Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bills' D on 5-3 start: We have plenty to improve upon

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Now officially halfway through the season, the Buffalo' Bills defense is looking pretty good.

Following their best effort since 2007, questions were abound this season as Mike Pettine's departure for Cleveland at the end of last year opened the door for the more traditional style of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Schwartz hasn't disappointed, equaling the squad's efficiency from 2013 thus far while keeping the turnover differential in the black.

Safety Aaron Williams told reporters Wednesday the unit is using last season as a measuring stick while they work to continually improve their game.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bills place safety Ladler on injured reserve

BY EDITOR

The Buffalo Bills announced Tuesday they have placed safety Kenny Ladler on injured reserve.

Ladler was signed in May as an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt. He was released after training camp but later re-signed to the practice squad before moving to the 53-man roster in mid-October.

Ladler started 39 games in college, finishing his career with 291 tackles and nine interceptions.

Patriots add linebacker depth in trade for Casillas

BY EDITOR

The New England Patriots announced Tuesday they have acquired veteran linebacker Jonathan Casillas in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In a corresponding move, they released offensive lineman Chris Barker.

Casillas, 27, was in his sixth NFL season with Tampa Bay after a four-year stint with the New Orleans Saints. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent out of Wisconsin. He has played in 55 games with 15 starts and has amassed 138 total tackles, three sacks, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 26 special teams tackles.

Jets swap reserve defenders Williams, Edds

BY EDITOR

The New York Jets made an active roster swap Tuesday, signing cornerback Marcus Williams from the practice squad and releasing linebacker A.J. Edds.

Williams, who stands at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds, went undrafted out of North Dakota State before a stint with the Houston Texans. Houston released him the last week of September, and he signed to the Jets' practice squad.

The 6-4, 256 pounder Edds is a four-year journeyman linebacker and special teamer who spent time with the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lazor 'didn't blink' during in-game O-line shuffling

BY NICK ST. DENIS

The Miami Dolphins spent much of the offseason shuffling their offensive line, so when they had three interior frontmen leave Sunday's game at different times, it was just more of the same.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said this week that he "didn't blink" during the changes during Miami's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Both starting guards Daryn Colledge and Mike Pouncey got nicked up, with Colledge leaving the game earlier and Pouncey missing the last two possessions. Backup Nate Garner lasted a single play subbing for Colledge, though he came back in for Pouncey late.

Vick to 'take practice seriously,' build on last week

BY NICK ST. DENIS

When Michael Vick admitted a few weeks ago that he didn't quite feel prepared stepping in mid-game for a struggling Geno Smith, it seemed he may have talked his way out of favor with fans.

But after Smith's dismal start Sunday and the Gang Green faithful running razor thin on patience, Vick will get a second chance to prove himself.

Monday, the veteran signal-caller was named the current starter and will get the nod next weekend when the New York Jets travel to the Kansas City Chiefs to face Vick's former head coach Andy Reid.

Aqib Talib has been confident in Patriots all along

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Aqib Talib will travel to Foxborough Sunday to check on his former team, though he knows they're doing just fine.

The Denver Broncos cornerback is slated for a matchup against the New England Patriots, who let him walk the their AFC rival last offseason.

New England got off to a "shaky" start by its own standards, losing the opener and sitting at 2-2 after an unimpressive win over the Oakland Raiders and a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Orton full of TDs, Jets full of turnovers in Bills' win

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton found the end zone a lot Sunday, while the New York Jets' turnover-prone QB tandem found the Bills a lot.

Orton threw four touchdown passes as the Bills beat down the reeling Jets, who were treated to six turnovers--three from Geno Smith and three more from Michael Vick--from their top two signal-callers.

The Bills won, 43-23, improving to 5-3 and handing the Jets (1-7) their seventh consecutive loss.

Pair of pick-sixes lifts Dolphins to victory over Jags

BY NICK ST. DENIS

On what could be defined as an "off-day" for the Miami Dolphins' offense, the team's opportunistic defense pulled through in a big way.

The Dolphins rode a pair of pick-sixes--an 81-yarder by Louis Delmas and a 22-yarder by Brent Grimes--to a 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.

A third-quarter interception by Grimes all but iced it for Miami, which recorded its second straight  win to get to 4-3.

Tom Brady tears through Bears in Patriots' rout

BY NICK ST. DENIS

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put together arguably the best and cleanest game of his career Sunday in a 51-23 win over the Chicago Bears.

The future Hall-of-Famer connected on 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, helping the Patriots improve to 6-2 and keep hold of their spot atop the AFC East.

Brady led the Patriots on five straight scoring drives to start the game.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gronk vs. Bears a favorable matchup for Patriots

BY NICK ST. DENIS

The way things are trending, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could have a big day Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Chicago is ranked 30th in the NFL against tight ends, according to Football Outsiders, giving up 69.9 yards and just under eight receptions a game to opponents at that position.

Gronkowski is heating up of late, having accumulated 18 catches for 262 yards and a touchdown over his last three games. He has four touchdowns this season since returning from injury.

Hughes: Bills look to keep Harvin in front of them

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Percy Harvin will take the field Sunday for the first time since joining the New York Jets via a trade last week.

Gang Green fans aren't quite sure how exactly the former Seattle Seahawks wideout will be utilized against the Buffalo Bills, and neither are the Bills.

One thing is certain, however: the Bills' defense will be highly attentive when Harvin lines up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wilfork taking Pats' inefficient run defense personally

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

The New England Patriots defense has been one of polarity the past couple years, a circumstance that has defensive tackle Vince Wilfork pretty peeved.

The team's passing defense, a sore spot in year's past, has been pretty impressive the last two seasons, finishing in the middle of the pack in 2013 and currently first in the league this season. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the run defense.

Last year, while Wilfork spent most of his time on the bench rehabbing a torn Achilles, the Pats front seven was awful against the run. The unit allowed more than 130 yards on the ground per game on average, the third-worst performance in the league.

And though Wilfork is back in the picture this season, things haven't improved much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Twitter analytics break down NFL fandom across US

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Over the summer, we provided you some data, via Ticketcity.com, of the most Googled sports teams in each state, with some surprising results.

Now, we're sure a bunch of you out there at the time were saying things like, "Well, not in my town," when teams like the Eagles popped up as the most popular in New Jersey, or when the Bruins topped the Patriots in Massachusetts.

Well now you can see for yourself, right down the county line.

Marrone on O-line: Urbik 'has to be ready to step up'

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Doug Marrone has caught a lot of flack of late for his depth chart decisions across the Buffalo Bills offensive line. Wednesday, it seemed like those decisions were getting a second look.

Reporters and fans alike have been questioning the placement of 23-year-old Cyril Richardson at left guard ever since Chris Williams was lost to a back injury a month ago. As we've pointed out, Richardson has ranked in the bottom five among guards in the league in the four games he's played, according to ProFootballFocus, allowing a sack, six QB hits and eight hurries in that time while committing four penalties.

With Richardson practicing with the second-team offense to start Wednesday's workout, however, while veteran Keith Urbik filled for first-team reps, it seems the youngster's time in the hot seat is over.