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Bills Lose To Rams In Preseason Opener

Jimmy WilliamsThe week was highlighted by a sloppy 24-10 loss to the Rams in the opening preseason game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. We take a closer look at all the news and give you our take on the issues:

The Bills had many negatives in their loss to the Rams according to Coach Williams. The special teams had a very up and down day as the two rookie punters punted well and Brain Moorman even recovered a fumble! Avion Black had a nice 31 yard punt return but than fumbled a kickoff that was returned for a score. Travis Henry was the lone star as his play really stood out including his 25 yard touchdown run. Lance Brown shined on special teams but was awful as a cornerback getting beat for a 60 yard touchdown pass. Rob Johnson saw 12 snaps and was 3 of 5 including two scrambles. Sam Cowart did not play because of back spasms. Our Take: The new look Bills looked a lot like the same old Bills. Coach Williams knows he has a lot of work to do. Henry looks like a shoe-in at this point to win the starting running back job. Brown's best chance for sticking is as a special teams ace like Steve Tasker or Mark Pike used to do. If the defense plans on leaving the Corners in single coverage they better learn how to tackle better. If the punters remain close the better kickoff man may win the job as Steve Christie re-iterated this week that he doesn't want to kickoff. For more coverage of the game go to our gameday homepage.

The Bills added two players this week as they traded Bobby Collins to the Green Bay Packers for defensive end David Bowens. They then signed free agent Wide Receiver Reggie Allen. Allen was with the Bills Camp in 1999 and most recently played with the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League. Bowens was a fifth round pick in the same year that the Bills drafted Collins in the fourth round. He is a pass rushing specialist who the Bills hope can develop into an every down player. Our Take: The trade is a no brainer since one of the tight ends had to go anyway since Dan O'Leary is going to make the team based on his tight end play and long snapping talents. The fact that the Packers needed a backup at TE and the Bills needed some depth at DE, makes this truly a trade that could help both teams. Bowens performed very well in the game against the Rams. Allen is most likely training camp fodder but if he shows promise as a returner he has an outside chance at sticking.

There were some changes to the depth chart this week. Rookie TE Josh Whitman is seeing some time at fullback. On the offensive line there was major shuffling in the wake of last week's scrimmage. Jonas Jennings has now been given the chance to win the starting job at right tackle and Kris Farris has been moved to a backup spot at left tackle. Marques Sullivan has been moved from guard to left tackle also. Craig Heimburger will get more playing time at guard instead of center. Michael Early will get more work at center as the coaches try to find the right combination of depth. Our Take: It appears the right tackle spot is Jennings job to lose. He had an up and down first game as he had two costly holding penalties but did spring Henry for his touchdown run with a key block. Robert Hicks has fallen off the face of the earth again, he may not make the team.

Meanwhile on the practice fields of St. Johns Fisher the club practiced well in what was mostly extreme heat this week. Coach Williams was impressed that players remained hydrated and didn't need any IVs. The club held their second night practice on Monday and Commissioner Tagliabue was in attendance and came away impressed calling the Bills a model franchise in regionalization. The players also held two more full team autograph sessions on Friday and Saturday. One of the most impressive players in camp has been Bill Conaty who has been praised by the coach and his quarterback. On Tuesday the club had a very good goal line drill and the coach is impressed by the downfield blocking of his wide receivers and tight ends. On Friday, Steve Tasker was in attendance and he was also impressed with the way the players have bought into the system. Our Take: Everything seems great at practice, unfortunately it didn't translate into results on the field in the first preseason game.

The heat and fatigue took it toll on players this week at camp. Sam Cowart gave the team a scare when he was carted off on Thursday. He is suffering from back spasms because of the heat but should be fine for next week's game against Philadelphia. Keith Newman suffered a groin strain that was also heat related but he played against St. Louis. Phil Hansen tweaked his groin in practice this week and Peerless Price and Jimmy Robinson missed some time with minor ailments. Jeremy McDaniel re-aggravated his sprained ankle and missed the Rams game. The biggest injury of the week was to Jon Carman who will miss some time with a sprained foot. The walking wounded from a week ago all returned as Sammy Morris, Antoine Winfield, Ken Irvin, Travares Tillman and Jay Riemersma all returned to the field. Our Take: Most of the injuries are very minor, keep your fingers crossed it stays that way. For the latest injury news check out our injury page.

Off the field, Rob Johnson wasn't happy with an article in Sports Illustrated. He posed in his hot tub for the article and then was upset that he was portrayed as a swinging bachelor. He wanted them to use pictures of him working out with his Father and others. Our Take: We understand that Johnson doesn't want that image here in Western New York but then why did he let them take that picture in the hot tub?

Peerless Price was the latest player to lash out at last season's coaching staff. He said everything went through Eric Moulds. Even if a play was designed for him they moved Moulds into that spot. It got so bad, that Moulds would then switch with Price on the line of scrimmage so Peerless could catch more balls later in the season. Moulds said the coaches were ticked off but got used to it. Our Take: That may explain why Price's stats improved late in the year and it also proves that the old coaching staff had no control over the players.

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