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Buffalo Bills News - October 7, 2000

Marker A clean bill of health [8:12 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'There are always questions about NFL quarterbacks. For Buffalo's Rob Johnson, the questions aren't about his ability, but rather his durability. The fourth-rated passer in the NFL at 100.4 points, the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Johnson also leads the Bills in rushing with 150 yards. "He's playing smart football mainly because he's holding the ball and not throwing interceptions," Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas said. "That's what turns games around. It's not the sacks." Unfortunately for Johnson, he's been knocked out of five of his 13 career starts heading into Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium.'

Marker Dolphins' sickbay discharges Webb, Thomas, Martin [8:10 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'The Dolphins got good news regarding some injured players Friday as coach Dave Wannstedt said middle linebacker Zach Thomas and left tackle Richmond Webb will start Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Wannstedt also said receiver Tony Martin will play, although he might not start.'

Marker Gadsden, Fiedler develop chemistry [8:07 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'Now, even though deep threat Tony Martin is expected to return Sunday against Buffalo, it's Gadsden who's emerged as Fiedler's go-to guy for an offense that ranks last in the NFL in passing (145 yards a game). "Oronde is the guy," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "There's nobody that I have more confidence in."'

Marker FB Dyer will start; game will be on TV [8:05 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'Buffalo week cannot end without a sellout. The Dolphins game sold out and will be on WPEC-12. There is a chance the Bills could return some tickets today.'

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October 6, 2000

Marker Thomas adds to heat of Miami-Buffalo rivalry [11:35 AM]
Houston Chronicle reports: 'In their first five games, the Dolphins impressed everyone but themselves while fashioning a 4-1 record and becoming the stingiest defensive team in the NFL, allowing an average of only 7.7 points per game. Unlike last season, when they also started 4-1 and stood 7-1 at midseason before collapsing with only two victories over the second half, there was no controversy. Until this week. Remember, this is hurricane season in South Florida. This week, Dolphins running back Thurman Thomas interrupted the calm before the storm of Sunday's Buffalo game by unleashing his verbal fury at his former team in general and three players in particular. Thomas, the Houston native who played at Willowridge High School, spilled his guts, and it was apparent he's still bitter about the way Buffalo treated him during the offseason. Like his longtime teammates, defensive end Bruce Smith and receiver Andre Reed, Thomas was a cornerstone in the Bills' four Super Bowl teams. They were unceremoniously dumped in the offseason when management elected to use the cap dollars they would save on younger players. Thomas, 34, didn't want to hang up his cleats and retire to Houston, where he resides in the offseason. He did what Buffalo fans considered unthinkable -- he signed with the hated Dolphins, the Bills' most despised AFC East rival.'

Marker Will Zach play?? [11:31 AM]
Dolphin Digest reports: 'If Zach Thomas can not play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills -- and there was a story in Thursday's Miami Herald indicating that was a distinct possibility -- the chances of a Dolphins victory are greatly reduced.'

Marker Welcome to Miami: TDs at a premium [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'There have been several changes with the Miami Dolphins, but one thing has remained the same. The Dolphins' defense is still among the best in the NFL.'

Marker Stolen tickets are a bad buy [9:05 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'If you buy a ticket off the street for the Oct. 15 Buffalo Bills game against San Diego, it might not get you into Ralph Wilson Stadium. And if you put up a fuss, you're in for a run-in with some extra security personnel the Bills are stationing in Section 309. Fifty tickets were stolen when a purse was grabbed from a car parked at Main Street and West Oakwood Place, Buffalo police said Thursday. The tickets, incentive gifts for Burger King managers from Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, were being carried by an employee of Carroll's Corp. They have since been canceled and reissued to the rightful holders.'

Marker Zach likely back in lineup [6:42 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'Zach Thomas gave a thumbs-up signal Thursday as he walked off the practice field, but left it to Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt to update his status for Sunday's game against Buffalo. "Unless something drastic happens (today), he'll be in there starting," Wannstedt said of Thomas. "I was real encouraged by how he moved around today."'

Marker Buffalo veterans few in number [6:41 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'The Bills are going through the same identity crisis as the Dolphins. Each game brings the same question: What's it like without . . . Thurman Thomas? Andre Reed? Bruce Smith? For the first time since 1984 it's not Buffalo week like the old Buffalo weeks. The Bills do not have Smith, their all-time leading sacker, Thomas, their all-time leading rusher, and Reed, their all-time leading receiver. Twenty times Webb has played against the Bills in his career, and he allowed 12.5 sacks to Smith, who is now with Washington. "He's just the complete player," Webb said. "You had to study him on every play." Not any more. The Bills released Smith and Thomas on Feb. 10, the day after they let Reed go. "I think all three of those guys made a big contribution to this team for a long, long time," Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said. "We're trying to find people who can fill in, not just take their place."'

Marker McDaniel proves he belongs [5:08 AM]
D and C reports: 'Through four games, Moulds has been the go-to receiver, but McDaniel has been the most dangerous receiver with 11 catches for 244 yards and two TDs. His 22.2-yard average per reception ranks second in the AFC and sixth in the NFL. "He was doing things like that last year in practice, giving the defense good looks on the scout team," said Moulds. "It was just a matter of him getting a chance to play and making the most of the opportunities he gets. "His strength is unbelievable. He can break tackles. He worked out with me in the off-season and I just told him to go out there and play relaxed because when you play relaxed you play better and you don't make as many mistakes and that's what he's doing."'

Marker Foes run at heart of Dolphins' 'D' [4:50 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'The Dolphins' run defense has been lacking at times this season. Especially at Cincinnati on Sunday, when the Bengals gained 191 yards on 35 carries. This Sunday the Dolphins take on Buffalo at 1 p.m. at Pro Player Stadium. Though the Bills have had problems running the ball, the Dolphins have no doubt about what is coming. "It doesn't matter," Dolphins defensive end Rich Owens said, referring to the Bills running backs averaging 3.0 yards per carry - 3.7 if quarterback Rob Johnson is factored in. "They are going to run the ball. They are going to pound it. They are going to hand the ball off, we know that."

Marker Z. Thomas expected to start [4:48 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'Thomas, who was unsure about how he would do before practice, didn't talk to reporters after practice. However, when one reporter flashed a thumbs up/thumbs down sign at Thomas as he walked off the field after practice, Thomas gave a thumbs up.'

Marker Dolphins `D' gets Zach back [4:47 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas practiced Thursday for the first time since spraining his ankle 10 days earlier and should start in Sunday's game against Buffalo at Pro Player Stadium. "Unless something drastic happens tomorrow, he'll be in there starting from what I've seen today," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said after Thursday's practice. "We'll see what happens, but I was real encouraged by how he moved around today."'

Marker Players will work during off-week [4:44 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'Because of the flooding in South Florida from earlier this week, the NFL granted the Dolphins a one-day extension toward lifting the local television blackout for the Bills game. Although 1,000 tickets must be sold by 1 p.m. today for the game to air locally, a sellout is expected.'

Marker Thomas may start for Dolphins [4:40 AM]
Orlando Sentinel reports: 'Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas practiced Thursday for the first time since spraining his ankle 10 days earlier and should start in Sunday`s game against the Buffalo Bills.'

October 5, 2000

Marker Bills need to heat up red-zone offense [9:16 PM]
AP reports: 'This is not a good week for the Buffalo Bills' red-zone offense to turn stone cold. Coming off a game in which they stalled three times inside the 20 and five times inside the 24 in an 18-16 loss to Indianapolis, the Bills go against the NFL's best red-zone defense in the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.'

Marker Taylor's confidence, sack total on the rise [9:15 PM]
AP reports: 'Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor figures that the swagger comes first and the sacks follow. Playing with renewed confidence, Taylor has sparked the NFL's stingiest defense with 5½ sacks, more than doubling his total last year. He scored on a fumble he forced with a sack to fuel Miami's comeback in a victory Sunday at Cincinnati. "This year is a whole new attitude," Taylor said. "I've just been playing with a lot more confidence. You've got to walk around with borderline cockiness and a swagger. If you don't have it, you're not going to make it."'

Marker Pouting Thomas takes shot at Ralph [9:02 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I wish I would have gotten a call from Ralph Wilson," Thomas said from the Dolphins' headquarters. "To this point, I haven't got it. So that's really the main thing (that's upsetting), how everything went down there in Buffalo." "I'd just like to hear from him that, "We're sorry that it happened and I wish I would have called you a lot sooner, before it happened,' " Thomas said. "Just to say about all the great times that I had there up in Buffalo. I don't want a 30-minute or hour conversation. I just want to hear his voice and him to just say what happened and how it went down."'

Marker It's time for Bills' new crop of stars to show leadership [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'If ever there was a time for the Bills' young stars to shine, Sunday against the Miami Dolphins is it. Winning on the road is never easy, and when you're playing at the home of your most fierce rival, the challenge becomes even more daunting. But big-time games call for big-time performances. When it comes to the Bills versus Dolphins, it doesn't get much bigger than that. Regardless of your current opinion of Thurman Thomas in light of his recent comments, there's no denying that games like this are what defined his greatness as a Bill. The same goes for Bruce Smith and Andre Reed, who always got fired up to play the Dolphins. Now is the time for the Bills' new stars to rise to the occasion the way the old ones did.'

Marker Players not fazed by mind games [9:00 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'One of the coaches on the Miami Dolphins' staff thinks the Buffalo Bills had a bit of a psychological edge on the Dolphins last season. The Bills beat Miami twice in '99. "In all honesty, we thought they intimidated us," Miami tight ends coach Pat Jones told the Miami Herald. "We thought they out-toughed us. I hate to admit it, but we felt that at times." Jones, who was Thurman Thomas' college coach at Oklahoma State, thinks the ex-Bill helps the Dolphins combat that attitude this year. The Bills weren't quick to buy into the perception. "We were really playing well on defense both times we played them last year," said safety Henry Jones. "We really made some good plays and took it to them. That might be where he's coming from. If I remember correctly, we ran the ball pretty well the second time we played them. I think especially when our offense is running the ball well, and when we're playing like we can on defense, we're a physical team."'

Marker Bills pumped for Fish-ing trip [7:26 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Around the Buffalo Bills locker room and practice field, it is known simply as Miami week. No further explanation or incentive is required as the 2-2 Bills prepare for a trip Sunday to Pro Player Stadium to meet the 4-1 Miami Dolphins.'

Marker Thurman: Bills cold at the end [7:24 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: '"I wish I got a call from (Buffalo owner) Ralph Wilson or something like that," Thomas said. "I never got the opportunity to say bye or wish everybody well. You play there 12 years and you think this is where I'm going to finish my career. . . . I wished it happened better than it did. I would've loved to go out like Jim Kelly or Steve Tasker or Kent Hull. I felt like I was embarrassed, not getting a phone call from Mr. Wilson or from people in the organization until a week after I was released."'

Marker New field at Pro Player is 'best ever' [7:23 AM]
Palm Beach Post reports: 'Even before the rain, the groundskeepers at Pro Player Stadium knew this was going to be a crazy week. They had only six days after the Marlins' season finale to rip out the field and lay down 70,000 square feet of new grass -- transported from Greg Norman's turf farm in Avon Park -- in time for the Dolphins' game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Then it started to rain Monday. And it kept raining for 30 hours. By Tuesday night, nearly 14 inches had fallen, leaving the field looking like it would need swimming lap markers, not yard lines. By Wednesday afternoon, though -- thanks to a $1 million drainage system and more than 30 workers sharing shifts that went around the clock -- the transformation was on track.'

Marker Wilson going all out to re-sign Butler [5:08 AM]
D and C reports: '"I've talked to John," Wilson said. "We had a brief conversation and I said we'll talk about renewing his contract when he's ready. "Whenever that is, I'll gladly sit down with him and hopefully we can come to an agreement." Butler, on a scouting trip to Florida and unavailable for comment, is unlikely to be actively seeking another NFL job. The Chicago native has a daughter in high school, strong ties in the western New York community, passionate feelings for the team and a very good relationship with Wilson, the club's 81-year-old patriarch. While not as close to coach Wade Phillips as he was to his predecessor Marv Levy, he has worked effectively with Phillips the past two seasons to field playoff teams. However, there is valid speculation that Phillips would welcome more authority were Butler to depart.'

Marker Thomas turns anger to Wilson [5:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'In a conference call yesterday with Western New York media, Thomas -- the new Mouth of the South -- said he is no longer angry with former teammates Phil Hansen, Henry Jones and John Holecek, the people he called out earlier in the week. Instead, the new target of his ill-will is Wilson, the soon-to-be 82-year-old patriarch of the Bills. The source of Thomas' feelings is that Wilson never spoke to him personally after the Bills cut him and fellow long-time superstars Andre Reed and Bruce Smith last Feb. 10 in a historic salary-cap purging. Wilson did write Thomas a glowing letter, thanking him for all he had done for team -- he played 12 seasons and is the Bills all-time leading rusher. But Thomas felt he deserved more.'

Marker Bills will be bullies [4:49 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'Dolphins players concede the Buffalo Bills are the most physical and perhaps most intense opponent on their schedule from year to year. But now there is a question whether the Bills actually intimidate the Dolphins. "Well, in all honesty, we thought at times last year they intimidated us," Dolphins tight ends coach Pat Jones said. "We thought they out-toughed us at times. You hate to admit it, but we felt that at times."'

Marker Buffalo offense in search of points [4:48 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'The Bills move the ball better than the Dolphins. Much better. They rank No. 10 overall in the league in offense, compared to No. 27 for the Dolphins. Buffalo just has problems scoring. Those problems can lead to losses. On Sunday, the Bills (2-2) lost 18-16 to Indianapolis at home, getting beat when the Colts hit a 45-yard field goal as time ran out. The Bills are averaging 18.3 points per game, the lowest of any team with a .500 record or better.'

Marker Konrad, Thomas unlikely for Sunday [4:47 AM]
Miamio Herald reports: 'Fullback Rob Konrad, nursing a sprained knee and ankle, and linebacker Zach Thomas, nursing an ankle injury, are unlikely to play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.'

Marker Heavy rain changes work routine for all [4:46 AM]
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports: 'The grounds crews at the Dolphins' practice facility and at Pro Player Stadium had to work extra hard to get the fields in playing condition after the heavy rains Monday and Tuesday, but both crews seem to have things in order. "That was probably the best part of [Wednesday] was the grounds crew," coach Dave Wannstedt said, "because we didn't practice the way we needed to. We need to definitely practice better the rest of the week if we're going to be ready for Buffalo."'

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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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