Monday, October 20, 2014

Gray adds another element to Pats' backfield sans Ridley

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Following news that running back Stevan Ridley was out for the season with a knee injury, Patriots fans expected to see an uptick in touches from utility man Shane Vereen in last Thursday's divisional game against the New York Jets, as well as some face time from bruiser Brandon Bolden. 

They got half that, as Bolden saw only one snap and had no carries, while Vereen had a season-high 11 rushing attempts for 43 yards.

What they did see, however, was the premiere of rookie Jonas Gray, who despite receiving only three carries was nonetheless impressive in his first NFL game.  

Harvin excited to work with Geno, blessed to have Vick

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Geno Smith looks like he'll continue to run the offense for the New York Jets, but it's Michael Vick that newly signed wide receiver Percy Harvin is excited to see.

Harvin, who was acquired for a conditional pick this past week, grew up in the same area of eastern Virginia as Vick. The two have reportedly been close for some time, and the new addition to Gang Green is looking forward to having his mentor close by.

"I’ve been in touch with him throughout my whole career," Harvin said via the team's website. "Whenever I needed advice or I just wanted to hang out, he’s a go-to guy. Being here with him, man, it’s a blessing."

Jackson confident in Dixon, Brown as Bills eye backups

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Celebrations were abound at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday following the last-second touchdown that sealed the victory for Buffalo Bills. The hugs prior to halftime, however, were those of consolation.

The team's top two running backs, veteran Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, left Sunday's game in sequential quarters, victims of groin and collar bone injuries, respectfully. While Jackson's prognosis seems positive -- he's projected to miss about a month -- Spiller's is a bit more bleak.

With a tough start to the season and now a chance he could end up on IR following reported surgery, the elder of the two tailbacks dealt with the situation the only way he could.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Watkins: 'Leader' Orton 'what we need in veteran QB'

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton connected with rookie receiver Sammy Watkins on a two-yard touchdown pass with seconds left in the Buffalo Bills' ugly-but-glorious 17-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Orton, who threw another scoring strike to Watkins earlier in the game, made quite an impression on the young pass-catcher.

“He’s a leader,” Watkins said after the game, via BuffaloBills.com. “He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He puts us in the greatest situations. He knows how to help us out on the field, put us in different areas. That’s what we need in a veteran quarterback.”

Tannehill 'on point' leading Dolphins past Bears

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Ryan Tannehill completed his first 14 pass attempts Sunday against the Chicago Bears, and the Miami Dolphins rolled on.

Tannehill finished the game 25-of-32 for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns, completing at least two passes to eight different receivers and going the distance without a turnover.

“He was on point,” receiver Mike Wallace said of Tannehill after the game, via MiamiDolphins.com. “The whole game he was hitting all the guys who were getting open. [Charles] Clay had a good day. We were just clicking today on offense.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jimmy Wilson still considers himself a starter at nickel

BY NICK ST. DENIS

In the pass-happy NFL, a fifth defensive back is a regular sight on the field.

So despite what the depth chart says, Miami Dolphins nickel back Jimmy Wilson may as well be listed as a first stringer, according to the fourth-year defender.

“I’m starting nickel,” Wilson said this week, via MiamiDolphins.com. “I still consider myself a starter. I think the guys on this team consider me as a starter. I got that caliber of play in me.

Idzik: Jets 'excited' to add 'versatile, dynamic' Harvin

BY NICK ST. DENIS

New York Jets general manager John Idzik failed to give quarterback Geno Smith much help this offseason.

Now that his team is down and out at 1-6, getting an explosive playmaker on offense is all of a sudden a priority for the second-year personnel decision-maker.

Gang Green traded a conditional draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks this week for receiver and returner Percy Harvin. Harvin instantly upgrades a pass-catching corps that has handcuffed Smith all season long.

After 'mind-clensing,' Patriots to get back on track

BY NICK ST. DENIS

After eking out a victory over the rival New York Jets Thursday night on a short week, the New England Patriots are off for the weekend--no practice or team activities.

"I think definitely there’s something to be said for a cleansing of the mind," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday. "We’ve been at it here pretty hard since the end of July. It’s been virtually every day. So, that’s all of August, all of September and we’re halfway through October.

"I’d say there probably wasn’t much more than any 24-hour period there where there hasn’t been, I’d say, quite a bit of substantial, hopefully anyway, substantial thought, preparation, treatment, whatever you want to call it, different aspects of preparation, physical conditioning, mental film study and preparation that hasn’t gone into each and every guy over that period of time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marrone high on Kounandjio; Urbik's role still backup

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills have decided to shake things up with their offensive line, just not the way you'd expect.

According to Chris Brown of buffalobills.com, the coaching staff has decided to give rookie Cyrus Kounandjio another shot to prove his worth, though it won't be at tackle, where he was projected to start at the beginning of preseason workouts. The second-round pick has been reportedly taking snaps at guard with the scout team for the past couple of weeks, a move that Marrone feels could be a permanent one for the 21-year-old.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marrone hasn't lost confidence in Spiller, run game

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Things have literally not gone as planned for the Buffalo Bills run game this season.

The unit came into 2014 after a record-breaking year where it put up 144 yards per game on average and more than 2,300 yards on the ground in total. With the coaching staff coming into its second season, as well as some key additions in both the backfield and on the line, this year's ceiling seemed even higher.

Unfortunately, that hasn't happened.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Philbin on Moreno-less Dolphins: 'We have other guys'

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Knowshon Moreno's season never really got started. Tuesday, it officially ended.

The Miami Dolphins placed the veteran tailback on injured reserve Tuesday morning, less than two days after he suffered a torn ACL against the Green Bay Packers.

With that, the Dolphins lose their probably-could-be No. 1 back, had he been healthy to begin with. He burst out of the gate with 134 yards and touchdown Week 1 but has been sidelined most of the time since.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Patriots lose Ridley, Mayo for rest of season

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

The New England Patriots' bad news from Sunday got even worse just one day later, as the team will reportedly be without its top running back and linebacker for the remainder of the season.

Jerod Mayo, who currently has 25 more tackles than anyone on the Patriots' roster, will once again leave the team midway through the season.

After rehabbing torn pectoral muscle this past offseason that forced him to miss 10 games in 2013, Mayo will miss that many again this year, sidelined once again for the remainder of the season due to a lower right leg injury.

Patriots swap out a pair of practice squad linemen

BY EDITOR

The New England Patriots announced Monday they have re-signed offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann to the practice squad and released fellow frontman Chris Martin from the reserve unit.

Hauptmann, 23, was originally signed to the Patriots practice squad in mid-September before being released last week.

Prior to joining New England, the 6-3, 300-pounder spent time in 2013 on the Cleveland Browns' practice squad before signing to the Seattle Seahawks' 53-man roster in late last September.

Jets absorb another blow with Milliner, Winters IR'ed

BY NICK ST. DENIS

The tailspinning 1-5 New York Jets feared the worst for cornerback Dee Milliner and guard Brian Winters.

Their inklings were right.

Both starters were placed on injured reserve Monday, with Milliner suffering an Achilles injury and Winters a torn ACL, both early in Gang Green's loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday.

Amid trade talk, Mike Williams tells fans to 'chill'

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Going into the team's Week 6 game against New England, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Mike Williams had only taken around 50 percent of the team's offensive snaps. In Sunday's 37-22 loss, he saw zero, reportedly benched for strategic purposes in favor special teamer Chris Hogan.

A day later, Williams' agent was contacting the team requesting permission to test the waters on a trade.

The 27-year-old wideout, a veteran presence for the young receiver group in Buffalo, attempted to quash the outcry by fans on social media Monday after the news broke, saying he has no plans to leave the team he grew up wanting to be a part of as a child.