Starting QB's job is Johnson's to lose [6:11 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Johnson, acquired by the Bills three years ago, lost the starting job due to injury six games into the 1998 season, vows he is up for the challenge. "There is always pressure," Johnson said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself so I don't worry about the pressure people put on the Bills." Johnson's primary task will be to open up the passing game, something Flutie's failing 37-year-old arm was unable to do last season.'
Keion's chance arrives early [6:07 AM]
D and C reports: 'The only undrafted rookie free agent to make the roster last season, Carpenter is now the team's starting free safety, beating out four-year veteran Daryl Porter and highly-touted second-round draft pick Travares Tillman for the job vacated by Kurt Schulz. "I treated it as a great opportunity," Carpenter said. "Some guys don't get this opportunity in their whole careers. I was fortunate and blessed to get this chance in just my second year. In this league, you've got to make the best of your chances. Up to this point, I have, but I've got to step my game up another notch, because it's for real now."'
Q&A with Fisher [6:04 AM]
Titans Exclusive reports: 'Buffalo in our opinion and many people's opinion last year was a team picked to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. A lot of people felt that whoever survived that first game would have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Then you go in and look at the specifics of what took place in our game against Buffalo. It was literally a dogfight. It was a battle war out there where two teams that couldn't throw, that exchanged series back and forth and just pounded each other and that whole battle was kind of overtaken by the ending. People failed to realize what took place during the game. There were some great match-ups, great individual battles. Eddie had 29 carries for just nearly 100 yards and neither team had 100 yards passing. It was a very physical game and it's going to be a physical game. Buffalo is a physical team and that's what we pride ourselves in. So something has to give here. They probably have not gotten a good night's sleep since that playoff game and have been pointing toward this game since then. And there's no question that they'll be ready to play. So we have to go in there in play our best to have a chance to play with them.'
Professor denies saying famous lateral was forward pass [6:02 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Mark Bocko, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Rochester (N.Y.), was in an equal state of shock when he picked up the Jan. 24 edition of the Buffalo News. It said he had "offered proof that the pass at the end of the Bills-Titans AFC playoff game that ended the Bills' season Jan. 8 was not a lateral pass but an illegal forward pass that should have been called back." The trouble from Bocko's perspective: he never said the pass was forward.'
Kearse ready to 'Freak out' Bills again [6:01 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Jevon Kearse doesn't want to hear any excuses from the Bills this time. In last season's Wild Card game against Buffalo, Kearse sacked Bills quarterback Rob Johnson twice and also forced two fumbles, one resulting in a safety when the ball skidded out of the back of the end zone in the Titans' 22-16 win. In the days following the game, however, Kearse got the impression he didn't make a big enough impression. He plans to make up for that this Sunday.'
Bills fans awaiting public enemy No. 1 - the Titans [5:59 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"Hey, I've been chewed out and cussed out in the city already and I wasn't even here for the thing," said Bills special teams coach Ronnie Jones, who was hired to replace the fired Bruce DeHaven. "It was a big play that cost this team a chance at a ring. It's going to be mentioned until we go out and prove that something like that can't happen again."'
Peerless knows Vols will be there [5:58 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'A crew from a television network in Norway was at the Bills practice facility yesterday to interview defensive tackle Leif Larsen. Larsen, the Bills' sixth-round draft choice this past April, is the only native Norwegian in the NFL. Larsen played at Texas-El Paso -- he went there on a track scholarship. Current Bills special teams coach Ronnie Jones was at UTEP last season and Wesley Phillips, son of Bills Coach Wade Phillips, is the UTEP quarterback.'
Jeff Legwold's NFL capsules [5:55 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '9. Bills...A quality group, but the Bills have the league's most difficult schedule -- their opponents were a combined 150-106 (.586) last season. That includes nine games against opponents who finished over. 500. QB Doug Flutie also suffered a severe groin pull in training camp and will be slow in coming back.'
Flutie upgraded to questionable [7:57 PM]
AP reports: 'Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said Thursday that Flutie might serve as the team's third quarterback behind starter Rob Johnson and backup Alex Van Pelt, but a final decision may not be made until game time.'
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."'
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.
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."''
'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."'
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."'
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?"'
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."'
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.'
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.'
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."'
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.'
The AFC At a glance [7:36 AM]
Scripps Howard News Service reports: '[Buffalo] Should be second-best team in AFC East, again.'
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."'
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.'
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.'
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.'
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."'
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."'
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."'
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."'
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.'
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