AFC East: Buffalo Bills

Bills' Woods limited with ankle injury

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Fresh off an eight-catch, 110-yard performance against the New York Jets on Monday night, Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Woods (ankle) was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice.

It's not something that should keep Woods out of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"He'll be fine," coach Doug Marrone said after practice.

Meanwhile, running back Fred Jackson (groin) and Sammy Watkins (groin) were both removed from the injury report.

Here is the full list:

Did not practice:
DE Jarius Wynn (knee)
TE Lee Smith (illness)
TE Chris Gragg (knee)

Limited participation:
WR Robert Woods (ankle)
K Dan Carpenter (right groin)
S Bacarri Rambo (hamstring)
DETROIT -- Does anyone need two hands to catch in the NFL anymore?

With fans' jaws still dropping at New York Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr.'s physics-defying grab Sunday night, Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Woods put on his own show Monday night.

[+] EnlargeRobert Woods
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesRobert Woods was able to pin the ball against his helmet for a 27-yard reception in the second quarter.
In a play that quickly drew comparisons to David Tyree's incredible catch in Super Bowl XLII, the second-year Bills receiver pulled in an astonishing 27-yard pass from Kyle Orton in the second quarter of the Bills' 38-3 blowout win over the New York Jets.

On third-and-2, Woods streaked past Jets cornerback Darrin Walls down the right sideline, stretching out his right hand for Orton's pass. Bobbling the pass as he continued to run, Woods was able to momentarily pin it against his helmet while keeping his feet in bounds.

Talk about concentration.

"He could have caught it with two hands," teammate Sammy Watkins opined. "But being Robert, he wanted to go one-handed and it was a great catch."

Yet it wasn't Woods' only impressive grab of the night. Darting into the end zone on a third-and-goal in the first quarter, Woods turned his body and fell backward while snagging a 7-yard touchdown pass from Orton.

It was all in a day's work for Woods, a second-round pick last season who set career highs with nine catches for 118 yards.

Part of that production, coach Doug Marrone explained, was courtesy of the Jets shading their coverage to help take Sammy Watkins out of the game.

"If you look at it, they kept rolling everything to Sammy so it was difficult for us to get him the football," Marrone said. "Like I said before, when they do that you're going to need the other guys to step up because they're going to be in one-on-one coverage.

"I thought Robert really stepped up and played extremely well and if he doesn't then we're in trouble. That's just the way it is."

Compared to Woods' 11 targets, Orton threw at Watkins just five times and the rookie finished with three catches for 35 yards.

"When you're winning the game, you don't get caught up into that. If I was losing, it probably would've been a problem," Watkins said. "But when you're winning and seeing your boys, the team who you grind with every day, [Chris Hogan] and Robert making plays, it's nothing. But it can get scrapping if you're losing the game. But if we're winning, I'm fine."

QB snapshot: Kyle Orton

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Kyle Orton and how he played in the Buffalo Bills' 38-3 win in Week 12:

The New York Jets really do bring out the best in Orton.

A month after the Bills quarterback posted a career-high 142.8 quarterback rating in a Week 8 win against the Jets, Orton set a career high in completion percentage Monday night.

Orton completed 24 of 32 passes, a 75 percent rate that topped his previous career high of 74.2 percent set in 2011 when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It wasn't exactly a high-flying outing by any means -- his 7.19 yards per attempt ranked 13th among QBs in Week 12 -- but even with 230 yards passing, Orton had little trouble against the Jets' defense.

With the win, Orton improved to 4-0 all time in games at Ford Field. After two wins in Detroit as a member of the Chicago Bears, he now has added two more victories at the facility in a span of two months.
DETROIT -- Days after their region was paralyzed by a three-day storm that dropped 6 feet of snow, the people of Buffalo needed a reason to smile.

Enter the Buffalo Bills, who delivered a laugher of a win over the New York Jets, 38-3 in Detroit on Monday night.

From Robert Woods' acrobatic catches to the Jets imploding yet again in the face of their AFC East rivals, there was plenty for the decidedly pro-Bills crowd of 56,004 to cheer -- and, yes, even laugh -- about at the Bills' makeshift home of Ford Field.

"We wanted to give the people back in our region a chance to smile a little bit by the way we play," coach Doug Marrone said after the game.

That's exactly what the Bills did, silencing questions about how they'd respond to an abnormal practice week by delivering a start-to-finish thumping of the Jets. There was no rust to knock off and nothing sluggish about the Bills; they just went out there and got the job done.

"The players did a heck of a job coming out tonight and really playing well," Marrone said. "I thought pretty much our guys were ready to go."

Players and coaches wouldn't lie -- they weren't sure how many fans would show for essentially a neutral-site game in a city more than 200 miles from their home turf.

"You don't know what to expect. I know there was a radio station trying to garner up a bunch of [Jets] green-out or something like that," Marrone said. "Obviously, you get concerned about, 'Is there going to be a home-field [advantage]?' and things like that. 'Do you get ready for a silent count?'"

"When I first came out, I was like, 'Aw, man. We'll have to find a way to crank ourselves up,'" receiver Sammy Watkins said.

Yes, the crowd -- filled with jerseys from just about every NFL team -- was sparse during warm-ups. But by kickoff, the entire lower bowl of Ford Field was full. By halftime nearly the entire stadium was packed -- and there was no mistaking which team had the fans' support.

"As soon as I came out and looked to the right and saw all the blue jerseys, I was like, 'Holy cow, baby. Here we go. We got the crowd,'" Marrone said. "That was a little bit of a relief for me in the beginning of the game."

The Detroit Lions went out of their way to make their place feel like home for the Bills, painting Buffalo's logos on the field, playing the Bills' signature "Shout" song after touchdowns and even serving Buffalo wings in the press box.

Bills fans -- sorely in need of a rallying point after a week in which families in the Buffalo area were low on food and, in some cases, without heat -- soaked in every minute of it.

That wasn't lost on tight end Scott Chandler, who celebrated his 19-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter by pretending to shovel snow.

"I broke two shovels this week, so that's the only shovel I got right now," he said. "It was a little bit of a tribute to the people of Buffalo. Just kind of one of those things where you want to do something special for our fans. They did a great job of showing up for us tonight, and for the people back there, they're behind us as well."

As the game progressed and the Bills kept racking up points, the night got even better for Bills fans. They witnessed the Jets continue to stumble through their season, the latest chapter marked by a blocked punt recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, as well as quarterback Michael Vick benched in the second half in favor of Geno Smith.

Bills fans -- who had plenty of reason to jeer Smith after he threw three interceptions and was benched in his last outing against Buffalo -- quickly serenaded him with chants of "Ge-no! Ge-no!" during his first few plays on the field.

The lopsided win over the Jets might not have been on national television, but with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the house, it had all the buzz of a prime-time game.

For the beleaguered Bills and their fans, it was the perfect medicine.
DETROIT -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 38-3 win over the New York Jets:

Doug Marrone gives game ball to emergency crews: After the game, Bills coach Doug Marrone gave a ceremonial game ball to all of the first responders in Erie County who assisted during last week's snow emergency in Buffalo. There were none present in the locker room, but Marrone held up the ball for his players.

Bills thank Lions: The Lions stepped up to host Monday's game, even going as far to paint the Bills' logos on the Ford Field turf and to set up a temporary locker room at their facility. Marrone thanked them after the game. "I don't think we would have been as prepared if it wasn't how they opened their arms up this week to do everything to help us," he said.

Radio station gets mentioned: The crowd at Monday's game was decidedly pro-Bills, despite representation from fans of just about every other NFL team. Earlier in the week, a Detroit radio station tried to rally fans to root for the Jets (and against former Lions coach Jim Schwartz), something Eric Wood heard about. "A little insensitive, given the circumstances," Wood said. "But I don't want to make too big a deal about it. I don't know how much of the city they truly represent."

Unprompted, Marrone also brought up the radio station's campaign. "I know there was a radio station trying to garner up a bunch of green out or something like that. We had heard that," he explained. "Obviously you get concerned about, 'Is there going to be a home field?' and things like that. 'Do you get ready for a silent count?' All of the sudden, as soon as I came out and looked to the right and saw all the blue jerseys, I was like, 'Holy cow, baby. Here we go. We got the crowd.' That was a little bit of a relief for me in the beginning of the game."

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 38-3 win Monday over the New York Jets at Ford Field:

What it means: For both the team and the city, the Bills needed this win and they went out and got it. On a night when just about everything went wrong for the Jets, the Bills were able to capitalize on all of their opportunities and run away with their second blowout win over their division opponent this season. It was easily the Bills' most impressive win of the season, even before you consider the circumstances for the organization last week. Quality performance.

Special atmosphere: This was a unique, fun night for Bills fans and the NFL. With a full allotment of free tickets distributed, nearly the entire stadium was full. The official attendance at Ford Field -- which holds 65,000 -- was announced as 56,004. The crowd was decidedly pro-Bills, although we spotted jerseys for at least 29 different NFL teams in the stands. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also attended.

Stock watch: Quarterback Kyle Orton, up. We've put the veteran in the "down" category the past two weeks, so it's only right that he gets credit here. Orton bounced back in a big way from his recent shaky outings, completing 24 of 32 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Both of those touchdown throws were in the red zone, part of an overall 3-for-3 showing for the Bills inside the 20-yard line, a big improvement for the NFL's worst red zone offense entering the weekend.

Game ball: Wide receiver Robert Woods. Who needs Sammy Watkins? The Bills' No. 2 receiver set career highs with nine catches for 118 yards, stealing the spotlight from Watkins, who finished with three catches for 35 yards. But it wasn't just the statistical production from Woods that earns him this game ball, it was also a pair of acrobatic catches: one for a touchdown in the first quarter, and another for a 27-yard gain in the second quarter where Woods caught the ball with one hand and pinned it against his helmet. It was David Tyree-esque.

Another sack party: The Bills' defense line cannot be stopped. Already leading the NFL in sacks (39) entering the game, the Bills added another seven. It's the fifth time this season the Bills have notched five or more sacks in a game. Mario Williams tallied two of them.

What's next: On a short week, the Bills will return home and prepare for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. After some questions about whether the Bills could clear Ralph Wilson Stadium in time, that game will be played on the Bills' home field, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

W2W4: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
DETROIT -- The Buffalo Bills (5-5) will look to snap their two-game losing streak when they host the New York Jets (2-8) on Monday night at Ford Field (7 p.m. ET, CBS).

Here is what to watch for from the Bills' side:

1. Back to football: It's been 11 days since the Bills last played, so all eyes will be on how they respond after the time off. Given the circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bills come out of the gate sluggish. But for a team that's essentially in a must-win situation for the rest of the season, they will have to shake off any rust quickly. As team president Russ Brandon said Saturday, "No one feels sorry for us." That's also the message head coach Doug Marrone delivered to his team. Once the clock starts Monday night, the Bills will need to perform.

2. Jackson expected to play: The Bills listed running back Fred Jackson on their injury report as "questionable" as he continues to recover from a groin injury, but Marrone said Saturday he plans on Jackson playing. As of Monday morning, that is still the plan; Jackson hasn't had any setbacks. He'll give a boost to a running game that has struggled over the past two months of the season. The Bills rank 30th in the NFL with a 3.41 yards-per-carry average since Week 5.

3. Ending the touchdown drought: The biggest factor in the Bills' back-to-back losses in their last two games has been their inability to score touchdowns. Their drought now stands at 21 consecutive possessions, or 114 minutes and 51 seconds of game action, without a touchdown. Even if the Bills can't get anything going with their ground game against a stout Jets defensive line, New York's secondary is a much different story. With two first-round picks, one second-round pick and one third-round pick invested in Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, there aren't many excuses for the Bills not to have a field day against the Jets' bottom-tier group of cornerbacks.

4. Another quick turnaround: For the second time in three weeks the Bills will need to prepare for another opponent on a short week. Yet unlike after the Bills' home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (before they traveled to Miami on a Wednesday), the Bills are on the road and don't have 100 percent clarity on where they will play next weekend. The NFL has yet to make a final decision on whether Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns will be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, adding another curveball for the Bills as they pack up and head home from Detroit.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Buffalo Bills expect running back Fred Jackson (groin) to play in Monday's game against the New York Jets.

Jackson was listed as questionable on the Bills' injury report, released Friday. He practiced both Friday and Saturday.

"We're planning on him to be ready to go," Marrone said Saturday evening. "Just take the injury and that's how we have to list it to protect ourselves."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Buffalo Bills held their second practice at the Detroit Lions' facility Saturday evening.

Defensive end Jarius Wynn, who has already been declared out for Monday's game with a knee injury, was the only player not spotted.

Running back Fred Jackson (groin), who is listed as questionable, practiced.

Here are some scenes:

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Buffalo Bills are back at the Detroit Lions' practice facility Saturday and will hold an evening practice, their second since Friday.

The team released its injury report for Monday's game in advance of the practice, and running back Fred Jackson (groin) is listed as questionable.

Jackson practiced Friday evening and is expected to be back on the field Saturday.

Here is the full report:

DE Jarius Wynn (knee)

RB Fred Jackson (groin)
CB Ron Brooks (groin)

K Dan Carpenter (right groin)
DE Manny Lawson (ankle)
QB Kyle Orton (toe)
G Kraig Urbik (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (hip)
WR Marquise Goodwin (ankle)
FB Frank Summers (neck)
WR Sammy Watkins (groin)
The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to fly mid-afternoon Friday to Detroit.

Getting to the airport will be the biggest challenge.

With most Bills players still snowed in, some can't travel by car to Ralph Wilson Stadium, where buses are ready to bring players to the airport.

Wide receiver Chris Hogan walked to the stadium:

Tight ends Lee Smith and Scott Chandler rode snowmobiles, which the Bills have commissioned to get players to main roads:

With snow in the Buffalo area finally stopped and the sun shining, the Buffalo Bills are set to fly to Detroit this afternoon.

With travel bans and heavy snow still blocking parking lots and roads, it's unclear if every player will be able to make the trip. Still, the team is set to practice Friday evening at the Detroit Lions' facility in Allen Park, Michigan.

The extra time before Monday's game could give the team another chance to practice over the weekend but their exact schedule has not been released.

Bills vs. Jets preview

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
When: 7 p.m. ET Monday. Where: Ford Field, Detroit. TV: CBS.

It's Monday night football in Motown.

After several feet of snow were dumped on the Buffalo area this week, the snowed-in Buffalo Bills (5-5) will dig out Friday and shift their operation to Michigan in advance of Monday's rescheduled game against the New York Jets (2-8).

While the Jets are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the Bills are desperate for a victory after dropping their past two games. ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak and ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini break it all down:

Rodak: How has this affected the Jets' preparation? What has been their reaction to all of this?

Cimini: This has been a normal week for the Jets. Cynics might say there's no such thing, but you get my drift. They practiced outdoors on Wednesday and Thursday, thinking the game would be at Ralph Wilson Stadium. On Friday, they practiced in the field house, knowing, of course, the game will be indoors at Ford Field. With the extended week, the plan is to have two "Saturday" practices -- one Saturday, one Sunday. A Saturday practice is a light workout, basically a walk-through. Rex Ryan says he wants to keep the players' legs fresh. I don't know why that would be a concern, considering they're coming off the bye week.

I guess the obvious question is, how has the storm affected the Bills' preparation?

Rodak: It's been a week unlike any other for the Bills. Most coaches were able to make it to the facility at some point Monday night or Tuesday, and have slept there since. Players, on the other hand, have been stuck at home. Team president Russ Brandon estimated that 85 percent of players live in the towns south of Buffalo, the area hit hardest by the storm. They've been able to receive film and game plans on their iPads from the coaching staff, but that obviously isn't the same as being at practice and seeing the scout team's looks on the field. Getting to Detroit for some players will be a challenge; wide receiver Chris Hogan tweeted Friday morning that he had to walk to the stadium. However many players the Bills are able to round up, they'll hold a practice Friday evening and perhaps another over the weekend. That will put them on somewhat of a normal schedule heading into Monday night's game.

Does moving this game favor the Jets? Do you anticipate that they'll tweak the game plan?

Cimini: When Chris Johnson found out Detroit was a possible site for the game, he called over to Michael Vick in the locker room, excitedly telling him they could be playing indoors. Makes sense, right? Fast guys want to play on a fast track, especially indoors.

I absolutely believe this works in the Jets' favor. Not only do the Bills lose their home-field advantage, but now they have to defend Vick in a climate-controlled environment. Vick doesn't like bad conditions. I remember one day in training camp, when he had a brutal practice in rainy, windy and unseasonably cool conditions. I'm sure he's thrilled to be going to Ford Field. Yes, they could tweak the game plan. Why not? I would think they'd try to force-feed the ball to Percy Harvin, who has the speed to cause problems for the Bills' defense.

Are the Bills upset the league put this game indoors?

Rodak: I think the Bills are just happy that they're able to play this game, period. Of the three sites that ESPN's Adam Schefter reported were in play Thursday, two of them -- Washington and Pittsburgh -- had natural grass fields. So the feeling here is that the Bills are happy this game is being played on an artificial, indoor surface where field conditions won't be a factor. This is the second time the Bills played in Ford Field this season; the last was a Week 5 win over the Lions. Sammy Watkins caught seven passes for 87 yards in that game, a reflection of how the faster surface could benefit the Bills' passing game.

What's the outlook for the Jets the rest of this season? Was last week's win over the Steelers a fluke or are there encouraging signs that they could turn things around?

Cimini: I'd say it was a mix -- some encouraging signs and some stuff I’d characterize as lucky. Offensively, the Jets are taking baby steps. They’re three games into the Harvin experiment and, while I wouldn’t call him a game-changing player, he has brought balance to the passing game, forcing opponents to respect both sides of the field. Vick, too, has helped. Unlike Geno Smith, Vick isn’t a turnover machine -- two straight games without committing one. He’s a steadying presence, if not a prolific passer. Vick and Harvin are reasons the offense has hope. Defensively, I’m not sure how they managed to slow down Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. I mean, their cornerbacks were Marcus Williams and Phillip Adams and they received an out-of-nowhere, career game from Jaiquawn Jarrett. I don’t think the secondary will be able to sustain it for the remainder of the season; it’s just not good enough.

So, what happened to the Bills' offense?

Rodak: There are unconfirmed reports that it fled to the Caribbean to avoid the impending snow in Buffalo.

The Bills haven't scored a touchdown in 21 consecutive drives, dating back to the first possession of their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9. As Doug Marrone astutely pointed out earlier this week, the Bills' "main problem is scoring." That's broad, obviously, but the offense hasn't been able to do too much right the past two weeks, and to a lesser extent, since the beginning of the season. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller both injured, the Bills haven't been able to get much going with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. That duo combined for zero yards on five carries in the second half of last Thursday's loss. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton's Total QBR is sinking lower and lower. His 38.7 QBR is ahead of only one quarterback who still has his starting job, and that's Blake Bortles (25.6).

We've already seen Mario Williams and his bobcat hard at work, helping Jim Kelly dig out.

But what about Mario Williams as delivery man?

Check out this latest post from the Buffalo Bills' defensive end:

Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon held a conference call with reporters Thursday evening, updating the status of the team's game against the New York Jets that will not be played Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Here are the main takeaways:

Decision by Friday morning: The Bills have yet to hear from the NFL on a location and a date for game. Brandon said he hopes to hear from NFL tonight, or at tomorrow morning by the latest. "We don't really have a say, but we have a voice," Brandon said. "When I know it, you guys will know it. I want to put this behind me as well." Word could come down as soon as Thursday night.

No official word on alternate sites: Brandon did not pass along which sites were being considered by the NFL. Asked about Toronto as a possible site, Brandon said, "I'm sure that was a consideration by the league." He added there were no "in-depth conversations" about using Syracuse's Carrier Dome.

Ticket refunds: Everyone who bought a ticket through the Bills for Sunday's game will receive a refund. There's no definitive word on how ticketing will work for the alternate game. "We're going to do everything we can to encourage fans to come to the neutral site location and be part of the experience," Brandon said.

Bills could travel early: If possible, Bills want to fly to the alternate site as early as Friday and practice. They're "not in situation" to practice at their regular facility Friday, according to Brandon. However, the logistics of getting players to the airport is the problem. "We've had a lot of brainstorming sessions," Brandon said. He added that 85 percent of the players live in the affected area. "A lot of guys are in apartment complexes that aren't plowed in any shape or form," Brandon said.

Eye towards next week: With so much snow dumped on the area and efforts needed elsewhere, Brandon said pushing the game to Monday or Tuesday at Ralph Wilson Stadium "really wasn't an option." While he didn't know if the NFL has engaged in discussions about moving the Bills' Nov. 30 game against the Cleveland Browns to another site, Brandon said the team will need to move quickly to clear the stadium in time for that game. "It's going to be an all hands on deck exercise for our staff," Brandon said. The Bills are considering practicing elsewhere next week.



Sunday, 11/30
Monday, 12/1