Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sammy Watkins on QB Manuel: He's a different guy


The Buffalo Bills put forth a serious effort this offseason to bulk up its offensive weapons, with acquisitions such as Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy to name a few. Another pick-up, quarterback Matt Cassel, even went as far as to say recently that the team had the best offensive skill players in the league.

But the captain of that skilled unit is still to be determined, with Cassel and third-year back E.J. Manuel poised to battle it out this offseason for the starting spot.

The lynch pin of that talent pool, sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins, is seeing promise in the former Seminole though, and as far as he's concerned, Manuel will be running things come September.


Manuel and Cassel had pretty similar numbers in 2014, so any marked improvement during OTAs and preseason play could mean the difference between starter and backup.

For more on Watkins' view of the team's offensive potential, listen here.

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Spikes speaks out on Hernandez murder conviction


Chatter regarding Brandon Spikes' next potential landing spot has been quiet of late, but that didn't stop the linebacker from being awfully vocal about the guilty verdict that came down against former teammate Aaron Hernandez Wednesday.

Spikes, who's currently a free agent, took to social media to discuss the decision and Hernandez's subsequent life sentence for murder, first with this remark (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com):

That sparked a flurry of responses, to which Spikes retorted:


The sixth-year run-thumper played with Hernandez for three years in New England, as well as in Florida with the Gators. The 27-year-old had 33 tackles and a sack with the Buffalo Bills last season, along with a forced fumble.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Thurman: Expectations high for veteran Kyle Williams


Good and bad, defensive lineman Kyle Williams has seen a lot of defensive coordinators come through Buffalo. Six, to be exact.

And while new coordinator Dennis Thurman will be mainly employing coach Rex Ryan's schematic, a change Williams isn't too worried about making, his role will be crucial in the unit's success.

It's a role Thurman was sure to mention when speaking with reporters Monday.

"He’s everything I thought he would be," Thurman said via the team's website. "Tremendous competitor, he has some toughness, guys respect him, we expect him to be one of the bell cows that we lean on, and our expectation is that he will continue to play at a high level."

Williams was ranked in the top three among 3-4 defensive ends in 2013 under Mike Pettine, according to ProFootballFocus, a scheme that is likely to be similar to what Ryan and Thurman will utilize this season. Williams set a career high in sacks that season (10.5), five more than he's had in any other season in his 10-year career.


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Pouncey had no doubt Miami would be in for long haul


Mike Pouncey's contract extension turned from forgone conclusion to reality Monday, an announcement that officially made the 25-year-old the highest paid center in the league.

The finalization of the five-year, $45 million deal also brought some tears to the eyes of the two-time Pro Bowler, who was overcome with emotion as he spoke to reporters about the deal and his future with the team.

"I’ve been with these guys my whole career and it feels like a family to me," Pouncey said via the team's website Monday. "I’d love to say it’s a burden off my shoulders, but I always knew I’d be here and it wouldn’t be any other place.

"They could have easily gave up on me a long time ago. They stuck with me, it’s something I will never forget ... There won’t be a doubt that they made the right decision to keep me here."

Per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the deal came with $22 million in guaranteed money for Pouncey, and it'll keep the former Florida product signed through 2020.


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Bowman signing adds intrigue to Dolphins secondary


With Cortland Finnegan a recent release and subsequent retiree from the Miami Dolphins, the thought going into the preseason was that youngsters Jamar Taylor and Will Davis would be battling for that second starting cornerback spot opposite Brent Grimes.

And while that may still be the case, it seems they'll now have a bit of company along way.

The Dolphins announced the signing of veteran defensive back Zack Bowman Monday, according to the team's website, a one-year deal that's likely to add some intrigue to the team's secondary. Bowman spent the 2014 season with the New York Giants, tallying two interceptions and a fumble recovery to go along with his 19 tackles.

"Zack is a smart and experienced player who will help bolster our defensive unit along with special teams," General Manager Dennis Hickey said of the move.

The 30-year-old spent six years in Chicago prior to his stint with the Giants, accumulating 10 picks in 73 games.


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Friday, April 10, 2015

Stevan Ridley embracing new team with new ink


Stevan Ridley has Gang Green on his arm.

Just two days after finalizing a deal with the New York Jets, the 26-year-old is making it as official as the signature on the contract, getting a tattoo of the team's logo on his forearm.

Per WEEI.com, the former Patriot sat for the ink Friday (done by a Saints fan, no less). Ridley reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Jets Wednesday; the details surrounding the deal have not yet been disclosed.

WATCH HERE

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Dolphins, Pouncey agree on multi-year extension


Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers made Maurkice Pouncey the league's highest paid center. This year, it's Mike's turn to take on the family bragging rights.

The 25-year-old offensive lineman, coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the Miami Dolphins, according to the Palm Beach Post. The deal is reportedly worth more than brother Maurkice's deal, which was for $44 million over five years.

Pouncey moved from center to guard in 2014, and though he's stronger at center, he still managed to earn himself a trip to Glendale, Ariz. The former Gator is slated to move back to center this season.

READ MORE

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Panthers a common foe for AFC East this preseason


The Carolina Panthers aren't slated to face the AFC East during the regular season this year, but they'll see plenty of it before Week 1 begins.

Three of four teams in the division will face off against the NFC South foe in consecutive games this preseason, an increase from last season when they faced only Buffalo and New England. This year, the Bills, Dolphins and Pats will face Carolina in weeks 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

The division will also get some national exposure this summer, as Buffalo will play in Cleveland against the Browns on Thursday, Aug. 20. The game, which will air on ESPN, will feature mentor vs. protege, as Rex Ryan will face off against Mike Pettine in their first game since parting ways in 2013.

For each team's complete preseason schedule, click on the links below:

BILLS

JETS

PATRIOTS

DOLPHINS

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jets sign running back Stevan Ridley to one-year deal


The chance to play under Chan Gailey was apparently too much for Stevan Ridley to pass up.

After reportedly receiving offers from the Redskins and the Dolphins, the 26-year-old Ridley has chosen the New York Jets as his next home, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

The one-year deal creates a crowded backfield for Gang Green, who will work to also distribute the ball between Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell in an offensive system that's poised to be pretty reliant on its run game.

It will be interesting to see how much Ridley will be able contribute early on, as the former LSU star is only five months removed from knee surgery. His production has steadily dropped since his breakout year in 2012, rushing for only 340 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.

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'Phins wide receiver hunt continues with Welker visit


Wes Welker is making a trip back east; the Miami Dolphins hope it becomes a permanent stay.

After shopping a number of promising free-agent options at wide receiver, a group that's included Michael Crabtree and Greg Jennings, the team is reportedly bringing in the 12-year veteran for a look Wednesday.

Welker, who had an underwhelming season in 2014 after a 10-touchdown performance the prior year, would likely be brought on to mentor a young receiving corps, as well as to provide some help on special teams.

According to Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, the Dolphins are hoping Welker's down year, coupled with his recurring concussion issues, yield a one-year prove-it deal on the cheap.

READ MORE

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ninkovich looking to finally break past number eight


If only he could get past that pesky snowman. And we're not talking about a number on his golf scorecard.

Tenth-year defensive end Rob Ninkovich has a goal this year: break past the sack number that has pinned him down the last three seasons.

"I gotta break that eight [sacks] number," Ninkovich said this week, via CSNNE. "The last three years I've been at eight, so I need to get to eight or more. I've been thinking about that for the last two years."

Ninkovich is a staple of the Patriots' defense and has grown into one of its most important players. And at 31, he says he still feels great.


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Rex's mind 'absolutely not made up' with Bills QBs


Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan's mind is "absolutely not made up" regarding the Bills' battle for the top of the quarterback depth chart. Via the Buffalo News:
“You look at Matt Cassel, obviously he’s won in this league,” Ryan said. “He’s been a Pro Bowl quarterback, so there’s that experience that you have.
 “And then EJ. Let’s not just throw him out after two years. Aaron Rodgers never took a snap for three years. So let’s see where” Manuel’s “going to be.”
Ryan also won't rule out drafting a quarterback.

READ MORE

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Jets, Dolphins 'likely' finalists for ex-Patriots' Ridley


Free agent running Stevan Ridley left meetings with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets this week without a deal in hand, but apparently neither team is out of the running.

The former New England Patriots tailback, according to the NY Daily News, "has has at least one visit lined up for next week, but the feeling is that he’ll likely end up with the Jets or Dolphins."

Adding the third-down specialist wouldn't hurt for Gang Green, which will again rely on the battering ram Chris Ivory this year to take a bulk of the tough carries while Bilal Powell does his all-purpose-back thing.

New York let go of Chris Johnson earlier this season after a mostly ineffective short campaign with the team.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins boast a very young running back corps, and Ridley would immediately enter as the most experienced back alongside to Lamar Miller.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins showed interest in now-Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore, a friend of Miller's. However, Gore ended up elsewhere and the Dolphins continued to do their due diligence in meeting with Ridley nearly a week ago.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

RPT: Watkins had hip surgery early in offseason


Sammy Watkins reportedly suffered a hip injury last year at the end of November, though he never missed a game. In fact, the Buffalo Bills receiver went on to snag seven receptions for 127 yards a week later.

Still, there was apparently some work to be done on the ailment.

According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Watkins "had a surgical procedure on his hip area early this offseason."

The now second-year first-round wideout dropped off a bit toward the end of 2014, but one can assume he'll be back in top shape come this summer. And if he needs a little relief, he'll be returning alongside the likes of newly-acquired wideout Percy Harvin, running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Charles Clay.

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RPT: Stevan Ridley leaves Jets meeting without deal


Stevan Ridley continued his AFC East tour at the end of this week, but he remains a free agent.

After visiting the Miami Dolphins earlier this week, the former New England Patriots tailback checked in with the New York Jets.

But according to Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News, Ridley left New Jersey Friday morning without a deal.

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