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Buffalo Bills News - August 30, 2000

Marker Turnovers on Bills' defensive menu [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It's hard to improve on being the top-ranked defense in the NFL, which the Bills were in 1999. But there is one area the team is looking to get better. Despite their defensive success, the Bills did not create a lot of turnovers. They forced 21 of them last season, the 15th-lowest total in the AFC and 29th overall in the NFL. But if the preseason is any indication, the Bills may wreak more havoc on opposing offenses than they did a year ago. In four exhibition games, the Bills created 10 turnovers (four interceptions and six fumbles). There were at least four other passes that could have been intercepted and a couple of forced fumbles that were almost recovered. "The more opportunities you give your offense to score, the higher their scoring percentage is going to be," linebacker Sam Rogers said. "This defense has that capability to make things happen. It's an exciting defense to play in."'

Marker Wilson's view is clear [6:13 AM]
D and C reports: 'At 81, the man who pays the Bills hasn't lost his sense of humor, and that's good because you need one to survive in a business that can be just a kickoff return away from breaking your heart. "Sometimes you have to laugh in order not to cry," says Wilson, one of the National Football League's most respected owners. Such an attitude will come in handy during Sunday night's season opener against Tennessee at Ralph Wilson Stadium because the Titans' visit is sure to conjure memories of Buffalo's devastating loss to them in last January's AFC wild-card game in Nashville. "Worst defeat I've experienced in 40 years of football," Wilson says. "Worse than any of the Super Bowl losses."'

Marker 'One yard short' reminders dog Dyson every day [6:11 AM]
USA Today reports: 'Every single day since Super Bowl XXXIV, Kevin Dyson has been reminded about the way the game ended. Dyson, the Tennessee Titans receiver who was tackled on the 1-yard line by St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones as time expired, insists this without a doubt. Was it not brought up for one day . . . like maybe on vacation? "Not one day," Dyson says. "I don't think about it until people ask me about it. I was done with it right after it happened. But wherever people see me -- at the mall, in stores, on the street, wherever -- if they recognize me, they say something. "Every single day, it's either that or the Buffalo play." Ah, the Buffalo play. Tennessee would never have been in position to lose Super Bowl XXXIV 23-16 without Dyson's breathtaking 75-yard kickoff return touchdown off a cross-field, Frank Wycheck lateral. Dubbed "The Music City Miracle," it lifted the Titans to a 22-16 victory in an AFC wild-card game. "And just think," Dyson says, "I wasn't even supposed to be on the field for that."'

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August 29, 2000

Marker AFC East Capsules [8:51 PM]
The Sports Network reports: 'Even with all the defections, the Bills are still a solid football team. However, facing the NFL's toughest schedule will make it tough to challenge Indianapolis for the division title. Nine wins may be the most realistic projection.'

Marker 2000 Buffalo Bills Preview [8:46 PM]
The Sports Network reports: 'The Bills like many of their division rivals will be looking up at the Indianapolis Colts most of the season. Look for an 8-8 finish and a possible coaching change at year's end.'

Marker Bills think they can 'go deep' now [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The problem for the Buffalo Bills was that opposing defenses eventually became untangled by Flutie's antics. They worked toward shutting down the run and dared the Bills to beat them with their quarterback. And his arm didn't scare anyone. This year should be different. Rob Johnson is the quarterback now. He has a stronger arm, one more suited for throwing downfield. He has younger, faster receivers, who can get open downfield. And he's running an offense geared more toward making plays downfield.'

Marker Haddad, Roth will watch and learn [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'University at Buffalo products Drew Haddad and Josh Roth were among five players who were assigned to the Buffalo Bills' developmental squad on Monday. Haddad was taken in the seventh round and hoped to catch on with the Bills as a punt returner and receiver. He returned three punts for 22 yards in the preseason. He also had three catches for 22 yards. Roth had one catch for 11 yards. He did not carry the ball. "It's a big help for kids in the developmental stage," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "I think they can learn a whole lot in that situation."'

Marker Not again [8:12 AM]
Fox Sports reports: '[New Buffalo Bills Special Teams Coach Ronnie] Jones is here to make sure Buffalo's kickoff coverage team doesn't forget what happened nearly eight months ago. "That play will not work this time," he promised. "Now, something else I can't guarantee, but I can guarantee that one will not work."'

Marker Music City Miracle memories [8:03 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"It was a blur. The first thing I remember after it really was one of the chain gang came up to me and said, 'Hurry and kick the extra point because it was a forward lateral.' And I said, 'It doesn't matter because it's the last two minutes, they're going to review it anyway.'"'

Marker Reed's happy to stay, he'd just like No. 83 [8:00 AM]
Denver Rocky Mountain News reports: "He shot straight with me," Reed said of [Broncos' coach Mike] Shanahan. "Last year in Buffalo I didn't get that kind of straight talk.'

Marker Broncos' Reed has Monday memories [7:57 AM]
Denver Post reports: 'The date was Oct. 17, 1988, the site the New Jersey Meadowlands. The Buffalo Bills were playing on "Monday Night Football" for the fist time in more than four years. For young Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, it was the first glimpse of the NFL spotlight. "It was special," Reed, now with the Denver Broncos, said Monday. "It was kind of a coming out party for our whole team, because nobody knew about us." Reed was a star that night, catching seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yarder. The Bills pounded the New York Jets 37-14, went on to win the AFC East and came within one victory of reaching the Super Bowl. Reed's performance that Monday night propelled him to the first of his seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections.'

Marker Reed adjusting to minor role [7:54 AM]
AP reports: 'There was speculation that Reed might not survive the [Denver Broncos'] final cuts, but he gave coach Mike Shanahan his assurance that he could accept his role as a backup - even if it meant not suiting up for some games. "I talked to Mike on Friday, and he shot straight with me about a lot of things,'' Reed, 36, said. "Obviously, there's a reason why he wants me here. Am I an insurance policy? To a certain point. If this is the last year for me, I'm going to make it as fun as I can. "It's all about trying to get a Super Bowl ring with this team. And this is the only team I feel I can get that with.'

Marker Finally, a home opener [6:24 AM]
D and C reports: "...I just wanted us to play at home the first game," Phillips said yesterday. "We've been on the road the past couple of years and I really feel there's a big advantage at home, especially in Buffalo. It didn't matter who we had to play, but to play one of the best teams on our schedule the first game, here, with a young team, it's important. We'll be ready."'

Marker Phillips still irked by 'forward' lateral [6:23 AM]
D and C reports: 'When discussing "Home Run Throwback," the official playbook name of the Titans' disputed kickoff lateral play that beat the Bills 22-16 in last January's wild-card playoff game, Phillips referred to the play as "Home Run Throw Forward" twice during a news conference yesterday. He'll never be convinced it was a legal lateral, he said.'

August 28, 2000

Marker Bills still haunted by 'Music City Miracle' [8:07 PM]
AP reports: '...reporters questioned Phillips about his curious turn of a phrase. "Home run throw forward just rolls of your tongue,'' a reporter said. "Well, that's what it was,'' Phillips replied.'

Marker No surprises as Bills cut roster to 53 [3:03 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Never, in the recent history of the Buffalo Bills, have the veterans felt so safe on cutdown day. Having lost 15 players from last season's 53-man roster and injured reserve list, there was plenty of room to make this year's squad. Sure enough, in the 27 cuts the Bills made to get from the training camp limit of 80 down to the regular-season maximum, only one actually played for Buffalo last season. Second-year running back Lennox Gordon, who saw limited action in eight games a year ago, was one of Sunday's final 12 cuts. And he was a circumstantial victim. Buffalo has committed to a one-back attack this year and already has four quality runners in Antowain Smith, Jonathan Linton, Sean Bryson and Sammy Morris, who can also play fullback. Joining Gordon on Sunday's cut list were quarterback Mike Cawley, receivers Drew Haddad and Kevin Drake, defensive backs Reggie Durden, Nick Ferguson and Jay Hill, tight end Ivan Gustafson, linebacker Dustin Cohen, defensive end Jarrett Procell, guard Corey Hulsey and fullback Josh Roth, the former Pine Valley and University at Buffalo star. Of that group, only Cawley, Drake, Ferguson and Hulsey had been in an NFL camp before and none of them had made a roster.'

Marker Watson trade to Buffalo nets draft pick [12:02 PM]
Denver Post reports: '...Buffalo benefits as well. The Bills were desperate to come up with a kick returner after this year's fourth-round choice, wide receiver Avion Black, fumbled the role away. Thus the bid for Watson, who returned a Broncos franchise-record 48 kicks last season for a 23.7-yard average. "I think he still has a great future," Shanahan said. "But it's always tough. Any time you come from college and you don't have that spring ball experience that he didn't have throughout his career, there's going to be a learning curve and some growing pains. And he went through some of those growing pains. But he's a heck of an athlete, he's very talented, and that's one of the reasons a number of teams were interested in him. They see the potential, too. He's going to get better and better."'

Marker Veterans now figure in reserve [12:00 PM]
Denver Post reports: 'For most of his 16 NFL seasons, wide receiver Andre Reed has been a shining star. Now he'll be making cameo appearances for the Denver Broncos. There had been speculation that Reed, who has 941 career receptions, second only to San Francisco's Jerry Rice, would not even make Denver's final roster. It turns out he did, but only as a role player. Coach Mike Shanahan said he thinks Reed can deal with it. "Not only for Andre, but for any veteran who has been a starter and has played in the NFL, I think it's always tough to go back and play in a backup role," Shanahan said Sunday after he announced the Broncos' final cuts to reach the 53-man roster. "If you're a competitor, which all of these guys are, you want to play and you want to show what you can do. But everybody's got to know their role as well."'

Marker Broncos' solution? Elementary [8:59 AM]
Denver Rocky Mountain News reports: 'A three-year starter at Eastern Illinois, he [Chris Watson] was a sprinter with the track team during the spring, when the football team usually receives valuable instructional work. And he missed part of his senior season because of an injury. "He really was just learning the defensive back position, and I think he still has a great future," [Broncos' coach Mike] Shanahan said. "But it's always tough any time you come from college and you don't have that spring ball experience that he didn't have throughout his career. There's going to be a learning curve and some growing pains, and he went through some of those growing pains. "But he's a heck of an athlete. He's really talented, and that's one of the reasons a number of teams were interested in him."'

Marker Bills hope Watson trade bolsters return game [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills traded an undisclosed 2001 draft pick Sunday to the Denver Broncos for second-year cornerback Chris Watson. Watson, 23, the Broncos' third-round draft choice (67th overall) a year ago, was an All-Rookie selection by College & Pro Football Newsweekly. He ranked fifth in the AFC with a 23.7-yard average on franchise-record 48 kickoffs, including a long of 71 yards. He wasn't as prolific on punt returns, averaging less than eight yards per attempt (44 returns for 334 yards), but took one 81 yards for a touchdown. The Bills didn't get Watson for his kick return prowess alone. The Chicago native was a three-year starter at Eastern Illinois at cornerback and safety. He played in 14 games for the Broncos last year, starting once. "He certainly fits our needs," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "We were looking for a return guy who could help at corner. He's a talented player. You can't take them all, but he was a kid we liked last year and kind of followed. Getting him is a real plus for us."'

Marker UB duo may not be gone for long [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Former University at Buffalo stars Drew Haddad and Josh Roth were cut by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but they probably still have a future with the team. NFL teams have until 4 p.m. today to sign players who were released. After the deadline, teams can add up to five players to their practice squad. Haddad and Roth are expected to be brought back to the Bills if they clear waivers. "They both have the ability to play," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "I thought both of them did well. I think both of them need some grooming, but I think they have potential and I like both of them. Haddad, we knew had talent. Roth, I think, was a surprise that he did so well. I think they did a great job for us."'

Marker No big surprise as Bills are cut to 53 [6:00 AM]
D and C reports: 'There were absolutely no surprises yesterday when Buffalo Bills coach Wade Phillips trimmed his roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 53. The only cut that drew even a mild upward turn of an eyebrow was the release of quarterback Mike Cawley, but not because Cawley's play warranted him a spot on the roster. Cawley was decidedly unimpressive in the brief work he received in the four preseason games, but his departure leaves the Bills dangerously thin at quarterback for the first month of the season. The only healthy quarterbacks are starter Rob Johnson and third-stringer Alex Van Pelt as Doug Flutie continues to recover from a groin pull that will keep him inactive for at least the first three games. Should anything happen to Johnson and Van Pelt had to play, the Bills would be one play away from having to use an emergency quarterback, probably punter Chris Mohr.'

August 27, 2000

Marker AFC East Scouting Report [7:33 PM]
Denver Rocky Mountain News reports: 2. Buffalo 9-7

Marker Bills cut 12; acquire return specialist Chris Watson from Broncos [6:48 PM]
AP reports: 'The Buffalo Bills cut 12 players, including second-year running back Lennox Gordon, while also acquiring return specialist Chris Watson from the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The cuts bring the Bills' roster down to the maximum 53 in preparation for next weekend's start of the regular season.'

Marker Carpenter jumped into spot as Bills' starting safety [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'In a span of one year, Carpenter's career has taken a dramatic leap forward. He came to the Bills last year as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Virginia Tech, where he was a second-team All-Big East selection as a senior. And while he made the Bills' regular-season roster, he was still a relative unknown whose only playing time came on special teams. Now many people know Carpenter, who is well aware of how far he's come in such a short time. "I feel blessed just to have the opportunity to contribute to a great organization like the Bills," said Carpenter, 22. "A lot of guys don't get this kind of opportunity until their third or fourth year in the league. I was blessed to be put in a perfect situation at the right time."'

Marker Glamour gone but East still a beast [6:40 AM]
Indianapolis Star reports: 'No team in the division left a bigger impression on the Colts, by virtue of their 31-6 victory in the regular-season finale. "Buffalo dismembered us at the end of the season," said Polian. Though much has been made of the departures of Smith, Reed and Thurman Thomas, all were little more than situational players last season, and their replacements -- defensive end Marcellus Wiley, receiver Peerless Price and running back Antowain Smith are already experienced, productive players. "The fellows that they lost, even though they're very close to my heart and clearly among the greatest players in the history of the game, last year were really just role players for them," Polian said. "So they were prepared to have those players leave and have very adequate replacements on hand." If coach Wade Phillips can massage the quarterback situation to keep it from becoming controversial -- he's made it clear Rob Johnson is the man, with Doug Flutie in reserve -- the offense has few holes and the defense is still one of the nastiest in the game.'

Marker A season of questions [6:31 AM]
D and C reports: 'With this changing of the guard, there is excitement on One Bills Drive that this new herd can stampede its way back to the top of the AFC East and perhaps win a playoff game for the first time since 1995. However, there is also skepticism surrounding a young team that has to find its way with a potentially superb but largely untested quarterback leading the way.'

Marker Good enough? [6:30 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Bills, sans The Big Three and 15 players overall from last season's 11-5 playoff club, are relishing the opportunity to disprove the consensus opinion that they've lost too much firepower to remain a Super Bowl contender. They say people are overrating the loss of golden-oldie stars like Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed and underrating their young, talented replacements like Shawn Bryson, Marcellus Wiley and Peerless Price. They say that yes, the team will feature seven new starters, but there are also 15 returnees, forming the nucleus of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL and a No. 11 offense that should be much more explosive with Johnson taking over for Doug Flutie.'

August 26, 2000

Marker Morris rushes into Bills' backfield picture [1:02 PM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Morris proved he's more than just a reserve blocker in the Bills' 16-12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The fifth-round draft choice from Texas Tech is a viable backup option for the Bills at running back this season. Morris gained 101 yards on 27 carries and caught two passes for 41 yards. He did it mostly against backup performers. But he showed the shiftiness and quickness necessary to be a versatile contributor - one who can fill two roles for the Bills. "That was more carries than I had in any other day of reps in camp," Morris said. "It felt good. I just wanted to run as hard as I could." "Sammy's a talented player who's going to help us this year," coach Wade Phillips said.'

Marker Buffalo targets return to run [7:30 AM]
D and C reports: 'Despite the long ball returning to Buffalo's offense this preseason under quarterback Rob Johnson, don't expect the Bills to stop using the run to set up the pass. "We won't ever be a passing team first. The character of our team is to establish the run and pound it out and throw off that," Johnson said.'

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09/07 @ Chicago Bears 1:00 pm
09/14 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
09/21 San Diego Chargers 1:00 pm
09/28 @ Houston Texans 1:00 pm
10/05 @ Detroit Lions 1:00 pm
10/12 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
10/19 Minnesota Vikings 1:00 pm
10/26 @ New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/09 Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm
11/13 @ Miami Dolphins 8:25 pm
11/23 New York Jets 1:00 pm
11/30 Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm
12/07 @ Denver Broncos 4:05 pm
12/14 Green Bay Packers 1:00 pm
12/21 @ Oakland Raiders 4:25 pm
12/28 @ New England Patriots 1:00 pm

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