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WEEK IN REVIEW - AUG 18TH - AUG 24TH, 2003 PREVIOUS WEEK

Bills Beat Rams 28-24

Travis Henry The Bills and Rams played a thrilling game as far as the preseason goes. That, along with player releases and the breaking of training camp highlight a very busy week. We give you our take of all the news:

The Bills knew they needed to have a good performance, especially on offense, against the Rams and they delivered. Two scoring drives on their first two possessions. They also had two short scoring drives in the fourth quarter that were sandwiched in between 24 unanswered points by the Rams giving the Bills the 28-24 win. Many players stood up and gave the coach something to notice with more cuts looming. Others hurt their position in the win. There were over 62,000 at the game, making it the third largest preseason crowd in club history and the largest since 1973 when the stadium opened. Our Take: Clarence Coleman may have clinched a roster spot based on two long punt returns of 37 and 27 yards despite the fact he fumbled once. He also scored a touchdown. Bobby Shaw had a real solid performance and scored a touchdown, some say he may have leaped frog over Josh Reed on the depth chart, we disagree. The spot is Reed's, Shaw will play in the slot. Marcus Jones looks like he may make it back afterall, he was dominant in the second half and recovered the game clinching fumble. Josh Stamer made the already crowded backup linebacker battle even more interesting with another solid effort that included the game clinching sack and forced fumble. Alex Van Pelt wrapped up the #2 QB job with 2 fourth quarter short touchdown drives. Drew Bledsoe appears to be in midseason form with Eric Moulds. Not much on the negative side, the returners are ripping off long returns but continue to put the ball on the ground. Besides Coleman's fumble, Antonio Brown and Tony Driver each muffed a punt. Driver will probably get cut. Same with Jerton Evans who saw his slim chances slip through his fingers when he dropped a sure interception. Travis Brown battled through a dislocated finger but didn't complete a pass, he is number three again.

On the injury front, three Bills were injured against the Rams. Travis Henry, Jonas Jennings, and Travis Brown all left the game and won't play this week. Henry twisted his foot and could have returned but he was only slated to play a quarter anyway. Jennings was a scary situation, he was down on the ground a while but they were just being cautious. He took a blow to the head and has a concussion. Brown's dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand may keep him out a while. Dave Moore did not play again as he is nursing his hamstring injury. He could have played if it was a regular season game but he also did miss practice most of the week. Takeo Spikes practiced all week and played against the Rams after injuring his groin a week earlier. Charles Johnson received a scare in practice on Wednesday when his foot was stepped on and went into convulsions. He was fine shortly afterwards and played against the Rams. Our Take: It's nice that none of the injuries are serious, the goal in the preseason finale is to get the starters out of there without any injuries so they can all be ready for the start of the season. No reason to risk Henry or Jennings against Detroit. Mark Campbell may have unseated Dave Moore at tight end. He has developed some chemistry with Drew Bledsoe while Moore has yet to play this summer.

The team released seven players on Wednesday, six days before they needed to, this gives them a chance to hook on elsewhere. Gone are WR Paris Jackson, QB Jason Johnson, DT Omari Jordan, WR Jerel Myers, OT Justin Sands, G T.J. Watkins, and K Jason Witczak. Our Take: None of these players had a chance to make the team or play against the Rams, so might as well trim the herd early.

Camp broke after a morning workout on Wednesday. The team went back to Orchard Park to finish preparing for the season. Coach Williams said he was pleased and optimistic and that the team closed camp on a good note, with perhaps their three best practices of the camp. On the last day of camp the Rookies had their usual ritual of being spun around a baseball bat and had to run downfield and pick up a football. They emphasized the long ball on offense and the stopping of penalties that has plagued the Bills since Williams got to Buffalo. He made them run extra wind sprints to teach discipline. Willis McGahee even got in some extra work as camp ended. He was doing agility drills throughout Tuesday's practice and stayed late to work with the coaches. Meanwhile, Marques Sullivan is now working at left tackle, a position he is more comfortable with. He is looking for a backup spot there. Our Take: The wind sprints were a good idea as the team really needs to concentrate so the penalty problems won't continue. It's nice to see McGahee get more work in but Tom Donahoe said this week he will start the season on the reserve/non football injury list keeping him out at least through week 6, that is the right move. No sense having him active just to inactive him every week and open up speculation from the media. The rookie "hazing" on the field and the talent show the night before was said to be the best veterans ever saw, this is nice for team chemistry and all in good fun. Sullivan is better suited for tackle and this move virtually guarantees Mike Pucillo the starting right guard spot.

In other news tidbits, their are rumors that Olandis Gary is on the trading block but Tom Donahoe denies those rumors. Governor Pataki visited camp on Thursday stopping practice for five minutes. Receivers coach Fred Graves returned to the team after missing a month after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Patriots traded for ex-Bill Ted Washington. Thurman Thomas was a visitor during the Rams game. Our Take: The Bills are loaded at running back as Joe Burns has outplayed Gary. Trade him if you can get a mid round pick. Nice for the Governor to visit, even nicer is Graves recovery from cancer. Washington makes a strong Patriots team, even stronger. It won't be nice seeing him on opening day.



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