Bengals search for answers in tonight's exhibition opener [11:29 AM]
Cincinnati Post reports: 'A backup center starting for the Bengals. A slimmed-down Ted Washington tag-teaming with Pat Williams. Who wins that battle?'
Johnson ready to show why he's No. 1 [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Johnson is the starter. Any ounce of leftover doubt vanished the moment Flutie suffered a groin injury in training camp that could keep him sidelined for the first three games of the regular season. This is Johnson's team now. Tonight, Johnson will be behind center when the Bills open the preseason against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium. His performance against the Bengals will have no bearing on the depth chart at quarterback. For the first time since 1998, Johnson can start a game without controversy. "I'm just anxious to get back in the groove and throw the ball well," Johnson said. "Actually, last year, when they named me the starter, it was outside Buffalo where they were more shocked. The team was very supportive. That's what made it so easy for me."'
Bengals open preseason with goal: Win [7:51 AM]
Cincinnati Enquirer reports: '"It would be helpful for us to win games in the preseason,", club president Mike Brown said. "If you have an established team, there isn't the emphasis put on it. But for us, it's different. We have to build from the bottom up. And part of that is re-establishing our confidence and getting to feel a little better about ourselves."'
Miami U. star trying to make Bills [7:48 AM]
Cincinnati Enquirer reports: 'Dustin Cohen, a Summit Country Day graduate and former Miami University football star, is trying to make the Buffalo Bills as a linebacker. Cohen 23, a two-time Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year for the RedHawks, was signed by the Bills as an undrafted college free agent. Working against Cohen is that the Bills had the NFL's top-rated defense in 1999. Working for him is the linebacker-oriented style of defense Buffalo plays, a true four-linebacker setup with three linemen.'
Bills undergoing smooth transition [7:04 AM]
CNN/SI reports: 'Good fair preview of season for the Bills.'
Bills fired up for first preseason test against Bengals [6:41 AM]
AP reports: 'Among the positions to watch are: Free safety, where Keion Carpenter, who's worked with the first unit all week, will start as he challenges Daryl Porter for the vacant job...Right defensive end, where Shawn Price will get his first start filling in for Wiley, and top draft pick Erik Flowers will make his debut...Offensive backfield, where running back Antowain Smith attempts to rebound from an injury-plagued season, and Sheldon Jackson makes his debut at H-back...And special teams, where Avion Black, Drew Haddad and Sammy Morris will contend for the No. 1 returner's job. With Flutie out until at least September, the Bills' quarterback situation is settled with Rob Johnson the starter and recently reacquired Alex Van Pelt backing up.'
Season starts with Johnson [6:31 AM]
D and C reports: '"My first goal is to stay healthy," Johnson said. "Playing wise, I think I'll do fine as long as I'm healthy. I just have to stay away from getting hurt." He withstood Jevon Kearse and the Titans but he'll need many more hospital-free Sundays before people quit looking at him as one of those medical-school skeletons. Johnson claims he hasn't grown tired of hearing the comment, "Rob's good, but he's injury prone." "I'm not tired of hearing that because I want to do it," he said. "It's good motivation. I haven't done it yet (play all 16 games). A lot of quarterbacks get hurt in the NFL, you just have to stay away from the big injuries. The hits you take with the size of guys today, you're going to get bumps and bruises, you just need to avoid the big injury. I can play with pain."'
Young players on display [6:29 AM]
D and C reports: 'As it usually is, the first preseason game will serve as the initial audition for most of the players on the roster. The first-string players will play briefly, but the rest of the night will feature rookies and young veterans making their first live-action statements to the coaching staff. Carpenter will have the first chance to prove himself at the free safety position. He and Daryl Porter are competing to become Kurt Schulz's replacement, and thanks to a good performance in last week's scrimmage and solid work in practice, Carpenter has moved up to No. 1 on the depth chart. Other areas head coach Wade Phillips will be watching closely will be cornerback, outside linebacker, wide receiver, running back and kick returns.'
Make plays to catch on [6:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Rookie draft choices Avion Black and Drew Haddad and rookie free agents Kwame Cavil, Kevin Drake, Corey Sullivan and Scott Pingel are all vying for those precious positions and their performances in the preseason games will most likely decide their fate. "I feel like I've shown my worth in practice, now it's trying to come up with some big plays in the preseason games," said Drake, an intriguing candidate who spent the spring playing for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and led that league with 12 touchdown receptions.'
Kalsu's story touching and tragic [8:53 PM]
New Bedford Standard Times reports: 'I sobbed when Jan told of the day she received word of her husband's death as she lay in her hospital bed after giving birth to her son, Bob Jr. I sniffled when the young Bob revealed he had heard his father's voice asking him to have the first dance with his sister on her wedding day. And I cried when Bob Jr. relayed how he saw his father sitting and smiling as he and Jill moved gracefully about the dance floor. But when all was said and done, I probably felt worse about myself for never having known Bob Kalsu had even existed.'
Haddad fights for roster spot [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Haddad has learned during the first two weeks of training camp that the seams in the secondary are much smaller in the NFL. The cornerbacks and linebackers are bigger and faster. The defenses are more complex. The offense takes more mental preparation off the field and quicker instincts are needed after the ball is snapped. So the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Haddad has a difficult task ahead, and that calls for drastic measures. He's throwing himself in front of the proverbial train, which is to say he's trying to win a job in the NFL by returning punts. He's also involved in an air-tight battle for one of the few jobs at wide receiver.'
QBs will rotate on Friday [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Starter Rob Johnson will likely open the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Alex Van Pelt likely will follow Johnson, and Mike Cawley and Phil Stambaugh also should receive some reps. Phillips said he would decide on the rotation and playing time during meetings Wednesday night. The Bills were scheduled for a light workout starting at 9:30 a.m. today before traveling to Orchard Park for the game.'
Thurman tutors Johnson: What's your rush? [8:27 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'The Dolphins brought in Thurman Thomas for a multitude of reasons. Even at 34, the Dolphins believe there is enough left for him to be a change-of-pace third-down back and even the occasional starter if there are injuries. But it's no coincidence Thomas is Johnson's roommate. "We thought Thurman would be a positive influence on James," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "All he's got to do is watch how Thurman prepares himself for the season. I don't think Thurman Thomas has to say anything to him. Thurman does it the right way. If you watch practice, watch him in meetings, listen to the questions he asks, it's clear why he's a Hall of Fame candidate."'
Welcome to Camp Misery [8:03 AM]
D and C reports: 'An examination of a typical day in camp for a player reveals the clock is his best friend and his worst enemy. From sunup until sundown, players have less than four hours of free time a day. The rest of the time is spent eating meals, lifting weights, rehabilitating injuries, practicing, conducting interviews with the media, signing autographs, attending meetings and studying playbooks. In Irvin's room, three playbooks are stacked on a table, one each for defense, special teams and league and team rules. Some fun. What happened to the dancing girls? "It's like a boot camp, certainly," says coach Wade Phillips, who has been to camp with five different teams during his 24 NFL seasons. "Most training camps I think are similar in that you have to monopolize somebody's time to learn all the things they need to, that quickly. You have a captive audience, so to speak."'
Price slows toward success [8:01 AM]
D and C reports: 'With Bruce Smith and Sean Moran gone, and Marcellus Wiley recovering from back surgery, Price will play even more downs within the rotation system on the defensive line. "I've been waiting for this for a long time," Price said of his enhanced role.'
Carpenter will play with injured finger [7:58 AM]
D and C reports: 'Second-year pro Keion Carpenter, who is making a strong bid to win the open free safety job, split open the middle finger on his right hand at the first joint during a punt blocking drill. The finger, which needed five stitches, was heavily taped and padded yesterday but Carpenter won't miss tomorrow's first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium.'
Tasker thrilled at his NFL All-Time honor [7:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'Steve Tasker always was a special special teams player for the Buffalo Bills. Now we know how special. He is among the 27 players on the NFL's All-Time Team. "Without a doubt, this is the greatest honor I've received as a football player," Tasker said yesterday from his home in Buffalo. "It's even better than being MVP of a Pro Bowl (in 1992)."'
Bills' opener far from being meaningless [1:20 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'With the Buffalo Bills two days away from their opening preseason game, coach Wade Phillips isn't sure how he'll play his personnel. In fact, it won't be until after the morning workout, the lone practice on Thursday, that Phillips will determine playing time for his team in Friday night's exhibition against Cincinnati at Ralph Wilson Stadium. But it will be anything but meaningless to some players. "It's important to a number of young guys," said Phillips, without being specific. However, it's easy to guess. Start with wide receiver. After former All-Pro Eric Moulds and last year's second-round draft choice, Peerless Price, there's not a single wideout on the Buffalo roster who has caught an NFL regular-season pass...Another battle to watch is at free safety where an inexperienced trio is competing for the spot vacated by Kurt Schulz, when he went to Detroit as a free agent. Daryl Porter, Keion Carpenter and this year's second round draft choice, Tavares Tillman, have never started an NFL game...Then there's running back. No matter what the Bills say, there's some concern about Antowain Smith.'
Bills 'D' says changes won't lead to drop-off [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"A lot of people are saying we're a second-rate defense now because of some of the players we lost, but we believe we can be just as good as we were last year," said linebacker Sam Cowart. "We'll be a little younger. But with youth comes a little more excitement, and I think we're faster than we were last year as a whole unit." "There's some writers out there who are doubting us and putting us 26th in the league, and it's a crock," said defensive lineman Shawn Price. "They can say that all they want but we're going to surprise people this year."'
Bryson, Cavil suffer minor injuries [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Buffalo Bills got a scare Tuesday over a knee injury to reserve running back Shawn Bryson, and also announced that rookie receiver Kwame Cavil will be out 10 to 14 days with a strained calf muscle. Bryson twisted his left knee as he went down hard to the ground on a running play in Tuesday afternoon's practice. A magnetic resonance imaging test Tuesday evening proved negative. Bryson is listed as day-to-day for practice this week. Bryson, a third-round draft choice last year, was met at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Keith Newman, who had filled a gap on the play. Bryson immediately slammed the ball to the turf after hitting the ground. He was able to walk off the practice field and into the locker room under his own power. The injury occurred to the same knee that underwent reconstructive surgery last year after an injury in training camp. "It's fine," Bryson said as he made his way to the locker room. Cavil, meanwhile, injured his left leg in Monday's practice. "It's going to be close as to whether he's ready to play for the next game," coach Wade Phillips said, referring to the second preseason game, at Detroit on Aug. 12.'
Newman gets his chance [5:18 AM]
D and C reports: '"Once they said they weren't re-signing Gabe Northern, that gave me great confidence to work even harder to attain the starting job," said Newman, who was active for only four games last year with most of his playing time coming on special teams. "I spent more time up here in the off-season, worked out and ran and I feel like I prepared myself great." So far, there's no evidence to the contrary. "He wouldn't be here if we didn't think he could play," linebackers coach Chuck Lester said.'
High school coaches enjoy visit [5:16 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Buffalo Bills invited coaches from the Rochester and Buffalo areas to attend practice, and while most don't even dream about coaching in the NFL and will never coach a future NFL player, they said the experience was very helpful. "The basics are the same at all levels, be it the top league with Vince Lombardi or at the Pop Warner level," said Roger O'Neill, the offensive-line coach for the junior varsity at Wayland-Cohocton. So while the Bills went through drills in the afternoon, the five dozen or so coaches lined the sidelines, took notes and exchanged thoughts with their counterparts.'
Miller receives positive reviews [5:14 AM]
D and C reports: 'Miller will be scrutinizing the Bills only once this season -- Dec. 11 in Indianapolis. Ostroski said he'll probably pop in a tape of the broadcast the next day just to hear what Miller said. "I'm sure he's going to say something, that's all part of it, it's no different than what anyone else does," he said.'
No rest for this fan [5:13 AM]
D and C reports: 'How much do the Bills mean to I.C. Shah? Well, when it appeared the franchise might run a down and out of town if it didn't meet its luxury suite sales goal two falls ago, Shah entered a sleep disorder clinic.'
Bills' injuries mount as Bryson hurts knee [9:49 PM]
AP reports: 'Buffalo running back Shawn Bryson is listed as day-to-day after straining his left knee in practice on Tuesday. An MRI test of Bryson's knee came up negative, a Bills spokesman said. Concerns had initially been raised because Bryson missed his entire rookie season when he tore a ligament in the same knee in training camp last year.'
Wiley encouraged by his progress rehabbing from back surgery [9:31 PM]
AP reports: 'He's been told he should be cleared for full contact by Aug. 12, which is good news for the Bills, who expect Wiley to take over for the departed Bruce Smith on the right side. Wiley could be ready in time for the Bills' preseason finale, Aug. 24 at Philadelphia. If not, then Wiley said he's ready to play in the season-opener against Tennessee on Sept. 3. "It's all based on my pain, that's my guide right now, how my back reacts," Wiley said. "And right now I'm pretty much pain-free."'
Giancola CFL bound [4:26 PM]
St. Catharines Standard reports: 'While Giancola acknowledged the difference between the NFL and CFL was "like night and day," he also said the big-money atmosphere of the NFL left a sour taste in his mouth. "The NFL is truly about money and how much you can make," Giancola said. "It's not so much caring about the fans and how they feel and I'm not that kind of person." Although he was only in camp for a short period, Giancola left his mark with Bills fans. "For the first four days of camp after practice I was the only one who stayed and signed until the last person left," he said. "If you even look at a kid and smile you're like a god. "On an average, I think I signed between 1,200 and 1,300 autographs every day. "It was the most incredible thing; it was such a privilege."'
Special situations: Offense and Defense [3:33 PM]
Shout! reports: 'Spectators at this practice needn't have been confused. The Bills are not going to use a 4-3 defense, or even a nickel package, regardless of what the crowd might have seen. Wade Phillips explained, "We worked with special defenses for the offense . . .'
You Make the Call (#8) [3:32 PM]
TBD reports: 'This Week's Scenario: Its January in Tampa, FL and the Bills are in the Super Bowl. By some twist of fate, their opponent is Bruce Smith and the Washington Redskins. The opening kickoff is received by the Redskins. Quarterback Brad Johnson leads the Skins down the field for a touchdown. The Redskins are up 6-0, and Coach Norv Turner decides to pull out all the stops. He calls a Fake PAT, scores, and puts the Redskins up 8-0..."
Picture of the new turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium [2:57 PM]
TBD reports: 'Robert Coveney operates a roller during installation of the inlaid logos on the Buffalo Bills new AstroTurf field at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Monday, July 31, 2000. Coveney said the field will be 99 percent complete today.The Bills' first preseason game against Cincinnati is on Friday. (AP Photo/David Duprey).'
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