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Buffalo Bills News - August 4, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

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August 3, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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)."'

August 2, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

August 1, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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 . . .'

Marker 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..."

Marker 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).'

Marker Price's role expands as Wiley heals [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"Shawn is a violent rusher," said Bills defensive line coach John Levra. "He's a want-to guy. He wants to get to the quarterback. He doesn't quit when he's blocked. He fights and scratches to get to the quarterback. He finishes every rush until the play is dead. You have to have that mind-set if you're going to succeed as a pass rusher."'

Marker Van Pelt sends moving van packing [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"We were a couple days away from putting our house up for sale and moving back to Pittsburgh," Van Pelt said Monday after his first workout with the Bills. "I'm glad to be back. I think I missed the camaraderie with the guys the most."'

Marker Bills' questions need answering in preseason games [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills already found out what they do if Doug Flutie gets hurt. They re-sign Alex Van Pelt. But what happens if they lose an inside linebacker from their stellar defensive unit? Is Jay Foreman up to the job? And what will they do if one of the starting wide receivers were hurt? Jeremy McDaniel has been all-Pittsford, but what will he do in games? Kwame Cavil was a sensation in the minicamps but he hurt his left leg Monday afternoon so the coaches need to look at University at Buffalo grad Drew Haddad and NFL Europe star Kevin Drake. Judging from his work in last Saturday's scrimmage, Keion Carpenter pulled even with Daryl Porter in the battle to succeed Kurt Schulz as the free safety. The position has to be nailed down in the next two weeks so if rookie Travares Tillman or Nick Ferguson plan to make their moves, Friday night is the time. And how about Carpenter's old Virginia Tech teammate, Corey Moore, the best defensive player in college football last season as an end? He's a pro linebacker now, but he's here mainly as a pass rusher so the big interest is whether he can assault NFL quarterbacks like Cincinnati's Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell as he did the college variety. For that matter ,how will No. 1 pick Erik Flowers perform in the wake of Bruce Smith's departure and the absence of the injured Marcellus Wiley? This is one of those cases where the Bills actually do need game conditions to start finding out some of those answers.'

Marker Van Pelt eases back [6:38 AM]
D and C reports: '"I played for six years and I was very fortunate. I was basically going to put it behind me and move on. We were about two days away from putting the house up for sale and heading back to Pittsburgh." His plans, however, changed dramatically when Doug Flutie sustained a torn left groin muscle in practice last Thursday. Instead of heading to Pennsylvania, Van Pelt drove to Rochester Sunday night after signing a one-year contract with the Buffalo Bills. Van Pelt immediately slid into the second spot on the depth chart behind Rob Johnson and ahead of youngsters Mike Cawley and Phil Stambaugh. He looked right at home in his No. 10 jersey during his first practices yesterday. "I guess the golf course was good for him," coach Wade Phillips said, "because he came in in pretty good shape."'

Marker Fits of fury under the sun [6:36 AM]
D and C reports: 'Tempers flared often during the morning practice as humidity levels rose to the sweltering range and the monotony of training camp began to set in.
The main event featured defensive tackle Bryce Fisher and guard Joe Panos exchanging blows in a skirmish that originally involved Fisher and guard Ruben Brown. A few minutes later, fullback Jonathan Linton and safety Travares Tillman traded shoves at the end of a play before Linton fired the football at Tillman's helmeted head. "The guys are getting sick of one another after a week and a half of two-a-days," said tackle Jamie Nails.
"We're like family and you love your brothers, but there are times you get tired to them, too." Especially when you're lining up against the same people day after day, pounding away on the line of scrimmage.'

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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
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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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