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Buffalo Bills News - September 16, 2000

Marker Groh, Jets seek more than late heroics [7:30 AM]
Bergen Record reports: 'Consistency on offense was atop Al Groh's agenda Friday. But Al, how about the second and third quarters against New England on Monday? In a seven-possession span, the Jets went three-and-out three times and managed merely four first downs. Oh, that's not quite the type of consistency you're looking for, is it? "We need to sharpen up that consistency today," the Jets coach said before Friday's practice at Hofstra. "That's got to be our emphasis point today. To be more consistent and put good plays back-to-back." The Jets did that Monday, but only in the first and fourth quarters.'

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September 15, 2000

Marker Bills' blueprint for success [3:26 PM]
ESPNet reports: 'In this age of the salary cap and unfettered free agent movement, the Bills are refreshing throwbacks. The franchise, wedged into the far west corner of New York, across the falls from Ontario, Canada, still operates with this basic philosophy: Draft good football players, nurture them and keep them as long as you can. Before the Bills traded for Denver kick returner Chris Watson before the final cutdown, they didn't have a single player on the roster who played for another NFL team in 1999. The result is a lot of victories.'

Marker Bills downplay Johnson's tendinitis [9:00 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Quarterback Rob Johnson has developed tendinitis in the elbow of his right (throwing) arm. The Bills don't think it's serious enough to put him on the injury list, and they expect him to start Sunday. But his condition does bear watching. Johnson was in obvious pain as he threw during warm-up drills in practice Thursday. After one throw, he was bent over clutching his elbow. After practice, coach Wade Phillips downplayed Johnson's tendinitis. "He's always had that," Phillips said. "He had it last year. It hasn't been a concern for us or him. It's not like (Green Bay's Brett) Favre, but it's similar. It gets sore sometimes when he throws the football, so he ices it down. He obviously didn't have a problem in the game." "I've taken a couple of hits on my elbow," Johnson said. "I've got some scabs there, so it's been a little more tender than it has before. But I'll be all right. It's just something I'll have to deal with."
Johnson added that his tendinitis usually flares up if his arm isn't completely warm, but improves once the arm loosens up.'

Marker Jets special teams not especially good [8:53 AM]
Asbury Park Press/Home News Tribune reports: 'Just check the current special-teams rankings: Kickoff returns: 29th...Punt returns: 29th...Kickoff coverage: 16th...Punt coverage: 30th.'

Marker A Healthy Marvin Is Tough Stuff [7:47 AM]
New York Newsday reports: 'This week, there's a little more juice involved for Jones. Not only are the Jets (2-0) playing the Bills (2-0) for first place in the AFC East, but Jones is going against one of his successors at Florida State. Sam Cowart, who leads the Bills with 28 tackles, modeled himself after Jones when he joined the Seminoles. "Everybody wanted to be like Marvin," Cowart said. "He was the best collegiate linebacker I've ever seen. He told me that we ran the same things at Florida State that they do in the pros. They just call them different things." Jones said facing Cowart's team means, "You've got to try to outplay the young guy. We know in a game like this, if it turns out to be a defensive game, whatever team's linebackers play the best, that's who's going to win."'

Marker NFL in Toronto isn't a sure bet [7:37 AM]
Toronto Star reports: 'A scenario laid out in another newspaper had Ralph Wilson, the 82-year-old owner of the Buffalo Bills, selling the team for about $500 million (U.S.) to put his estate in order and deal with the inheritance tax issue now, instead of post mortem. It made it sound as though Godfrey was about a week away from loading up a satchel full of Rogers' dough, shuffling off to Buffalo and returning with the Bills, who would soon be playing home games at SkyDome. Bills officials are shaking their heads over that one. Even Godfrey described the story as "highly speculative," adding, "I wouldn't get too excited about the Bills packing their helmets and shoulder pads and moving down the QEW to Toronto. I wouldn't bet the family fortune on moving Buffalo. The Bills are there until at least 2004. Nobody (from Toronto) is looking at the Bills with great lust." Scott Birchtold, who handles publicity for the Bills, said the scenario was so unlikely that nobody from the team wanted to comment on it. But he did say it's just the latest story that had somebody taking the team out of Buffalo. "This isn't the first time I've heard this. Those kind of stories upset Mr. Wilson a great deal, because I don't think he has any intention of selling the team," said Birchtold. "He absolutely loves this football team. The last time there was a story like that in the Buffalo News it upset Mr. Wilson so much he wrote a letter to the editor about it."'

Marker Antowain implores Bills: Turn me loose [7:12 AM]
D and C reports: 'Buffalo Bills tailback Antowain Smith has a suggestion for his coaches to get the team's stalled running game in gear: Quit making him run with a fullback...Smith suggests that a problem that plagued the Bills last season still exists: the telegraphing of running plays because of established personnel combinations that offensive coordinator Joe Pendry favors. Smith, who is never thrown to, is Buffalo's designated tailback in all two-back alignments, which is akin to saying a run's coming. Jonathan Linton and Shawn Bryson operate as pass-catching, single-set backs with the element of surprise. Smith, a powerful 6-2, 228 pounds, would like that role. He said he prefers to run without a lead blocker because he can hit the holes faster and read where those holes are more clearly. "Running the ball as a single back, you get to the hole a little faster because you just go," Smith said. "With a fullback in front of you, you have to be more patient and cut off (his block). There's a difference. If you're an athlete, of course you have to let your instincts take over when running the ball. But you also have reads to make, and sometimes your reads are more clear as a single back."'

Marker Johnson will play vs. Jets despite tendinitis [7:10 AM]
D and C reports: '"It's just that as the season goes on, we've thrown a lot and you get tendinitis," said Johnson. "I've taken a couple of hits on my elbow and I've got some scabs there, so it's been a little more tender than it was before. But I'll be all right, it's just something that I'll have to deal with it."'

Marker One-Man Showcase for Jets: Anderson [7:10 AM]
New York Times reports: 'And now on Sunday, the Jets face what Coach Al Groh fears could be the finest defensive team in the league. The Bills were first in the league last season, and so far third this year.'

Marker No Ordinary Jones [7:08 AM]
New York Daily News reports: '"This is the best linebacking corps we're going to face all year," running back Jonathan Linton said. "They bring a lot of heat." So do the Bills' linebackers, led by another former Florida State star, Sam Cowart, who already has 28 tackles and is being hyped as one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. Cowart and Jones never played together in college, but Jones served as a chaperone on Cowart's recruiting visit. Asked how Jones sold him on the school, Cowart cracked yesterday: "He helped sell me by leaving (school), because he left a year early. "I'm from Florida, and all we get on TV are Florida State and Florida, so I couldn't help but watch him," Cowart said. "He's a great linebacker. He's one of the best players ever to put on a Florida State uniform." Jones, who will be inducted tonight into the Florida State sports Hall of Fame, wants to teach Cowart a lesson Sunday. ("I have to outplay the young guy," he said.)'

Marker Keyshawn Blind-Sides Chrebet Again [7:06 AM]
New York Daily News reports: 'Former Jets WR Keyshawn Johnson, who faces his old team in nine days, took another swipe yesterday at his longtime nemesis, Wayne Chrebet. Johnson, who watched the Jets' 20-19 victory over the Patriots Monday night, said Dedric Ward has emerged as their No. 1 receiver. Ward had four receptions for 100 yards in the game. "I always said Dedric Ward was going to be their guy, and Dedric Ward is their guy right now," Johnson told reporters at the Buccaneers' facility in Tampa. "But, in New York, they don't want to hear that. That's new to them. If you say that, it's all over the AP wire. "The coaching staff and administrative people know the truth. The writers and fans don't get the whole picture. I know the truth because I can watch and see how teams are playing them." By praising Ward, Johnson was knocking Chrebet, who had a fantastic game. He caught four passes for 71 yards, including two touchdowns in the final 6:25.'

Marker Anderson's window opens [7:05 AM]
New York Post reports: 'Anderson, whom some are calling "Slash" because is he's so multi-talented, did indeed ignite the Jets to that 20-19 win. Without his efforts on that drive, the Jets never even have a chance to win it in the final moments. "I think his time has come," Lucas said of Anderson, who's been a Jet since 1993. "He's been doing this for awhile, but nobody seemed to pick up on it. Maybe because it was spotty, maybe we weren't using him as much as we are now. But he's definitely dependable. You know what you're going to get out of Richie every day. "He's the total package," Lucas went on. "He's a fullback who can block for you. Most fullbacks in the NFL are going out in the flat, catching the ball and picking up three yards for you. "Obviously, teams are going to have to start looking at No. 20 when they gameplan. You've got to pay special attention to him, because he can hurt you with the run, he can hurt you after he catches the ball and he can hurt you vertically downfield. "Not too many fullbacks in the league - not any, really - go out and line up split all the way outside and go run past people out there. Here you have Richie making catches and taking the ball all the way down the field almost by himself, almost scoring in a screen pass. "How many fullbacks get screens? I mean, we design plays for Richie a lot."'

Marker At 3-0, gang green will look like playoff lock [7:03 AM]
New York Post reports: 'They're not printing playoff tickets yet over at Weeb Ewbank Hall, nor will they regardless of what the outcome is Sunday at Giants Stadium, where the 2-0 Jets play the 2-0 Bills. However, a Jets' victory Sunday will go a significant way toward pushing the Jets back into the postseason for the first time since they nearly derailed Denver from the AFC title game at the end of the '98 season.'

Marker Cottrell fits defensive bill [7:02 AM]
Newark Star Ledger reports: 'Last season, the Buffalo Bills finished first in the NFL in total defense under coordinator Ted Cottrell, allowing the fewest points by an AFC team in 21 years and setting several team defensive records. The unit not only played hard because it was their job, they played hard for Cottrell, a practitioner of the kind of tough love that endears a coach to his players. Yet, Cottrell's phone didn't ring once last off-season when a half dozen NFL head coaching jobs opened up. Ted Cottrell, a former Rutgers assistant coach, is black. "It was kind of discouraging," Cottrell said yesterday from his office, where he's preparing his defense for a showdown with the Jets on Sunday at Giants Stadium. "It was only for a moment. I got over it. "But you can't tell people who to hire. Hopefully, if I keep doing a good job, I'll get a shot. I'm working towards that. This is my profession, and I want to reach the top of my profession. And I don't just want to get there, I want to be successful."'

Marker Jones looks forward to LB challenge [7:01 AM]
Newark Star Ledger reports: 'Linebacker Marvin Jones helped recruit Buffalo Bills linebacker Sam Cowart to Florida State several years ago. On Sunday, the two will lead their respective defenses in a battle for the AFC East Division lead. Jones, an eighth-year pro, leads the Jets with 21 tackles. Cowart, in his third season, tops the Bills with 28 tackles. "It's a challenge," a smiling Jones said yesterday. "I'm an older guy. I have to try to outplay the young guy." "Everybody wanted to be like Marvin," Cowart has said. "He was the best collegiate linebacker I've ever seen."'

Marker Heavy burden falls on Jets offensive line [6:59 AM]
Bergen Record reports: 'The good news for the Jets' interior offensive linemen is that Buffalo nose tackle Ted Washington has slimmed down to a program weight of 330 pounds. The bad news is that the Bills increasingly are teaming Washington with Pat Williams, who tips the scales at 310. The Bills refer to the alignment as "The Package." "That's a big package," running back Curtis Martin said Thursday. "That's a load." Center Kevin Mawae calls it a brick wall. Coach Al Groh said a forklift is the appropriate industrial machine to move them. And right guard Randy Thomas, asked how it would be going up against 650 or so pounds of defensive tackle Sunday, said, "I thought he weighed more than that." Just a joke, Ted.'

Marker Scouting report: Jets vs. Bills [6:57 AM]
Bergen Record reports: 'Prediction: Bills 20, Jets 17.'

Marker Cawley answers the call [6:56 AM]
Calgary Herald reports: 'Two weeks ago, Mike Cawley was sitting in his Pittsburgh home waiting for the phone to ring. Specifically, he was waiting for the Buffalo Bills to send out a call to the bullpen for an experienced hurler. Since Cawley was the last quarterback cut by the Bills at training camp, he thought he might be summoned back to Buffalo when starter Rob Johnson was injured in the first regular season game. But as he waited for someone from the Bills to dial his number, it was Calgary Stampeders head coach Wally Buono who showed the most interest. Tuesday, Cawley finally answered the call and Buono got his man as the 28-year-old made his Stampeder practice debut and began working towards a spot on the club. Cawley won't be in the lineup Saturday against Hamilton but should be ready in a week. "If Buffalo would have brought a quarterback in, it would have been me," said the James Madison University product, who agreed to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2001. "I had to take into consideration the fact that I could have been brought back there, that's why it took a while to decide. "I had to keep my options open. But this is a good option for me and that's why I'm here."'

Marker Cawley fits bill [6:55 AM]
Calgary Sun reports: 'Stamps GM/head coach Wally Buono had reportedly been courting Cawley for a couple of weeks since his release from the Buffalo Bills. "The things we liked about Mike is he's had CFL experience, he's tough, he's athletic, he's had some success in the CFL and right now, those quarterbacks are at a premium," said Buono. "And if he can come in and help us then we'll be better for it."'

September 14, 2000

Marker Bills Johnson to play despite tendinitis in throwing arm [8:33 PM]
AP reports: 'Bills quarterback Rob Johnson has tendinitis in his right throwing elbow, but it should not prevent him from playing this weekend. "I've had it for a while now. It's just something that I've had to deal with," Johnson said on Thursday after he was wincing and grabbing his arm while warming up in practice. "I've taken a couple of hits on my elbow. I've got some scabs around it. It's been a little more tender than it has been before. But I'll be all right."'

Marker Injured Martin Won't Stay Away [5:06 PM]
New York Post reports: 'Curtis Martin conceded yesterday that his sprained left knee is not yet completely right and he'll continue to wear a brace on it until there's no more pain. This is not a good combination with the Bills' No. 3-ranked defense on deck.'

Marker Skinny on Vinny: Don't Fret Stats [5:06 PM]
New York Post reports: 'His slow starts have become a cause for some concern. But Vinny Testaverde has been a symbol of the perseverance the Jets have shown in their first two games. In Green Bay, he looked rusty in the first half, hardly resembling the form he showed in 1998. He overcame the rust in the second half and led the Jets to victory. On Monday night, Testaverde was even worse early, seemingly befuddled by Bill Belichick's defensive schemes. It wasn't until the fourth quarter, when he helped engineer the two critical TD drives, that Testaverde's game came alive.'

Marker Jets aware that Bills defense didn't rebuild, it reloaded [5:05 PM]
AP reports: 'The Buffalo Bills lost four starters, including future Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, off the NFL's top-ranked defense of a year ago. That defense has fallen all the way to third-best in the league after two games. New York Jets coach Al Groh, whose team faces that defense on Sunday, said Wednesday that the Bills are ''just as tough as before, only faster. They are very aggressive, very physical and very speedy. They are not weak in any one area defensively - they have one of the best lines, one of the best groups of linebackers and one of the best defensive backfields. It's a very cohesive operation, and they have a complementary defense.'''

Marker Jets Keep Up the Pressure - Bills' Johnson next on menu [5:02 PM]
New York Daily News reports: 'They nibbled on Brett Favre and devoured Drew Bledsoe. Nowhere comes another potential quarterback-munch for the Jets - the Bills' Rob Johnson, who, in a moment of gallows humor, joked yesterday, "We've shown the ability not to pick up the blitz. I'm sure they're going to come after us."'

Marker Versatile tight end gets Bills out of tight spots [4:51 PM]
AP reports: 'Somehow, Riemersma gets open. And somehow, Bills quarterback Rob Johnson finds him, even if the tight end isn't considered a read on the play. "Obviously, I have a good feel with Jay," Johnson said this week as the Bills prepare for Sunday's showdown against the New York Jets. "One ball he (caught), he's not supposed to do what he did, but he just found the opening. It's easy to see with him because he's not hesitant. "He just goes there and does it. You can read it really well."'

Marker New QB coming [3:49 PM]
Calgary Sun reports: '...quarterback Mike Cawley has agreed to contract terms with the Calgary Stampeders and will join the club, likely late this week. The Stamps had been negotiating for several days with Cawley, who was recently released by the NFL's Buffalo Bills.'

Marker Q&A with Sam Cowart [2:14 PM]
Shout! reports: 'As the Bills' defense continues to thrive at the top of the league, more people are beginning to pay attention. One of the players they are watching is Mo linebacker Sam Cowart. Cowart was recently featured on a conference call with the national media. Here is what he said...'

Marker Taken to task [1:45 PM]
Fox Sports reports: 'From the very beginning, we knew that Rob Johnson was an injury-prone quarterback. He just can't keep taking those kinds of shots with the history he's had. I'm not putting all this on the offensive line, but they do have to hold up a bit better for Rob. And maybe Rob is holding the ball too long. But he needs to be little smarter, too, throw the ball away more and be conscious of getting down or getting out of bounds, or just get rid of the ball quicker. I'm guessing that the offensive linemen will say to themselves, yeah, we can play better, but Rob's got to do his part, too.'

Marker Jets in battle for best 3-4 defense [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'A four-man linebacking unit that stuffs the run, chases down plays sideline to sideline and makes the lives of quarterbacks miserable awaits the Buffalo Bills' offense. No, we're not talking about the four linebackers Rob Johnson & Co. will see in practice today. We're talking about the New York Jets' linebacking unit, which is one of the best in the NFL and might be even better than the Bills' outstanding linebacking corps.'

Marker Youth movement is under way [9:05 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Buffalo Bills have moved down 10 spots in the NFL's age ranking since last year. Last year, the Bills were tied for the 10th-oldest team in the league. This year, their 53-man roster is tied for the 10th-youngest in the NFL.'

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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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