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Buffalo Bills News - August 28, 2000

Marker Bills still haunted by 'Music City Miracle' [8:07 PM]
AP reports: '...reporters questioned Phillips about his curious turn of a phrase. "Home run throw forward just rolls of your tongue,'' a reporter said. "Well, that's what it was,'' Phillips replied.'

Marker No surprises as Bills cut roster to 53 [3:03 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Never, in the recent history of the Buffalo Bills, have the veterans felt so safe on cutdown day. Having lost 15 players from last season's 53-man roster and injured reserve list, there was plenty of room to make this year's squad. Sure enough, in the 27 cuts the Bills made to get from the training camp limit of 80 down to the regular-season maximum, only one actually played for Buffalo last season. Second-year running back Lennox Gordon, who saw limited action in eight games a year ago, was one of Sunday's final 12 cuts. And he was a circumstantial victim. Buffalo has committed to a one-back attack this year and already has four quality runners in Antowain Smith, Jonathan Linton, Sean Bryson and Sammy Morris, who can also play fullback. Joining Gordon on Sunday's cut list were quarterback Mike Cawley, receivers Drew Haddad and Kevin Drake, defensive backs Reggie Durden, Nick Ferguson and Jay Hill, tight end Ivan Gustafson, linebacker Dustin Cohen, defensive end Jarrett Procell, guard Corey Hulsey and fullback Josh Roth, the former Pine Valley and University at Buffalo star. Of that group, only Cawley, Drake, Ferguson and Hulsey had been in an NFL camp before and none of them had made a roster.'

Marker Watson trade to Buffalo nets draft pick [12:02 PM]
Denver Post reports: '...Buffalo benefits as well. The Bills were desperate to come up with a kick returner after this year's fourth-round choice, wide receiver Avion Black, fumbled the role away. Thus the bid for Watson, who returned a Broncos franchise-record 48 kicks last season for a 23.7-yard average. "I think he still has a great future," Shanahan said. "But it's always tough. Any time you come from college and you don't have that spring ball experience that he didn't have throughout his career, there's going to be a learning curve and some growing pains. And he went through some of those growing pains. But he's a heck of an athlete, he's very talented, and that's one of the reasons a number of teams were interested in him. They see the potential, too. He's going to get better and better."'

Marker Veterans now figure in reserve [12:00 PM]
Denver Post reports: 'For most of his 16 NFL seasons, wide receiver Andre Reed has been a shining star. Now he'll be making cameo appearances for the Denver Broncos. There had been speculation that Reed, who has 941 career receptions, second only to San Francisco's Jerry Rice, would not even make Denver's final roster. It turns out he did, but only as a role player. Coach Mike Shanahan said he thinks Reed can deal with it. "Not only for Andre, but for any veteran who has been a starter and has played in the NFL, I think it's always tough to go back and play in a backup role," Shanahan said Sunday after he announced the Broncos' final cuts to reach the 53-man roster. "If you're a competitor, which all of these guys are, you want to play and you want to show what you can do. But everybody's got to know their role as well."'

Marker Broncos' solution? Elementary [8:59 AM]
Denver Rocky Mountain News reports: 'A three-year starter at Eastern Illinois, he [Chris Watson] was a sprinter with the track team during the spring, when the football team usually receives valuable instructional work. And he missed part of his senior season because of an injury. "He really was just learning the defensive back position, and I think he still has a great future," [Broncos' coach Mike] Shanahan said. "But it's always tough any time you come from college and you don't have that spring ball experience that he didn't have throughout his career. There's going to be a learning curve and some growing pains, and he went through some of those growing pains. "But he's a heck of an athlete. He's really talented, and that's one of the reasons a number of teams were interested in him."'

Marker Bills hope Watson trade bolsters return game [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills traded an undisclosed 2001 draft pick Sunday to the Denver Broncos for second-year cornerback Chris Watson. Watson, 23, the Broncos' third-round draft choice (67th overall) a year ago, was an All-Rookie selection by College & Pro Football Newsweekly. He ranked fifth in the AFC with a 23.7-yard average on franchise-record 48 kickoffs, including a long of 71 yards. He wasn't as prolific on punt returns, averaging less than eight yards per attempt (44 returns for 334 yards), but took one 81 yards for a touchdown. The Bills didn't get Watson for his kick return prowess alone. The Chicago native was a three-year starter at Eastern Illinois at cornerback and safety. He played in 14 games for the Broncos last year, starting once. "He certainly fits our needs," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "We were looking for a return guy who could help at corner. He's a talented player. You can't take them all, but he was a kid we liked last year and kind of followed. Getting him is a real plus for us."'

Marker UB duo may not be gone for long [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Former University at Buffalo stars Drew Haddad and Josh Roth were cut by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but they probably still have a future with the team. NFL teams have until 4 p.m. today to sign players who were released. After the deadline, teams can add up to five players to their practice squad. Haddad and Roth are expected to be brought back to the Bills if they clear waivers. "They both have the ability to play," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "I thought both of them did well. I think both of them need some grooming, but I think they have potential and I like both of them. Haddad, we knew had talent. Roth, I think, was a surprise that he did so well. I think they did a great job for us."'

Marker No big surprise as Bills are cut to 53 [6:00 AM]
D and C reports: 'There were absolutely no surprises yesterday when Buffalo Bills coach Wade Phillips trimmed his roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 53. The only cut that drew even a mild upward turn of an eyebrow was the release of quarterback Mike Cawley, but not because Cawley's play warranted him a spot on the roster. Cawley was decidedly unimpressive in the brief work he received in the four preseason games, but his departure leaves the Bills dangerously thin at quarterback for the first month of the season. The only healthy quarterbacks are starter Rob Johnson and third-stringer Alex Van Pelt as Doug Flutie continues to recover from a groin pull that will keep him inactive for at least the first three games. Should anything happen to Johnson and Van Pelt had to play, the Bills would be one play away from having to use an emergency quarterback, probably punter Chris Mohr.'

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August 27, 2000

Marker AFC East Scouting Report [7:33 PM]
Denver Rocky Mountain News reports: 2. Buffalo 9-7

Marker Bills cut 12; acquire return specialist Chris Watson from Broncos [6:48 PM]
AP reports: 'The Buffalo Bills cut 12 players, including second-year running back Lennox Gordon, while also acquiring return specialist Chris Watson from the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The cuts bring the Bills' roster down to the maximum 53 in preparation for next weekend's start of the regular season.'

Marker Carpenter jumped into spot as Bills' starting safety [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'In a span of one year, Carpenter's career has taken a dramatic leap forward. He came to the Bills last year as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Virginia Tech, where he was a second-team All-Big East selection as a senior. And while he made the Bills' regular-season roster, he was still a relative unknown whose only playing time came on special teams. Now many people know Carpenter, who is well aware of how far he's come in such a short time. "I feel blessed just to have the opportunity to contribute to a great organization like the Bills," said Carpenter, 22. "A lot of guys don't get this kind of opportunity until their third or fourth year in the league. I was blessed to be put in a perfect situation at the right time."'

Marker Glamour gone but East still a beast [6:40 AM]
Indianapolis Star reports: 'No team in the division left a bigger impression on the Colts, by virtue of their 31-6 victory in the regular-season finale. "Buffalo dismembered us at the end of the season," said Polian. Though much has been made of the departures of Smith, Reed and Thurman Thomas, all were little more than situational players last season, and their replacements -- defensive end Marcellus Wiley, receiver Peerless Price and running back Antowain Smith are already experienced, productive players. "The fellows that they lost, even though they're very close to my heart and clearly among the greatest players in the history of the game, last year were really just role players for them," Polian said. "So they were prepared to have those players leave and have very adequate replacements on hand." If coach Wade Phillips can massage the quarterback situation to keep it from becoming controversial -- he's made it clear Rob Johnson is the man, with Doug Flutie in reserve -- the offense has few holes and the defense is still one of the nastiest in the game.'

Marker A season of questions [6:31 AM]
D and C reports: 'With this changing of the guard, there is excitement on One Bills Drive that this new herd can stampede its way back to the top of the AFC East and perhaps win a playoff game for the first time since 1995. However, there is also skepticism surrounding a young team that has to find its way with a potentially superb but largely untested quarterback leading the way.'

Marker Good enough? [6:30 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Bills, sans The Big Three and 15 players overall from last season's 11-5 playoff club, are relishing the opportunity to disprove the consensus opinion that they've lost too much firepower to remain a Super Bowl contender. They say people are overrating the loss of golden-oldie stars like Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed and underrating their young, talented replacements like Shawn Bryson, Marcellus Wiley and Peerless Price. They say that yes, the team will feature seven new starters, but there are also 15 returnees, forming the nucleus of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL and a No. 11 offense that should be much more explosive with Johnson taking over for Doug Flutie.'

August 26, 2000

Marker Morris rushes into Bills' backfield picture [1:02 PM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Morris proved he's more than just a reserve blocker in the Bills' 16-12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The fifth-round draft choice from Texas Tech is a viable backup option for the Bills at running back this season. Morris gained 101 yards on 27 carries and caught two passes for 41 yards. He did it mostly against backup performers. But he showed the shiftiness and quickness necessary to be a versatile contributor - one who can fill two roles for the Bills. "That was more carries than I had in any other day of reps in camp," Morris said. "It felt good. I just wanted to run as hard as I could." "Sammy's a talented player who's going to help us this year," coach Wade Phillips said.'

Marker Buffalo targets return to run [7:30 AM]
D and C reports: 'Despite the long ball returning to Buffalo's offense this preseason under quarterback Rob Johnson, don't expect the Bills to stop using the run to set up the pass. "We won't ever be a passing team first. The character of our team is to establish the run and pound it out and throw off that," Johnson said.'

Marker Fumbled punts concern to Bills [7:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'After rookie Avion Black had two muffed punt tries last week against St. Louis, coach Wade Phillips used second-year pro Peerless Price against the Eagles. Price, a feared return man at Tennessee, promptly fumbled his first return that Philadelphia recovered to set up a field goal. Phillips wouldn't say who he'll use against the Titans, but expressed confidence in Price. "I think we can count on him if we need to," he said.'

August 25, 2000

Marker A major scare for Christie, Bills [4:35 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'If you wondered why Wade Phillips didn't even dress a handful of his starting Buffalo Bills for last night's preseason finale in Philadelphia, all you had to do was watch the final 27 seconds. That's when Steve Christie, after kicking a 33-yard field goal, was accidentally hit in the knee by an Eagles' defender unsuccessfully diving for a block.'

Marker Bills finish preseason with a victory [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The outcome was a triumph for the Bills for a reason more important than the final score. They finished the game without any significant injuries.'

Marker Tickets for games are going fast [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'There are 4,500 tickets remaining for the Buffalo Bills' season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the team reported...The Bills are home in Week Two against Green Bay on Sept. 10. A couple thousand tickets are left for that one. They visit the New York Jets in Week Three and then have a bye. They return home on Oct. 1 against AFC East champion Indianapolis. A few thousand tickets remain for that game as well.'

Marker Buffalo Bills Preview [8:24 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'Playoff forecast: Fair to good. Buffalo had a quality team last year and should be talented again. If the Bills find leadership and Johnson proves his worth, Buffalo should be in the thick of the playoff hunt.'

Marker Bills outlast Eagles [6:53 AM]
D and C reports: 'Aside from a sprained hand suffered by Antoine Winfield, call it a successful evening for Phillips, and as an added bonus, the Bills defeated the Eagles 16-12. With eight starters -- five on offense, three on defense -- not even in uniform, the Bills' reserves had plenty of opportunities to make one last impression before the final cut is made this weekend.'

Marker Eagles lose, finish 1-3 in preseason [6:40 AM]
Trenton Times reports: 'Buffalo running back Sammy Morris, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas Tech, carried 27 times for 102 yards and caught two passes for 41 yards. He also scored the game's only touchdown on a 6-yard run.'

Marker Eagles starters were gone in a hurry [6:39 AM]
Trenton Times reports: 'Indeed, if you blinked -- or got caught in traffic -- you most certainly missed McNabb, who was gone after all of four plays -- among them an interception and a sack, along with a 3-yard pass to Torrance Small. You watched one Duce Staley run -- for one yard. For fans forced to shell out an average $50 a pop for their seats for this fiasco, that adds up to $12.50 per play from the starting backfield. What was that line P.T. Barnum said about suckers born?'

Marker Cautious Eagles fall quietly [6:34 AM]
Cherry Hill Courier Post reports: 'On a busy off-the-field night when there were talks of a trade and a starter from last year was re-signed, the biggest and most significant move was made on the field by Andy Reid. It happened when the cautiously correct Eagles' coach wisely took quarterback Donovan McNabb out of the last game of summer with 9:11 left in the first quarter. The second-year quarterback, who can carry the heavy hopes of the franchise on only healthy legs, left the Eagles' preseason finale after just four offensive plays. Some might argue that was four plays too many in an uneventful 16-12 loss to Buffalo at Veterans Stadium. Bills coach Wade Phillips didn't play his starter Rob Johnson a snap.'

Marker Reid shoots down Pederson trade rumor [6:33 AM]
Cherry Hill Courier Post reports: 'Billy Conaty (Camden Catholic) is the backup center. Conaty, who grew up in Pennsauken, is in his fourth year with the Bills out of Virginia Tech.'

Marker Sleepwalking birds [6:30 AM]
The Trentonian reports: 'If there was a hero in the Buffalo Bills 16-12 victory over the Eagles at Veterans Stadium, it was visiting quarterback Alex Van Pelt, who started and played into the fourth quarter of truly a nothing game.'

Marker Pederson to remain an Eagle [6:30 AM]
The Trentonian reports: 'Last night the Eagles started McNabb, but went to Koy Detmer after just two possessions with one interception and one three-yard completion. Detmer promptly went 0-for-4 in three series, one of which didn't net a yard on three pops from the Browns' [sic] 25-yard line, after the Eagles recovered a fumbled punt.'

Marker Eagles Fall to Bills to Finish Preseason [6:25 AM]
Comcast SportsNet reports: 'Special teams miscues cost the Eagles a shot at the win. David Akers accounted for all 12 Eagles points with four field goals but missed a 36-yarder in the final minutes. Allen Rossum followed by fumbling a punt.'

Marker Trade rumors swirl around Pederson [6:21 AM]
Allentown Morning Call reports: 'The game itself fell into the hands of backups. The Bills did not dress starting quarterback Rob Johnson, guard Joe Panos, top wide receiver Eric Moulds and a host of others, including Catasauqua High grad Jonathan Linton.'

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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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