Buffalo Bills: anthony dixon

CHICAGO -- Taking a closer look at offensive snaps played by the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's 23-20 overtime win against the Chicago Bears:

EJ Manuel -- 57 of 57
Kyle Orton -- 0 of 57

Running backs:
C.J. Spiller -- 30 of 57
Fred Jackson -- 26 of 57
Anthony Dixon -- 6 of 57
Bryce Brown -- 0 of 57 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: About an even workload between Spiller and Jackson, which is to be expected. The Bills didn't get much production out of either until later in the game, when Spiller had runs of 11 and 13 yards and Jackson sealed the win with a 38-yard scamper. Unlike last season, the Bills were able to get production from their No. 3 back, with Dixon's 47-yard run the highlight of his six snaps.

Frank Summers -- 17 of 57

Quick-hit thoughts: The Bills used Summers as more than just a lead blocker. Some of their new formations included Summers and a tight end alongside Manuel in the shotgun with a running back deeper in the backfield. Summers added one catch for four yards.

Wide receivers:
Sammy Watkins -- 54 of 57
Robert Woods -- 52 of 57
Mike Williams -- 30 of 57
Marquise Goodwin -- 11 of 57
Chris Hogan -- 0 of 57 (special teams only)
Marcus Easley -- 0 of 57 (special teams only)

Quick-hit thoughts: The surprise here was Woods starting in place of Williams, who had been one of the top two receivers throughout most of the preseason. It'll be interesting to see if that sticks going forward or if it was more of a game-plan move against the Bears. Woods certainly didn't disappoint and Williams produced with a late catch, too. Watkins' 54 snaps were 95 percent of the Bills' total plays, slightly surprising given that Watkins was dealing with bruised ribs. I would have expected the Bills to cycle through Williams and Goodwin more to give Watkins a break, but the rookie hung in there.

Tight ends:
Scott Chandler -- 37 of 57
Chris Gragg -- 19 of 57
Lee Smith -- 0 of 57 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Gragg got the start in place of Smith, who traditionally begins the game as a blocking tight end. When the Bills went to three wide receivers, Chandler came in. Neither tight end was productive. Gragg wasn't targeted while Chandler couldn't haul in his only pass from Manuel, which arrived slightly late.

Offensive linemen:
LT Cordy Glenn -- 57 of 57
LG Chris Williams -- 57 of 57
C Eric Wood -- 57 of 57
RG Erik Pears -- 57 of 57
RT Seantrel Henderson -- 57 of 57
Chris Hairston -- 3 of 57
Kraig Urbik -- 0 of 57 (special teams only)
Cyril Richardson -- 0 of 57 (inactive)
Cyrus Kouandjio -- 0 of 57 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Hairston came in as an eligible receiver in short yardage situations. Urbik got the call on the 46-man roster over Richardson, who arguably had a better preseason. Why? Urbik can play both guard and center, while Richardson is purely a guard at this point.
CHICAGO -- Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

Corey Graham will start at cornerback in place of Gilmore, who was listed as questionable for the game.

Gilmore was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, running back Anthony Dixon (hamstring), who was also questionable, is active.

Here is the Bills' full list of inactives:

CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
TE Lee Smith (toe)
S Jonathan Meeks (neck)
RB Bryce Brown
T Cyrus Kouandjio
G Cyril Richardson
DE Jacquies Smith
CHICAGO -- Welcome to Soldier Field, where the Buffalo Bills begin their regular season against the Chicago Bears (1 p.m. ET; noon local).

Weather conditions: It feels like fall on the shores of Lake Michigan. Temperatures are in the upper 60s and will rise into the low 70s by kickoff. Humidity is low, winds are low and there is no chance for precipitation.

Gilmore, Dixon questionable: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin) and running back Anthony Dixon (hamstring), who are both listed as questionable for the game, worked out on the field under the watchful eyes of trainers about three hours before the game. That indicates that they were game-time decisions. Notably, wide receiver Sammy Watkins (ribs; probable) did not have an on-field session with trainers before the game, a sign that he could be good to play.

Predicting inactives: Tight end Lee Smith (toe) and safety Jonathan Meeks (neck) are doubtful for the game and are likely to be inactive. If Gilmore and Dixon are also inactive, the Bills must declare three other players inactive. Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, defensive end Jacquies Smith and cornerback Ross Cockrell are our top candidates to be healthy scratches. Inactives will be announced at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Allen gets the call: Brad Allen, a first-year NFL official, is the referee for today's game. Allen spent the last nine years as a referee in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He is the first official since 1962 to become a referee in his first season in the NFL.

Spikes, Dixon added to injury report

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) and running back Anthony Dixon (hamstring) were added to the Buffalo Bills' injury report Thursday.

Spikes stepped off the practice field briefly to warm-up further on an exercise bike. After consulting with a trainer, he returned to practice and took part in team drills.

Meanwhile, the Bills upgraded cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin) to full participation after he was limited Wednesday.

Did not participate:
TE Lee Smith (toe)

Limited participation:
S Jonathan Meeks (neck)
RB Anthony Dixon (hamstring)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)

Full participation:
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Randell Johnson (ankle)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- After the Buffalo Bills traded for Bryce Brown and signed Anthony Dixon this offseason, the prevailing thought was that the team would spread out carries among its four running backs this season.

That's why our ears perked up Wednesday when coach Doug Marrone was asked a question about C.J. Spiller's role in a "three-headed" attack at running back.

"I don’t know if I want to get it down to three. I’ve never been a guy that has three backs playing in the game," Marrone said. "I’ve always believed, and you guys know, in the two backs. It’ll come down to two backs; the two backs going in there."

Perhaps it's time to pump the brakes on talk of Brown and Dixon being significant contributors. If Marrone wants his game plan to include only two running backs then Spiller and Fred Jackson are the overwhelming favorites to land those roles.

However, that might not mean Brown and Dixon are shut out entirely. Examining stats from the four seasons Marrone has served as an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL, there were instances where carries were spread over more than two backs.

2006 New Orleans Saints
Total carries: 472
Breakdown: Deuce McAllister (52 percent in 15 games), Reggie Bush (33 percent in 16 games), Drew Brees (9 percent in 16 games), others (7 percent)

2007 New Orleans Saints
Total carries: 392
Breakdown: Bush (40 percent in 12 games), Aaron Stecker (30 percent in 16 games), Pierre Thomas (13 percent in 12 games), others (17 percent)

2008 New Orleans Saints
Total carries: 398
Breakdown: Thomas (32 percent in 15 games), McAllister (27 percent in 13 games), Bush (27 percent in 10 games), others (14 percent)

2013 Buffalo Bills
Total carries: 546
Breakdown: Jackson (38 percent in 16 games), Spiller (37 percent in 15 games), EJ Manuel (10 percent in 10 games), Tashard Choice (6 percent in 12 games)

In other words, Marrone's plan and reality might differ. An injury to Bush in 2008, for example, led to a spike in carries for Thomas, just as an injury to Spiller or Jackson could lead to Brown or Dixon stepping into that two-back rotation in any given game this season.

What we wouldn't expect is Dixon to still be on the field with Jackson or Spiller as a fullback. There was buzz about Dixon's potential role as a fullback this offseason but it hasn't materialized. We've seen little, if any, of him at that position in training camp.
Continuing a series analyzing the economics of the Buffalo Bills roster, position by position:

Position: Running back

Total cap value: $12,988,332
Compared to NFL average: 53.7 percent more
NFL positional rank: 4th

Portion of Bills' total cap number: 9.4 percent

2014 cap numbers:
C.J. Spiller: $5.916 million (5th on Bills, 9th among NFL running backs)
Fred Jackson: $3.85 million (Bills: 9th; NFL: 16th)
Anthony Dixon: $1.016 million (Bills: 30th; NFL: 55th)
Bryce Brown: $570,000 (Bills: tied for 47th; NFL: tied for 102nd)
Frank Summers: $570,000 (Bills: tied for 47th; NFL: tied for 102nd)
Evan Rodriguez: $570,000 (Bills: tied for 47th; NFL: tied for 102nd)
Ronnie Wingo: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 59th; NFL: tied for 158th)

[+] EnlargeCJ Spiller
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesBills running back C.J. Spiller can become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Average per year:
Spiller: $5.219 million (6th on Bills, 10th among NFL running backs)
Jackson: $4.35 million (Bills: 9th; NFL: 12th)
Dixon: $1.166 million (Bills: 27th; NFL: 45th)
Summers: $570,000 (Bills: 51st; NFL: tied for 120th)
Brown: $537,720 (Bills: 57th; NFL: 149th)
Rodriguez: $525,000 (Bills: 59th; NFL: tied for 151st)
Wingo: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 77th; NFL: tied for 209th)

Most overpaid: Spiller. This is probably more of a commentary on the state of the running back position in the NFL more than it is on Spiller. Teams aren't giving running backs large contracts these days. Currently, Spiller's cap number is 416 percent higher than the NFL average at his position. Among Bills players, only Mario Williams has a larger gap from his positional average. This all sets the table for the Bills' upcoming negotiations with Spiller, who can become a free agent after this season. Are the Bills willing to pay Spiller top-five money for his position? Or can they get by with a rotation of younger players? I think the Bills would love to have Spiller's speed and big-play ability around for several more years, but he might still need to prove that he can be the lead horse in the backfield. He's not Adrian Peterson.

Most underpaid: None. This will likely be the final year that the Bills have this much cap space tied up in their running backs. At 33, Jackson isn't going to command the same deal that he received in 2012. Even though Jackson's production hasn't declined -- if anything, he's coming off one of his best seasons -- the Bills will need to consider the future with Jackson, not the past. Will he be worth $4 million a year or more as a 35-year old back? That's unlikely. If the Bills re-sign Spiller, there might be less willingness to bring back Jackson. I think the Bills would like Brown to develop into one of their lead backs, and if that happens, then he'll be underpaid. But for right now, there's no player worthy of that distinction.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills had a pair of offensive players return to Tuesday's organized team activities (OTAs).

Wide receiver Mike Williams and running back Anthony Dixon, who were both not spotted at Monday's session, were back on the field Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams remained out of Tuesday's OTAs, which is voluntary per NFL rules. He also missed Monday's practice.

Tight end Tony Moeaki had limited participation Tuesday after doing rehab work during Monday's practice. Other players working on the sidelines Tuesday were wide receiver Cordell Roberson, cornerback Darius Robinson, running back Ronnie Wingo, guard J.J. Unga, offensive tackle Chris Hairston, wide receiver Marcus Easley, and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.

Goodwin injured his knee in Monday's practice. This is the first time that Hairston, who took some reps at right guard with the first-team Monday, had missed practice.

Defensive Bryan Johnson, who was carted off the field Monday with an apparent left knee injury, was not spotted. Offensive lineman Doug Legursky, defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Alan Branch, and defensive end Manny Lawson were also not on the field.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (hip) saw limited reps in red zone drills, while cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin (hip) and Stephon Gilmore (hip) also saw reps with the second team in one red zone drill. That was their first action in team drills of OTAs.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills began their final week of organized team activities with two injuries in Monday's practice.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin came down hard on his right knee while diving for a catch. He met with trainers and briefly returned to practice before eventually leaving the field. His injury doesn't appear to be serious but is worth monitoring.

Meanwhile, rookie defensive end Bryan Johnson was carted off the field with a left leg injury. Johnson, who returned to practice Monday after sitting out two sessions last week, immediately grabbed for his left knee following a play during 11-on-11 work.

Coach Doug Marrone checked on Johnson before the cart left the field. Johnson is an undrafted rookie from West Texas A&M.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams, wide receiver Mike Williams and running back Anthony Dixon were not spotted at Monday's practice after participating in the final session of last week. Tight end Tony Moeaki spent practice rehabbing from an undisclosed injury.

Guard Chris Williams returned to action after missing two practices last week. Offensive lineman Doug Legursky remained out after sitting out last Thursday's session.

Running back Bryce Brown, who dealt with an undisclosed injury through the first two weeks of OTAs, was a full participant Monday. He moved well, catching a pass across the middle from Thad Lewis in stride at one point.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (hip), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hip), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hip), and wide receiver T.J. Graham (hip) all sat out team drills. Defensive end Mario Williams saw some limited action in those drills.

Wide receivers Cordell Roberson and Marcus Easley, tight end Mike Caussin, guard J.J. Unga, running back Ronnie Wingo, and cornerback Darius Robinson all remained limited due to injuries.

Defensive end Manny Lawson and defensive tackles Alan Branch and Marcell Dareus were not present.
With three of their 10 organized team activities in the books, the Buffalo Bills have just scratched the surface of the team-building process that will continue through the summer.

During last week's practices there were impressive catches, dropped passes, a few interceptions, and even a fumble. Viewed individually, none of it is of much consequence this time of year.

But if patterns begin to develop, that's where we can begin to draw more substantial conclusions, both good and bad.

With the Bills set to begin their second week of OTAs this week, here are some areas where trends have cropped up. We'll be looking to see if they continue:

Robey's role: When the Bills signed Corey Graham to a four-year, $16 million deal in March, we scratched our heads a little. Graham is a good player, but the Bills' top three cornerbacks last season -- Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, and Nickell Robey -- were a strength of the team and all were returning. When the Bills hosted some of the draft's best cornerbacks on pre-draft visits, we continued to scratch our heads. When the Bills selected cornerback Ross Cockrell in the fourth round, it gave an even greater indication that something might change at cornerback.

With McKelvin and Gilmore out of OTAs this week because of hip surgery, the Bills' first-team cornerbacks were Graham and Ron Brooks. The next group on the field was Cockrell and Brandon Smith, followed by Robey and Mario Butler. That wasn't shocking to us, because Robey isn't considered an "outside" cornerback. Rather, he excelled in the slot last season. But when the Bills' first nickel unit came onto the field this week, it was Cockrell and Brooks outside with Graham in the slot. The next wave featured Robey in the slot with two younger players manning the outside.

What do we make of that? It could mean that Jim Schwartz doesn't value the 5-foot-7 Robey in the same way that Mike Pettine did. Would that mean Robey's roster spot is in jeopardy? Probably not, but it could indicate reduced playing time for him. The other possibility is that the Bills are simply tinkering with their personnel, seeing what they have in Brooks in what could be a make-or-break training camp, while getting Cockrell on the field as much as they can. We'll be watching to see whether this trend continues this week in OTAs.

Duking it out: Who will replace Jairus Byrd in the starting lineup at safety? The top two contenders are Da'Norris Searcy and Duke Williams. With Aaron Williams (shoulder surgery) out of OTAs this week, Duke Williams and Searcy made up the first team in the back end. That means we're in wait-and-see mode as far as who will get the first crack next to Aaron Williams. If he returns this week, I would lean toward Duke Williams remaining with the first team and Searcy sliding down to the second team with Jonathan Meeks. If Aaron Williams doesn't return, the question about who will get the first chance to replace Byrd will remain on the back burner.

Two-headed attack: As noted by WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia in his Friday practice notes, the Bills put Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the field together for some selected plays in OTAs this week. It's something I can remember seeing early in training camp last summer but rarely during the regular season. With Spiller back to full health, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett may try to vary his usage within the offense. Spiller's receiving numbers dipped last season, but if he can be motioned into the slot with Jackson remaining in the backfield, he will cause matchup problems for defenses.

Dixon's position: The Bills' signing of Anthony Dixon added a low-cost depth player to their backfield. When the Bills traded for Bryce Brown earlier this month, it signaled that Dixon may be used more as a fullback or goal-line back than a tailback. So far in OTAs, that hasn't been the case. Physically, Dixon is a far cry from Frank Summers or Evan Rodriguez, and his body type is more in line with a traditional running back. Brown was sidelined Friday with an undisclosed injury, and with fellow running back Ronnie Wingo dealing with a hamstring injury, Dixon got plenty of work at tailback. Ultimately, I think there is room for both Dixon and Brown on the 53-man roster, especially if Dixon contributes on special teams.

Bills draft preview: Running back

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
As we step away on vacation, we'll provide a position-by-position preview of next month's draft from a Buffalo Bills perspective:

Position: Running back

Current personnel: Fred Jackson (signed through 2014), C.J. Spiller (2014), Anthony Dixon (2016), Ronnie Wingo (2015), Anthony Allen (2015)

Draft need: Moderate

State of the position: The Bills may not have an immediate need at running back, but there is change on the horizon. Both Jackson and Spiller are set to become free agents after this season, adding a significant layer of uncertainty to the position. Jackson, 33, is more durable than his age would suggest and could be in line for another deal. Still, it's rare that running backs play past age 35, so the Bills must begin planning for the post-Jackson era now.

Spiller's case is more complicated. The possibility of trading Spiller has been on the radar since the end of last season. The odds are stacked against the Bills making a move involving the former first-round pick before this season, but like Jackson, the Bills must plan for the possibility that Spiller may not be in Buffalo much longer. The Bills signed Dixon to a three-year deal last month but he's a larger back who figures to be mostly a role player; he doesn't project to be a lead back for the Bills, with or without Jackson or Spiller.

Sweet spot: Mid rounds.

Possible targets: Andre Williams (Boston College), Jeremy Hill (LSU), Lache Seastrunk (Baylor)
Special teams weren't a strong point for the Buffalo Bills last season.

With the exception of kicker Dan Carpenter, who enjoyed a career season, the Bills had issues in the third phase of the game. Long-time Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin, who has compiled league-wide special teams rankings for decades, ranked the Bills 31st, down from eighth the year prior.

Special teams coach Danny Crossman is entering his second season and said Wednesday that part of the problem was finding "core" special teams players on the fly.

"I think what happened was, anytime you're new trying to identify and develop those guys on your own roster, because you really don't know what you have," Crossman told WGR 550. "Well, we tried to identify those guys on the move last year."

Notably, the Bills signed a pair of free agents last month with extensive special teams experience: cornerback Corey Graham and running back Anthony Dixon.

"What we've been able to do now in this offseason is add some guys who have some skins on the wall, if you may, as proven core special teams guys when they've been asked to play that role," Crossman said.

Aside from the need for more (or better) "core" special teams players, the Bills' most glaring problems on special teams last season were on the punt unit. Shawn Powell was released after five games and replaced with Brian Moorman. That brought marginal improvement to the Bills' punt unit, which still ranked near the bottom of the NFL in Expected Points Added, an advanced metric.

Here are some other statistical rankings from the Bills' special teams last season:

Field goal percentage: 91.7 (10th)
Yards per punt: 42.96 (28th)
Net yards per punt: 36.11 (30th)
Yards per kickoff return: 20.39 (29th)
Opponents yards per kickoff return: 23.38 (17th)
Yards per punt return: 6.23 (29th)
Opponent yards per punt return: 10.6 (25th)

Breaking down Anthony Dixon's deal

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
The Buffalo Bills have essentially swapped out backup running backs.

After releasing sixth-year pro Tashard Choice last December, the Bills were without an experienced option behind Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The team filled that void Friday, signing Anthony Dixon.

Dixon, who is entering his fifth season, is bigger than Choice. He said he'll play between 230 and 235 pounds, which makes him more of a power back than a shifty, elusive runner the Bills have in Spiller, for example.

Dixon has proven durable, playing in 16 games in all four of his seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. While he didn't make much of an impact on offense, he said he played on multiple special teams units and has the potential to help the Bills in that phase.

Now that the signing is official, here's a look at Dixon's contract:

Signing bonus: $500,000

2014 season:
Base salary: $800,000 ($250,000 guaranteed)
Workout bonus: $50,000
Cap number: $1,016,666

2015 season:
Base salary: $850,000
Roster bonus: $100,000
Workout bonus: $50,000
Cap number: $1,166,666

2016 season:
Base salary: $1,000,000
Roster bonus: $100,000
Workout bonus: $50,000
Cap number: $1,316,668

Bills set to sign RB Anthony Dixon

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
Former San Francisco 49ers running back Anthony Dixon has agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills.

Dixon announced the news on Twitter:

Dixon, 26, adds depth to the Bills' backfield. At the moment, he figures to compete for a role behind lead backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Dixon sat third on the 49ers’ depth chart last season behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. In 16 games played, he gained 56 yards on 28 carries but added two touchdowns.

At 6-foot-1, 233 pounds, Dixon is a bigger running back who isn’t a threat as a receiver. He was a sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2010.

Anthony Dixon set to visit Bills

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
Former San Francisco 49ers running back Anthony Dixon will visit the Buffalo Bills as a free agent.

Dixon tweeted the news Thursday evening:

Dixon sat third on the 49ers' depth chart last season behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. In 16 games played last season, Dixon gained 56 yards on 28 carries but added two touchdowns.

At 6-foot-1, 233 pounds, Dixon is a bigger running back who isn't a threat as a receiver. He was a sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2010.