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.'
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."'
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.'
Scrimmage reveals some sloppy play [6:35 AM]
D and C reports: 'After reviewing the films of Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, coach Wade Phillips placed renewed emphasis on smart, crisp play. "We started out on three of the first four plays having a penalty," Phillips said. "We made too many mistakes, penalty mistakes. We're not going to accept a lot of penalties." It was, of course, just a scrimmage, when the younger players saw more playing time. Friday's preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ralph Wilson Stadium may be a better test. "I evaluate them in practice but it's how they play in a game," Phillips said.'
A long shot and a dream [6:34 AM]
D and C reports: 'Pingel, 23, had hoped to catch the eyes of NFL scouts at Westminster College, a Division III school near St. Louis. He was a three-time All-American there, and earned small colleges player-of-the-year honors after putting up astounding numbers last fall: 136 receptions and 24 touchdowns in 10 games. Pingel wound up catching 436 passes during his collegiate career, shattering Jerry Rice's NCAA record by 135 receptions. Pingel's 6,108 receiving yards and 75 touchdown catches also left the San Francisco 49ers future Hall of Famer in the dust. But Pingel has no delusions. A spot has been reserved for Rice in Canton, Ohio. A spot in the unemployment line may soon await Pingel.'
Giancola rejoins Argos [6:32 AM]
Toronto Star reports: 'Giancola felt he had a serious shot at dislodging veteran Steve Christie, or at the very least handling the kickoff duties for the Bills, but lasted just nine days before getting the dreaded message that coach Wade Phillips wanted to see him and that he should bring his playbook. "Going down the elevator and walking along the corridor, I felt like I was walking through the valley of death," said Giancola, who endeared himself to Argo fans early last season with a winning field goal against Hamilton. "It was hard because I felt I was coming on strong each day and thought without a doubt that I'd make the first exhibition game. "It (the NFL) was different. I found about 80 per cent of the players were very cold and not very appreciative of the fans and that's not me. It's a hard environment."'
Argos to take their time in deciding Giancola's fate [6:30 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'While Giancola felt confident heading into the Bills camp, his challenge became greater when incumbent Steve Christie of Oakville had one of his best camps. "He came really prepared," Giancola said. "He hit all his pressure kicks. He was able to line-drive (his kickoffs) into the end zone, that was the big thing. I tip my hat to him. He is the best I've ever gone against. "I started off slowly, I'm not ashamed to admit. The first couple days I was nervous, I was in awe." Giancola said it didn't help when quarterback Doug Flutie suffered a groin injury that will sideline the former Argo until September. The Bills had to find a temporary replacement for Flutie -- they re-signed third-stringer Alex Van Pelt -- which meant having to create a roster spot.'
Interceptions rule the day [10:04 PM]
Shout! reports: 'The oppressive humidity stayed in the afternoon, but rain fell only briefly between sessions and at the end of the afternoon workout. And the end couldn't have come too soon for the offense. Passes fell more often on the ground or in defenders' hands than with their intended targets.'
2000 Buffalo Bills preview [4:42 PM]
Sportsline.com reports: 'They are adept at pushing all the right buttons in Buffalo, but rarely do they ever reach for the one marked "Panic," and that won't change this year. Having summarily jettisoned three future Hall of Fame members this spring -- defensive end Bruce Smith, tailback Thurman Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed -- one might guess the Bills could be forced to take a few steps back before moving forward again. But don't bet on it.'
Van Pelt was almost ready to leave Buffalo [4:41 PM]
AP reports: '"I would have come back and played for $200,000 in a second," Van Pelt said. "It was fortunate for me, but unfortunate that it had to happen to Doug. It's funny, a week ago Friday I was playing golf. Next Friday, I'll be playing against the Bengals. We were two days away from putting our house on the market and moving back to Pittsburgh."'
Bills feel the heat [3:22 PM]
Shout! reports: 'After an overnight shower, Monday dawned hot, still and muggy. And tempers were hot too, as three separate skirmishes broke out during the 11-on-11 team work. The card was Fina and Panos vs. Fisher, Allotey vs. Newman and Linton vs. Tillman.'
Training Camp Photos! [9:23 AM]
TBD reports: 'They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are 1000's of words for you to see! We will break up the photos by archive. This section will include photos from Shout!, the AP, and from the fans.'
Dough for 'Pillsbury' is money well spent [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Pill" is short for Pillsbury. Pillsbury is short for Pillsbury Doughboy. The Pillsbury Doughboy is Alex Van Pelt, the round mound capable of running the Bills' offense, through the air or on the ground. His teammates couldn't wait to see him Sunday morning so they could push their index finger into his lovable little belly. Anyone who witnessed the quarterbacking display last week during training camp wouldn't blame them. Never in their recent history have the Bills needed a baseball-cap-wearing, clipboard-holding, minimum-salary-making, 6-foot-1, 220-pounds-before-breakfast, third-string quarterback than they do right now. Alex Van Pelt is a proven backup, but the Bills would have improved by signing Alex Trebek.'
Drake can catch, but can he catch on with Bills? [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Drake conquered NFL Europe last year. Now he'll try and do the same with the Bills. No one questions Drake's skills. He's deceptively quick. His hands are so big they could fit around a powerlifter's neck. His legs, long and lean, churn and kick up chunks of sod. The guy's got skills, no doubt. You don't catch 12 touchdowns in NFL Europe - as Drake did last season with the Rhein Fire - without them. He still faces a number of challenges with the Bills, though.'
McDaniel ready to make mark as receiver [6:16 AM]
D and C reports: 'With all-time great Andre Reed parting ways with the Bills, last year's star rookie Peerless Price moves into the starting lineup alongside Eric Moulds. That leaves three positions to fill, including the very important No. 3 role. There are eight candidates in training camp competing for the job, but 10 days into the weeding out process, McDaniel is clearly out in front. Not that the soft-spoken 24-year-old from New Bern, N.C., would say so. "I can't say it's guaranteed I'm the third guy," McDaniel said. "There are a lot of great young players out here. But just the experience of last year, being on the practice squad, I do have a bit more experience. I will say I'm feeling good. I'm getting a lot of help from Eric, who's one of the great receivers in the league, and things are going pretty well."'
Ruben Brown is a happy man in Buffalo [11:06 AM]
Lynchburg News & Advance reports: '"I think this is an exciting year," Brown said. "We have a lot of young talent. If the veteran leaders and coaching staff can bring it together, we have a good of a shot to go to the Super Bowl. If we don't get to the Super Bowl and win it this year, than next year we're definitely gonna win it. We're loaded."'
Less was more in Smith's deal [11:00 AM]
Richmond Times Dispatch reports: 'When Bruce Smith was mulling his future last January, he knew that by remaining with the Buffalo Bills, he could earn $2 million for playing in the 2000 NFL season. However, that meant Smith would have to take a salary cut from the $4 million he was scheduled to earn from the Bills. Most of us would agree that $2 million is a living wage. Smith felt it wasn't a fair wage for a defensive end of his accomplishments and talent, but when he signed with the Washington Redskins, Smith agreed to a contract that would pay him a base salary of $500,000 for the 2000 season. Why would Smith accept even less than what he felt was an insulting offer from the Bills? The answer is a $4.25 million signing bonus.'
Van Pelt agrees to deal with Bills [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Van Pelt is scheduled to start practicing with the Bills on Monday morning after he undergoes a physical examination and signs a one-year deal worth $440,000, plus incentives. Final details were being completed Saturday. He is expected to report this afternoon to the Bills' training camp at St. John Fisher College. "He's kept in shape and he's been working out," said Brian Kelley, Van Pelt's agent. "We knew something would happen with Alex, if not with Buffalo then with somebody."'
Depleted Bills call on Van Pelt [7:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Buffalo Bills have shored up their backup quarterback situation, agreeing to contract terms with veteran Alex Van Pelt...Neither Butler nor coach Wade Phillips would comment yesterday, but it's known that the team re-worked the contract of one player to free up salary cap room. Van Pelt's one-year deal, which he will sign today or early tomorrow, is for the veteran minimum of $440,000 with incentives.'
Ailing Buffalo reaches out for 'the Pill' [7:03 AM]
D and C reports: 'Some day, Mike Cawley, 27, may wind up a reliable, backup quarterback in the NFL. He might also wind up a used car salesman. What is known for certain is that the uninspiring five-year professional vagabond will not open the regular season backing up Rob Johnson for the Buffalo Bills. The hook has come early. Today, proven free agent Alex Van Pelt, still living in Buffalo where he has lowered his golf handicap to single digits, re-joins the club.'
A strong case for Bills' defense [7:02 AM]
D and C reports: 'Defense ruled the morning as the Bills in the blue shirts pretty much had their way with their white-shirted offensive teammates during the spirited hour-long glorified practice in front of an estimated 5,500 fans at St. John Fisher College.'
D-backs making big hits for Bills [7:00 AM]
D and C reports: 'While [Keion] Carpenter is vying for a starting position, two other defensive backs who are just trying to make the team took a good first step. Raion Hill, who spent the second half of last season on the Bills' practice squad, and Quincy Coleman, a free agent signee this year, both made a number of standout plays in the scrimmage.'
Tasker expects Buffalo to be strong again [6:58 AM]
D and C reports: '"Sure, they lost several good players, but they have some potentially great players waiting to come in. Antoine Winfield could be a Pro Bowl player, and I know linebacker Keith Newman is going to play great for these guys. It may not be the No. 1 defense, but certainly it will be a top 8 defense." Tasker likes the offense, too. He says the key will be quarterback Rob Johnson's health. "If he can stay healthy for 16 games, the Bills have a chance to be one of the teams to beat, not just in the AFC East, but in the league," he said. "Rob's that good if he's healthy. But that's going to be a question until he goes out there and does it over the course of a season.'
Wilson heads for Saratoga Race Track [6:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'Bills owner Ralph Wilson, a long-time thoroughbred race horse owner, headed for Saratoga Race Track after watching his team's scrimmage. This will be the 50th straight year he has vacationed at the storied town north of Albany. Though he has cut way back on the number of horses he owns, Wilson still has one racing at Saratoga. It's name is Country Coast, and Wilson says he might enter it in the prestigious Travers Stakes.'
Optimistic Wiley keeps his perspective [6:54 AM]
D and C reports: '"By taking care of my back problem when we did, I'd be able to make it back in time for the regular season, and I'd be coming back without the pain that had been bothering me for a while," Wiley was saying after a recent training camp practice at St. John Fisher College. "Yeah, the timing might have been better, but it also could have been worse. It could have happened in the regular season." Those who know Wiley are not surprised by his positive response. He has always been a turn-lemons-into-lemonade kind of guy.'
Bills remaining quarterbacks struggle in intraquad scrimmage [4:48 PM]
AP reports: 'Doug Flutie is injured, Rob Johnson is still recovering from an illness and Alex Van Pelt is still in limbo. So the Buffalo Bills' remaining quarterbacks, and their offense, struggled in an intrasquad scrimmage before 5,500 spectators Saturday morning at St. John Fisher College.'
Flutie's injury may open door for Van Pelt [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It appears the Bills are leaning toward signing a veteran quarterback in the near future. It could reopen the door for Alex Van Pelt, the veteran backup who was released by Buffalo after last season and remains unsigned. "There are several quarterbacks out there and, of course, Alex has been with us. That's a plus," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "He's been with us and knows the system. But again, we have other considerations. It may turn out we feel we're strong enough to go through the first how many games it takes with a first and a third quarterback."'
Still tired and weak, Johnson back to work [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"From a couple days ago, when I wanted to die, I felt all right," Johnson said after the morning workout. "I just got worn down and tried to practice through it, and that made it worse."'
No flare-ups as Thurman slammed [8:21 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'In a few years Thurman Thomas will be in Canton, Ohio, on this weekend priming for his Hall of Fame speech. Jamie Duncan will not be on his mind. Duncan was on it plenty Friday when the Dolphins practiced against Tampa Bay in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. In what was supposed to be a controlled practice, Duncan, who is the first choice to replace Hardy Nickerson as Tampa Bay's middle linebacker, picked up Thomas and slammed him to the ground. Not one Dolphin came to Thomas' rescue.'
Van Pelt agent to Bills: Better hurry [8:07 AM]
D and C reports: 'Still-available free agent Alex Van Pelt, who played five seasons for the Bills and is still living in Buffalo, is the likely candidate..."We're looking at our options right now," coach Wade Phillips said. "It's a lot more complicated than it used to be when there was no salary cap. Those things have to be worked out and we're discussing those things." Phillips said the team isn't looking for just "another arm" to get them through the rest of training camp at St. John Fisher College, but rather a player they know can play in the NFL. That's Van Pelt. Brian Kelly, Van Pelt's New Brunswick, N.J., agent, placed a phone call to general manager John Butler yesterday. "It's the obvious move but I haven't heard from them yet," Kelly said. "I've heard there's no one up there that can come in and play (if Johnson got hurt), so I'd expect to hear from them soon."'
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