I’ve missed quite a bit in the past 48 hours regarding the Buffalo Bills. As my regular readers already know, I did quite the number on my lower leg last weekend. To provide a quick update for the few that care, I took a spill of a step on my deck that resulted in a broken right fibula and significant damage to my ankle. This morning I learned that I also tore ligaments in my ankle and tore my Peroneus Bevis tendon (I literally never heard of that) near my ankle as well. Surgery is required next Wednesday and I’ll be holed up in a cast for at least the next 6-8 weeks.
Anyway, I’m dealing and doing the best job that I can, but I may be a bit late with news and views from time to time during the process. Of course, there’s a lot that went on with the Buffalo Bills over the past couple of days, and while the news is old, I’m still indulgent enough to offer my take on each topic.
Cary on, folks—and whatever you do, don’t slip on your deck stairs.
Bills Sign Leinart, Kolb May Be Done
My Take: Matt Leinart is probably the guy you’d least expect to ever see quarterbacking the Buffalo Bills. Thanks to Kevin Kolb’s head injury that Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported could actually end his career, it’s a reality. Much like when fellow 2006 first-round pick Vince Young signed with Buffalo last year, I’m highly skeptical Leinart is going to stick around. Why? Instead of sparing you all the details, simply look at his resume. As for Kolb, I never liked him as a starter but he was serviceable enough to E.J. Manuel as a backup and mentor to be worth keeping around. As an aside, I bet this front office wishes they could have a do over when they decided to release Tavaris Jackson in the spring. I’m willing to best first-year head coach Doug Marrone never goes to training camp with just three quarterbacks on the roster again.
Gilmore Out At Least 6 Weeks
My Take: Forget about the Kolb injury or anything else… nothing is more relevant to the recent Bills misfortune than Gilmore injuring his wrist and requiring surgery. Early word says the Bills top corner is out for at least six weeks. That’s heartbreaking to a secondary that is pretty lousy at corner once you get past Gilmore. Leodis McKelvin has had major consistency issues throughout his career, and that’s when he’s been healthy, and just like that he’s now the Bills top corner. Sorry folks, but that’s kind of scary. Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers and Crezdon Butler are now starting candidates (I can’t believe I’m typing that) and all could play a prominent role early on. Gilmore isn’t the best player on the Bills, at least not at this stage of his career, but given the lack of depth at corner he’s arguably their most important. This one hurts. I’ll be shocked if the Bills don’t have a veteran corner added to the roster immediately following final cut down day.
Tuel Likely Starter For Opening Week
My Take: I just can’t.
Bills Trade White For Lewis
My Take: Short on quarterbacks the Bills dealt linebacker Chris White to Detroit in exchange for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. I don’t like the trade, because I like what White brought to the team. He was stout in short yardage situations on defense and a stud on special teams. While he’ll always be one of the guys at the bottom of the NFL roster, White brought value, and I think he may be missed. Clearly the front office disagreed, and that’s good news for one or two linebackers on the roster bubble. This likely means Bryan Scott, who I thought was in big trouble, ends up sticking around. As for Lewis, he’s probably in a battle with Leinart to stick around. Given the health concerns of the rookie Manuel, it’s a lock to me the Bills will keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Whether it’s Leinart or Lewis may not be as clear-cut as it seems. Unfortunately for Lewis he won’t get much of a chance to impress with just one preseason game remaining.
My Take: Jairus Byrd reported back to the team and on Monday conducted his first presser with the media. While if you look at the transcript and conclude he said all the right things, he did so with a tone that literally anyone could tell he’s incredibly unhappy. He should be. I’ve said for several months that in my opinion Byrd is the best safety in the NFL given his age, stats, upside and all around ability. If he played on a better team he’d be a household name right now—I truly feel that way. The Bills let Andy Levitre walk for outrageous money and that’s fine, but there’s no excuse to not lock up Byrd for the long term. He wanted to be the highest paid safety in the league and had every right to be as such. He was deserving. This was not the right situation for the front office to play hard ball and sooner or later, they’ll pay for it. Byrd will shut his mouth and play ball this year, but the first second he’s eligible to leave he’ll be out of Buffalo for good. Sure, the Bills could tag him again, but at this point it doesn’t make much sense. It may not seem it now, but down the road their handling of Byrd this offseason may prove to be their worst personnel move of the past decade. Yes, I think he’s that good—and don’t give me that Mike Pettine doesn’t need a great safety in his scheme garbage either.
Hairston Out For The Season
My Take: So much for Erik Pears being on the way out. Hairston walked around gingerly on the sidelines during training camp, which is the extent of his contributions to the Bills for 2013. Hairston was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. Suddenly Pears, who missed most of 2012 battling injuries, is a critical player on Buffalo’s offense. There’s little depth behind he and Cordy Glenn at tackle, and Thomas Welch has been inconsistent and Zebrie Sanders was awful for much of camp. Don’t be surprised to see Doug Whaley scouring the waiver wire over the next 10 days for a better swing tackle.
Bills Cut Five, Including Rogers
My Take: It became obvious that fans and much of the media were higher on Da’Rick Rogers than the Bills current coaching staff. To be fair, the bar was set pretty high when then-GM Buddy Nix admitted he had Rogers graded in the high rounds of the draft in terms of talent. In reality, the release shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Rogers was inconsistent throughout training camp and alternated time in and out of Doug Marrone’s dog house. If you’re Stevie Johnson the staff will put up with it, but that doesn’t fly when you’re in an undrafted free agent. For all this physical skills Rogers at times looked lazy and uninspired. During the Redskins preseason game, Rogers didn’t play a snap on offense, but that didn’t prevent him from earning a negative performance review. On a second half punt Rogers lined up as the left gunner and was pushed out of bounds by two Washington blockers. Rather than get back into the field of play and try to make a tackle, Rogers literally ran more than 30 yards down the sideline still out of bounds and ended up nearly 10 yards beyond where the punt was fielded. Perhaps that was the final straw. Rogers has the size and attributes to be successful in the NFL and it would be Buffalo’s luck if that went on to happen. But I don’t blame the staff for cutting ties with him in this matter. Even had he somehow made the team he would’ve likely been on the sidelines in a tee shirt every Sunday anyway. I’ve been and remain partial to Marcus Easley, and Chris Hogan has also proven to be more deserving of a roster spot. The Bills also cut receiver DeMarco Sampson, center Ryan Turnley, cornerback Jumal Rolle and safety Dominique Ellis over the weekend. Yeah— I don’t care either.
Spiller To Miss Preseason Finale
My Take: Marrone announced Tuesday that C.J. Spiller will miss Thursday’s preseason finale and won’t be back with the team until Sunday as he attends to family in Florida following the tragic murder-suicide involving his step-grandfather. Good. Not good, of course, regarding the horrific incident that took place. But there’s no need to see this guy on the field until it counts against New England. Hopefully the time away with his family will have Spiller in the right frame of mind when he returns. Lords knows the Bills are going to need him.