Buffalo Bills: Kraig Urbik

Williamson's take: Offensive line

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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We recently chatted with ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson, a former scout for the Cleveland Browns, about a variety of Bills topics.

Next, we'll take a closer look at the Bills' offensive line:

Overall: "The Bills really need a guard. Their guard play, I thought, was really poor, especially when [Colin] Brown was in there. And [Doug] Legursky is a center. He's a gritty, backup center. I think it would go a long way if they had one more starting-caliber guard, because I think the tackles are good enough and [Eric] Wood is a good center."

On Kraig Urbik: "Urbik's played well. I think he's quality. But they need one more [guard]. I think if Urbik was their second guard, if he wasn't the best guard on the roster, then he's the second guard. He's a big boy, a mauler, a typical Wisconsin lineman that busted out here in Pittsburgh but has really done a much better job in the second half of his career."

On drafting a guard: "No, I don't think there is one. Like, last year there was [Jonathan] Cooper and [Chance] Warmack. There's not a guy to even consider there."

On drafting a tackle: "I'm not sure what name pops up to me. I think [Greg] Robinson and [Jake] Matthews will both be gone. It's a little far away to project that right now, who would be next. I think [Cordy] Glenn would be a great right tackle. He's a good left tackle, but he would be a great right tackle. If a left tackle was sitting there [at ninth overall], that would be interesting."
Back in September, we broke down the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster, position-by-position. Now that the Bills' season has ended, we'll review those grades:

Position: Offensive line (preseason grades)

SNAP COUNTS
Cordy Glenn -- 100 percent
Eric Wood -- 100 percent
Erik Pears -- 100 percent
Kraig Urbik -- 99.1 percent
Doug Legursky -- 65.9 percent
Colin Brown -- 34.1 percent
J.J. Unga -- 0.9 percent
Thomas Welch -- 0.7 percent
Sam Young -- 0.7 percent
Mark Asper -- no snaps
Antoine McClain -- no snaps

DEPTH

Preseason take: This is a significant concern for the Bills. With Legursky out of action for at least several weeks, they are dangerously thin along the interior of their line. Welch and Young are both younger pieces at tackle, but would be practice squad candidates on most other teams. The Bills sifted through upwards of 15 offensive linemen in training camp and did not come away with much. It'll be a position to address in the draft next spring. Grade: D+

Postseason review: The Bills were fortunate that their offensive line stayed almost fully healthy all season because depth was a significant concern. The Bills continued to sift through players, jettisoning Brown when Legursky returned, and later, swapping out Young for McClain. The Bills picked up Unga on their bye week and he could be a player to develop, but otherwise, the cupboards are mostly bare behind the top group. This grade was accurate and the Bills were fortunate.

RELIABILITY

Preseason take: Glenn is the youngest starter on what is a relatively experienced position group for the Bills. They can expect consistent play out of Wood, Urbik and Pears. It remains to be seen if Brown can step in for Andy Levitre at left guard and provide a reliable presence over 16 games. Grade: B

Postseason review: From an injury standpoint, this position held up well all season. The age and experience of Wood, Urbik, and Pears came in handy for a young offense but there was still shaky play from the veterans along the line. Brown, of course, was not a reliable option in place of Levitre. He was released once Legursky returned and has been out of football since. This grade may have been a bit generous.

Mario Williams among Bills' ironmen

December, 26, 2013
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For NFL players, staying healthy and avoiding injuries is a difficult task. Anything from poor preparation to bad luck can affect a player's durability, so when he is able to play a full 16-game season, something is going right.

With one game remaining, the following Bills players are set to cross the finish line unscathed. They have started all 15 games to this point:

T Cordy Glenn
T Erik Pears
G Kraig Urbik
C Eric Wood
DE Mario Williams
DT Kyle Williams
LB Kiko Alonso

There are several other players who have played in all 15 games so far, including some appearances as a reserve:

RB Fred Jackson
WR Marcus Easley
WR Chris Hogan
WR T.J. Graham
TE Scott Chandler
TE Lee Smith
T Thomas Welch
DE Jerry Hughes
DT Alan Branch
DT Marcell Dareus
LB Nigel Bradham
LB Arthur Moats
CB Nickell Robey
S Jim Leonhard
S Da'Norris Searcy
S Duke Williams
K Dan Carpenter
LS Garrison Sanborn

Overall, 25 Bills have appeared in every game this season. That ranks third in the division, behind the New York Jets (28) and the Miami Dolphins (27). The New England Patriots have the fewest "ironmen" in the AFC East -- 20 are set to finish a full season Sunday.

Kiko Alonso, Kraig Urbik active for Bills

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
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Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) and guard Kraig Urbik (foot) are both active for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Both players were listed as questionable. Alonso "tweaked" his knee in Friday's practice, which put his status for the game in doubt.

Alonso, the Bills' second-round draft pick, has played every defensive snap this season. Meanwhile, Urbik has started all 13 games at right guard.

Here's the full list of Bills inactives:

QB Jeff Tuel
S Jonathan Meeks
RB Ronnie Wingo
CB Brandon Smith
OL Mark Asper
OL Antoine McClain
TE Tony Moeaki

Alonso tweaks knee, questionable for game

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after “tweaking” his injured knee in Friday’s practice, coach Doug Marrone said.

"He tweaked it. Obviously we list it like we [did]," Marrone said. "Talking to him, in his mind, he wants to play. We have 48 hours and we'll see how it goes."

Alonso has played every snap so far this season. His 897 snaps are tied for seventh-most in the NFL.

If Alonso cannot play Sunday, the Bills will use Arthur Moats -- who has started 12 games this season at weak linebacker -- at middle linebacker. Nigel Bradham, who made his first start of the season last Sunday in Tampa, would also be poised for an increased role.

Alonso was limited in practice all week.

Meanwhile, guard Kraig Urbik returned to practice Friday and is also questionable for Sunday's game. If Urbik, who has started all 13 games at right guard, cannot play, the Bills will turn to rookie J.J. Unga.

"I know this about Kraig. He's done everything he possibly can. If it's even close that he can go, he'll go," Marrone said. "I mean, he's a tough kid."

OUT
CB Brandon Smith (ankle; did not participate)

QUESTIONABLE
LB Kiko Alonso (knee; limited participation)
OL Kraig Urbik (foot; limited participation)

PROBABLE
DT Kyle Williams (Achilles; full participation)
S Jonathan Meeks (ankle; full participation)

Urbik, Smith sit out Thursday practice

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
12:08
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills guard Kraig Urbik (foot) and cornerback Brandon Smith (ankle) were not spotted at the start of Thursday's practice.

Urbik, who played all but seven snaps in Sunday's loss, will likely be a game-time decision, according to coach Doug Marrone. If he cannot play, J.J. Unga will start in his place at right guard.

Smith, who has been inactive for the past five games, was injured in Wednesday's practice.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) participated at the start of Thursday's practice. He showed a noticeable limp during positional drills after being limited in Wednesday's session.

Urbik (foot) likely a game-time decision

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
2:57
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills guard Kraig Urbik (foot) will likely be a game-time decision after missing Wednesday's practice with a foot injury, coach Doug Marrone said.

Urbik has started all 13 games this season and played all but seven snaps in Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I won't be able to update you during the week, saying 'is he close or is he not close?' I really think it will go all the way until the end. That's how I feel right now," Marrone said. "[His foot] was sore after the game. We thought it would be better and it's not."

If Urbik cannot play, the Bills will start undrafted rookie J.J. Unga at right guard. Unga, who was signed off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad last month, was active for the first time Sunday. He replaced Urbik on seven snaps, likely for evaluation purposes.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso was limited in Wednesday's practice with a knee injury. Marrone said it was unclear when he got hurt.

"Basically we're just resting him," Marrone said. "I think it's one of things where you can't pinpoint that play. It's just sore. They asked me what I wanted to do, if I wanted to put him out there, go out there and practice. The guy has taken a lot of snaps. I just said 'You know what, let's limit him.'"

Here's a look at Wednesday's full practice report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
DT Kyle Williams (Achilles)
OL Kraig Urbik (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
LB Kiko Alonso (knee)
CB Brandon Smith (ankle)

FULL PARTICIPATION
S Jonathan Meeks (ankle)

Kraig Urbik not spotted at practice

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
12:17
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were back on the practice field Wednesday, but guard Kraig Urbik was not spotted.

Urbik has started all 13 games at right guard this season. In Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bills replaced Urbik with J.J. Unga for seven snaps.

It's unclear if Urbik is injured. We'll know more at 2 p.m. when Doug Marrone speaks to reporters.

Double Coverage: Bills at Steelers

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
11:00
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Roethlisberger/ManuelUSA TODAY SportsBen Roethlisberger, left, and EJ Manuel are trying to guide their teams through difficult seasons.
Two teams that have combined for five wins and don’t appear to be going anywhere this season meet Sunday at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be angry after getting routed Sunday in New England, but the Buffalo Bills might be equally desperate after losing four of their past five games.

It looks like EJ Manuel will return for the Bills, but rookie quarterbacks have not fared well against Dick LeBeau defenses. But no rookie quarterback has faced the Steelers defense when it has been this vulnerable under LeBeau.

ESPN.com reporters Mike Rodak (Bills) and Scott Brown (Steelers) take an in-depth look at the first meeting between the teams since the Steelers won a 19-16 overtime game at Buffalo in 2010.

Brown: Mike, is this team Pittsburgh North? There are a lot of Steelers connections there with general manager Doug Whaley and a handful of the players. The two I’m interested in hearing about are the starting guards -- Doug Legursky and Kraig Urbik. How have the two played, and how has the offensive line played overall?

Rodak: Scott, I think Whaley would like it to be Pittsburgh North, eventually. The Steelers are one of the most successful franchises, and Whaley comes from that background. Defensively, there are similarities between Mike Pettine's blitz-heavy scheme and much of the zone blitzing that LeBeau uses. And offensively, Manuel is a big, mobile quarterback with some speedy receivers, much like Ben Roethlisberger and his pass-catchers in Pittsburgh. Ultimately, though, I think the Bills want to forge their own identity, and the Steelers connections don't run much deeper than Whaley and a few others.

As far as Urbik and Legursky, they haven't been Pro Bowlers by any stretch. Returning from a knee injury last month, Legursky helped stabilize a left guard position that has been reeling since losing Andy Levitre in free agency last offseason. But as a whole, the offensive line has allowed more sacks -- the seventh most in the NFL, to be precise -- than it would prefer.

Looking at the Steelers' big picture, what has gone wrong this season? From an outside perspective, an aging defense appears to be part of it, but that can't tell the whole story. What are the biggest problem areas?

Brown: Age is only part of the equation when looking at the Steelers’ struggles. The other half is that the Steelers were so good for so long at developing younger players to step in for veteran stalwarts who retired or signed elsewhere. That hasn’t happened in recent years, in part because the quality of Steelers’ drafts has slipped.

The drop-off in talent hasn’t been as severe as it would seem for a team that has lost 11 of its past 15 games, which leads me to perhaps the Steelers’ biggest problem on the field: This team is simply allergic to momentum. The Steelers, when they were winning regularly, played so well off one another as far as the different units. This season, more often than not, the offense has not been able to bail out the defense and vice versa.

I’m curious what has held back the Bills, aside from the instability and inexperience at quarterback. This team seems to have its share of talent, so why aren’t the Bills winning more?

Rodak: The quarterback situation is a big part of it, like you said. No matter who's been out there -- Manuel, Thad Lewis or Jeff Tuel -- they haven't been able to make enough plays to win in the NFL. It's really been the defense that has picked up the slack in two of the Bills' three wins this season. Against the Baltimore Ravens, it intercepted Joe Flacco five times, and just when it looked like the Miami Dolphins were going to win a few weeks ago, Mario Williams came up with a game-changing strip-sack. So when dissecting why the Bills are 3-6, their quarterback play is the overriding factor.

Otherwise, I think the story is similar to Pittsburgh's. The defense has played well at times, but when it hasn't played well, the offense hasn't been up to snuff. And when the offense has started cranking -- and that's been rare -- the defense has dropped off. Doug Marrone referenced Wednesday the need for the defense to generate more turnovers -- it hasn't forced one in more than two games -- which has caused the Bills' turnover differential for the season to turn negative this week.

What has been the problem offensively for the Steelers? I've always counted Roethlisberger among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league, and at least on paper, there is some serious talent between Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller and Antonio Brown. Is the offensive line really that bad to drag everyone down?

Brown: The offense played without Bell and Miller for the first two games, and it showed as the Steelers managed just two touchdowns in those contests. Bell has stabilized the running game, and Miller’s return has been huge considering his value in the running and passing game.

The offense’s struggles stem most from the ongoing shuffling along the offensive line. The unit, for whatever reason, is consistently decimated by injuries, and this season is no different. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opener. The Steelers even lost a lineman (Levi Brown) to a season-ending injury in pregame warm-ups. Those kinds of things have happened to the Steelers’ offensive line, it seems, every season since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach in 2007.

The line has played better in recent weeks, and I thought it did fairly well in New England even with the crowd noise forcing the Steelers to use a silent snap count. It faces another challenge this week as the Bills have the kind of defensive line that can really give the Steelers fits.

Williams has been a beast, and the Steelers will probably have to give left tackle Kelvin Beachum some help with Williams. Mike, what about the two interior lineman, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus? They seem like they can be plenty disruptive.

Rodak: They certainly can be, Scott. Each has four sacks this season, which puts both on pace for career highs. It seems like each week, when we talk to opposing head coaches, they start off by mentioning Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams. They're the strength of the team. Kyle Williams in particular has shown a knack for being disruptive in the backfield at the right time, while Dareus has improved from what some felt were subpar seasons since being drafted third overall in 2011. The Steelers' offensive line will need to hold its ground and allow Roethlisberger to take shots at the weaker points of the defense.

What do the Steelers need to do to turn this season around? Does any hope remain that they will make the playoffs?

Brown: Believe it or not, the players still believe they have a shot at the playoffs given how mediocre the AFC has been aside from a few teams. But they are also realistic that their focus has to stay squarely on what is in front of them.

The biggest thing the Steelers need to do to turn around their season is get back to what has worked for them for so long. That starts with stopping the run. As much as some Steelers fans want to lay blame for the defense’s failings on LeBeau -- and the fact that he is 76 -- the reality is this: LeBeau didn’t suddenly forget how to coach. However, his defense doesn’t work if the Steelers can’t stop the run and force teams into obvious passing situations.

Offensively, the Steelers have been at their best this season when they have established balance. If they want to take better care of Roethlisberger, who is taking another beating this season, they need to limit his passing attempts. The best way to do that is establish the ground game and run Bell early and often. Sounds easy enough, no?

 

Steve Johnson among Bills back at practice

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
12:22
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Wide receiver Steve Johnson was among several Buffalo Bills who returned to practice Wednesday.

Johnson
Johnson
Johnson, who sat out Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury, took part in individual drills on Thursday. Two other starters -- defensive lineman Kyle Williams and guard Kraig Urbik -- were also back on the field.

Defensive end Mario Williams took part in individual drills Thursday after working with trainers for that portion of practice Wednesday. He sprained his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Jets, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who took part in individual drills Wednesday and was listed as limited in practice, left the practice field after stretching to work with trainers.

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin and safety Jairus Byrd were part of the scout team during the secondary's walk-through, working against a unit that continued to feature Aaron Williams at cornerback.

Mario, Stevie among Bills not practicing

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
12:29
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) and wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring) were among several Buffalo Bills not practicing Wednesday.

Williams stretched with his teammates early in practice, but then departed for the indoor facility to work with trainers. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Williams sprained his ankle in Sunday's loss to the New York Jets and should play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens unless his condition does not improve.

Coach Doug Marrone said Monday the team believes Williams and Johnson, who tweaked his hamstring Sunday but stayed in the game, "will be fine."

Running back C.J. Spiller, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who were all injured in Sunday's game and did not return, participated in the portion of practice open to reporters Wednesday.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kyle Williams did not participate in Wednesday's practice, along with starting right guard Kraig Urbik, who missed four plays Sunday with a knee injury.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore stretched with his teammates but later went inside to work with trainers. Safety Jairus Byrd appeared limited, with Jim Leonhard and Da'Norris Searcy lining up at safety early in practice. Aaron Williams remained at cornerback.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who broke his hand in Week 1, stayed on the field for positional drills Wednesday. Cornerback Ron Brooks, who fractured his foot in the opener, watched practice from the sideline.

Bills return to Buffalo battered, bruised

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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It was one of those road trips to forget. Not only did the Buffalo Bills drop to 1-2 after losing 27-20 to the New York Jets on Sunday, but they also suffered injuries to several key players.

Here's a run-down of all of their injuries at the moment:

Running back C.J. Spiller (knee) -- After rushing 10 times for 9 yards, Spiller sat on the bench most of the third quarter before the Bills eventually announced he had a knee injury. He later departed for the locker room and did not return.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (fractured right hand) -- Speedy rookie went down in the opener and is expected to miss "some time," according to head coach Doug Marrone. The third-round pick still had a cast on his left hand as of last week, but was spotted during practice doing conditioning work.

Guard Kraig Urbik (left knee) -- Starting right guard briefly left the game on Sunday, but later returned to action. He was seen in the locker room after the game with a large wrap on his left knee.

Guard/center Doug Legursky (left knee) -- Top interior reserve was carted off the field in the preseason finale, but returned to practice on a limited basis last week. Worth monitoring if he takes the next step in his return this week by participating in team drills in practice.

Defensive end Mario Williams (unknown) -- Leading pass-rusher had a quiet game against Jets (two tackles, no sacks) and remained on the sidelines late in the game. Marrone did not have an update on Williams after the game and a team spokesperson would only say that he was undergoing treatment. The Buffalo News reported that he was limping badly after getting X-rays post-game.

Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (ankle) -- Former third overall pick left Sunday's game and does not return. No word on his status.

Defensive lineman Alex Carrington (left knee) -- Another starter on the defensive line, Carrington is carted off late in the fourth quarter. He was later spotted in the locker room with a heavy limp before trainers fit him with an immobilizing brace on his left knee.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (fractured wrist) -- Top cornerback fractured his left wrist in the third preseason game and remains out of practice. As of last week, he still had several pins visibly extending out of the joint.

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (right hamstring) -- Starting cornerback went to his knees after a play in first quarter of Sunday's loss, but stayed on the field. A few plays later, McKelvin went down again and did not return. His immediate status is unclear.

Cornerback Ron Brooks (fractured foot) -- For the second straight season, Brooks suffered a fractured foot and will remain out for "some time," Marrone said.

Safety Jairus Byrd (sore feet) -- Pro Bowl safety has sat out the first three games, dealing with plantar fasciitis, a foot condition that has affected both of his feet. Byrd was listed as questionable for Sunday's game after being listed as doubtful for the first two contests.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins (right groin strain) -- Rookie kicker remains out after tweaking his hamstring prior to the season opener. He has yet to practice and the Bills are carrying an extra kicker, veteran Dan Carpenter, until Hopkins returns to health.

Locker Room Buzz: Buffalo Bills

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
9:11
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 27-20 loss to the New York Jets:

Williams
Mario Williams' status unclear: Williams played sparingly in the late stages of the game, prompting speculation that he could be injured. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that he saw trainers working on Williams but had yet to speak to the medical staff, adding that coaches were discussing using Jamaal Westerman in that role late in the game. About an hour after the game, with every locker empty except for Williams', a team spokesperson said Williams was undergoing treatment and would not have time for comment.

Carrington in leg brace: Defensive lineman Alex Carrington, who was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter, limped around the locker room after the game. He was initially wearing a bandage wrap over his left knee and was later spotted wearing an immobilizing brace over that knee. A trainer assisted him dressing. Offensive lineman Kraig Urbik, who briefly left the game, also had a wrap on his left knee but was moving well.

No sign of Spiller: Running back C.J. Spiller, who left in the third quarter with a knee injury, was not spotted in the locker room after the game. His locker was empty by the time reporters entered.

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