacker and would like to shore up the defensive line. They may also talk trade, the Buffalo News reports the team talked to Indianapolis about trading Richard Huntley to them before releasing him. They have also talked to Green Bay about defensive tackle Rod Walker but no deal has been worked out.

New Magazine Hits The Stands: Bills Daily is featured in a new sports publication in Western New York called "Buffalo Sports Report". The 44-page publication covers all sports in Western New York, especially the Buffalo Bills. The debut issue has a full Buffalo Bills 2002 season preview. The 26-page section features a positional anaylsis of the team, as well as an "On The Record" interview with Drew Bledsoe. Among others are features on Eric Moulds, Josh Reed, Nate Clements, Kenneth Davis and Scott Norwood. The preview is culminated with a special "Top 30 Bills of All-Time" feature done by the panel at Buffalo Sports Report, including Patrick Moran, Zig Fracassi, Clip Smith, Rick Zurak, Tom Fritz and John Gurtler. The publication is now on sale at numerous locations in WNY, including most Tops, Wilson Farms, Wegmans and Barnes & Noble. For more information, check out the website at

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