Up for grabs [9:03 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'If the Bills thought the Chargers' wideouts were tough, wait until they get a load of what the Minnesota Vikings have in store for them on Sunday. All-Pro wide receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter might be the most difficult challenge of the season for the Bills' defense. "They're explosive. They can make big plays at any time," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "I think trying to take away the big play certainly is the key to slowing them down some."'
Flutie brings new-found enthusiasm to starting job [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'According to teammates, Flutie was very vocal in practice Wednesday. For the first time in a long while, he was enjoying the game.'
White knight rides to save Bills ... again [7:24 AM]
National Post reports: 'The Bills might be best served in a two-quarterback system, because defensive co-ordinators couldn't possibly prepare for the drop-back Johnson and the scrambling Flutie. That's a question for later, though. Currently, his teammates are looking for a little abracadabra. "I just play football," Flutie said. "I have to play this game a certain way, because of my size. I do what I do. If that motivates people, great."'
Flutie stays out of debate [7:17 AM]
Toronto Globe & Mail reports: '"Doug's the consummate pro," [Bills coach Wade] Phillips said. "He's ready to play at any time. That's the great thing about Doug. You can't count on him to be ready, and I think he'll be ready [on Sunday]." Flutie said that being thrust into overtime last week was nerve-racking until the moment the ball was snapped. "I feel fine stepping in," he said. "I had some doubts on the sideline, but it's like riding a bike. You step in there, get your reads and go."'
Sammy leads the way [5:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Six games into the season, rookie Sammy Morris is the undisputed chair of the Buffalo Bills running back committee. His 5.5 yards-per-carry average is nearly double that of his closest peer, and he's the team's designated fullback no less. Still, coach Wade Phillips has no plans to disband the use of three running backs per game and make this Sammy's Show. Not yet anyway.'
Vikings getting by with limited takeaways [5:27 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'Fact is, everyone from defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas on down is preaching the need for more turnovers, either by land (fumbles) or by air (interceptions). So far, the Vikings have forced seven. Frankly, more need to come.'
Five questions: Orlando Thomas [5:26 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: '[Q:] How often do referees get pass interference calls wrong? [A:] With us, all the time. Against Chicago [last Sunday night] we should've had five called our way. We never get calls; we go into every game thinking that if there are 10 calls we should get, we might get three of them.'
Vikings notes [5:24 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: '[Former Bills linebacker Gabe] Northern compiled 10 1/2 sacks with the Bills, playing mostly at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has gained 20 pounds and is now a 260-pound defensive end, although the Vikings have used him at linebacker during practice.'
Smith shows his versatility [5:22 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'The Vikings average 6.6 yards a first-down play, trailing only the St. Louis Rams (8.3 yards), and Smith is one of the primary reasons. He's moving piles to gain a few extra yards, and he's showcasing his inside running skills. Nearly 37 percent of his rushing attempts have gone up the middle, and only seven carries have lost yardage.'
Northern lights up at chance [5:19 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Gabe Northern is to ready to show the Buffalo Bills what they're missing. "It's like when you break up with your girlfriend," [explained] Northern, who spent 1996-99 with the Bills. "You want to get a better girlfriend to show her she should have stayed with you."'
Kleinsasser's statistics don't reflect his impact [5:17 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'To best assess Jim Kleinsasser's contribution to the Vikings this season, gloss right past his statistics. Go straight for Robert Smith's numbers. While Kleinsasser has touched the ball few times this season, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound fullback is clearing the way for Smith, who has three 100-yard rushing games and is fifth in the NFL in rushing yardage. "Fullbacks in the (NFL) just don't carry the ball much, they block and Jimmy is doing a very good job of what he's supposed to be doing," coach Dennis Green said. "I love what he's doing for us."'
Even if Flutie comes through, Bills face end of an era [9:04 PM]
SportsWritersDirect reports: 'The Bills have done as good a job as any team in dealing with the salary cap, but even they may be finally paying the piper for all the good times of the last decade.'
Flutie says he's only filling in until Johnson returns [8:54 PM]
AP reports: 'Although there had been times since when he publicly questioned his demotion, Flutie made every effort to defuse any hint of a quarterback controversy on Wednesday. "I'm the backup and that's the way it is," he said when asked if he might remain the starter.'
Christie puts problems behind him [8:34 PM]
AP reports: 'Christie, who has two children, was going through marital difficulties last year. "I think last year pretty much culminated into a situation where I was pretty miserable," he said. "It was hard to get my mind right for games. But I think at this point it's a lot better."'
Spriggs looks like a keeper at right tackle [9:11 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Coach Wade Phillips said Spriggs will remain a starter at right tackle when the Bills travel to Minnesota Sunday to take on the unbeaten Vikings. "I thought Marcus came in and did a good job for us," Phillips said this week. "He's not perfect yet certainly, and we all got to get better. But he came in and did some good things for us, and I expect him to get better and better as he plays more."'
Homeless get high-powered advocates [9:11 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Homeless people got a boost from Buffalo Bills tight end Jay Riemersma and Mayor Anthony M. Masiello on Tuesday morning at the launch of the Buffalo City Mission's second fall fund-raising campaign. Masiello proclaimed this week Buffalo City Mission Week, as the campaign sets a $1.2 million goal, a $200,000 increase over last year. Riemersma has agreed to be spokesman for the campaign, fueled by the motto "Restore hope, dignity and lives."'
McDaniel stronger on weak side [9:10 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: '[Ed McDaniel's] back home, where his heart's always been. Namely at weak-side linebacker -- where he began his career -- after two seasons playing in the middle. Perhaps it's no coincidence that everything else has fallen into place, too. Call it a harmonic convergence. "This is fun, all the way around," McDaniel said.'
Vikings notes [9:08 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'It has been three seasons and two teams since Vikings guard Corbin Lacina played in Buffalo. But he still knows enough of Bills to be looking forward to Sunday's game. Lacina played in Buffalo from 1994 to '97 before going to Carolina for a season then coming to the Vikings. "It will make it a little more fun out there," Lacina said. "There are a lot of guys I know, guys I practiced against. Look at [defensive end] Phil Hanson and [nose tackle] Ted Washington. And linebacker John Holecek. Those guys are still there, and those are the guys we'll be going against. There will be some trash talking."'
Vikings mix wins, winces [9:07 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'With an average margin of victory of only about seven points, every game has been in question well into the fourth quarter.'
Burrough aids line's versatility [9:06 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'The Vikings don't feel they would have effectively been able to move John Randle from defensive tackle to end without the flexibility of John Burrough. And now that nickel-package defensive end Bryce Paup will be out for six weeks with a fracture in his right knee, Burrough's versatility also may save the Vikings a headache. "There's no question, John is versatile, and it has helped us," Vikings defensive line coach Fred vonAppen said. "We feel he can play anywhere on the line and play effectively."'
A painful first [9:05 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Defensive end Bryce Paup will be out for six weeks with a fracture in his right knee.'
Phillips goes on defense over offense [8:36 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Phillips still stubbornly maintains that while Johnson was hit and sacked too much "it wasn't all the offensive line, certainly." He then pointed out that a "young guy" (probably running back Jonathan Linton) had missed a protection on the game's first sack. But what about all the other hits on Buffalo QBs? It defies logic that the offensive line can't be held accountable, especially since the Bills have rushed for more than 100 yards in only two of six games this season.'
Paup out 6-8 weeks [8:27 PM]
AP reports: 'Minnesota Vikings pass-rushing specialist Bryce Paup is expected to miss six to eight weeks because of a fracture in his right leg.'
Bills top TV ratings [8:25 PM]
AP reports: 'For the sixth straight week in which they've played this season, Bills games have been the most-watched program in Buffalo.'
Flutie is mum about 'promotion' to starter [9:03 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The normally accessible Flutie did not make himself available to the media Monday as he was locked away in a room at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse studying film. There are a number of ways to look at why Flutie wasn't around to talk about getting his first start since Week 15 of last season. Is there so much concern about facing the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings on Sunday that more film work is needed, or is he so motivated to succeed that he couldn't break away for even a few minutes? Or could it be that Flutie doesn't want to come off as being insensitive about starting at the expense of a fallen teammate? Whatever the case, the job is his. How he handles it will have a huge bearing on how the rest of the Bills' season plays out.'
What, Wade worry? Woes multiplying in spite of win [9:02 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Week after week, the offensive linemen have botched their assignments, leaving Johnson exposed to unimpeded rushers. What Brown seemed to be saying was, we're tired of it. Give us some blocking schemes that don't get abused. Last week, Eric Moulds asked for Joe Pendry's offense to be simplified. It was a clear sign of discontent simmering within the offense. Brown's outburst, which embarrassed the coaching staff in front of 72,000 fans and a TV audience, was a more dramatic cry for help. Phillips can laugh it off all he wants. I doubt Johnson is laughing.'
Wiley, Flowers make change for the better [9:00 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'After being held to two sacks in the previous three games, the Bills recorded four in the 27-24 overtime win over San Diego on Sunday. The Bills moved Marcellus Wiley from right defensive end to the left side and put rookie Erik Flowers at right end in the nickel defense. The result was a career-high two sacks for Wiley, while Flowers recorded his first as a pro.'
Buffalo's Doug Flutie presents a new challenge for the Vikings' defense [8:35 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: '"Offensively, with Doug Flutie, I think they are going to recommit themselves to running the football," Vikings coach Dennis Green said. "I think Doug likes the running game with the play-action pass. We're going to have to work extremely hard in that area this week."'
Flutie inherits start for Bills [6:12 AM]
D and C reports: 'Should the Bills (3-3) upset the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings (6-0) on the road Sunday, then get past the New York Jets (5-1) at home the following week, and the offense is humming under Flutie, Phillips will be faced with a decision to make, just like he was in 1998. The big difference is that Johnson is much more entrenched as the starter and Flutie could be a salary cap cut after this season anyway.'
It's better late than never, now that Flutie will start [6:10 AM]
D and C reports: 'I also think a one-two punch of Johnson and Flutie could be effective, but we're in the minority. Perhaps Phillips would be more inclined to try it if Flutie does well in his upcoming emergency starting role and Johnson returns 100 percent healthy.'
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