Buffalo Bills: keith rivers

Previewing Bills-Texans at NRG Stadium

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
10:40
AM ET
HOUSTON -- Welcome to NRG Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills (2-1) square off with the Houston Texans (2-1) in the Bills' second road game of the season (1 p.m. ET; noon local).

Weather conditions: None. The Texans have their retractable roof closed at NRG Stadium, so the conditions will be perfect. It's warm and muggy outside; temperatures are in the low 80s and there are passing thunderstorms.

Two downgraded: The Bills downgraded starting left guard Chris Williams (back) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion) from "doubtful" to "out" on their injury report Saturday. That means the Bills will be without at least four players because of injury: Williams, Goodwin, linebacker Randell Johnson (knee) and wide receiver Marcus Easley (knee). They need to declare three additional inactives.

Two starters probable: Of the six players who were declared probable for Sunday's game, the two situations to watch the most are linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) and safety Da'Norris Searcy (ankle). They were both limited in practice throughout this week. Both should play. In Rivers' case, it would be his first action since leaving the season opener with an injury. Searcy left last week's game.

Vinovich gets the call: Bill Vinovich, who is in his second stint as an NFL official, is Sunday's referee.

EJ Manuel added to Bills' injury report

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
3:30
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel was added to the team's injury report Wednesday with abdominal soreness.

"He came in, he had some soreness," coach Doug Marrone said. "Since he's a high-profile player, you got to put him down."

"I'm fine," Manuel said. "I think any time you bring something to a trainer they have to put it up there, but I'm good to go."

Starting left guard Chris Williams did not participate in Wednesday's practice but Marrone said he could return Thursday.

Linebacker Keith Rivers, who returned after missing Friday's practice, was again a limited participant Wednesday.

Did not participate:
WR Marcus Easley (knee)
LB Randell Johnson (knee)
G Chris Williams (back)

Limited participation:
LB Keith Rivers (groin)
S Da'Norris Searcy (ankle)
WR Marquise Goodwin (illness)

Full participation:
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
QB EJ Manuel (abdominal)
WR Robert Woods (ankle)

Keith Rivers returns to Bills practice

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
12:50
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) returned to practice Wednesday.

Rivers
Rivers missed last Friday's practice and did not play in Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers. It's unclear how much Rivers will participate in Wednesday's practice; he was a limited participant in Wednesday and Thursday's sessions last week.

Meanwhile, linebacker Nigel Bradham was not at practice Wednesday for personal/family reasons. He is expected back at the facility later Wednesday.

Starting left guard Chris Williams, who left Sunday's game with a back injury, was not at practice. Rookie Cyril Richardson is expected to take over in his place.

Linebacker Randell Johnson (knee) and wide receiver Marcus Easley (knee) also were not on the field for the start of Wednesday's practice.

Keith Rivers among Bills' inactives

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
12:00
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) will not play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Rivers practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday before sitting out Friday's practice. He was listed as doubtful on the injury report.

In addition to Rivers, the Bills will be without rookie linebacker Randell Johnson. The Bills are expected to start Brandon Spikes, Nigel Bradham and rookie Preston Brown at linebacker, with Ty Powell and Larry Dean as the reserves.

Here is the full list of Bills inactives:

RB Bryce Brown
TE Chris Gragg
LB Keith Rivers
LB Randell Johnson
CB Ross Cockrell
G Cyril Richardson
OT Cyrus Kouandjio

Bills' Robert Woods listed as probable

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
1:15
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (ankle) is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Woods returned to practice Friday and was a limited participant after missing Thursday's practice.

Meanwhile, linebacker Keith Rivers is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game after missing Friday's practice. Rivers, who has a groin injury, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.

Here is the Bills' full injury report:

Out:
S Jonathan Meeks (neck/placed on injured reserve)
LB Randell Johnson (knee/did not participate)

Doubtful:
LB Keith Rivers (groin/limited participation)

Probable:
DT Stefan Charles (hip/limited)
G Chris Williams (back/limited)
WR Robert Woods (ankle/limited)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs/full participation)
TE Lee Smith (toe/full participation)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods was added to Wednesday's injury report with an ankle injury.

Woods was not listed on the team's unofficial injury report Monday, so it's likely that he suffered the injury during Wednesday's practice.

Meanwhile, linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) was limited in his return to practice on Wednesday.

"I felt pretty good," Rivers said. "Moving around pretty well and [will] just keep taking it day by day."

Did not participate:
S Jonathan Meeks (neck/placed on injured reserve)
LB Randell Johnson (knee)

Limited participation:
LB Keith Rivers (groin)
DT Stefan Charles (hip)
WR Robert Woods (ankle)

Full participation:
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
TE Lee Smith (toe)

Keith Rivers returns to Bills practice

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
1:05
PM ET
Rivers
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Linebacker Keith Rivers returned to Buffalo Bills practice Wednesday.

Rivers missed practice last week after leaving the season opener with a groin injury. In his place, the Bills started Preston Brown in Sunday's 29-10 win against the Miami Dolphins.

Rivers' level of participation in Wednesday's practice is unclear. The Bills will release their injury report later Wednesday.

Linebacker Randell Johnson (knee) was the only player not spotted on the practice field.

Gilmore, Williams probable vs. Dolphins

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
1:45
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There is a strong chance that the Buffalo Bills will have half of their starting secondary on the field Sunday.

Safety Aaron Williams (head) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin) were both listed as probable on Friday's injury report.

Meanwhile, tight end Lee Smith (toe), who returned to practice Thursday, was listed as doubtful. Expect the Bills to turn to Chris Gragg as a blocking tight end if Smith cannot play.

Here is the Bills' full injury report:

Out
LB Keith Rivers (groin; did not participate)

Doubtful
TE Lee Smith (toe; limited participation)
S Jonathan Meeks (neck; limited participation)

Probable
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin; full participation)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs; full participation)
WR Chris Hogan (ankle; full participation)
S Aaron Williams (head; full participation)

Bills wrap up week with chilly practice

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
12:05
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills wrapped up their week of preparation for Sunday's home opener against the Miami Dolphins with a chilly practice Friday held inside Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Linebacker Keith Rivers (groin), who is expected to miss Sunday's game, was the only player not participating.

Early in practice, cornerback Corey Graham appeared to roll his left ankle on warm-up drill in the corner of the end zone. Catching a lofted pass from secondary coach Donnie Henderson, Graham looked to have lost his footing as he hit into the stadium wall, prompting another defensive back to remind his teammates to "watch their ankles."

Graham walked over to the bench area with a trainer and returned to practice a few minutes later. His level of participation in the remainder of practice, when reporters are not allowed to be present, is unclear.

The Bills will release their final injury report following Friday's practice.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams, who left Sunday's victory over the Chicago Bears with concussion-like symptoms, was listed on Thursday's injury report with what the team termed a mild traumatic brain injury, or MTBI.

Williams was limited in practice for a second consecutive day. Coach Doug Marrone said Williams participated in "more than individual drills."

The Bills said Wednesday they are following the NFL's return-to-play protocol for possible concussions. If Williams can't play Sunday, expect Duke Williams to start in his place alongside Da'Norris Searcy.

Here is the Bills' full injury report from Thursday:

Did not participate
LB Keith Rivers (groin)

Limited participation
S Jonathan Meeks (neck)
S Aaron Williams (MTBI/head)
TE Lee Smith (toe)

Full participation
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ankle)

Lee Smith returns to Bills practice

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
1:05
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Tight end Lee Smith returned to Buffalo Bills practice Thursday after missing the season opener with a toe injury.

Smith, who started 14 games last season, is typically used as a blocking tight end on early downs. In his place, the Bills used Chris Gragg in that role Sunday.

Meanwhile, linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) remained out of practice Thursday. Safety Jonathan Meeks (neck), who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, was not spotted Thursday.

If Rivers can't play this Sunday, the Bills are expected to use Preston Brown or Ty Powell in his place in the starting lineup.

Bills' Rivers not practicing Wednesday

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
1:00
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Keith Rivers, who left Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears with a groin injury, was not on the practice field Wednesday.

Rivers started the opener at linebacker and was considered day-to-day Monday by coach Doug Marrone.

Tight end Lee Smith (toe) also did not practice.

Meanwhile, safety Aaron Williams was on the field for the start of Wednesday's practice. He left Sunday's game with concussion-like symptoms.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
4:25
PM ET

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 23-20 overtime win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

What it means: The Bills made plays when it counted. A back-and-forth game that went to overtime turned when EJ Manuel hit Mike Williams for a 20-yard gain to push the Bills past midfield. Two plays later, veteran Fred Jackson rumbled 38 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. Manuel minimized his mistakes and the playmakers around him sealed the win. On the road, it was just how the Bills needed to start the season.

Stock watch: Robert Woods, up. For all the talk about Sammy Watkins and Williams in recent weeks, it was easy to forget about Woods, a second-round pick last season. He started over Williams and made a 25-yard catch late in the fourth quarter that set up Dan Carpenter's go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. It wasn't a pretty throw from Manuel, but Woods showed impressive leaping ability in coming down with the catch. It would've been a game-changer if the Bills' defense didn't allow the Bears to respond with a game-tying field goal that sent the contest to overtime.

Spiller, Jackson bottled up in regulation: The Bills' running game, outside of a 47-yard run by Anthony Dixon, couldn't get it going Sunday during regulation. C.J. Spiller had 39 yards on 13 carries, and Jackson ran five times for 18 yards. With little traction in the ground game, the Bills turned to more creative offensive play-calling. We saw more screen passes and play-actions than in the preseason. The results were mixed. As the game went on, those plays became less effective. Those schemes looked to be part of offensive coordinator Nate Hackett opening up the playbook. For example, Jackson and Spiller lined up together on multiple plays, something that rarely happened last season.

Watkins quiet after first quarter: Watkins, who played Sunday after reinjuring his ribs last week in the preseason finale, had three catches for 31 yards in the first quarter but didn't record any statistics after that. Manuel overthrew Watkins on a deep ball in the third quarter.

Rivers injured: Starting linebacker Keith Rivers left in the third quarter with a groin injury and did not return. He was replaced by Ty Powell.

Game ball: DT Kyle Williams. The defensive captain came up with a critical interception in the fourth quarter, tracking Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on a scramble and getting his 300-pound frame in front of the pass. That stalled a potential Bears scoring drive and allowed the Bills to take the lead on an ensuing field goal.

What's next: The Bills will return home for their next two games, starting next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. While their road win over an NFC opponent is a great start, it's important that the Bills protect their home turf when a division opponent comes to town.

Counting the Bills: Linebackers

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
5:00
AM ET
Continuing a series analyzing the economics of the Buffalo Bills' roster, position by position:

Position: Linebacker

Total cap value: $9,540,029
Compared to NFL average: 44.1 percent less
NFL positional rank: 30th

Portion of Bills' total cap number: 8 percent

2014 cap numbers:
Brandon Spikes: $3.25 million (14th on Bills, 46th among NFL linebackers)
Keith Rivers: $1.85 million (Bills: 21st; NFL: 74th)
Kiko Alonso: $977,364 (Bills: 31st; NFL: 122nd)
Nigel Bradham: $686,065 (Bills: 39th; NFL: 146th)
Preston Brown: $582,000 (Bills: 46th; NFL: 191st)
Ty Powell: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 60th; NFL: tied for 252nd)
Randell Johnson: $435,933 (Bills: 69th; NFL: tied for 291st)
Darrin Kitchens: $422,000 (Bills: 73rd; NFL: tied for 309th)
Jimmy Gaines: $421,667 (Bills: tied for 74th; NFL: tied for 312th)
Nathan Williams: $420,000 (Bills: tied for 78th; NFL: tied for 328th)

Average per year:
Spikes: $3 million (tied for 17th on Bills, tied for 53rd among NFL linebackers)
Rivers: $2.025 million (Bills: 23rd; NFL: 72nd)
Alonso: $1.075 million (Bills: 28th; NFL: 112th)
Brown: $751,438 (Bills: 34th; NFL: 147th)
Bradham: $641,065 (Bills: 43rd; NFL: 182nd)
Johnson: $570,933 (Bills: 50th; NFL: 214th)
Kitchens: $512,000 (Bills: 63rd; NFL: 272nd)
Gaines: $511,667 (Bills: tied for 64th; NFL: tied for 275th)
Powell: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 77th; NFL: tied for 337th)
Williams: $465,000 (Bills: tied for 84th; NFL: tied for 356th)

Most overpaid: None. The Bills added Spikes and Rivers on relatively short-term, low-risk deals this offseason. Overall, the Bills aren't spending much on linebackers. The position could be a problem spot following the Alonso's injury but that's not the result of financial decisions. The Bills have plenty of youth at the position and will look for Bradham or Brown to step up in Alonso's place.

Most underpaid: Alonso. No-brainer here. Like with Robert Woods and Cordy Glenn, the Bills and Alonso can't strike an extension until after the third year of Alonso's rookie deal. However, the circumstances could be different in Alonso's case. Since he was hurt while working out away from the team's facility, the Bills can place him on the non-football injury list. Alonso wouldn't get an accrued season and would have only three years of service when his contract expires after the 2016 season. In that scenario, he would become a restricted free agent and the Bills would have more control over his future. Still, the more likely outcome is that Alonso returns to health next season and the Bills extend him before he hits the open market.
The blows for Buffalo Bills fans came in quick succession Tuesday night.

First was a shocking 33-word statement from general manager Doug Whaley that sent a clear message: brace for the worst with linebacker Kiko Alonso, who quickly had become a fan favorite and rising defensive star last season.

[+] EnlargeKiko Alonso
AP Photo/Bill WippertKiko Alonso's torn ACL puts the Buffalo Bills in quite a pickle at linebacker.
"We have learned tonight that Kiko Alonso injured his knee while working out in Oregon," Whaley said. "We do not have the details at this point, but early indications are that it may be significant."

Less than an hour later came confirmation, from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, of Bills' fans fears: Alonso had torn his ACL and is expected to miss the upcoming season.

At a time when those around the NFL are relaxing on beaches and boats, the stunning developments with Alonso have taken the wind out of the Bills' sails.

This is a crushing blow just more than two weeks before training camp begins.

Alonso was part of a defensive resurgence last season under former coordinator Mike Pettine, playing every defensive snap. The team moved him to weak-side linebacker this offseason, and its hope was that Alonso would take another step forward, helping to improve the Bills' run defense as a run-and-hit outside 'backer.

At this point, you can rip up those plans and toss them in the trash, at least for this season. The Bills are back to the drawing board at linebacker.

Luckily for them, the team made two low-cost, high-upside signings this offseason, bringing in Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes. That shored up what was, aside from Alonso, a weaker point in their defense last season.

Before Alonso's injury, the Bills planned to start Rivers on the strong side and Spikes in the middle. With a hole potentially opening up on the weak side, they have several options.

First, they could move Rivers to the weak side. That would open a hole on the strong side, but Rivers has adequate range to play any of the three linebacker spots. He has an injury history that should make the Bills leery of relying too much on him, but at this point they might not have a choice.

Moving Rivers across the formation would require someone else moving into his old spot. One choice would be Preston Brown, a third-round pick who impressed at middle linebacker this spring. Having a rookie learning one position in organized team activities and another in training camp isn't ideal, but Brown has impressed coaches so far. The Bills could hold their breath and hope that Brown makes like Alonso and steps in without a hitch on the strong side.

Rivers
If the Bills wanted to go with more experience in their second level, Manny Lawson is their best bet. Lawson, who turns 30 later this month, started 15 games last season at strong-side linebacker. That's a different position in Pettine's defense than it is for Schwartz, and Lawson would need to play off the line more than he did last season. Moving Lawson back to linebacker would also weaken the Bills' depth at defensive end, but it's an option they need to consider at this point.

Another possibility is to replace Alonso with Nigel Bradham, keeping Rivers on the strong side. Bradham, a former fourth-round pick, started 11 games in 2012 as part of a Bills defense that ranked 31st against the run. His playing time was cut considerably under Pettine last season, but he offers more athleticism than the alternatives at the position.

There are few, if any, remaining options on the free-agent market who could step in and start for Alonso. Any new player coming in would have to play catch-up to learn the defense. The Bills could add a veteran for depth during training camp, but they would likely keep the expectations low with any new addition.

Instead, the strongest bet is that Alonso's replacement is either Bradham, Brown or Lawson.

None is Alonso. After snagging four interceptions in his first four games, Alonso's on-field play and his nonchalant personality earned him "legend" status among Bills fans, who flocked to buy his jersey.

In a cruel offseason twist that came down like a bolt of lightning on a summer night, Alonso won't be wearing his jersey on the field this season.

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