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Saturday, November 21, 2009
Calls and Effect: AFC East penalty tracker


When it comes to false starts, the Buffalo Bills have been finger-choppin' bad.

At his first practice Wednesday, interim head coach Perry Fewell gave an indication of how much tolerance he'll have for false starts. The Bills lead the NFL by far with 23 false starts, about twice the league average.

When an unnamed offensive player jumped, Fewell flipped.

"I started to cut the guy's finger off when he jumped offsides, but [trainer] Bud [Carpenter] told me I shouldn't do that," Fewell joked. "So I kind of got up in their face a little bit and just made my presence felt and just told them, 'Hey men, now it's first-and-15. We've got 5 more yards to hold instead of being first-and-10.'

"It's not acceptable. We've got to focus and we have to concentrate. That's the way we're going to get better."

I wonder what Fewell would have done had he been within range of bird-flipping Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams on Sunday.

If Fewell actually did cut off a finger for every false start, Buffalo's offensive line wouldn't be able to get into a three-point stance.

The Bills are way ahead of the rest of the league. They have committed 44 percent more false starts than the next-worst offenders. The Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions are tied for second with 16 false starts apiece. The league average is 11.8.

Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell and San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis are tied for the NFL lead with six false starts each, but Bell has played in one fewer game because of an injury.

Right tackle Jonathan Scott and rookie right guard Andy Levitre are next on the Bills' list with three each, a total that would rank first for 17 other teams. Scott has played only four games.

Every member of the Bills' offensive line has jumped at least once. Center Geoff Hangartner and reserve Seth McKinney are the only ones who haven't done it multiple times.

Around the rest of the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins (counting Thursday's game) and New England Patriots have committed 12 false starts. The New York Jets have jumped 14 times.