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Buffalo Bills News - July 31, 2000

Marker 2000 Buffalo Bills preview [4:42 PM]
Sportsline.com reports: 'They are adept at pushing all the right buttons in Buffalo, but rarely do they ever reach for the one marked "Panic," and that won't change this year. Having summarily jettisoned three future Hall of Fame members this spring -- defensive end Bruce Smith, tailback Thurman Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed -- one might guess the Bills could be forced to take a few steps back before moving forward again. But don't bet on it.'

Marker Van Pelt was almost ready to leave Buffalo [4:41 PM]
AP reports: '"I would have come back and played for $200,000 in a second," Van Pelt said. "It was fortunate for me, but unfortunate that it had to happen to Doug. It's funny, a week ago Friday I was playing golf. Next Friday, I'll be playing against the Bengals. We were two days away from putting our house on the market and moving back to Pittsburgh."'

Marker Bills feel the heat [3:22 PM]
Shout! reports: 'After an overnight shower, Monday dawned hot, still and muggy. And tempers were hot too, as three separate skirmishes broke out during the 11-on-11 team work. The card was Fina and Panos vs. Fisher, Allotey vs. Newman and Linton vs. Tillman.'

Marker Training Camp Photos! [9:23 AM]
TBD reports: 'They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are 1000's of words for you to see! We will break up the photos by archive. This section will include photos from Shout!, the AP, and from the fans.'

Marker Dough for 'Pillsbury' is money well spent [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Pill" is short for Pillsbury. Pillsbury is short for Pillsbury Doughboy. The Pillsbury Doughboy is Alex Van Pelt, the round mound capable of running the Bills' offense, through the air or on the ground. His teammates couldn't wait to see him Sunday morning so they could push their index finger into his lovable little belly. Anyone who witnessed the quarterbacking display last week during training camp wouldn't blame them. Never in their recent history have the Bills needed a baseball-cap-wearing, clipboard-holding, minimum-salary-making, 6-foot-1, 220-pounds-before-breakfast, third-string quarterback than they do right now. Alex Van Pelt is a proven backup, but the Bills would have improved by signing Alex Trebek.'

Marker Drake can catch, but can he catch on with Bills? [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Drake conquered NFL Europe last year. Now he'll try and do the same with the Bills. No one questions Drake's skills. He's deceptively quick. His hands are so big they could fit around a powerlifter's neck. His legs, long and lean, churn and kick up chunks of sod. The guy's got skills, no doubt. You don't catch 12 touchdowns in NFL Europe - as Drake did last season with the Rhein Fire - without them. He still faces a number of challenges with the Bills, though.'

Marker McDaniel ready to make mark as receiver [6:16 AM]
D and C reports: 'With all-time great Andre Reed parting ways with the Bills, last year's star rookie Peerless Price moves into the starting lineup alongside Eric Moulds. That leaves three positions to fill, including the very important No. 3 role. There are eight candidates in training camp competing for the job, but 10 days into the weeding out process, McDaniel is clearly out in front. Not that the soft-spoken 24-year-old from New Bern, N.C., would say so. "I can't say it's guaranteed I'm the third guy," McDaniel said. "There are a lot of great young players out here. But just the experience of last year, being on the practice squad, I do have a bit more experience. I will say I'm feeling good. I'm getting a lot of help from Eric, who's one of the great receivers in the league, and things are going pretty well."'

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July 30, 2000

Marker Ruben Brown is a happy man in Buffalo [11:06 AM]
Lynchburg News & Advance reports: '"I think this is an exciting year," Brown said. "We have a lot of young talent. If the veteran leaders and coaching staff can bring it together, we have a good of a shot to go to the Super Bowl. If we don't get to the Super Bowl and win it this year, than next year we're definitely gonna win it. We're loaded."'

Marker Less was more in Smith's deal [11:00 AM]
Richmond Times Dispatch reports: 'When Bruce Smith was mulling his future last January, he knew that by remaining with the Buffalo Bills, he could earn $2 million for playing in the 2000 NFL season. However, that meant Smith would have to take a salary cut from the $4 million he was scheduled to earn from the Bills. Most of us would agree that $2 million is a living wage. Smith felt it wasn't a fair wage for a defensive end of his accomplishments and talent, but when he signed with the Washington Redskins, Smith agreed to a contract that would pay him a base salary of $500,000 for the 2000 season. Why would Smith accept even less than what he felt was an insulting offer from the Bills? The answer is a $4.25 million signing bonus.'

Marker Van Pelt agrees to deal with Bills [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Van Pelt is scheduled to start practicing with the Bills on Monday morning after he undergoes a physical examination and signs a one-year deal worth $440,000, plus incentives. Final details were being completed Saturday. He is expected to report this afternoon to the Bills' training camp at St. John Fisher College. "He's kept in shape and he's been working out," said Brian Kelley, Van Pelt's agent. "We knew something would happen with Alex, if not with Buffalo then with somebody."'

Marker Depleted Bills call on Van Pelt [7:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Buffalo Bills have shored up their backup quarterback situation, agreeing to contract terms with veteran Alex Van Pelt...Neither Butler nor coach Wade Phillips would comment yesterday, but it's known that the team re-worked the contract of one player to free up salary cap room. Van Pelt's one-year deal, which he will sign today or early tomorrow, is for the veteran minimum of $440,000 with incentives.'

Marker Ailing Buffalo reaches out for 'the Pill' [7:03 AM]
D and C reports: 'Some day, Mike Cawley, 27, may wind up a reliable, backup quarterback in the NFL. He might also wind up a used car salesman. What is known for certain is that the uninspiring five-year professional vagabond will not open the regular season backing up Rob Johnson for the Buffalo Bills. The hook has come early. Today, proven free agent Alex Van Pelt, still living in Buffalo where he has lowered his golf handicap to single digits, re-joins the club.'

Marker A strong case for Bills' defense [7:02 AM]
D and C reports: 'Defense ruled the morning as the Bills in the blue shirts pretty much had their way with their white-shirted offensive teammates during the spirited hour-long glorified practice in front of an estimated 5,500 fans at St. John Fisher College.'

Marker D-backs making big hits for Bills [7:00 AM]
D and C reports: 'While [Keion] Carpenter is vying for a starting position, two other defensive backs who are just trying to make the team took a good first step. Raion Hill, who spent the second half of last season on the Bills' practice squad, and Quincy Coleman, a free agent signee this year, both made a number of standout plays in the scrimmage.'

Marker Tasker expects Buffalo to be strong again [6:58 AM]
D and C reports: '"Sure, they lost several good players, but they have some potentially great players waiting to come in. Antoine Winfield could be a Pro Bowl player, and I know linebacker Keith Newman is going to play great for these guys. It may not be the No. 1 defense, but certainly it will be a top 8 defense." Tasker likes the offense, too. He says the key will be quarterback Rob Johnson's health. "If he can stay healthy for 16 games, the Bills have a chance to be one of the teams to beat, not just in the AFC East, but in the league," he said. "Rob's that good if he's healthy. But that's going to be a question until he goes out there and does it over the course of a season.'

Marker Wilson heads for Saratoga Race Track [6:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'Bills owner Ralph Wilson, a long-time thoroughbred race horse owner, headed for Saratoga Race Track after watching his team's scrimmage. This will be the 50th straight year he has vacationed at the storied town north of Albany. Though he has cut way back on the number of horses he owns, Wilson still has one racing at Saratoga. It's name is Country Coast, and Wilson says he might enter it in the prestigious Travers Stakes.'

Marker Optimistic Wiley keeps his perspective [6:54 AM]
D and C reports: '"By taking care of my back problem when we did, I'd be able to make it back in time for the regular season, and I'd be coming back without the pain that had been bothering me for a while," Wiley was saying after a recent training camp practice at St. John Fisher College. "Yeah, the timing might have been better, but it also could have been worse. It could have happened in the regular season." Those who know Wiley are not surprised by his positive response. He has always been a turn-lemons-into-lemonade kind of guy.'

July 29, 2000

Marker Bills remaining quarterbacks struggle in intraquad scrimmage [4:48 PM]
AP reports: 'Doug Flutie is injured, Rob Johnson is still recovering from an illness and Alex Van Pelt is still in limbo. So the Buffalo Bills' remaining quarterbacks, and their offense, struggled in an intrasquad scrimmage before 5,500 spectators Saturday morning at St. John Fisher College.'

Marker Flutie's injury may open door for Van Pelt [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It appears the Bills are leaning toward signing a veteran quarterback in the near future. It could reopen the door for Alex Van Pelt, the veteran backup who was released by Buffalo after last season and remains unsigned. "There are several quarterbacks out there and, of course, Alex has been with us. That's a plus," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "He's been with us and knows the system. But again, we have other considerations. It may turn out we feel we're strong enough to go through the first how many games it takes with a first and a third quarterback."'

Marker Still tired and weak, Johnson back to work [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"From a couple days ago, when I wanted to die, I felt all right," Johnson said after the morning workout. "I just got worn down and tried to practice through it, and that made it worse."'

Marker No flare-ups as Thurman slammed [8:21 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'In a few years Thurman Thomas will be in Canton, Ohio, on this weekend priming for his Hall of Fame speech. Jamie Duncan will not be on his mind. Duncan was on it plenty Friday when the Dolphins practiced against Tampa Bay in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. In what was supposed to be a controlled practice, Duncan, who is the first choice to replace Hardy Nickerson as Tampa Bay's middle linebacker, picked up Thomas and slammed him to the ground. Not one Dolphin came to Thomas' rescue.'

Marker Van Pelt agent to Bills: Better hurry [8:07 AM]
D and C reports: 'Still-available free agent Alex Van Pelt, who played five seasons for the Bills and is still living in Buffalo, is the likely candidate..."We're looking at our options right now," coach Wade Phillips said. "It's a lot more complicated than it used to be when there was no salary cap. Those things have to be worked out and we're discussing those things." Phillips said the team isn't looking for just "another arm" to get them through the rest of training camp at St. John Fisher College, but rather a player they know can play in the NFL. That's Van Pelt. Brian Kelly, Van Pelt's New Brunswick, N.J., agent, placed a phone call to general manager John Butler yesterday. "It's the obvious move but I haven't heard from them yet," Kelly said. "I've heard there's no one up there that can come in and play (if Johnson got hurt), so I'd expect to hear from them soon."'

Marker Cawley: 'I'd love to get in a game' [8:03 AM]
D and C reports: '"I was two plays away from going into the game and now I'm one play," said Cawley, who moves up the depth chart behind starter Rob Johnson after Doug Flutie suffered a severely torn groin muscle in practice Thursday. "One play isn't much of a difference. I just plan to come out here and perform the way I have been."'

Marker Bryson's chance finally arrives [8:02 AM]
D and C reports: '"It's my first chance to see how my knee is going to react with guys flying around," said an obviously excited Bryson. "We're flying around here (in practice), but it's nothing like a scrimmage situation."..."He's still not going to have any contact because we're not going to tackle anybody, but we're going to hit at the line of scrimmage hard, we're going to get to the football, we're going to knock the ball down, so it will be more of a test," said coach Wade Phillips.'

Marker Youngsters make most of diversions [7:59 AM]
D and C reports: 'Families who have visited the Buffalo Bills' training camp say the experience is a hit because it's free, includes sports activities for kids and visitors often meet some of the professional football players. But to make the most out of a visit to the St. John Fisher College campus, families who've been there recommend some strategies. For starters, be ready to move around or bring diversions...line up early if you want autographs.'

Marker Visit proves an asset for youth [7:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'There were hundreds of kids with proud smiles at training camp yesterday afternoon. Among the crowd of 8,100 were girls and boys, with moms and dads and teachers and pastors and community leaders and . . . well, slices of whole communities . . . who showed up wearing T-shirts with "Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth. Working Together to Build Assets" on the front. The camp visit was a special treat for the many who've been helping build a grassroots program of positive experiences, opportunities and personal qualities for youth in every corner of Monroe County.'

Marker Johnson returns, but takes it easy [7:54 AM]
D and C reports: "I was hoping to get a little work in yesterday and just ended up throwing," Johnson said. "Once I got the IV in me, I felt a lot better and got a couple good nights sleep. I told them I'd do as much as I could today and if I felt weak or sick, I'd stop. I felt weak, but from a couple days ago, wanting to die, I thought I did all right." Johnson lost some weight -- he didn't know how much -- and that contributed him to feeling weak yesterday morning. "I'm just glad it happened early in camp and not later in the year," he said. "It will take a while to get it back, but I'll be all right. Give me a week or two."'

July 28, 2000

Marker Unsettled QB situation normal for Bills [9:52 PM]
AP reports: '"Last year when they named me the starter, it was more the outside of Buffalo that was more shocked. The team was very supportive. Most of them came up to me and gave me words of encouragement. I think they sort of wanted a change last year. I don't know, just my opinion,'' Johnson said Friday.'

Marker Another dip in Flutie's football life [1:10 PM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'Now the Buffalo ups and downs, and you wonder, has the guy used up his nine lives? Is there more? He's been ignored before, discarded, lost and forgotten in the Canadian wilderness for nine years. But he's still here. It's another football season, and you never know what part Doug Flutie's gonna play in it.'

Marker Flutie's injury leaves Bills thin at QB [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"Preseason and camp is shot," Flutie said. "They just said to be patient because they know if they tell me a certain number of weeks (to return) that I'm going to push that and want to be on the field. "They set a general time frame of being sometime early in the season. I just have to rest it for a couple of weeks and let it settle down, and then we'll start rehabbing it and strengthening it."'

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