Watkins Practices: The Bills held their first practice of the regular season today and were pretty healthy as Sammy Watkins returned to the field but Doug Marrone declined to say how much he actually did. Chris Williams, Scott Chandler, and Stephon Gilmore all returned to practice. Randell Johnson was doing work on the side with trainers but remained sidelined. Lee Smith is still sidelined with his toe injury. Marrone said Leodis McKelvin is very close to being 100% healthy and will start against Chicago and will likely serve as the primary punt returner. Injury Page.
Bills Add 2 To Practice Squad: The Bills now have 9 players on their practice squad after adding Guard D.J. Morrell and FB Lonnie Pryor to the unit. They have one open space left. The team also released Tony Moeaki from the reserved/injured list after reaching an injury settlement with him. Morrell was signed by the Lions as an undrafted free agent this summer before joining the Rams. Pryor was with the Buccaneers last year. Front Office Page.
Players Elect Captains: Six players were elected to be captains by the teammates including two first year Bills. Corey Graham, Brandon Spikes, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, and Fred Jackson are the new captains. Jackson, Kyle, and Wood were captains last season.
Bills Add 7 To Practice Squad: The Bills filled seven of 10 spots on their practice squad today. All seven member were recent cuts by the team led by QB Jeff Tuel who will likely be activated immediately in case of an injury. Also added to the unit were Jimmy Gaines, Deon Broomfield, Caleb Holley, Kenny Ladler, Ike Igbinosun, and Bryan Johnson. T.J. Graham was claimed off of waivers by the Tennessee Titans. Front Office Page.
Bills Get Roster Down: The Bills got the roster down to 53 men while officially adding Kyle Orton and punter Colton Schmidt. The team released Jeff Tuel so it looks like they will be just carrying two quarterbacks to start the season. Schmidt had a net average of 46.1 yards on his preseason punts with the 49ers. He had two stints with the 49ers since signing with them last offseason as an undrafted free agent and had a week with the Browns but never punted in an NFL game. The big name released was not a surprise as T.J. Graham was let go. The Bills reportedly were trying to trade him all offseason. Doug Legursky was released which means Kraig Urbik made the team as a backup interior lineman and the number two center. Also released were Ike Igbinosun, Kenny Ladler, Antoine McClain, Bryan Johnson, Jimmy Gaines, Deon Broomfield, and Caleb Holley. Jordan Gay makes the team as the kickoff specialist and gives them a backup punter. All the draft picks made the team but no undrafted free agents survived the final cuts. The moves leaves the roster at 54 but they have a one week exemption for Nigel Bradham who is suspended for the opener. Front Office Page.
Bills Agree With Orton: The backup QB carousel has landed on a veteran with some real playing experience as the team has reportedly agreed to terms with Kyle Orton on a one year deal with a player option for a second season. He brings some credibility to the backup spot for the first time in a few years and he is a player fans may be calling for to replace EJ Manuel if he continues to struggle into the regular season. Depth Chart.
Bon Jovi Out? The New York Post reports that Jon Bon Jovi has parted ways with his Toronto partners in a bid for the Bills. Final bids are due next week and the report says the group feels they are in better position to get the team without Bon Jovi as the majority owner since he limits how much they can bid. The report also says that the Rogers family is very serious on getting the team. Other reports say it is unlikely Bon Jovi was thrown out but may have left on his own. Morgan Stanley reportedly is trying to find another partner for Bon Jovi. He just wants an NFL team and with another partner I'm sure he would have no problem keeping the team in Western New York he was just with the wrong partners.
Sanbron Gets Contract Extension: The Bills extended the contract of long snapper Garrison Sanborn for three years worth $3.3 Million. He was due to be a free agent after this season. He has played all 80 games since he has been with the team in 2009.
Moorman Leads List Of First Cuts: The Bills got their roster down to 62 players as they released 10 players led by veteran punter Brian Moorman. Also released were LB Xavius Boyd, DT Landon Cohen, TE Dominique Jones CB Kamaal McIlwain, CB Sam Miller, QB Jordan Palmer, FB Evan Rodriguez, and WR Naaman Roosevelt. The team has until Saturday afternoon to get the roster down to 54 men as they have a one week roster exemption for Nigel Bradham as he serves his suspension in week 1. Palmer was cut after a poor performance that should have been expected since it was just two days after being signed. The Bills are still in the market for a backup QB. Cohen's cut was a bit of a surprise since he performed well early in the preseason. They also placed Mario Butler, Tony Moeaki, and Bobby Felder on the reserved/injured list. Front Office Page.
Cuts Loom: The Bills have until tomorrow afternoon to get the roster down to 54 men but will likely announce their cuts today. The reason they have to get down to 54 is because they have a one week roster exemption for Nigel Bradham as he serves his suspension in week 1. They will then have to make another move after the Bears game. Even after the cuts the roster won't be set as Doug Marrone said they may look for another quarterback after yesterday's 23-0 shutout loss to the Lions. FB Evan Rodriquez and TE Dominique Jones have already tweeted that they have been released.
Preseason Finally Over: I don't remember a preseason that was as atrocious as this one. It ended with a 23-0 shoutout loss at home to the Detroit Lions as the Bills finished the preseason 1-4. To add injury to insult Sammy Watkins left the game after aggravating his rib injury. EJ Manuel and most of the starters played the entire first quarter but struggled hitting just 3 of 7 passes for 56 yards. Jordan Palmer took it the rest of the way and did his best Matt Leinart impression going just 9 of 22 for 73 yards and three interceptions. He was in a nearly impossible situation playing after just signing on Tuesday. There was nothing good in this game as the Bills struggled throughout. Boobie Dixon led the way with 46 yards on 8 carries. Robert Woods caught a team tying high two catches for 36 yards.
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.