AFC East: Corey McIntyre
Despite your tremendous response to help me assemble the quintessential roster, I had to make an executive decision, break a deadlock, defend one of my no-brainer selections and throw out some ballots because of shenanigans.
In the end, we have an All-AFC East squad everybody should be satisfied with.
We began the process a week ago, when I chose 10 players I believed were automatic. The other 17 positions were for you to vote upon. You didn't disappoint.
There were some great races, most notably at left tackle and nose tackle.
As with any voting process on the AFC East blog, I always can be convinced to move from a stance. My instructions were to vote for one nose tackle for a 3-4 scheme with emphasis that New England Patriots keystone Vince Wilfork and Buffalo Bills standout Kyle Williams must be considered nose tackles because that's how each team identifies him.
But enough readers made the case that Wilfork and Williams played elsewhere along the line so frequently that they should be eligible for some quasi position. I do appreciate the point.
The Patriots' official game-by-game player participation record says Wilfork started eight games at defensive end. Williams started every game at nose tackle (12) or defensive tackle (four).
I decided to add Wilfork and Williams as "defensive tackles" on a defensive front with New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, who received an avalanche of votes. But I didn't want to slight the No. 2 defensive end, Kendall Langford of the Miami Dolphins. Langford received a healthy number of votes. Too many to dismiss.
That left me with a dilemma: How can I honor four defensive linemen and still maintain a 3-4 alignment? I took the easy way out. I added a 12th defender. I'm not thrilled with my final decision, but it's an appropriate way to give proper credit where it's due.
On the other side of scrimmage, Dolphins left tackle Jake Long and Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson finished in a tie, forcing me to make the call. Each was selected to be a Pro Bowl starter. Long was voted All-Pro.
I chose Long. He played hurt for much of the season. He slipped on plays here or there, but he mostly remained dominant.
A few readers took me to task for my coronation of Dolphins punter Brandon Fields without allowing a vote because Jets punter Steve Weatherford had a great season. Weatherford tied an NFL record with 42 punts inside the 20-yard line. He was impressive.
But I found Fields more remarkable this year. He ranked fourth with a 46.2-yard average (3.6 yards longer than Weatherford). Fields' net average of 37.8 yards was only 0.3 yards shorter than Weatherford's, but the Dolphins were atrocious on special-teams protection and coverage. They fired their special-teams coordinator after Week 4. Fields had two punts blocked and one returned for a touchdown.
The Jets have venerable special-teams coach Mike Westhoff and sensational coverage men, as illustrated by four Jets receiving at least two votes for the special-teams position on the All-AFC East team.
And it's not often a punter is MVP of a game, but Fields certainly was against the Jets in Week 14.
There were some surprises in the balloting.
Bills receiver Steve Johnson ran away with one of the two available spots, but I didn't expect Santonio Holmes to take the other one so handily over teammate Braylon Edwards or Patriots star Wes Welker.
I assumed Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski would win, but in a close race, especially with the possibility of splitting votes with teammate Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski crushed everyone else. He had four times as many votes as his closest competition, Dustin Keller of the Jets.
Bills linebacker Arthur Moats finished a distant second to Calvin Pace. But I found it amusing that almost every time a vote came in for him, the reader stipulated it was because Moats injured Brett Favre.
Patriots rookie Devin McCourty had six times as many votes as Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis for the position opposite Jets star Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie wasn't remotely in the race.
The most balanced voting happened at the safety positions. Patriots strong safety Brandon Meriweather edged out Jim Leonhard of the Jets, with Donte Whitner of the Bills closely behind in third.
Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2009, accumulated just 14 more votes than Patrick Chung of the Patriots.
The special-teams race was fun to track. Thirteen players received at least one vote, with Jets hitter Eric Smith barely beating teammate James Ihedigbo and Bills fullback Corey McIntyre.
If you were putting a unit together, how many Bills -- position for position -- would you select ahead of Dolphins?
The Dolphins have what appear to be franchise players all over the place: quarterback Chad Henne, receivers Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, tackles Jake Long and Vernon Carey.
A lot of those players were on fantasy rosters this weekend. I doubt there were many Bills active in your league.
But the winless Bills have put together a vibrant offense that has been unnoticed by a lot of people outside Western New York. They nearly shocked the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday before falling in overtime 37-34.
The Bills can't win because their defense is terrible, but their offense has scored 10 more points than the Dolphins have.
Buffalo has 121 points through six games, not exactly the 2001 St. Louis Rams but more points than three clubs that have played seven games. More impressively, the Bills started with just 17 points over their first two games.
Since Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Trent Edwards at quarterback in Week 3, the Bills are averaging a reasonable 24 points a game and have scored at least 30 points in two of their past four games.
Hey, it's a start, and Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning should be envious.
The Dolphins haven't posted more than 23 points in any game because they can't score touchdowns and settle for field goals far too often. They kicked five field goals in a 23-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Competition has been similar between the Bills and Dolphins. They've played three common opponents and each other.
The Bills' different opponents have been the Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Dolphins have played the Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.
The average defensive ranking for Buffalo's opponents is 17.5 compared to 15.7 for Miami's opponents.
They actually have a fourth, and new head coach Chan Gailey clearly values him.
Fullback Corey McIntyre is the forgotten man. You won't see many of his jerseys in Ralph Wilson Stadium. You won't draft him for your fantasy team. He had 12 touches last year. He has zero career touchdowns.
But the Bills appreciate his role as a lead blocker for their name guys.
Two NFL sources tell me the Bills have signed McIntyre to a two-year contract extension that will make him well-paid by fullback standards. His base salary for 2011 will be $950,000 and for 2012 will be $900,000.
For comparison sake, three-time Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson was scheduled to make $855,000 this year before the New York Jets cut him Sunday. The main reason he was released was he cost too much. Baltimore Ravens fullback Ray Rice, last year's Pro Bowler, will make a base salary of $470,000 this year and $550,000 next year.
McIntyre has helped the other running backs look good. He joined the Bills in 2008, the season Marshawn Lynch went to the Pro Bowl. He contributed to another 1,000-yard campaign last year with Fred Jackson.
In the preseason, he was the lead blocker on two of rookie C.J. Spiller's three rushing touchdowns.
Two weeks ago, the Bills cut third running back Xavier Omon to make room on their roster for receiver James Hardy, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list.
That move gave the Bills nine receivers and left them with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson as the only viable backfield options. Fullback Corey McIntyre doesn't carry the ball.
Lynch hurt his shoulder in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The injury was bad enough he was carted off the field. Lynch fumbled on the play.
Making the Bills' roster decision even more mystifying is they've scratched Hardy for each of the two games he was eligible to play. Hardy suffered a knee injury late last season.
To make room on the roster, the Bills waived running back Xavier Omon.
Hardy was the 41st player selected in last year's draft. He arrived with big expectations to a team in big need of a No. 2 receiver opposite Lee Evans. The Bills loved Hardy's 6-foot-5 frame and his raw abilities despite off-field issues.
Hardy was supposed to be an attractive third-down and red zone target, but his rookie season was lackluster. He caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games, suffering a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery.
The decision to drop Omon gives the Bills seven receivers and only two running backs who actually carry the ball: Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Fullback Corey McIntyre, who has been hobbled by a knee injury, has zero rushing attempts and two receptions this year.
Omon had five carries for 22 yards and no receptions. He had one kickoff return for 26 yards.
The decision not to cut a receiver could indicate that Terrell Owens won't be able to play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Owens missed Wednesday's practice because of a hip strain that cropped up Tuesday.
Inactives from Sunday afternoon's game between the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium:
- Quarterback Dan Orlovsky
- Receiver Glenn Martinez
- Tight end Anthony Hill
- Tackle Tutan Reyes
- Defensive tackle Frank Okam
- Defensive end Tim Jamison
- Cornerback Fred Bennett
- Safety Nick Ferguson
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- This was supposed to be Trent Edwards' big no-excuses season.
He purportedly had all the materials he would need. Three years into his NFL career, we were going to find out whether he deserved to be considered the Buffalo Bills' quarterback of the future.
|George Gojkovich/Getty Images|
|Trent Edwards has a lot to adjust to this season: a new left tackle, new offensive coordinator and new offensive scheme to run.|
That was the sentiment a month ago, maybe even a couple weeks ago.
Edwards heads into 2009 with less support than he's ever had. If Edwards were to fall flat on his facemask this year, we still wouldn't know with any reasonable degree of certainty what he's capable of and whether he should be the man in 2010.
Within 10 days of the season opener, the Bills have made decisions that dim Edwards' chances of success.
Edwards, to his credit, isn't looking for excuses. It sounds like he still believes the Bills' offense depends mainly on him.
"I think that the position I am in -- with two years under my belt, with a lot of say in the way this offense goes -- a lot of the reason this offense is going to be where it needs to be is because of me," Edwards said. "I think that's a great opportunity for me."
About the only way we will discover anything new about Edwards is if he puts the team on his back and leads them to the playoffs.
Anything less can be justified by the circumstances the Bills' front office and coaching staff created.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Biggest surprise: The Bills lopped versatile running back Dominic Rhodes from their roster. The only free-agent signing more notable than Rhodes was receiver Terrell Owens. The Bills obtained Rhodes to provide depth behind Marshawn Lynch, who will be suspended for the first three games. The backs at their disposal are Fred Jackson, Xavier Omon and fullback Corey McIntyre.
Backup offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, who played all 16 games and started at right tackle, right guard and left tackle last year, was waived.
The Bills waived tight end Jonathan Stupar despite a great statistical preseason. He led the NFL with 19 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown. The Bills opted to keep Derek Schouman and Derek Fine along with fourth-round draft pick Shawn Nelson.
Buffalo also cut a draft pick from this year, sixth-round defensive back Cary Harris.
No-brainers: The Bills placed James Hardy on the physically unable to perform list. He won't be allowed to work out with the team for six weeks. Last year's second-round draft choice suffered a knee injury in Week 15 and still is recovering. The Bills could afford to shelve Hardy because the have plenty of depth at receiver.
What's next: With Jackson and Omon the only viable runners on the roster who can play against the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints, the Bills must be on the lookout for backfield support.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Terrell Owens knows he's a big deal. He's reminded of it everywhere he goes, in everything he does.
But, relatively speaking, Owens is an even bigger deal in Western New York than he ever has been anywhere else.
Legends were forged in San Francisco before Owens arrived there. Philadelphia has seen its share of superstars. Icons have passed through Dallas for decades.
Aside from maybe O.J. Simpson, nobody in Buffalo sports history has embodied the combination of sports stardom and mainstream celebrity as T.O.
Each time Owens touched the ball Saturday morning during the Bills' opening training camp practice at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester, the crowd erupted. It was his debut in front of the fans, and they welcomed him like a hero.
They beseeched him for autographs afterward and exploded with the loudest ovation of the day when he obliged. The roar drowned out part of head coach Dick Jauron's news conference being held 50 yards away.
"I pinch myself sometimes," Owens said. "I've realized that I've had a following everywhere that I've been. I expected nothing different here. I know that the Buffalo fans are very, very fanatical. They're behind their team 100 percent, so coming out here I expected nothing less."
Owens has 951 receptions. His next will move him past Bills great Andre Reed for sixth place all-time. Owens has scored 141 touchdowns, the most of any active NFL player. He has his own reality television show. He's known around the world.
Add all of that to a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in nine seasons, and it's easy to see why fans are so euphoric over Owens.
Win or lose, he makes their team relevant again.
Even though Buffalo's top four draft choices were absent Saturday, almost every question posed to head coach Dick Jauron and quarterback Trent Edwards was about Owens' presence.
"He's one of many here, but he's a great example because -- let's face it -- we don't have anybody else that's caught 951 balls in the league," Jauron said.
Actually, all of the Bills with at least one career reception combined -- Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish, Steve Johnson, James Hardy, Derek Schouman, Derek Fine, Dominic Rhodes, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and Corey McIntyre -- have 997 receptions.
No wonder Owens received more cheers Saturday morning than the rest of the team put together.
"It definitely gives me an appreciation for who I am and what I've done throughout my career," Owens said. "It's a humbling situation. I know I'm a blessed individual and know that I have a lot to offer. I expect to bring some of those same things I brought to other teams. That's a lot of success, a lot of touchdowns and a lot of wins."
- Gene Warner of the Buffalo News reports fullback Corey McIntrye has passed a lie detector test in response to being charged with indecent exposure.
- Buffalo News TV critic Alan Pergament takes an inside look at what Terrell Owens' VH-1 reality show might reveal about the player and the city.
- Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan notes safety Donte Whitner's case has been delayed until next month.
- Defensive end Chris Kelsay tells Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana that he feels his place on the roster is secure.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde writes of Jason Taylor: "In many ways, this isn't so much a return home after a wayward year for Taylor as a return all the way to 1997 when he was a little-known, third-round pick from Akron."
- Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote considers backup quarterback Chad Henne the most important player on the roster.
- Palm Beach Post columnist Dave George points out a longer NFL season would be great news for the undefeated 1972 Dolphins.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson notes Joey Porter isn't concerned he and Taylor will experience a reprise of 2007.
- Running back Ricky Williams says he will retire after the 2010 season, Thompson blogs.
- Zach Buchanan of the Sun-Sentinel tracks rookie Pat White's adjustment to the NFL.
New England Patriots
- Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper takes a look at where Kevin O'Connell stands as backup quarterback.
- Gasper also takes a look at how Raiders defensive end Derrick Burgess would look in Patriots gear.
- Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian notes reporters still haven't seen Tom Brady on the field at OTAs.
New York Jets
Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend can't get here fast enough for the Buffalo Bills.
They could use a jolt of pride.
Embarrassing news keeps piling up for the club. Two more arrests were made Friday.
An Associated Press report stated Virginia Beach police stopped Smith for excessive speed. He was charged with speeding, driving under the influence and refusing to take a breath test.
Fullback Corey McIntyre was arrested for indecent exposure after a weeks-long investigation. Rather than try to describe what he was doing, you can see how the Palm Beach Post and the Treasure Coast Newspapers covered it.
McIntyre's agent, Brett Tessler, refuted the allegations.
"Corey McIntyre is one of the highest character people around and the last guy who would do what he is being accused of," Tessler said in a statement. "We look forward to proving that these embarrassing accusations are false and that Corey is guilty of absolutely nothing."
Whether McIntrye or Smith are guilty of these charges isn't the point of this post. It's that the Bills' image has taken a colossal pummeling.
It's only May, but 2009 already has been a trying year with the deaths of AFL legends Lou Saban and Jack Kemp and Wilson's daughter, Linda Bogdan, a team vice president and the assistant director of college and pro scouting.
The Bills drew the ire of fans by retaining head coach Dick Jauron after three straight 7-9 seasons and no playoffs for nine years running. They also made controversial transactions in acquiring star receiver Terrell Owens and trading Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters.
But the police-blotter activity has been absurd.
McIntrye is the fourth member of the roster to have been arrested already this year.
Cleveland police used a Taser to subdue Bills safety Donte Whitner, who was arrested for aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest last month for his role in what was described as "a near riot."
The NFL suspended Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch three games for two transgressions in a nine-month span. He was the driver in a hit-and-run incident last summer in Buffalo but escaped with a traffic ticket.
Lynch's latest incident was a Feb. 11 arrest in Culver City, Calif. He was charged with carrying a concealed, loaded and unregistered 9-mm handgun. He pleaded guilty to one of the misdemeanor charges in exchange for having the other two dropped. He was sentenced to three years' probation and 80 hours of community service.
Safety Ko Simpson was arrested for disorderly conduct at 2 a.m. ET on New Year's Day outside a bar in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C.
Police were in the process of arresting two of Simpson's friends for disorderly conduct, while he kept yelling, "I'm Ko Simpson with the Buffalo Bills. I am worth millions!" Police claim they asked Simpson to leave the scene several times, but he kept screaming.
Maybe because they're largely interchangeable parts who play for near the league minimum, fullback has been an overlooked position on the Buffalo Bills' roster.
The Bills have one fullback, re-signing Corey McIntyre for two years in February.
But the Bills still are trying to upgrade. They're hosting free-agent fullback Cecil Sapp on Thursday and could use one of their seven draft picks on a bulldozer.
Why? Because the Bills last year owned the fourth-worst conversion percentage on third and fourth down with a yard to go.
The Bills had one of the best one-two backfield punches with thundering runner Marshawn Lynch and the versatile Fred Jackson and a Pro Bowl left tackle in Jason Peters. But they converted only 55.2 percent of their third and fourth downs when they needed only 1 yard to move the chains.
ESPN's Stats & Analysis research shows the Bills were in good company, at least. Two of the three teams that were worse in this category played in the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the least successful at 50 percent, but they made the playoffs, too.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
But they had a lot of assets they preferred to keep.
BuffaloBills.com writer Chris Brown wraps up all the moves they made Thursday.
The low tender is for one year at $1.01 million and gives the Bills the opportunity to match any offer sheet those players might sign. If the Bills decline to match, they would receive a draft pick commensurate with where that player was drafted -- in Ellison's case a sixth-round pick, and in Wilson's case nothing because he wasn't drafted.
The Bills also retained the rights to several exclusive-rights players: Quarterback Matt Baker, running back Fred Jackson, running back Bruce Hall, tight ends Derek Schouman and Jonathan Stupar, defensive end Copeland Bryan, linebacker Blake Costanzo and long snapper Ryan Neill.
One move not listed in Brown's report is tackle Kirk Chambers. My sources tell me terms have been reached on a multiyear deal. Chambers would have been an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
McIntyre, a pure backfield blocker and special-teamer, would have become an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m.
The Bills signed McIntyre prior to Week 5, cutting Darian Barnes to make room. McIntyre played 11 games. He had zero carries and two receptions for minus-1 yard.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills have a healthy number of free agents in every category, but not many regular starters among them.
The Bills are about $27 million to $30 million under the salary cap.
Unrestricted (free to negotiate with any team beginning Feb. 27)
- T Kirk Chambers
- LB Angelo Crowell
- C Melvin Fowler
- CB Jabari Greer
- LB Teddy Lehman
- QB J.P. Losman
- FB Corey McIntyre
- C Duke Preston
- G Jason Whittle
Restricted (Bills have right to match offer from other team)