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WEEK IN REVIEW - AUG 11TH - AUG 17TH, 2003 PREVIOUS WEEK

Bills Beaten By Titans

Frank Wycheck The Bills struggled mightily in their second preseason game as the Titans dominated their way to a 37-24 victory. That highlights the week along with the arrival of Willis McGahee to training camp. We give you our take of all the news from another very busy week:

The Bills struggled from the outset as the Titans opened up a 21-0 lead against the Bills starters. They scored three touchdowns in four series, the third touchdown was with their starters out of the game and the Bills starting defense still in the game. The Bills starters on offense finally scored thanks to a 62 yard run by Travis Henry against mostly backups on the Titans defense. The reserves on defense didn't fare any better and the reserves on offense did have some moments against the Titans. Travis Brown threw a touchdown pass and directed two scoring drives and Olandis Gary scored twice. Our Take: Nobody one or lost a job based on this game. Brown finally helped his cause with a good outing for the most part but his stats were still weak. Van Pelt led the team to a field goal also but threw an interception in his two series of work. Rodney Wright and rookie Mario Haggan had solid performances. The offensive line looked pathetic against a great front four for Tennessee, this may be a real concern. Coy Wire struggled and Izell Reese didn't do himself any favors with a bad pass interference penalty. James Jett and rookie QB Jason Johnson didn't get in the game maybe sealing their fate. The team took a whopping 15 penalties for 173 yards. Coach Williams won't say it is from a lack of discipline but he has to take a hit here. The bottom line is this team has committed way too many penalties since he's been here. This has to stop and it may take extra work in practice.

The other big news from the weekend was the official signing of Willis McGahee on Tuesday and his arrival to camp on Wednesday. The deal is reportedly a four year contract with a club option for a fifth year and is worth $7.05 Million. The team holds the option for the fifth year. There are incentives built in that can make the total up to $15.5 Million if he returns healthy and performs like a top five pick, as he would have been before getting hurt. He will get the two tiered signing bonus the club wanted for $4.15 Million. The second part of the bonus is guaranteed and will be paid after this season. Tom Donahoe said the deal is fair to both parties and it took a while to get done because it is a unique situation. McGahee arrived in camp and said he's just happy to be there with his teammates. He says his knee is getting stronger but won't feel like a player until he's ready to practice. The team placed McGahee on the active/non football injury list. He was placed on the list after failing his physical as expected but the doctors did say he is way ahead of schedule. He still is not ready to practice with the team at this point and they will have to decide to activate him or place him on reserve/non football injury list once the season starts. He is expected to go on that list which would mean he can't practice with the team until anytime between week 6 and 9. At that point the team would have 21 days to decide to activate him or IR him. McGahee watched practice from the sidelines on Thursday. If he's placed on the list during the season the team is not obligated to pay him his base salary but as part of the deal McGahee signed the team will play him. Our Take: It's nice to have the top pick in camp and the team is handling the situation very well. Hopefully he'll get something out of the mental reps.

The team made room for McGahee by getting a roster exemption for Ansley Battles who left camp on Monday. Battles says he doesn't want to play football anymore and is planning to go back to school for his MBA. The team won't release him yet as they got the roster exemption for now. Our Take: It's a shame since Battles was having a good camp.

In injury news, the team is pretty healthy. They got through the first two preseason games without getting anyone injured. Takeo Spikes, Dave Moore and Angelo Crowell were the only players who missed the Titans game with injuries. Spikes gave the team a scare when he slipped on the wet grass during practice on Tuesday. He suffered a slight twinge in his groin and the team has been cautious about it, holding him out of practice and the Titans game. Moore is still bothered by a hamstring strain that has cost him to miss most of the last two week of work. Crowell has missed a week with a similar injury. Brandon Spoon missed a workout this week with a quad strain. Phillip Crosby, Mike Pucillo, Charles Johnson and Ryan Neufeld all missed some time this week but played against Tennessee ad are fine. Aaron Schobel missed two days because of the birth of his baby, Travis Henry returned to practice and played against Tennessee after resting his bruised knee for a week. Clarence Coleman appeared to be limping during the Titans game but continued to play. Our Take: Staying healthy is the name of the game during the summer, and the team is pretty much succeeding to this point (knock wood!).

One possible depth chart changed happened this week when the team started Mike Pucillo instead of Marques Sullivan at right guard. The coach said this was planned to give him work with the first team. The coach said a starter won't be named until the end of the preseason. Our Take: The team wants Pucillo to win this job and will give him every chance to do it. Expect him to start the opener, although we like the experience Sullivan got last year and feel he should start for continuity sake.

Meanwhile the players got testy in practice this week as they are tired of hitting each other. Josh Reed and Nate Clements wrestled on Wednesday and DL coach Tim Krumrie has become the official fight break up coach. The offense is getting tired of the defense giving them extra hits and have started to fight back by hitting the DBs. Our Take: This happens every year when the players are hitting each other day in and day out, they need to do more hitting on other team's players. The feistiness is nice to see though.

In other news, many PGA golfers attended camp this week as they were right down the street at the PGA Championships at Oak Hill Country Club. Many players in turn, went to watch some of the action on Thursday after practice and Sunday's final round. Visitors including Phil Mickelson, Mike Wier, and CBS analyst Jim Nantz. Mickelson picked the Bills to go to the Super Bowl. Our Take: The tournament being there is a nice diversion from the daily grind of camp.

Bruce Springsteen has had his concert moved from Ralph Wilson Stadium to Darien Lake on September 20th because of poor ticket sales. Our Take: Even the boss can't fill the Ralph! At least the field won't be damaged and the team will be able to practice in the stadium that week if they want to.



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