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Buffalo Bills News - August 31, 2000

Marker New-look Bills plan to remain competitive [7:56 PM]
AP reports: '"It is different certainly without the Big 3 and they certainly are in our minds and in our hearts,'' said coach Wade Phillips, who returns for his third year. "But I hope there's a Big 6 or Big 8 or Big 10 that show up with this year's team. We have a lot of good young players. "If they play well, then those are the guys we'll remember 10 years from now."'

Marker Buffalo gets a quick shot at revenge against the Titans [7:54 PM]
AP reports: 'The Titans, who fell a yard short of sending the Super Bowl into overtime, might be the league's best team. The Bills almost always draft well and have stayed respectable even while the stars of the early '90s fade from the scene. But they're young. No miracles needed. TITANS, 24-16.

Marker Dolphins fans quick to embrace former nemesis [7:52 PM]
AP reports: 'It wasn't his choice to leave Buffalo, but apparently fans there resent his decision to join the Bills' archrivals in the AFC East. "I've gotten nasty mail -- `Watch your back when you come to Buffalo,"' he said. "I'm thinking they mean maybe a couple of snowballs, but you never know when you get letters like that." He can't say former teammate Jim Kelly didn't warn him. "Jim was the first person I called when I came down here," Thomas said. "He said, `If you still think you can play, go ahead and do it. But you're probably going to make a lot of people in Buffalo mad."''

Marker 'Miracle' loss is long over for Johnson [1:24 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'But that's not to say last year's playoff disappointment didn't affect Johnson. His performance against the NFL's premier pass rush, while playing behind an injury-devastated offensive line earned him big points with his teammates. Not only were they impressed that he had rallied them in a road playoff game, but also that he was quick to take the blame for his team's struggles in the first half. Tennessee's initial score was a safety when Johnson bobbled a snap from center Jerry Ostroski and was tackled in the end zone by Titans' All-Pro defensive end Jevon Kearse. Afterward Johnson could have blamed Ostroski, but instead he insisted the mistake was his also. He that he had unwisely called an audible in the din of Adelphia Coliseum and Ostroski couldn't hear it. In Johnson's view, that was totally his own fault. But that approach - whether or not it was the truth - was a sharp contrast to his predecessor, Doug Flutie, whom he replaced a week earlier. Flutie took great pains to distance himself from blame for any mistakes, a trait duly noted by his teammates. Johnson's "my fault" attitude was embraced by the team and he came to be viewed differently after that game. "I think the team sees me differently," he conceded. "The team believes (I) can do it. But to me, I haven't changed."'

Marker Bills linebackers in hot pursuit of home run payback [9:05 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Most of the Bills insist they've put that loss behind them. They'll tell you it's a new season, with a bunch of new players. They'll tell you they're not thirsting for revenge in Sunday night's opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium. And you don't believe them. Looking into Cowart's eyes, you can almost see the fire smoldering inside him. It has been nearly eight months since Kevin Dyson raced down the left sideline to steal a victory away. That is hardly enough time to forget. "The players who were in that game know how it felt," he said. "So we'll be playing with a little more incentive. They're the only team to beat us in 2000, so we want to pay them back."'

Marker Titans' offense kicks it up a notch [9:04 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It would be an understatement to say the Tennessee Titans' offense was like vanilla ice cream in last year's playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. It was like non-fat vanilla ice cream. The Titans' offense played an ultra-conservative game and squeezed out one touchdown and two field goals against the Bills' defense. That was then. The Bills are staring at a Titans offense that looks a lot more balanced and dangerous this week as they prepare for Sunday's rematch of the Music City Miracle at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "We've seen them go down the field a lot more than they did last year," said Bills cornerback Ken Irvin. "They have a different offensive coordinator this year, and with the receivers they have, why not?"'

Marker Flutie well ahead of schedule for return [9:02 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I feel good enough that I could contribute," Flutie said. "It feels real comfortable dropping back and setting up. All I've ever said was it would be somewhere in the first few weeks of the regular season." Flutie stayed out of the 11-on-11 drills as a precaution so he wouldn't be tempted to make a fast cut. "It's definitely not 100 percent right now," Flutie said. "It's somewhere around 90 percent. I've played feeling worse."'

Marker Johnson's live arm drives fans' expectations over the top [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'That's why Buffalo fans have to be excited and intrigued by Rob Johnson. Whenever he throws the ball downfield, you're reminded of why he was brought here in the first place, and of the possibilities contained in his right arm.'

Marker A breath of fresh air [9:00 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Too many times, people said, "That's just Bruce." In between his first and 171st sack, Bruce Smith - the man Wiley has replaced at defensive end - was suspended for four games after testing positive for drugs. He was involved in numerous contract disputes. He turned training camp into extended vacations. He took a nap at a red light. Wiley has 81/2 sacks in his career. Maybe he'll never be the great Bruce Smith, but he could be better than most defensive ends in the NFL. He had to overcome back surgery but will be ready for the season opener this week against the Tennessee Titans. "Bruce has 170-something sacks," Wiley said. "Bruce is Hall of Fame. He's already going to Canton, Ohio. The only way I'm going to Canton, Ohio, is if I get lost trying to go to Cleveland. That's right now. When I'm done and I'm 35 years old, we're going to talk a different talk. I'm not trying to catch Bruce in one year. That's how you set yourself up wrong mentally. You set yourself up right by saying, "It's my turn. I'm going to show them.'" So Marcellus isn't Bruce. He's the anti-Bruce.'

Marker Hicks out to prove he's the right man [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'So that leaves Robert Hicks, who could be the most important figure in the core of this offense. Yes, that Robert Hicks. The 6-foot-7, 330-pound, anything-but-round right tackle enters his third season this year, and the Bills need him to play well if they want to move the ball. If he plays poorly, they could have problems. "Every team starts with the offensive line," Hicks said. "True, indeed, defense wins games, but the offense has to move the ball. If you don't have a good offensive line, all the plays are going to falter. I have to play well."'

Marker The Felser Chronicles [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The game which turned around the franchise: The Dallas Texans, who would go on to win the American Football League championship in the second overtime game in football history, and became the Kansas City Chiefs the next season, came to War Memorial Stadium on Dec. 2, 1962. The largest crowd ever for a Bills' game up to then, 35,261, jammed the place to see Jack Kemp play his first home game as a Bill. The new quarterback picked apart the Dallas defense and Buffalo won, 23-14. The crowd, probably loaded with Democrats, surged on to the field at the end and carried Kemp, who would be the Republican candidate for vice president of the United States 34 years later, through the Dodge Street tunnel on its shoulders. Bills mania was born that day.'

Marker The AFC At a glance [7:36 AM]
Scripps Howard News Service reports: '[Buffalo] Should be second-best team in AFC East, again.'

Marker T. Thomas enjoys Pro Player cheers [7:07 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'The feedback from the Bills fans hasn't been as jovial. "I've gotten nasty mail," he said. "Stuff like 'watch your back' when I come to Buffalo (Oct. 8). I'm thinking maybe a couple of snowballs, but you never know when you get letters like that."'

Marker AFC East Preview [7:02 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'There's no depth left after they cut key players to get under the salary cap. They lost leadership in Bruce Smith and Schulz but managed to re-sign G Ruben Brown. There's a quarterback controversy lurking if Rob Johnson, the designated starter, doesn't produce. Doug Flutie has a lot of fans in Buffalo.'

Marker A talk between 2 Bills QB's [6:57 AM]
Metro West Daily News reports: 'Flutie always knew the Bills wanted it to be Johnson, and it would have stayed that way if he wasn't getting donged so much. And if Flutie hadn't gone 17-8 as the Bills' starter. Flutie has told me that he thinks Johnson is very talented, a guy with a strong arm and yes, Flutie said, he can run too. But the fierce competitor in Flutie just wanted his shot last January 8 against the Titans. He thought he'd earned as much. Didn't happen. He's said some things. Johnson's said some things. But nothing's changed. Johnson starts, Flutie waits. The waiting game he's good at. We'll see what happens.'

Marker Flutie preparing for game if he's needed [6:32 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"I feel good," Flutie said. "I wouldn't want to run for a 40 time right now, because that would scare me a little bit ... I've played in games when I felt worse than I do now." Rob Johnson will start Sunday nigh and Flutie said he didn't know whether he would be in uniform for the game. Alex Van Pelt is the third quarterback and punter Chris Mohr would be the emergency quarterback if Flutie is not ready to play.'

Marker Bills re-tool with Super Bowl hopes [6:31 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'The Bills believe the youth movement will add some flash to an offense that ran the ball more times than any other in the NFL last season. "Last year we didn't scare people," Price said. "We didn't give that threat out there. This year we have the emphasis of getting big chunks of yards, and I think we can put the fear into defenses." The Buffalo defense, which finished No. 1 in the NFL overall, has just three starters over 30 -- defensive end Phil Hansen, nose tackle Ted Washington and safety Henry Jones. They're 32 each. There's also a 25-year-old Ivy Leaguer, Marcellus Wiley, replacing Smith at right end. "But he replaced someone too, and I don't know that guy's name," Wiley said. "Everybody is going to remember Bruce Smith here, I just want to let them know who Marcellus Wiley is. But you don't get 170-some sacks in one year. You don't go to Canton in one year."'

Marker Bills set to play tune on Titans [6:18 AM]
Toronto Star reports: '"There's no way we're going to put that behind us, but that's not a motivation for revenge," defensive end Marcellus Wiley said. "This game only means we can be 1-0. The Super Bowl isn't going to be won or lost this week."'

Marker Bills are eager to change tune [6:12 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: '"We don't need to discuss the details of that but I am pretty sure (the Bills) circled this game on their schedule," [Titans running back Eddie] George said on a conference call. "It's going to be a great challenge. "I expect a hostile environment. I think we are all expecting that going up into Buffalo, especially the way it did end."'

Marker Bills replay Music City Miracle [5:59 AM]
D and C reports: '[Titans Coach Jeff] Fisher doesn't think Phillips' refusual to accept the legality of the lateral as crying sour grapes. "It's just his opinion of the play," he said. "I often put myself in coach Phillips' shoes and can only imagine how Wade feels after the way his team played, doing what it took to win that game, the expectations they had as a team, and have it end like that. I can only begin to understand how he feels."'

Marker Dyson knows about ecstasy and agony [5:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'I learned what it's like to be as high as a kite and as low as the grass you walk on," says Dyson, who will start at wide receiver Sunday night against the Bills in the teams' NFL season opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "This is going to sound strange, but the way that Super Bowl ended made me feel the way the Bills must have felt after we beat them the way we did.'

Marker Flutie very unlikely to play despite brief return to drills [5:55 AM]
D and C reports: 'Backup quarterback Doug Flutie, expected to be out of action at least the first three games, participated briefly in throwing drills yesterday and said if there was a quarterback emergency Sunday, he could play. "It's not 100 percent, but if you want a percentage it's somewhere around 90," Flutie said of his torn groin. "I've played a lot of games more hurt than I am right now." Flutie said it was very unlikely that coach Wade Phillips would activate him as the third-string quarterback for the game because the team does not want to rush him back into action and risk further injury.'

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August 30, 2000

Marker Flutie won't play, but is nearly recovered from torn groin [8:22 PM]
AP reports: 'Quarterback Doug Flutie, who practiced in pads on Wednesday for the first time in almost a month, says his torn groin muscle feels "90 percent" healthy. Despite Flutie's faster-than-expected recovery, he won't play Sunday in the Buffalo Bills' season opener against the Tennessee Titans. "He won't be ready for this game, but he's coming along fast," coach Wade Phillips said.'

Marker Johnson earns Bills respect as No. 1 quarterback [8:20 PM]
AP reports: 'Quarterback Rob Johnson says he's still the same hard-throwing, laid-back kid from Southern California. His Buffalo Bills teammates beg to differ, noting he's grown in poise and confidence as the team prepares for Sunday's season-opener against the Tennessee Titans. "He's shown maturity. He's shown that he's ready to lead the ballclub. He's shown that he's the guy this year," Bills linebacker Sam Cowart said Wednesday. "Once the season gets underway, we get a couple of wins and he proves to the fans, himself and to the team that he's our quarterback, I think there won't be so much of a quarterback controversy. "It'll be Rob's show."'

Marker AFC Preview [3:17 PM]
Florida Times Union reports: '[Buffalo Bills] 2000 Prediction: 10-6, second in East.'

Marker A Bill comes due [11:55 AM]
AP reports: 'Helping motivate Moulds is that this is the final year of his contract. He can't help but consider the multimillion-dollar prize that could await him. "You're a competitor, and you see all these guys getting these big contracts and, of course, you would like to be in that situation," Moulds said. "But you still have to go out this year and have a good showing." Watching the team's off-season moves to clear room under the salary cap, Moulds hoped some of that was being saved for him because he wants to remain a Bill. "I want to be here and I'm pretty sure it'll get done," he said. "But I just go out there and approach it that, if I play well, then I figure they'll take care of it."'

Marker Buffalo Bills Preview [11:53 AM]
TV Guide reports: 'Buffalo (11-5) will forever be known as the victim of football's most unexpected lateral, but coach Wade Phillips may be remembered for a fumble if the Bills struggle this year.'

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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