AFC East: Jonathan Meeks

W2W4: Bills at Patriots

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
4:05
PM ET
The final hours of the Buffalo Bills' season are ticking away, but there is still one last game to play.

When the Bills travel to face the New England Patriots for Sunday's season finale, there's a few items coach Doug Marrone wants to check off the list.

First, the Bills have yet to win at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. Second, the Bills have a chance to finish with a winning record in the division for the first time since 2007. And finally, a win Sunday would give Buffalo its first three-game winning streak since the first three games of the 2011 season.

That's what's on the line for the Bills in Foxborough, Mass. Here's what else to watch for:

1. Lewis' curtain call: With EJ Manuel sidelined for a second consecutive game with a knee sprain, backup Thad Lewis will make his fifth start of the season. Now 2-2, Lewis will have a chance to finish with a winning record as the starter. But more importantly, Lewis could be playing for his job next season. At this point, nothing seems guaranteed at quarterback for the Bills. If they bring in another option at the position this offseason, then Lewis could become the third quarterback -- if that role exists on the roster. In that sense, Sunday's game has some added importance for Lewis.

2. Swan song for Byrd? Could this be Jairus Byrd's final game with the Bills? The safety will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and unless the Bills decide to assign him as their franchise player, he will hit the open market. Either way, this will be Byrd's 73rd career game with the Bills. He has 353 tackles, 22 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, and three sacks in his five-year career.

3. What about Chandler? This could also be the final game for tight end Scott Chandler with the Bills. Like Byrd, he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could find greener pastures elsewhere after a career season (50 catches for 600 yards). With Chandler's future uncertain, this could be the time for the Bills to debut tight end Tony Moeaki, who they signed three weeks ago. He was active for the first time last Sunday but did not play an offensive snap. It would make sense for the Bills to evaluate Moeaki in game action before deciding how he fits into their plans for next season.

4. Last chance for Williams, Meeks: With safety Aaron Williams placed on injured reserve Friday, the Bills are expected to use Jim Leonhard and Da'Norris Searcy in his place. Leonhard is a free agent after this season but played every snap in last Sunday's win. Meanwhile, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks -- who the Bills drafted in back-to-back rounds in April -- did not appear on defense, which has been the norm this season. Perhaps that changes Sunday. If not, it's a troubling sign at a position where the Bills could see turnover this offseason. It would make sense for Buffalo to evaluate their draft investments in what will be their final game until next August.

Manny Lawson (hamstring) out for game

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
2:46
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Manny Lawson left in the first half of Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a hamstring injury.

The Bills announced that he will not return to the game.

Lawson started the first six games of the season, recording 35 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

Meanwhile, Bills rookie safety Jonathan Meeks left with a knee injury and will not return.
The Buffalo Bills trail the Detroit Lions 35-3 at halftime of tonight's preseason finale.

Scatter-shooting some notes and thoughts on the first half:
  1. Ouch. After getting trounced in Washington on Saturday, the Bills have put up another clunker tonight at home. Keep in perspective that the Bills are resting their starters and playing with two quarterbacks who have only been with the team since Sunday, but still, not an encouraging performance by any means.
  2. Head coach Doug Marrone to the team's broadcast at halftime: "We should be playing much better than this, and that's a concern."
  3. The Bills chose to rest Jeff Tuel, protecting what will likely be their opening-day quarterback from injury.
  4. Matt Leinart's stat line: 3-for-10, 11 yards, no touchdowns, 2 interceptions. QB rating of 0.0.
  5. Thad Lewis' stat line: 2-for-5, 11 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions.
  6. Bills' offense: 44 net yards on 30 plays (1.5-yard per play average), 8 net passing yards, two first downs, 1-for-9 on third down. Yikes.
  7. Lions' offense: 221 net yards on 40 plays (5.5-yard per play average), 17 first downs, 4-for-4 in red zone.
  8. The biggest non-quarterback story of the game? Nigel Bradham starting on defense and playing the entire first half. The second-year linebacker is the only presumptive defensive starter to see playing time tonight. It's unclear why Bradham is in the game, and if it's at related to him being cited for marijuana possession on Aug. 19. Don't think his roster spot is in danger, but it's something to watch.
  9. Also notable: Da'Norris Searcy playing the entire first half. He started the first three preseason games at safety in place of Jairus Byrd, who could return for Week 1. The Bills started their pair of rookies -- Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks -- at safety tonight, with Searcy playing extensively in sub packages. Unlike Bradham, his roster spot could be in danger, but it also could be a case of the Bills wanting to get him comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage in sub packages, something he may do when Byrd returns.
  10. Draft picks not playing tonight: EJ Manuel (injured), Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods.
  11. One draft pick playing tonight: Marquise Goodwin, who was poked in the eye late in the first quarter and won't return.
  12. Another injury: Brad Smith, who took a hit to the ribs on the final kickoff of the first half. He's questionable to return.
Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd signed his franchise tender, the team announced late Tuesday.

Byrd
It was really just a matter of time before the Bills had Byrd back in the fold. After not reaching a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline, the franchise-tagged safety did not report to training camp in late July.

For a Pro Bowler like Byrd, skipping out on camp was a logical move. With about eight months standing between him and his next shot at unrestricted free agency, his risk of injury -- and any potential financial losses in his next contract -- were minimized by remaining at home.

But the Bills will pack up their training camp at St. John Fisher College later this week, and make the 90-mile trek back to their facility in Orchard Park, NY. With dorm living in the rearview mirror and roster cut-down dates approaching, it was also time for Byrd to make the trip back to Buffalo.

It's unlikely that Byrd will see any action in Saturday's preseason game in Washington, if he suits up at all. And while you can bet that Byrd has been doing some distance learning of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's playbook over the last month, he will still need to get up to speed on the field.

Once Byrd is ready to play, the Bills will have some decisions to make at safety.

Through their first two preseason games, here's a look at how the Bills divided snaps at the position, without Byrd:

Aaron Williams (starter): 16 snaps versus Indianapolis, 27 snaps versus Minnesota.
Da'Norris Searcy (starter): 22 snaps versus Indianapolis, 31 snaps versus Minnesota.
Jonathan Meeks: 35 snaps versus Indianapolis, 20 snaps versus Minnesota.
Duke Williams: 29 snaps versus Indianapolis, 16 snaps versus Minnesota.
Jordan Dangerfield: 13 snaps versus Indianapolis, 24 snaps versus Minnesota.
Dominique Ellis: 8 snaps versus Indianapolis, 19 snaps versus Minnesota.

At this point, it's a good bet that the Bills will stick with Aaron Williams in one of their starting roles. The converted cornerback, a second-round pick in 2011, has come on strong this offseason after an underwhelming start to his career in Buffalo.

Searcy, a fourth-round pick in 2011, played in 15 games last season and was among the team's leaders in snaps on special teams at 56 percent, according to data compiled by FootballOutsiders.com. He figures to return to a similar role and back up both Byrd and Williams at safety.

Beyond that, the Bills invested a pair of 2013 draft picks in Meeks (fifth round) and Duke Williams (fourth round). Barring injury, both should make the 53-man roster.

Bills slowly trimming active roster

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
2:15
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The Buffalo Bills have been busy on the NFL's transaction wire over the past week. With the team's third preseason game approaching -- they travel Saturday to face the Washington Redskins -- the Bills have begun the process of paring down their 90-man roster.

Here's a snapshot look at their moves since last Tuesday, which have cleared eight roster spots:

Aug. 13: Waived P Brian Stahovich
Aug. 14: Waived/injured TE Mike Caussin; signed LB Jamaal Westerman
Aug. 15: Placed Caussin on injured reserve; waived DT Aaron Tipoti
Aug. 18: Placed WR Kevin Elliott on injured reserve; waived OT Tony Hills, WR Terrell Sinkfield, CB Don Unamba, and S Mark LeGree
Aug. 19: Released K Rian Lindell

In the last week, the Bills have settled their kicker battle by releasing Lindell, as well as their competition at punter by cutting Stahovich. Meanwhile, Tipoti and Caussin had missed most of training camp with injuries, and Elliott suffered a season-ending injury in Friday's preseason game.

As of Monday afternoon, the Bills' roster stands at 82 players. All NFL teams must trim their roster to 75 players by Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. ET.

Here's an early look at where the Bills can make some further snips to their squad:

Offensive line -- The Bills are carrying 15 offensive linemen on their active roster. According to the Buffalo News' Jay Skurski, only Keith Williams and Thomas Welch were held out of practice Monday. Meanwhile, tackle Chris Hairston remains on the active/physically unable to perform list. Moving him to the reserve/PUP list would clear a roster spot, but keep him out at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Either way, the Bills look to carry only about half of these 15 players into the regular season.

Defensive line -- The Bills have a pair of big-name players who are working back from injuries (Mario Williams and Kyle Williams), which could lead Buffalo to stay heavy on their defensive line numbers through the final two weeks of the preseason. Yet a longshot such as Izaan Cross (11 snaps vs. Minnesota) could be part of the 75-man trim.

Safety -- Even as franchise-tagged Jairus Byrd remains unsigned, there's not a whole lot of intrigue at this position. Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy have filled in well in Byrd's place and will stay in those spots for now. Beyond that, the Bills invested two draft picks in safeties (Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams), and unless there's a late injury, they also will be in the mix. That might mean Jordan Dangerfield (13 snaps vs. Minnesota) and Dominique Ellis (eight snaps vs. Minnesota) could be soon on the outs.

Depth at cornerback tested for Bills

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
6:35
PM ET
With three of their top cornerbacks not playing in tonight's preseason game against Minnesota, the Buffalo Bills will be digging down their depth chart to find healthy bodies at the position.

Cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin, Justin Rogers, and Crezdon Butler all will sit out the contest. Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey will start opposite Stephon Gilmore.

The Bills started Ron Brooks in that spot in last Sunday's win over Indianapolis, but Brooks projects to man the slot cornerback position this season for Buffalo, and the team wants to keep him there.

Robey, 21, is one of the youngest players in the NFL, having left USC after his junior campaign. He is also the smallest player on the Bills' roster, at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds. He should see extensive action tonight.

Otherwise, here is how the Bills' depth chart in the secondary could shake out tonight:

First team
Cornerback: Gilmore, Robey
Slot: Brooks
Safety: Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy

Second team
Cornerback: T.J. Heath, Jumal Rolle
Safety: Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks

Third team
Cornerback: Don Unamba, Kip Edwards
Safety: Dominique Ellis, Jordan Dangerfield, Mark LeGree
Led by quarterback EJ Manuel, the Buffalo Bills' win over the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday's preseason opener was powered in large part by the team's rookie class.

In fact, 32 of the team's 44 points -- a preseason franchise record -- were scored by rookies.

Here's a look at how Buffalo's draft choices, plus some undrafted free agents, performed:

Quarterback EJ Manuel (first round) -- Started and played the full first half, going 16-of-21 passing for 107 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Was credited with a fumble on a botched handoff in the first quarter.

Wide receiver Robert Woods (second round) -- Started and was targeted five times, all in the first half. Finished with four receptions for 32 yards, but muffed a punt return on the opening drive.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (second round) -- Started and made a key pass breakup in the end zone, swatting the ball away from Colts tight end Coby Fleener to prevent a touchdown.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (third round) -- Returned the Colts' first kickoff 53 yards in the first quarter, then took another kick 107 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Was flagged for unnecessary roughness on Woods' muffed punt on the opening possession.

Safety Duke Williams (fourth round) -- Had three tackles in his preseason debut.

Safety Jonathan Meeks (fifth round) -- Had one tackle and one pass defensed, but was unable to corral a would-be interception.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins (sixth round) -- Was 2-for-2 on field goals, but had a kickoff in the second quarter go out of bounds, setting the Colts up from their own 40-yard line.

Tight end Chris Gragg (seventh round) -- Was targeted four times, making two catches for 12 yards.

Quarterback Jeff Tuel (undrafted) -- Played the entire second half, completing 19 of 23 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Had a strip-sack fumble early in the fourth quarter that was returned by the Colts 72 yards for a touchdown.

Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman (undrafted) -- Lanky receiver had a 29-yard catch on the final play of the third quarter, and added a 5-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter.

Wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers (undrafted) -- Was targeted just once in the game, but his 6-yard touchdown reception capped an 80-yard drive to begin the third quarter.

Cornerback Jumal Rolle (undrafted) -- A Division II prospect from Catawba College, Rolle returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Kip Edwards (undrafted) -- Recorded two quarterback hits, including a 9-yard sack of Chandler Harnish in the third quarter.

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