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Games Pre-Season Training Camp

Three Days Away

Buffalo Bills 2008 Training Camp

We are merely a few days away from the opening of the 2008 (pre)season for the Buffalo Bills. It’s fair to say, I think, that the first pre-season game marks the first real test of the newly formed team. We’ve seen them in practice, in mini camps, in the OTAs, now in training camp.

But Saturday, we see them in live, game action.

Saturday night the Bills will face the Washington Redskins who were one of the two combatants in the official pre-season kickoff, the annual Hall of Fame game. Honestly, this was a very good game. The Bills will face not only the Redskins this pre-season, but the other team from last Sunday’s matchup, the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams look like they will be a good test for the Bills, a sort of gauge for how the team has progressed, personnel-wise and coaching/system-wise.

I’m excited! I know it’s only pre-season, and really doesn’t matter much at all (usually) but I am hoping that with so many questions going into 2008, that the Bills really use these four games to see what they’ve got and get ready for what could be such a great year for the team.

The big story surrounding the Bills of course is still Jason Peters lingering hold out. How long will it last? Will he really hold out until they pay him more than the other linemen on the team? That would mean some pretty serious fines, and doesn’t really work that much in his favor. Is he so sure they will break? Do the Bills think Peters will? I’ve said before, I really feel he should report to training camp and then the Bills will take care of him. Perhaps he knows something I do not.

Other news from St. John Fisher… seems the injury bug continues to bite. Thankfully, aside from rookie Alvin Bowen (a promising special teamer) the injuries – and subsequent absence from practice – have been mostly minor. The coaches are erring on the side of caution, especially with veteran players. James Hardy has been bothered by a hamstring injury and they have sat him for much of the first week and a half of training camp, only giving him light duty. He will likely see action on Saturday though.

Hardy is one player I will be watching Saturday, as well as the offensive line playing minus Jason Peters. Langston Walker has been seeing most of the action at left tackle in Peters’ absence. Kirk Chambers moved to Walkers’ spot at right tackle. Rookie Demetrius Bell has also been seeing some second team action at left tackle. Will be interesting to see what the Bills will try to do, especially since they face Washington on Saturday, with newly-acquired DE Jason Taylor, a premier pass rusher.

It will also be interesting to see if the offense will incorporate more throws to the RBs out of the backfield, or even lined up wide (saw that formation at training camp). Both Lynch and Fred Jackson can certainly be excellent offensive weapons in the aerial attack. I’m sure Schonert won’t reveal his full arsenal in the pre-season (especially the first game) but it will be interesting to see how much different the Fairchild-less offense looks.

Other players to watch? Ko Simpson has been a tad hobbled… will he be back to form at free safety? Leodis McKelvin… how much action will he get? Bills running backs Dwayne Wright and Xavier Omon will likely see a lot of action in the second half, will be interesting to see how they do against a good Washington defense. Marcus Stroud and the rest of the D-line should see at least first-quarter action. Washington will be a good test for them as their RB position looked very talented, and deep.

Can’t wait to see some live, game action! 7pm on Saturday night! Football is almost here!

Go Bills!

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Players Pre-Season Training Camp

Jason Peters: Greg’s Take

Jason Peters holds out of the Buffalo Bills 2008 training campThere’s a disturbance in the force at Bills training camp this mid summer’s eve. And it’s no minor one. This disturbance could get downright ugly.

As Dave pointed out earlier the disturbance is emanating from our left tackle, Jason Peters.

Perhaps you could have guessed this, but I have a slightly different opinion on this than Dave. Not entirely. I completely agree with his points (except, not sure where he’s going with the “Sabres…” one, perhaps just that they lose all their best players?) But I do not agree with who it seems he thinks is to blame.

See, I believe the Bills. From everything they have said, they have had no contact at all with Peters since the end of the 2007 season. What? What kind of negotiating tactic is that? How is that being a team player? Should there be some participation here? I could be wrong (I’m sure I have not seen everything that has been published on this) but I don’t think I have ever seen where Peters’ agent, or Peters himself have ever even asked for a contract extension!

If Jason Peters would like to be paid more money, I’m all for it. I think allowing the fewest sacks in the league last year, and the fewest for any Bills team in a decade, speaks for itself. Peters was selected by his peers to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl. He’s definitely a great player, a great story, and from what I hear, a great man.

But is this his best strategy?

Peters has three years left on a very lucrative contract. He’s making millions a year, and there’s no reason to believe that the Bills won’t restructure that to lock him up long term. Look what they have been doing. They signed Schobel and Kelsay to long term extensions last year. They are working on Lee Evans right now (although his contract is closer to its end) and they restructured Moorman, Lindell, Kyle Williams, and others. The Bills are very willing to reward players who show promise, and a commitment to the organization.

I do not believe Peters is serving his own best interest by not reporting to training camp.

Some have speculated that the hold out has something to do with the injury he suffered late last season, and a slow recovery from the subsequent surgery. Not sure if that’s the case. It does seem like Peters just wants to be paid more. Traditionally the left tackle is the highest paid position, but the Bills shelled out mega dollars last season for LG Derrick Dockery and RT Langston Walker. Both of whom are integral pieces of the offensive line, and both of whom dwarf Peters’ salary.

So he has a reason to be disgruntled. But he has no reason to believe the Bills will not extend the same offers (pro-active offers) that they have to several other players over the last several years.

My advice to Jason is to dump whoever the guy is who is advising him to hold out of training camp. It’s a blemish on him, and as Dave said, a distraction to the team in an otherwise very promising pre-season. There could be very good things for Buffalo this year, but Peters’ strangely silent quest for more money (or so we presume) will not help that at all.

It can only hurt.

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Pre-Season Training Camp

Training Camp is Open! (And I was there!)

The day started very early for me. Up at 6:30 to get some stuff done before leaving at 8:00am, and all for a very good reason..

The first day of Buffalo Bills Training Camp!!!

I brought my two boys with me, and we headed for the parking lot of Pittsford/Mendon High School where we would catch the shuttle bus to St. John Fisher College … and see the Bills!

All went as planned (aside from getting slightly lost on the way to the shuttling spot) and we had a beautiful day to take in the return of Buffalo Bills football. Seriously, it was so great to see all the familiar faces out on the field (it feels like you’re right there on the field with them at training camp) and it was great to see the new guys, too.

Just great to see NFL football.

A few thoughts from the first day before I hit the hay…

Offense
I can’t say enough how excited I am about James Hardy. I think this kid is going to be great for us – and even this year. He’s a quite a bit taller than his cohorts, and he runs good rounds, and from interviews I’ve seen, he’s definitely got the right attitude. Great pick up by the Bills.

Edwards looks poised and confident as always. JP has a loose cannon. First toss in the 7 on 7s was a huge bomb down the field (broken up nicely by Ashton Youboty.) I was a little disappointed with how Trent checked down nearly every time though… even in 7 on 7 drill with no pads.

I was impressed with the pace, though. They were running at a somewhat “hurry-up” pace. I do think Schonert is going to take this offense into a higher gear.

Defense
It was fantastic to see Marcus Stroud wearing Bills blue. And not only that, he was definitely a vocal leader of the DL unit. He seemed to be instructing our young guys, and they were listening. I did also notice that John McCargo was with the starting unit, next to Stroud, but found out later that’s because Kyle Williams was excused for the birth of a baby (he and his wife just had a baby) Williams will resume the starting role when he returns (though I think McCargo will challenge for that spot in camp.)

Will James intercepted JP Losman’s first 11 on 11 drill pass. Then Alvin Bowen tipped his second pass. And as I said earlier, Youboty made a great play on JP’s deep pass. JP may not have looked so hot (even bumped into Roscoe Parrish on a reverse handoff!!) but the new guys on defense did!

The atmosphere
Fans were excited to be there. There were just a couple thousand probably, but all who were there were ooo-ing and aah-ing with each play or missed play. Very into it. And, when the four preassigned players came to the autograph tent following practice, the crowd waiting to see them erupted in loud cheering! Too funny! We sure do love our Bills!

There was a new attraction at the kids interactive zone. It was a field goal kicking game. Seemed to be attracting more “big boys” than little boys. ๐Ÿ™‚ My boys tried it of course, along with all the other fun interactive activities. Bills training camp is definitely a fun event all around – not just football.

Night Practices start next week. We’ll be in attendance next Thursday night. Can’t wait!

I took some photos today, will be posting them to our Facebook Page sometime this weekend.

For all the latest from training camp, definitely visit Chris Brown’s blog and the Multimedia page at BuffaloBills.com. They do a great job of covering everything!

Bills football is here!!!

Categories
BuffaloBills.com News Training Camp

2008 Training Camp Schedule Posted

The Buffalo Bills have posted their 2008 training camp schedule. There are seven of the popular night practices. Practices begin July 25th and run through August 20th. They’ll be held in the BBR Other Guy’s former back yard, Pittsford, NY. It’s quite an experience, and worth the trip to Rochester to be sure!

Here’s the link with the full schedule and details. Football is almost here!!
buffalobills.com/team/TrainingCamp.jsp

Categories
Bills History Current Bills Games News NFL Players Training Camp

Thoughts From Week Seven: QBs, Willis, Toronto

I have been meaning to write many articles this week. A thorough recap of the game this past Sunday against Baltimore, highlighting some of the pretty amazing things I see in our rookie quarterback, Trent Edwards. Another article breaking down the stats on how the Bills truly did shut down Willis McGahee on his first visit to his old stomping groundsโ€”on his birthday no less. And, I have wanted to weigh in on the whole Bills-games-in-Toronto issue.

But I haven’t. And, I won’t.

(Quite) Unfortunately, I do not get paid to write about the Bills, and my work load at the moment seems insurmountable. Tack on the fact that we leave for California in less than 24 hours, and yeah… I’m feeling the pressure!

For that reason, here are a few quick thoughts on all of the above topics.

Trent EdwardsQB Trent Edwards
It is now official. Trent Edwards is the starting QB for the Buffalo Bills. Not just for this week. For good. Dick Jauron said, “Hopefully we won’t have to make a change there,” in his press conference yesterday. The Bills like what they see in Edwards, and for good reason.

Not only does Trent have a good arm, is very accurate, and can put some zip on the ball, he’s also a very quick learner and very confident in the pocket. His abilities to handle the offensive schemes were showcased when the Bills ran the no-huddle offense for most of the game against Baltimore. The QB has to read the defense, and make the call from some pre-set plays in that situation. And he did a great job with it! His confidence and poise in the pocket are demonstrated by the number of sacks he has taken. Some of the credit goes to the offensive line, but much of it goes to Trent for knowing when to release the ball, and where to put it.

One of the more amazing things from Sunday’s game was the FIVE offsides penalties Edwards was able to pull the Ravens into! It could have been six, but the call went against the Bills when Michael Gaines jumped at the same time as the Ravens defender. His cadence was excellent, keeping the Baltimore defense either moving backward by penalty, or at least a little hesitant to jump at the snap.

Add to his very good play for a rookie the fact that the team is now 2-1 when he starts (and could, almost should be 3-0, barring the miracle finish by Dallas) and you have a no-brainer decision. Edwards gives the team the best chance to win now, and most likely in the future.

Good decision by the Bills.

Willis McGaheeWillis Held In Check
When Willis came out on the Ravens’ first drive of the second half and just started getting huge chunks of yards, I was definitely worried. I thought maybe he or the Ravens had figured out something, and it was going to be a long day. That was every Bills fan’s worst nightmare… Willis running wild on us, leaving with the win.

But he didn’t.

Really, the Bills did a great job stopping McGahee all day. An amazing job, actually. I knew what I saw, and what I saw was a great performance by the Bills defense, and a completely shut down performance by Willis. Well, almost completely.

So late that night I broke down the stats. I wanted to see if I had just imagined that we did shut him down. I did not.

On that one drive to open the third quarter, Willis had 4 carries for 72 yards, including the one TD run of 46 yards where the Bills only had ten guys on the field (but I don’t think the eleventh would have mattered). Willis finished the day with 19 carries for 114 yards. Take away 46 and he has 18 for 68 yards. That’s 3.7 yards/carry. Take away that drive (were the Bills still in the lockeroom or something?) and he has 14 carries for 42 yards! OUCH! That’s 3 YPC.

More stats? The Bills held Willis to 1 yard on 2 receptions (and he also dropped one, that was thrown behind him). The Bills also held him to zero or negative yards on 4 carries. 9 of his remaining 15 carries were for 4 yards or less. Mostly less.

The Bills came into the game having done very well against the Jets runningbacks and the Cowboys runningbacks. They wanted to do the same against Baltimore, who are a run-oriented team. And, they wanted to shut down Willis.

They did.

Toronto, CanadaThe Move To Toronto
First of all, the Bills are not moving to Toronto. They are merely playing a game or two in Torontoโ€”where many Bills fans reside. All of this speculation is definitely premature, and completely unnecessary. In my opinion, of course.

Here’s what we know. The NFL decided that up to two regular season games per year would be played outside of the US through the 2011 season. Their hope is that each team would be able to participate in that. The Bills stated that they would like to be proactive in that experiment by suggesting that they play a game in very nearby Toronto, which is currently a major region that they draw from.

The Bills have played there before. In 1995 and 1997, the Bills played two preseason games in the Skydome. (They won both!) So they are no strangers to Toronto, and those games did not precipitate a move to Canada. They broaden the region that the Bills cover.

Seven years ago, the Bills made a similar move when they shifted their annual training camp to St. John Fisher College in Rochester. There are many Bills fans in the stadium on Sundays who make the drive from Rochester, and moving training camp to their city only made sense. It gave the Bills more of a presence in Rochester, and likely has won them some more fans.

That is precisely what the Bills are hoping would happen with a regular season game in Toronto each year.

This is not without NFL precedent, either. The Green Bay packers played several games a year in Madison, WI several years ago now. They are also a small-market, regional team, and wanted to have a more regional appeal. It worked just fine, as far as I know.

The Bills are not moving to Toronto. The NFL will not allow that. Ralph Wilson certainly won’t. And I would say, as much as they are able, NY State will not allow it either. But one game in Toronto, even annually, makes a lot of sense for expanding the reach of this small-market team. Bring in more fans, more corporate luxury box buyers… and the Bills remain in Western New York.

The Bills will likely play a pre-season game in 2008 in Toronto. It remains to be seen what the NFL will decide as far as regular season games there. The Bills have crossed a few hurdles, getting approval on the first stages of this plan. Next is the NFL.

Seems like a great plan to me, and I hope they can make it happen. I’d love for them to play a game over here in Rochester, closer to where I live, but we don’t have a facility like the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

So north of the border we go!

(But just for one game.) ๐Ÿ™‚

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Bills Fans Current Bills Pre-Season Training Camp Videos

Pre-Season Videos

Hey folks. Have a couple Bills videos for you here. Well, they are really slideshows. I uploaded them to YouTube (why not use their bandwidth instead of ours!) and have posted them here. One is from the Bills/Falcons pre-season game, the other is a selection of photos from our visits to Training Camp at SJFC in Rochester. Fun times had by all.

Enjoy!

Bills Training Camp 2007

Falcons @ Bills – Aug 17, 2007

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Bills Fans NFL Pre-Season Training Camp

Two Visits to Training Camp

2007 Buffalo Bills Training Camp
Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed each visit to training camp this season, as have my family. And friends. It’s done fantastically, and it’s a great, up-close football experience.

But it just seems silly.

I’m actually not talking about all the extra stuff. If you’ve ever been to Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College here in Rochester, you’ll recall that it’s quite a production. When you first arrive – by RTS bus, as there is no parking on campus – you are herded through a large, air-conditioned tent full of everything the Buffalo Bills Pro Shop sells. It’s the mobile Bills store, conveniently placed at the entrance to the free training camp. Very good marketing. ๐Ÿ™‚

In addition to all the Bills gear, you get to stroll past maybe a dozen or so vendors/marketers who also have their booths set up to offer you their wares (or services) as you pass by. Once you do exit the tent, and head for the practice fields, there are still a few more vendors set up just outside the tent. Only four to six more perhaps. You’re almost to the football part!

As you approach the main field, there are also a few food vendors on the right, however. ๐Ÿ™‚

Again, I actually really like all of this. It makes it feel fun. Big. Exciting. This Tuesday, Turkey Hill Dairy was represented there, and they were giving out FREE, decent-sized samples of their Buffalo Bills Stampede Sundae ice cream! That was awesome!! ๐Ÿ™‚

When you finally do get to the football – if you have kids with you – you will notice that there is a large “interactive area” set up just past the playing fields. It’s chock full of inflated bouncy things, and more chock full of children. They can push through the Bills-colored inflatable obstacle courses, or toss footballs through big inflated football players hands, or even play basketball? (That one is sort of out of place…) ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s tons of fun, and well used by visitors ages 12 and under. (Including most of the Campbells!)

But again… this article is not about all of the extras that make Bills training camp one of the best free events you can be part of, and probably one of the best NFL training camps, at least for the fans.

Now, for the players – or, as a strictly football fan – each visit to training camp this year has just made me wonder, “What is the point?” Is it only for the marketing aspect? I mean, it certainly does that well. Bills fans come out in droves for this carnival experience where they get to be very up-close and personal with their favorite football team (the guys are literally only a few yards away from where you can sit or stand, and there are many opportunities to get autographs, photographs, or even chat briefly with the players.) and all of this is free. (Basically free. A $1 donation for folks over the age of 12 gets you free public transportation to and fro.)

But the practices almost seem silly.

First, the players are often not in pads. They are just “going through the motions”. Motions are good. They are necessary. The players need to know how the plays unfold. They need to know where they should be. But do they really? If they are not actually in pads, they’re not going full speed. And if they come close, they don’t finish the plays. It’s not the real deal. I’m know there’s a place for that speed of practice, but it dominates training camp, and rightfully so. You don’t want to go full speed against your own team. You want to save that for another team.

Which is precisely my point. Even when they are running at full speed, they don’t finish the plays. The defense gets in position to make the tackle, but never gets to make it. The offense is running plays that the defense already knows. The defensive linemen never get to hit the QB.

(Funny story… there’s a guy whom I do not think is a coach, but has been an on-field assistant for as many camps as I can remember. He’s not big at all. He’s a relatively small guy. But he’s obviously tough. They put him in as the “QB” taking the snaps on a DL drill. Well, I guess he was trash talking, trying to get the linemen fired up. It worked. A couple of times these nearly 300-pound guys pancaked this tiny sub-200-pound guy. And he’d just get up and taunt them some more! I talked to him afterward and he said he kept asking them, “Where was that on Friday??” Crazy man.) ๐Ÿ™‚

What I suggested on our show was that instead of 5 or 6 weeks of training camp, cut it down to a maximum of three weeks. And, instead of four or even five meaningless pre-season games, cut that down to two (or a maximum of three, with those bonus games like the Hall of Fame game) and add two games to the regular season. Make the games count. Make it worth getting out there and risking injury. But even better, make it worth playing. Make it real football.

Interestingly, I am not alone in these thoughts. A reporter (not sure who) asked Jauron in a press conference this week what he thought about just that idea. Shortening training camp and pre-season, and making two of the pre-season game regular season games. Jauron hesitated and said, “You know what I’m going to say, right? (Another pause.) Talk to the league office.” There was laughter, and when asked if he had an opinion, he said he did, but he was not going to share it.

Apparently, coach would like to see less meaningless football as well.

It only makes sense. How can you really practice if you’re not really playing football?? But why would you play real football – against your own team for six weeks?? Of course you wouldn’t. It makes sense to take it easy “until it counts”. Well, MAKE IT COUNT.

And, let’s not forget that we fans are shelling out the same amount of dollars to see this so-called football. Pre-season games are a step up from training camp practices, obviously, but they still carry that feeling of “meaninglessness”. The “real” players don’t play much – if at all, LT – and the goal of the game is almost never to win, unless it comes down to a two-minute drill situation at the end. Then they’re still not trying to win, they’re just practicing their two-minute drill. (I do have to admit, that is when is starts to be real football, as there is an actual goal in sight, even if the end result is “meaningless”.)


Camp is fun. Keep it. It’s a great experience for the fans, and I’d have to imagine that a lot of good comes from it for the players and coaches. But you can probably get a lot more out of playing actual football. I would even keep the roster cut-down dates the way they are. Play two regular season games with maybe 70 players. See how the guys who are really right on the fringe do in a game that matters. You’ve seen all of the guys the entire off season in mini camps and other team activities. You know what they can do. If you as a coach don’t want to put them in when the game really counts… then why would you keep them on the team, anyway?

It does sound a little crazy, but those were some of my main thoughts as I sat there watching pseudo-football at training camp this past week, and on our visit three weeks ago. Remember, it was totally enjoyable, and we’re heading back for the Monday night practice – and I can’t wait. But it seems like our team would be better served if they weren’t in this “practice” mode for so long. If they’re going to practice, shouldn’t they actually be doing what they are practicing?

My vote is to make the practice more real by making the meaningless part shorter. And though he can’t say it, it sounded like Coach Jauron is with me.

How about it, NFL?

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BuffaloBills.com Current Bills Training Camp

Great Pre-Camp Articles from Chris Brown

The Buffalo Bills website has featured a 20-day countdown to Bills Training Camp with the top 20 questions facing the Bills as they prepare for the 2007 season. As always, the articles have been fantastic. I thought it would be of interest to you as a listener of the Buffalo Bills Review to have the complete list (with links) available here in one place! So, click below to read and prepare for the 2007 Buffalo Bills season!!! Training camps starts JULY 26th!!! WHOOOHOOO!!!!

Go BILLS!

#1: Will The Bills Make The Playoffs?
#2: Will J.P. Losman Become An Elite Quarterback?
#3: Will The Run Defense Be Better?
#4: Who Will Make The Greatest Impact As A Rookie?
#5: Will Peters Make The Pro Bowl?
#6: Who Will Be The Right Cornerback?
#7: Who Will Pull Attention Off Of Lee Evans?
#8: Will The Pass Protection Be Better?
#9: Will There Be A Featured Running Back?
#10: Who Are The Training Camp Sleepers?
#11: Who Will Start At H-Back?
#12: Can Moorman Net 40?
#13: Who Starts At Middle Linebacker?
#14: Will Special Teams Reclaim NFL Top Spot?
#15: How Much Will Whitner & Simpson Improve?
#16: Who Will Start At Right Guard?
#17: Who Leads On Defense?
#18: Will Kevin Everett Contribute More?
#19: Who Will Be The Backup Quarterback?
#20: Can McGee Be An Anchor In The Secondary?

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Current Bills Schedule Training Camp

Special Dates at Training Camp

[The following is from Chris Brown’s blog at BuffaloBills.com]

IMPORTANT CAMP DATES:

  • On Aug. 4 it’s Junior Bills Backers day for the youngsters where a special day is planned for the kids at camp. So sign your kids up at Buffalobills.com.
  • On Aug. 7 it’s Alumni day where a lot of Bills alumni are expected to be in, so if you can make it out that day have your autograph books and cameras at the ready.
  • On Aug. 13 Jim Kelly and J.P. Losman will be at camp to promote the Enlyten SportStrips product.
  • On Aug. 14 it’s the Turkey Hill ice cream sampling day.
  • On Aug. 15 there will be a Jet Blue on field promotion and a Tim Horton’s Iced Coffee giveaway.