AFC East: Jon Corto
- Outside linebacker Chris Kelsay left the field with a shoulder injury. Head coach Chan Gailey wasn't sure how much time Kelsay would miss, but did say "it looks like he'll be out a little while."
- The Bills placed indecisive outside linebacker Aaron Schobel on the reserve/did-not-report list. They placed linebackers Nic Harris and Jon Corto on the physically unable-to-perform list.
- Inside linebacker Paul Posluszny watched in a ballcap. He revealed Wednesday he underwent minor groin surgery this month and will be eased back into action. Kawika Mitchell replaced Posluszny on the field.
- Steve Johnson was the No. 2 receiver opposite Lee Evans. Bills coach Chan Gailey said Johnson earned the opportunity through his strong offseason performance.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the first interception of camp in a seven-on-seven drill. He tossed a floater intended for Evans in the right flat, but cornerback Leodis McKelvin jumped in and stole it. Given the quarterback battle, I'd like to have chronicled other interceptions but couldn't because ...
- If the first day is any indication, then it will be difficult for reporters to be the eyes and ears of the fans at Bills camp. New media policies place us at field level and at the back of one end zone. When the team conducted 11-on-11 drills Thursday, players not in the action formed a blockade that prevented us from viewing who's on the field, what plays they're running or how they looked executing them.
- We could plainly see Demetrius Bell during 11-on-11 drills because he was part of the cordon. He lined up at starting left tackle during a casual drill early in practice, but watched when action got heavy. Gailey said Bell's surgically repaired knee isn't quite ready yet.
- The crowd at St. John Fisher was as sparse as I've seen it. Veteran reporters who've covered this team since they moved training camp here in 2000 said it was among the thinnest and most disengaged gatherings they could remember. Granted, the first practice started at 3 p.m. on a Thursday, but schools aren't in session either. While trying to catch a glimpse of 11-on-11 drills, a few reporters discussed how autographs are such a big part of the training-camp experience, but who on the Bills' roster would compel fans to make the effort? Terrell Owens certainly helped in that regard last year.
The Dolphins re-signed leading receiver Davone Bess, tight end Joey Haynos and Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter, undrafted free agents from two years ago. The Bills re-signed local boy Jon Corto, a special-teamer and reserve linebacker.
Exclusive-rights players really aren't free agents. They essentially must re-sign with their teams or not sign anywhere at all.
Bess topped the Dolphins with 76 receptions and 758 yards last year. He scored a pair of touchdowns, one behind rookie Brian Hartline for the team lead.
Carpenter made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He converted 97 percent of his field goals. He missed only three, and two of those were from 49 yards and out.
Haynos caught 19 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
Corto is an overachiever from Orchard Park, N.Y., where the Bills' headquarters and stadium is located. Corto attended Sacred Heart University, made the Bills' practice squad in 2007 and now comes back as one of their better special-teams players from last year.
|Rick Stewart/Getty Images|
|Terrell Owens has not delivered the stats, or the victories, Bills fans expected.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- This isn't a knock on the rest of the men in the Buffalo Bills' locker room, merely a fact.
Jon Corto hurts more than anybody else in there. He's a reserve linebacker, about as deep on the depth chart as a body can get at the end of training camp. He doesn't make game-changing plays or game-breaking errors. As a special-teamer, he usually doesn't have those responsibilities.
But he has invested more of his life in the Bills than any of his teammates. He's from Orchard Park, N.Y., the team's suburban home. He grew up a Bills fan, played for the Quakers of Orchard Park High. He remembers his little brother crying after their Super Bowl losses.
On Sunday afternoon, Corto appeared nearly as emotional as he stood in his locker stall and tried to come up with answers for how to explain what has gone wrong with his team. The winless Cleveland Browns bused along the shore of Lake Erie to beat the Bills 6-3 in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Buffalo lost at home to a team that had dropped 10 straight games. Cleveland's previous victory occurred 11 months ago in Orchard Park.
Buffalo is 1-4, and times when fans have been more disgusted are tough to recall.
"I've been a Bills fan since I was born," said Corto, purple claw marks from the game still puffy on his left biceps. "We felt the pain when we didn't come away with those Super Bowls.
"Some people say 'I just want to see one Super Bowl title before I die.' I hear them. I feel what they're saying. It's tough. I do feel it."
Bills fans are angst-ridden by nature. They're terrified about losing their team to a bigger market some day and are on edge that home games are being exported to Toronto. Many believe there's a finite number of years left to cheer for their team in Orchard Park.
Another precious season is being wasted. This will be 10 straight years without a trip to the playoffs.
The Bills are doormat dreadful. Three straight 7-9 seasons under head coach Dick Jauron had loyalists inching toward revolt until the signing of celebrity receiver Terrell Owens, the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions of owner Ralph Wilson and defensive end Bruce Smith and a return to the no-huddle offense distracted them.
Fans, high on hope, purchased season tickets on a level seen during the Super Bowl years. With memories of the glory days flooding back and T.O. on the field, anything seemed possible.
Now, a 7-9 finish would appear to be a miracle season.
The Bills seem to play worse by the week. They blasted the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, but the Bills' roster has crumbled since. They are playing less and less disciplined. They seem increasingly unprepared each Sunday.
Pro Football Hall of Fame president Steve Perry was supposed to present Wilson with his ring at halftime Sunday, but the ceremony didn't happen.
Hall of Fame vice president of communications Joe Horrigan said the Bills called on Friday to cancel. On Sunday night, the front page of the Hall of Fame's official Web site still trumpeted the scrubbed ceremony.
Wilson likely avoided a torrent of boos by not taking the field. Instead, nothing took place at halftime. No band. No Pop Warner football game. No acrobats or dogs catching Frisbees. Not even a tumbleweed. The field was just a green, 120-yard vacant lot, suggesting that something probably was planned and canceled to avoid any humiliation.
Wilson, who was in attendance, also chose not to appear before the game, when former Bills receiver Andre Reed received the Ralph C. Wilson Distinguished Service Award in a muted ceremony. Wilson didn't speak to reporters after the game.
At the very least, Bills fans want Jauron gone and fast. Like, yesterday. Jauron pulled down an unprecedented 3 percent in last week's edition of the SportsNation NFL head coach approval ratings.
Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon was noncommittal when asked about Jauron's status after losing to the lowly Browns.
"I am not commenting on that," Brandon said. "Obviously, this is a low point for all of us. I feel for everyone in the organization and more importantly the fans. This is not where we expected to be right now."
What was left of the crowd at the end of the game booed as loudly as it could.
"They deserve more," Owens said. "Every week, when we practice, the guys are practicing hard. We come out and try to put forth a great effort and try to get a win."
Chances for success were minimal Sunday, even with the Browns on the other sideline.
The Bills were so inept. They lost even though Browns quarterback Derek Anderson completed only two of his 17 passes for 23 yards. Anderson had the second-worst completion percentage for a winning quarterback with at least 15 attempts since the NFL-AFL merger.
The Bills perpetrated 14 penalties, all but one of which was accepted. They committed an incredible nine false starts. Every member of the offensive line -- all five starters and replacement Kirk Chambers -- committed at least one penalty, most of them two.
"The penalties, you can't do that against anybody," Buffalo center Geoff Hangartner said. "We just killed ourselves today. ... We can't even talk about being good on offense if we have that many penalties. It's inexcusable."
Buffalo suffered two more injuries Sunday at thin positions. Middle linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Marcus Buggs were carted off the field with leg injuries that appeared serious. This after Paul Posluszny, the opening night starter at middle linebacker, didn't make it a half in Week 1 before he broke his forearm. Posluszny and Mitchell are the defensive captains.
Corto, undrafted out of Sacred Heart, might be in the starting lineup next week against the New York Jets.
Jonathan Scott, their second right tackle, limped off the field Sunday with an undisclosed injury. Scott replaced Brad Butler, who went on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. Chambers, who couldn't make the team out of training camp and was later re-signed for depth, went in for Scott.
Bills quarterback Trent Edwards had another rough outing. He was 16 of 31 for 152 yards and one interception. He had a 52.1 passer rating.
But the offense seemed to have a pulse in the first half. Edwards completed four passes to Owens for 44 yards before the intermission, but none after. Lee Evans had two catches for 11 yards.
The alleged 1-2 threat of Owens and Evans have combined for 24 receptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns.
"We're not performing at a high enough level to win, obviously," Jauron said. "We moved the ball some in the first half and got the ball to Terrell, did some things, ran the ball pretty well.
"It's just we're not finishing."
Jauron might not finish the season, and while that might appease the legions of Bills faithful who want him gone oh so very badly, another painful season seems more unavoidable than the noise that probably would have poured on Wilson at halftime.
"I know what it's like to feel frustrated," Corto said in the locker room. "I've been a Bills fan my whole life. I tell some of these guys, 'Man, I feel the pain of the fans' because I'm a fan, too."
After 11 games, the Bills are about as pedestrian as you can get. They rank 19th in scoring defense, 16th in total defense, 20th in run defense and 16th in pass defense.
"I am disappointed with where we are at this point," Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Wednesday. "I didn't think we were an elite defense. I thought we were good enough to be in the top 15 or top 10 defenses.
"When you allow explosive plays, that screws up every number that you could think of. And then we had trouble, maybe two weeks we didn't do very well on third down, maybe three weeks. It's an accumulation of things like our continuity isn't as good as it was early, and so now we just have to get our continuity back and try and get our mojo back."
A few injuries have exposed a stunning lack of depth.
While the New England Patriots suffer a series of monumental, year-ending injuries and keep winning, the Bills are staggered by some nagging problems.
Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel has been the biggest loss, a bum foot keeping him out six straight games. Whitner has missed time with a separated shoulder. Cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer have battled sprained knees.
"As we always say, everybody's got their injuries," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "You just have to find a way to play through them, over them, and find a way to get a victory somehow."
But what of their reserve linebackers? They made a controversial decision to put last year's leading tackler, Angelo Crowell, on injured reserve, seemingly to punish him for opting to have relatively minor knee surgery right before the season.
The backups behind Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison (he didn't practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury) have been a crew comprised of Blake Costanzo, Teddy Lehman, Jon Corto, Marcus Buggs and John DiGiorgio -- names that could be mistaken for the Tonawanda City Council.
Bryan Scott, the 6-foot-1, 219-pound safety, has been working out with the linebackers.
- Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News reports the Bills are questioning how much DT John McCargo wants to be an NFL regular.
- Buffalo News columnist Bob DiCesare shares the story of Orchard Park native and Bills LB Jon Corto.
- Niagara Gazette columnist Tim Schmitt writes the Bills' youth movement has turned the corner.
- They spell it differently up there, so don't blame David Naylor or the Globe and Mail for writing about Buffalo's defence.
- The Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson takes an in-depth look at QB Chad Pennington's infamously suspect right arm.
- Offensive coordinator Dan Henning spoke with reporters for the first time in weeks and was refreshingly candid, writes Miami Herald reporter David J. Neal.
- Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel finds out how the players view defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.
- MiamiDolphins.com writer Andy Kent looks at what the offense will face in Sunday's game in Arizona.
- Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe weaves a great story about what it's like when an icon who's so intimately tied with one team moves to another.
- Providence Journal columnist Jim Donaldson has a lot of questions about QB Matt Cassel's first NFL start.
- Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy writes that Cassel's journey is a valuable life lesson for everybody.
- Metro News writer Christopher Price writes how much of a difference Pats fans will notice about Brett Favre with the Jets.
- It took five days, but Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald finally gets around to comparing QB Tom Brady's season-ending knee injury with those of other Bostonian sports legends.
New York Jets
- Bergen Record columnist Ian O'Connor provides a must-read account of former Jets WR Wesley Walker's daily pain.
- WR Laveranues Coles is working at his relationship with QB Brett Favre, writes New York Post reporter Mark Cannizzaro.
- New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers revisits the never-ending Spygate story.
- RB CB Dwight Lowery doesn't wear emotions on his sleeve, but he will wear wristbands with long sleeves, writes Greg Bishop of the New York Times.
New England Patriots
- Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes about the Patriots' ongoing quest for CBs.
- Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper foreshadows possible roster moves in Foxborough.
- LT Matt Light indicates he's ready to play in the season opener, Gasper writes.
- Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley addresses a rare Patriots draft-day mistake: WR Chad Jackson.
- Buffalo News reporter Allen Wilson checks in with LS Ryan Neill, a gamble who paid off.
- DE Ryan Denney is healthy and ready to contribute again, Wilson writes.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana tells us about LB Jon Corto, an Orchard Park native, who made the Bills' 53-man roster.
- Palm Beach post reporter Edgar Thompson writes the Dolphins' DBs are wary of Jets QB Brett Favre.
- Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel monitors OLB Matt Roth's conversion from DE.
- Barry Jackson polls the locker room to find out what the players think of rookie head coach Tony Sparano.
New York Jets
- New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini explores the audacity of hope Favre has instilled in Jets fans.
- New York Post columnist Steve Serby thinks Favre is a superhero.
- Mark Cannizzaro of the Post takes a look at often-overlooked RB Leon Washington.
- Newsday's Erik Boland gives the Jets' new $75 million facility the white-glove treatment.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim GrahamNew York Jets
- New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini writes rookie OLB Vernon Gholston "finished a disappointing preseason with another hollow performance" in Thursday night's exhibition finale.
- Newsday writer Erik Boland takes a look at RB Jesse Chatman, who almost hit 100 yards each in rushing and receiving.
- Evaluation was more important than fielding the best players, writes New York Post reporter Mark Cannizzaro.
- Jane McManus of the Journal News types the words "Erik Ainge" and "led the team" together for probably the first time in her life.
- Newark Star-Ledger reporter Dave Hutchinson details S David Barrett's conversion from CB.
- Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason says "the Bills are prepared to play the entire season without" holdout LT Jason Peters.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Sal Maiorana writes the Bills rested 21 of their 22 starters, with only S Ko Simpson playing in Thursday night's exhibition.
- The Bills were trying to avoid an Osi Umenyiora situation by scratching their starters, Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan explains.
- Niagara Gazette reporter Jay Skurski updates how bubble players like LB Jon Corto, CB Ashton Youboty and RB Dwayne Wright fared.
- The Bills announced Thursday they have broken the 56,000 barrier in season tickets, about 1,000 under their franchise record, writes Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News.
- Carlos Frias of the Palm Beach Post offers a must-read feature on how much football means to Dolphins exec Bill Parcells. The story isn't rah-rah chalk talk; it's sadder than that.
- Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington proclaims RB Ronnie Brown ready for live action after Thursday night's performance.
- In his Miami Herald blog, Armando Salguero takes a walk with QB Josh McCown. The next journey McCown takes might be a hike.
- The Dolphins broke from preseason finale tradition and played their starters until the half, explains Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson.
- The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov was among the many who finally spotted WR Ernest Wilford.
- Boston Herald scribe John Tomase pokes around the New York Giants' locker room and doesn't find anybody too excited about beating the Tom Brady-less Patriots.
- Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian writes "there's still something about this winless precursor to the regular season that remains unsettling."
- WR Chad Jackson's impressive night leads off Guregian's notebook from the game.
- The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young notices the performance of rookie QB Kevin O'Connell.
- Boston Globe writer Christopher L. Gasper gives a rundown of who played and who didn't.
- Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe is sick of the preseason.