AFC East: Marcus Stroud

Bills bolster D-line with Marcell Dareus

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
8:29
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills could have taken a couple of philosophical approaches when it came to building their organization's future: quarterback at No. 3 or their best defensive player on the board and try to get a quarterback with the 34th selection. They drafted Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus.

Why the Bills took him: The Bills ranked dead last against the run last year, allowing 169.6 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Dareus, at 6-foot-2 and 308 pounds, is considered the best defensive lineman in the draft and highly versatile, able to play nose tackle or 5-technique defensive end in the 3-4 or line up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3.

How it affects the roster: Dareus should start immediately in the Bills' 3-4 hybrid defense and allow them to effectively mix in four-man fronts to keep offenses on their toes. Dareus would play alongside Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The Bills also are high on sophomore defensive tackle Torell Troup. The Bills released defensive end Marcus Stroud before the lockout.

Scouts Inc. says: Does an excellent job of finding the football. Elite awareness. Consistently does a great job of finding the football. Does an excellent job of disengaging from blocks; uses quick hands and feet to get out of trouble. He pursues hard, has great speed for his size, and will make some plays from behind.

Stroud expects reawakening with Patriots

April, 1, 2011
4/01/11
12:12
AM ET
Marcus Stroud's career stalled out with the Buffalo Bills.

They traded for the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle in 2008 and loved him so much after one season that they signed him to a contract extension -- even though he still had two years left on his contract. Stroud's new deal was worth $29 million through 2012.

Stroud
Stroud
In February, the Bills released him. He was a starting lineman on the NFL's worst run defense. There wasn't much reason to keep paying him when they could play less-expensive prospects instead.

So where does Stroud go after being dumped by a last-place team?

In the often counterintuitive NFL world, Stroud landed with the reigning AFC East champs. Stroud's first comments since signing a two-year deal with the New England Patriots were with Boston Herald reporter Ian R. Rapoport.

"I've seen the trend," Stroud said. "You have guys who are in the same situation I'm in, who some people may deem washed up or on his last legs. And then they end up going to New England and having a lot of success for another two, three, four years. That's what I'm looking at.

"I know how my body feels right now. It's just a matter of getting in shape and being ready. I promise you, I will do that."

In 15 games for the Bills last season, Stroud recorded 29 tackles, six tackles for losses and three sacks.

Stroud wasn't forthcoming about his role in the Patriots' defense, but he didn't seem too concerned with learning his responsibilities.

"With the timing [of the lockout], we talked as much as we could in a day or two," Stroud said. "So I know the scheme. I'm familiar with it. But I guess all that other stuff and exactly where I fit in, where I would be playing and stuff like that, that'll take care of itself.

"At the end of the day, it's still football. You got to be able to get on and off your blocks, tackle the ball."

Holmes, Cromartie highlight division moves

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
4:52
PM ET
Tuesday afternoon brought a surge of AFC East roster updates. Teams are scrambling to conduct business before the collective bargaining agreement expires in two days.

The New York Jets have announced they will place the high free-agent tenders on receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

That means (under the current CBA) the team that signed either player would need to compensate the Jets with first- and third-round draft choices. But there's uncertainty over what restricted tenders will mean under the new CBA.

Other Jets are expected to get low tenders.

ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini, citing unnamed league sources, also reports the Jets will retain running back LaDainian Tomlinson. There was speculation the Jets could part ways with Tomlinson, who will turn 32 before the next season.

Also Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills extended restricted free agent tenders to inside linebacker Paul Posluszny, safety Donte Whitner and tight end Scott Chandler.

Also Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the New England Patriots have signed former Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud to a two-year deal. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss wrote an analysis of the move and surmises Stroud likely will be a first- and second-down defensive end in the Patriots' 3-4 base defense.

AFC East links: Cromartie done with Jets?

February, 17, 2011
2/17/11
9:10
AM ET
Buffalo Bills

Defensive end Marcus Stroud wasn't surprised when he learned he was released by the team on Wednesday.

Replenishing the defensive line remains a priority for the Bills heading into the offseason.

Miami Dolphins

Former Dolphins linebacker Bryan Cox interviewed with the team this week for a position on coach Tony Sparano's staff.

Armando Salguero offers an update on the Paul Soliai contract situation.

New England Patriots

Shalise Manza Young is of the mindset that the Patriots need to get younger on offense, especially along the offensive line.

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider has the Patriots selecting California defensive end Cameron Jordan at No. 17 and Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith at No. 28.

New York Jets

Are the Jets willing to let cornerback Antonio Cromartie walk away via free agency?

The Jets' official site looks back on the team's success running the ball in 2010.

Bills part ways with Marcus Stroud

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
3:00
PM ET
The Buffalo Bills have released 10-year veteran defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, who struggled last season as the team transitioned to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Stroud, 32, was scheduled to make $10 million in base salary over the final two years of his contract.

Columns as they see 'em

November, 8, 2010
11/08/10
11:19
AM ET
A look at Sunday's AFC East games through the eyes of the columnists who covered them:

Jets 23, Lions 20
Bears 22, Bills 19
Browns 34, Patriots 14
Ravens 26, Dolphins 10

Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, then who?

October, 5, 2010
10/05/10
3:48
PM ET
The Buffalo Bills know they're not going to be able to compete this year and have traded one of their most talented players for middling draft considerations.

The Bills on Tuesday traded running back Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks. For a Pro Bowler two seasons ago and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, the Bills received a fourth-round draft choice next year and a conditional pick for 2012.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Icon SMIA Pro Bowler just two seasons ago, Marshawn Lynch was traded to Seattle for a fourth-rounder and a conditional draft choice.
It's hard to imagine the Bills being unable to get at least that much for Lynch before this year's draft.

And based on Buffalo's track record at the draft, over the past decade, you can safely assume that fourth-round pick won't turn out to be a steal.

Buffalo's front office made the move eight days after releasing Trent Edwards, the quarterback who won the starting job after six months of evaluation by head coach and play-caller Chan Gailey. A couple of days later, linebacker Kawika Mitchell asked to be released from the team and accepted an injury settlement.

The Lynch trade could be a harbinger of more moves to come. The Bills are 0-4 and considered among the worst few teams in the NFL. They ranked at the bottom of ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings.

The trade deadline is Oct. 19.

Other veterans who might be able to help the Bills accumulate some draft picks for their rebuilding phase include receiver Lee Evans, defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, safety Donte Whitner and cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence.

From an on-field standpoint, the Lynch trade provides some clarity in the backfield. Gailey hasn't been able to get all of his running backs involved on a consistent basis.

Fred Jackson finished last year as Buffalo's feature back, but he has just 20 rushing attempts for 87 yards and the team's only ground touchdown through four games. The Bills drafted C.J. Spiller ninth overall, but he has 14 carries for 49 yards and no touchdowns.

Lynch was Buffalo's leading rusher with 167 yards. He had been getting a bulk of the carries, but that apparently was to showcase him for a possible trade.

Lynch's stay in Buffalo was checkered.

He sparked a civic controversy for his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo's nightclub district two years ago. Last offseason he was cited for multiple gun charges and was accused of being in possession of marijuana in California. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Lynch for the first three games of 2009.

But the new Bills' front office chose to stick with him -- as they did with Edwards -- before figuring out weeks into the regular season they'd rather not have him on the roster anymore.

Jets at Bills inactives

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
11:57
AM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills will be missing some notable starters for Sunday's game in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Each will be without their best defensive lineman, top cornerback and a quality linebacker.

Here are the inactives (the Jets' D-lineman I referred to is nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who's on injured reserve):

Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

Bills feeling revived for Jets matchup

October, 2, 2010
10/02/10
3:08
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills rank dead last in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings. But they still have their pride and, after an energetic performance last week, some hope for Sunday's game against the New York Jets in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Home game, division opponent, we need a win bad," Bills inside linebacker Paul Posluszny told me this week at his locker. "We're 0-3. We've got to get that winning taste in our mouth.

"We've got to start rebuilding this season in the right direction. Obviously, we started off on the wrong foot. But, coming in against a hot team, what a great situation for us to turn it around. We play really well at home. It would be a big win."

The Jets are about a touchdown favorite to beat the Bills, who will be without three defensive starters: top defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, inside linebacker Andra Davis and cornerback Terrence McGee.

But this is the sort of trap game that has gone against the odds for both teams over the years. The Bills scored an overtime victory against the Jets last year at the Meadowlands. Posluszny snagged one of six Bills interceptions, five of them on rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Posluszny doesn't expect a similar meltdown Sunday afternoon. Sanchez has six touchdowns and no turnovers so far this season.

"Sanchez is making all the right decisions now," said Posluszny, who will play Sunday after missing two games with a knee injury. "He's not forcing things. He's got a lot of poise in the pocket. He's a second-year guy, but he's made big strides compared to what he looked like last year."

The Bills seem reinvigorated by the decision to replace quarterback Trent Edwards with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who kept last week's game against the New England Patriots competitive and entertaining. The Bills were given little chance to win that game, too.

"The main thing is we know with Fitz he's going to make some plays," Posluszny said. "He's going to take some shots. He'll make some things happen. We know, man, if we give the offense a chance, Fitz is going to make some things happen.

"That's a great feeling for us. We've got to play really well defensively and give the offense as many opportunities as we can because we know he can do some things."

Final Word: AFC East

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireMark Sanchez has had back-to-back games of three touchdowns and 120-plus passer ratings.
The Buffalo Bills might be better off to ignore Mark Sanchez this time. Sanchez is molten, with back-to-back games of three touchdowns and 120-plus passer ratings. But the key for the Bills will be to forget they intercepted him five times last year and to concentrate on the run. Sanchez leads the NFL in passer rating against five or more pass-rushers. So he's been dangerous against teams that come after him anyway. And let's not forget the Jets piled up an incredible 567 rushing yards and 6.8 yards per carry against the Bills last year. A steady ground attack will be even more appealing for the Jets because the Bills' front seven will be short-handed. Top defensive lineman Marcus Stroud and inside linebacker Andra Davis won't play. But last year's leading tackler, Paul Posluszny, will return from a knee injury.

Chad Henne should have another big night versus the Patriots' pass defense. The Patriots are having serious problems. Career backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked great for the Bills last week. Henne is coming off a 363-yard performance and Brandon Marshall exploded for 10 catches against a Jets secondary that's far more talented at cornerback than the Patriots are. Opposing quarterbacks have a 101.3 passer rating against the Patriots, fifth-highest in the NFL. They're averaging 260.3 yards a game. No defense has yielded more than the Patriots' seven receiving touchdowns.

Dolphins cornerback Jason Allen will be in the crosshairs again Monday night. Tom Brady will be looking Allen's way Monday night. With the respect cornerback Vontae Davis is garnering plus Allen's spotty track record, the choice is obvious. Allen was one of the heroes in Week 2, when the Dolphins went into the Metrodome and stole a victory from the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre tried to exploit Allen, who came down with two interceptions. But last week, Sanchez picked on him. Allen whiffed while trying to make a tackle on Braylon Edwards, and the play turned into a devastating 67-yard touchdown. Allen also committed a fourth-quarter pass interference in the end zone.

The Bills have cleaned up their act. The Bills were one of the NFL's most undisciplined teams last year. They committed 107 penalties for 855 yards. Their offensive line got flagged a league-high 48 times -- an outrageous 25 times for false starts. New head coach Chan Gailey has made substantial corrections so far. The Bills have committed 15 penalties through three games. Only six teams have been whistled for fewer and only four teams have given up more penalty yardage. Buffalo's offensive linemen have committed only six infractions, three of which have been false starts. Last year's biggest transgressor, left tackle Demetrius Bell, has been charged once.

My last word on Trent Edwards. I received a few notes regarding my critical stance on the Bills' decision to waive Edwards on Monday. The general sentiment was that Edwards was awful and deserved to be dumped. Let's not confuse the issue. I agree that Edwards had proved himself incapable of being Buffalo's quarterback. The issue, however, wasn't whether Edwards should keep his job. I questioned Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix because they assessed Edwards to be a worthy starter after six months of workouts and meetings, an entire training camp, four preseason games and three years of reviewable game film. A veteran coach known for his work with quarterbacks should easily be able to 1) identify a quarterback who doesn't deserve to be on his roster, and 2) figure out he's not worthy of the starting job to begin with. But eight days after Edwards started for the Bills (by Gailey's choice and not injury) and 24 hours after Edwards was the backup (not deactivated as the third QB), the Bills waived him. The end was justified. The means were indefensible.

AFC East captains selected

September, 11, 2010
9/11/10
9:51
AM ET
A look at 2010 captains in the AFC East and how they were chosen ...

Buffalo Bills (player vote)

Miami Dolphins (player vote)

New England Patriots (player vote)

New York Jets

  • Selected on game-by-game basis by head coach Rex Ryan.

Here's my preseason All-AFC East team

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
9:58
AM ET
In February, the wait felt like it would be interminable. As it does every year.

But we're finally here. The start of the NFL regular season is upon us. A meaningful game will be played Thursday night in the Superdome.

Let's mark the occasion in the AFC East with a look at my preseason all-division team.

I've selected a full team of starters on offense, defense and special team -- down to the holder -- based on how I predict they will have performed when we look back on the season in January.

With four 3-4 defenses, I didn't have to bend positions to include everyone. In addition to position, I adhered to which side a player lined up.

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins lead the way with eight selections each. The Buffalo Bills have six (one player was chosen in two special-teams spots) and the New England Patriots have five.

OFFENSE

WR: Randy Moss, Patriots

LT: Jake Long, Dolphins

LG: Andy Levitre, Bills

C: Nick Mangold, Jets

RG: Brandon Moore, Jets

RT: Vernon Carey, Dolphins

TE: Dustin Keller, Jets

WR: Santonio Holmes, Jets

QB: Tom Brady, Patriots

RB: Ronnie Brown, Dolphins

FB: Lousaka Polite, Dolphins

DEFENSE

LE: Marcus Stroud, Bills

NT: Vince Wilfork, Patriots

RE: Jared Odrick, Dolphins

OLB: Calvin Pace, Jets

ILB: David Harris, Jets

ILB: Karlos Dansby, Dolphins

OLB: Cameron Wake, Dolphins

CB: Darrelle Revis, Jets

CB: Antonio Cromartie, Jets

FS: Jairus Byrd, Bills

SS: Brandon Meriweather, Patriots

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

P: Brian Moorman, Bills

H: Brian Moorman, Bills

LS: John Denney, Dolphins

KR: C.J. Spiller, Bills

PR: Roscoe Parrish, Bills

The hardest spots to select were left guard, defensive end and outside linebacker because there are so many young or unproven players there. Stroud is an established veteran, but he's moving to a 3-4 defense.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

A look at first Bills, Dolphins depth charts

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
7:36
PM ET
Some depth charts aren't worth the paper they're printed on. As a season unfolds, injuries and position battles seldom are reflected accurately.

But I do think there is value to looking at the first roster breakdown of the preseason and the regular season.

With that in mind, I wanted to share the depth charts the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins distributed to the media Monday. They open the season against each other Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Most notable for Miami is that Jason Allen, generally viewed as a draft bust because he was selected 16th overall in 2006, has supplanted Sean Smith, last year's starter at right cornerback as a rookie.

Three rookies are in Miami's tentative 2010 opening-day lineup: right guard John Jerry, defensive end Jared Odrick and outside linebacker Koa Misi.

Newly acquired inside linebacker Bobby Carpenter is listed third behind Karlos Dansby and rookie Micah Johnson.

For the Bills, rookie C.J. Spiller is the first running back. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch share the second slot with a slash between them and nobody listed third.

Bills coach Chan Gailey officially named Ryan Fitzpatrick the second-string quarterback and Brian Brohm third.

No other surprises on Buffalo's offense. Newly acquired tight end David Martin is second to Jonathan Stupar. Wide receiver Steve Johnson kept his status as the starter opposite Lee Evans. Roscoe Parrish and David Nelson are next in line.

Defensive end John McCargo, the 26th overall draft choice in 2006, is third on the left side behind Marcus Stroud and rookie Alex Carrington, a third-round pick.

Drayton Florence is ahead of Leodis McKelvin at right cornerback.

Observations from Colts-Bills in Toronto

August, 19, 2010
8/19/10
11:22
PM ET
TORONTO -- The Buffalo Bills bounced back from a putrid performance in their preseason opener to beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-21 on Thursday night in the Rogers Centre.

Some notes and observations from the game:
  • Trent Edwards might have won the starting quarterback job with how he responded to one specific play. On a third-and-10 play in the first quarter, Colts defensive end Robert Mathis crushed Edwards while throwing. The hit knocked off Edwards' helmet and chipped a tooth. Two possessions and five plays later, Edwards hooked up with Lee Evans for a 70-yard touchdown bomb.
  • Bills coach Chan Gailey said of the sequence: "I never thought anything less would happen to be honest with you. All of our guys have moxie. You've got to have moxie to play quarterback in this league. I was impressed with that, really impressed with it. I asked after he got hit 'Are you OK?' He didn't even flinch. ... I think he's a tough guy."
  • If the Bills can count on three home-run plays a week, they'll be fine. Their touchdowns were a 31-yard C.J. Spiller run, a 78-yard Terrence McGee interception return and a 70-yard bomb to Evans.
  • Spiller's run snapped a string of 20 straight preseason possessions without a touchdown for the first-team offense. He's going to be fun to watch, one of those players who has a legitimate shot to score every time he touches the ball because he makes tacklers miss.
  • Backup quarterback Brian Brohm didn't get the most glorious opportunity to make an impression or gain ground on Edwards. Brohm could have gotten a series against the Colts' first-team defense, but Gailey sent Edwards out for a fifth possession with 11:49 left in the second quarter. Brohm entered the game with 6:05 left in the half.
  • Brohm's performance was OK against the Colts' backups. He threw a lot of high-percentage short stuff, completing 14 of 21 attempts for 125 yards with no touchdowns or no interceptions. He had a wonderful chance to throw for his first NFL touchdown right before halftime. The Bills had second-and-goal from the 5, but Brohm misfired on two passes. The Bills kicked a field goal.
  • Brohm set up the goal-to-go situation with a gorgeous pass and catch by Chad Jackson along the right sideline for a 26-yard gain.
  • Would have been nice to see Brohm air it out on third and long. In the third quarter, Brohm dumped off to Chad Simpson for 4 yards on a third-and-13 play. On a third-and-12 play two series later, the Bills ran.
  • Spiller was busy without Fred Jackson (broken hand) and Marshawn Lynch (sprained ankle). Spiller averaged only 14 carries his senior season at Clemson. He ran 10 times for 54 yards in a quarter and a half of work.
  • Spiller looked scintillating on his touchdown scamper, but his jitters and jukes didn't fool the Colts all the time. He averaged 2.6 yards on his other nine carries. He had runs that went for minus-6, minus-2, zero and 1 yards.
  • Overshadowed by Spiller was undrafted rookie running back Joique Bell, who ran 11 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. He's making a statement. Simpson, conversely, ran eight times for 8 yards.
  • The Bills' defense gave Peyton Manning some problems. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown with one interception. His 66.3 passer rating was less than half of Edwards'.
  • After an ugly opener against the Washington Redskins six days earlier, the defense rebounded with a great first series. Defensive lineman Marcus Stroud batted down Manning's first attempt. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin nearly intercepted a long ball to Reggie Wayne. Nose tackle Kyle Williams stuff Joseph Addai for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass.
  • Gailey said he was just wanted to give him more time in pass-rushing situations, but it's disconcerting to see last year's 11th overall draft choice, Aaron Maybin, on the field at the end of a preseason game.
  • Bills cornerback Ellis Lankster had another rough game. Taj Smith got behind him for a 43-yard touchdown strike from Curtis Painter in the second quarter.
  • Despite 35 points in the first quarter, the Rogers Centre was rather sterile again, just like the previous three Bills games played here. The announced crowd was 39,853 fans.
  • The crowd, however, got interesting in the final minutes. Perhaps the best play of the night: A Rogers Centre security guard chasing down a fan who sprinted onto the field with 1:55 left in the game. The fan had about a 20-yard head start, but the guard caught up to him and slammed his head to the turf. As the guard walked back past the Colts sideline, Wayne went out of his way to give him a high-five.

Bad news Bills lose another big player

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
9:37
PM ET
Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey revealed Wednesday safety Jairus Byrd had groin surgery for a third time in the past 13 months and will be out indefinitely.
Byrd
Byrd

The problem is related to the sports-hernia surgery Byrd underwent before the end of last season. Still, Byrd managed to intercept nine passes in just 14 games (11 starts) and tied for the NFL lead. He was selected for the Pro Bowl but couldn't play.

"It looks like he's going to be out for a while," Gailey said. "We're hoping first game, but it may be not."

Buffalo's prospects for 2010 were dim enough without their roster being ravaged by injuries.

For context on how rough training camp has been, here's a loosely comprised list of their top few players, not counting punter Brian Moorman or kicker Rian Lindell.
  • Wide receiver Lee Evans: healthy.
  • Outside linebacker Aaron Schobel: released/retired.
  • Running back Fred Jackson: out four to six weeks with a broken hand.
  • Running back Marshawn Lynch: out three to four weeks with a sprained ankle.
  • Inside linebacker Paul Posluszny: missed first two weeks and preseason opener after groin surgery ... expected to play Thursday night against Indianapolis Colts.
  • Cornerback Terrence McGee: healthy.
  • Safety Jairus Byrd: out indefinitely after groin surgery.
  • Running back C.J. Spiller: healthy ... not sure yet where the rookie should rank on this list, but he belongs.

Did I forget anybody? Maybe you can put defensive lineman Marcus Stroud in there somewhere. He's also healthy.

Also hurt for the Bills: receivers David Nelson (leg), James Hardy (foot) and Marcus Easley (knee) and linebacker Chris Kelsay (shoulder).

Left tackle Demetrius Bell (knee) and right guard Eric Wood (leg) have been moved along cautiously as they recover from injuries suffered last year. Both are expected to play Thursday night.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider