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Flutie Out 6-8 Weeks
On Thursday Flutie seriously injured his groin during practice. He was backpedaling and then stopped to take off and run. He felt a tear in his groin and fell down in pain. He then walked off without a noticeable limp, making the trainer feel the injury wasn't seriously. He went for an MRI which revealed the injury to be more serious. He will be out into the regular season. Our Take: If Flutie is out the first two games of the regular season, it may pay for him to take week 3 against the Jets off also, since the following week is a bye. That would put him back in uniform on Oct 1st against Indianapolis.
The one position the Bills had the most depth in, suddenly became the weakest position on the team. The QB Depth took a nosedive when Flutie got hurt. Coupled with Rob Johnson being sick all week gave the backups more time to falter. Johnson suffered from a severe stomach virus most of the week. He came down with it Sunday night and practice despite being sick on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday he was sick in his dorm room, he went back to Buffalo to see team doctors. They said he will be fine. Johnson returned to the field on Thursday and practiced on Friday. He also participated in Saturday's scrimmage. He is feeling better now but lost some weight that he could ill afford to lose. Our Take: Johnson is in the best shape of anybody on the team, the problem is he was thin to begin with. It will take him some time to get back to 100% and to gain the weight back that he lost. To unfairly use the illness as a confirmation of his injury-prone tag would be absurd. In illness and an injury are two totally different things.
The Bills looked at what would happen if Johnson got hurt early in the season and probably had nightmares. That is why they restructured yet another contract to free up enough cap room to re-sign Alex Van Pelt. His contract is a pay cut for him, it is for the veteran minimum of $440,000 but does have some built-in incentives. He made over $500,000 last year. Our Take: When players are chanting for a player to be signed like Ostroski did during the scrimmage there must be something to it. Van Pelt brings experience with the offense and a steady hand to the backup QB spot. He would have been back to begin with if it weren't for the salary cap situation. Now expect him here for the duration.
The team held its only intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday morning. The way the QBs played definitely clinched the re-signing of Van Pelt. The defense dominated the show. Even when the third string defense was playing against the first string offense, the team had trouble moving the ball. Johnson played a couple of series and looked good on his first series but struggled afterwards, as he seemed weak from his virus. The backups weren't any better, Mike Cawley was 3 for 7 and Phil Stambaugh was 9 for 11 but most of the completions were short dump passes. The only touchdown by the offense was a five yard scramble by Stambaugh. The defensive backs had a field day in the scrimmage with the "player of the scrimmage" being backup free safety Keion Carpenter. He drew special praise from the coach Phillips. He picked off one pass and tipped another that was intercepted by Corey Moore. Antoine Winfield also played well picking off a pass, he returned it for a touchdown. Shawn Price and Erik Flowers each had over one sack. Two rookie linebackers shined, seventh round pick DaShon Polk and rookie free agent Fred Jones. Our Take: Cawley and Stambaugh played themselves off the roster with the signing of Van Pelt. Carpenter has started a run at the starting free safety spot. Winfield looks ready for the season already. Rookies Moore and Flowers look like the real deal. Quincy Coleman has been making noise in camp with two interceptions but dropped a sure pick in the scrimmage that may hurt his chances of making the team.
Other on the field news, The offense struggled much of the week after Flutie went down, with Johnson out. The backups bad play gave the defense the edge on the practice fields all week. The wide receivers continued to have a good camp though. Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Jeremy McDaniel all look like they will have solid seasons in their roles. Rookie running back Sammy Morris is begin to show his skills as he gets comfortable with the system and has overcome a tight hamstring. Our Take: The offense will be alright once Johnson gets back to full speed and as long as he doesn't get hurt. Look for Van Pelt to get the majority of the snaps in practice this weeks so he can catch up.
The real stars of training camp this week was on the defense. Another player getting comfortable and playing very well is Corey Moore. His play along with the play of fellow rookie linebacker Fred Jones has received praise from Coach Phillips. The linebacking corps looks real strong as a whole, second year player Keith Newman had an outstanding week of practice and looks primed to take over a starting role. John Holecek is playing with mid-season tenacity that has aggravated some of his offensive teammates. Reggie Durden may have secured his position as the fourth cornerback. He has shown good cover skills that compensates for his lack of height. On the negative side safeties Askari Adams and Raion Hill struggled. Travares Tillman and Jay Foreman drew the wrath of Ted Cottrell on one play on Wednesday. Our Take: The defense looks sharp now but the real test will start this Friday when they see some real competition in the preseason games.
The special teams battles don't appear to be materializing. Steve Christie totally out-kicked Dan Giancola in a kicking clinic on Wednesday. The punting battle is being won by Chris Mohr. His hang time is a half of a second better than Jason Van Dyke. The challenger's punts are longer but not consistent. The Bills were so desperate at QB this week, they used Mohr to throw some passes from under center in practice. Mohr has also been practicing fake field goals as he completed a shovel pass to Jay Riemersma. Our Take: Expect Christie and Mohr to hold on to their jobs. Hopefully, the Bills will have the guts to actually fake a field goal this year.
The Bills are practicing many different formations on both sides of the ball. On offense the club will use 2 TEs at a time with one back, or three wide receivers and a back or four wide receivers and no tight end. On defense the club has been playing Flowers at left end in the dime but haven't been using him too much in Marcellus Wiley's left end spot because they don't want to confuse him. Shawn Price and even Sam Rogers has practiced there. They also looked at using Keith Newman at left end with the second dime defense. Our Take: Jonathan Linton and Shawn Bryson may be the key to this offense since they will be used as running backs, third down backs, and receivers. The different defensive formations and combinations are good to experiment with now. The club lined up in a 4-3 once, but that was for the benefit of their offense, they won't use it during the season.
Besides Flutie's groin and Johnson's illness the club was pretty much injury free this week. Minor bumps and bruises were suffered by Jason Corle, Sammy Morris, Lennox Gordon and Ivan Gustafson. Shawn Bryson has picked up right where he left off last summer before his injury. Another player who has seemed to make it back from injury is Joe Panos. For updated information check out our injury page. Our Take: The fewer big injuries the better!
In administrative news, the details came out on the contract signed by Erik Flowers. He signed a five year deal worth $5.65 Million and it included a $2.65 Million signing bonus. RB Antowain Smith restructured his deal to give the club $200,000 in cap space to get Flower deal done. Our Take: His five missed practices aren't the end of the world.
The Bills lost one player this week when David Byrd left camp for personal reasons. The Bills won't replace him. Our Take: Byrd was a troubled sole to begin with, his leaving is no big loss.
In non training camp news, the Bills have soldout their second game of the season. The Oct. 1st game with Indianapolis is now a sellout, joining the Green Bay game. The opener against Tennessee doesn't have many seats left either. Our Take: The club should have four guaranteed sellouts, with these three and the Miami game.
The NFL announced the team of the decade and not surprisingly there were four ties to the Bills. Bruce Smith was a unanimous selection as a first team defensive end. Thurman Thomas was a second team running back, Cornelius Bennett was a second team linebacker and Marv Levy was second team coach. Our Take: Well deserved selections.
Ted Washington was selected as one of the 99 "Good Guys" in professional sports by The Sporting News. As we mentioned earlier in the summer, Washington is a finalists for the Pro Football Weekly's Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award. Washington contributes to many community programs and charities including Multiple Sclerosis and Junior Achievement. He also created the Ted Washington Foundation to benefit area youth charities. Our Take: Washington proves time and time again that while he may be nasty to the press, he's a sweetheart when it comes to charity.
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