Buffalo Bills: Nigel Bradham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Taking a closer look at defensive snaps played by the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

Defensive ends:
Mario Williams -- 40 of 60
Jerry Hughes -- 34 of 60
Manny Lawson -- 26 of 60
Jarius Wynn -- 20 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Still a heavy rotation here although Williams, who played just 48 percent of snaps against the Jets, jumped up to 67 percent Sunday. Hughes continues to prove an efficient pass-rusher, tallying two sacks while playing just over half of the game's snaps. Wynn suffered a late-game knee injury that bears watching.

Defensive tackles:
Kyle Williams -- 43 of 60
Marcell Dareus -- 43 of 60
Stefan Charles -- 16 of 60
Corbin Bryant -- 15 of 60

Quick-hit thoughts: Very close to a 3:1 split here. Dareus received our game ball for his three-sack effort.

Linebackers:
Preston Brown -- 60 of 60
Nigel Bradham -- 55 of 60
Brandon Spikes -- 37 of 60
Keith Rivers -- 6 of 60
Ty Powell -- 0 of 60 (special teams only)
Larry Dean -- 0 of 60 (special teams only)
Randell Johnson -- 0 of 60 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Nice bounce-back game from Bradham after he committed four penalties against the Jets. Bradham recorded seven tackles, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble Sunday. Brown's eight tackles led the team. As for Rivers, it's becoming increasingly clear he'll have a minimal role on the defense down the stretch, barring an injury.

Cornerbacks:
Stephon Gilmore -- 60 of 60
Leodis McKelvin -- 54 of 60
Nickell Robey -- 27 of 60
Corey Graham -- 8 of 60
Ross Cockrell -- 0 of 60 (special teams only)
Ron Brooks -- 0 of 60 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Not much of Corey Graham, which is a change from recent games. The Chiefs aren't much of a spread offense and the Bills are healthier in their back-end, which resulted in less of a role for Graham. With Brooks out, Cockrell saw his first action of the season, exclusively on special teams.

Safeties:
Aaron Williams -- 49 of 60
Da'Norris Searcy -- 47 of 60
Duke Williams -- 20 of 60
Jerome Couplin -- 0 of 60 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: With Aaron Williams and Searcy healthier than they've been in past weeks, there was less of a rotation at this position. While their November schedule doesn't include many big-play quarterbacks, this group will need to be healthy and on its game for December.

Ups and downs for Buffalo Bills

October, 27, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A look at which players are "up" and which players are at the opposite end of the spectrum after the Buffalo Bills' 43-23 win against the New York Jets:

Up

Orton
Kyle Orton: While only attempting 17 passes, Orton finished with a career-high 142.8 quarterback rating. The key was that he didn't turn the ball over after committing at least one critical mistake in each of his first three games. He's not Drew Brees, but Orton is quietly turning in some solid outings that will give the Bills a legitimate shot down the stretch.

Sammy Watkins: The arrow keeps pointing up for Watkins, who caught just three passes on six targets but finished with 157 yards receiving. His premature celebration was an obvious blunder; had he not erred at the end of on his 84-yard catch, Watkins would've finished with two touchdowns for the second consecutive week.

Colton Schmidt: After some ups and downs over the last few games, Schmidt delivered probably his best outing since his debut back in Week 1. Four of his six punts were downed inside the 20, while only one other went for a touchback.

Down

Running game: Yikes. The Bills averaged 2.09 yards on 32 carries (including 22 from Anthony Dixon and seven from Bryce Brown), which was the worst showing of a team with at least 30 carries in a game this season. As in past weeks, it looked to be a mix of the offensive line, the backs and even play calling. It's worth a deeper look, as the running game -- whether it's been Dixon, Brown, Fred Jackson, or C.J. Spiller -- has been strikingly bad over the past month.

Bradham
Nigel Bradham: It was a good day on the stat sheet for Bradham, who finished with a team-high 11 tackles and a forced fumble. That doesn't tell the entire story, however. He was flagged for taunting (15 yards in the first quarter), a false start (five yards, first quarter), roughing the passer (3 yards, second quarter) and a face mask (15 yards, fourth quarter). Coach Doug Marrone was none too happy about Bradham after the game, noting how his taunting penalty on a Stephon Gilmore interception pushed the Bills out of field goal range. "We're not good enough to be giving up three points," Marrone said.
DETROIT -- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

Williams suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Houston Texans. He did not practice Wednesday and Thursday before being listed as a limited participant in Friday's practice.

Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles are expected to fill in for Williams, a Pro Bowler, at defensive tackle alongside Marcell Dareus.

Meanwhile, linebacker Nigel Bradham -- who left last Sunday's game -- is also inactive. Preston Brown is expected to start in his place.

Here is the full list of Bills inactives:

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee)
Guard Chris Williams (back)
Linebacker Nigel Bradham (knee)
Wide receiver Marcus Easley (knee)
Running back Bryce Brown
Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio
Cornerback Ross Cockrell
DETROIT -- Welcome to Ford Field, where the Buffalo Bills (2-2) square off with the Detroit Lions (3-1) in the Bills' third road game of the season (1 p.m. ET).

Weather conditions: None. For the second consecutive week, the Bills are playing inside a domed stadium. It's a chilly day outside in Detroit, with temperatures in the mid-40s.

Monitoring Kyle Williams: The Bills didn't downgrade defensive tackle Kyle Williams or linebacker Nigel Bradham to out for the game, indicating that both made the trip to Detroit. They're both listed as doubtful. Chances are neither will play, although we'll monitor if either are tested by trainers in pre-game warmups.

Final inactives: The Bills have already declared guard Chris Williams and wide receiver Marcus Easley as out for the game. If Kyle Williams and Bradham can't play, the Bills will need to declare three additional inactives. They were in the same spot last week; running back Bryce Brown, cornerback Ross Cockrell and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio were the healthy scratches.

Wrolstad gets the call: Craig Wrolstad, a veteran NFL official who is in his first season as a referee, will officiate today's game.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

While the Pro Bowler was in a T-shirt and shorts and riding an exercise bike while reporters were present at Friday's practice, the Bills listed Williams as a limited participant on their injury report.

Linebacker Nigel Bradham (knee) is also doubtful. Like Williams, he was listed as a limited participant in Friday's practice despite not being spotted by reporters during their period of availability.

Both Bradham and Williams were listed as "did not participate" in practices Wednesday and Thursday.

If Williams doesn't play, the Bills are expected to use a combination of Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles in his place alongside Marcell Dareus. Rookie Preston Brown is expected to start in Bradham's place if he cannot play.

Meanwhile, the Bills declared starting left guard Chris Williams (back) and special teams ace Marcus Easley (knee) as out for Sunday's game. Rookie Cyril Richardson is expected to make his second consecutive start in Williams' place.

Running back Bryce Brown, who was not on the practice field when reporters were present Friday, was not on the injury report.

Here is the Bills' full injury report:

Out:
WR Marcus Easley (knee; did not participate)
G Chris Williams (back; did not participate)

Doubtful:
DT Kyle Williams (knee; limited participation)
LB Nigel Bradham (knee; limited participation)

Probable:
CB Ron Brooks (shoulder; limited participation)
LB Randell Johnson (knee; limited participation)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs; full participation)
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion; full participation)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams missed his second consecutive practice Thursday, Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone said Thursday he is continuing to monitor his defensive captain's status.

Williams
"The trainers just tell me, just like the injury report," Marrone said. "I'll get an injury report after treatment today, saying, 'Hey, we'll see where they are then.' And then I get one tomorrow and if they can go, they can go.

"I'm just waiting for the trainers and the doctors just to release them."

Starting linebacker Nigel Bradham also missed Thursday's practice with a knee injury.

Here is the Bills' full injury report:

Did not practice:
LB Bradham (knee)
WR Marcus Easley (knee)
G Chris Williams (back)
DT Kyle Williams (knee)

Limited participation:
CB Ron Brooks (shoulder)
LB Randell Johnson (knee)

Full participation:
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were again without two defensive starters in Thursday's practice.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams and linebacker Nigel Bradham both were sidelined with knee injuries.

If Williams can't play Sunday, the Bills will use a combination of Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles at defensive tackle. If Bradham can't play, rookie Preston Brown should start in his place.

The Bills will practice once more Friday before traveling to Detroit on Saturday.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After leaving Sunday's game with a knee injury, the Buffalo Bills had little update on veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams' condition Wednesday.

"I just heard that we're going to see how it progresses. He's been around, he's walking around here," coach Doug Marrone said. "That's the doctors. When they release him, they release him, and when they don't ... I don't have a feel. All I know is how it progresses, I'll know more as the week goes."

Williams, the Bills' longest-tenured player and a defensive captain, might not have to practice in order to play.

"I think Kyle is one of those players that doesn't have to practice and can go in there and play," Marrone said. "There's not many players like that."

If Williams can't play, the Bills will start either Corbin Bryant or Stefan Charles, their only two interior defensive line backups. Jarius Wynn, listed as a 285-pound defensive end, could also play defensive tackle, Marrone said.

Meanwhile, linebacker Nigel Bradham -- who left Sunday's game with a knee injury -- was wearing a brace on his left knee as he worked out with trainers Wednesday. Marrone had similarly little to update on Bradham's condition.

Here is the Bills' full injury report:

Did not practice:
LB Nigel Bradham (knee)
WR Marcus Easley (knee)
G Chris Williams (back)
DT Kyle Williams (knee)

Limited participation:
CB Ron Brooks (shoulder)
LB Randell Johnson (knee)

Full participation:
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were without a pair of defensive starters at Wednesday's practice.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams and linebacker Nigel Bradham, who both left Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans with knee injuries, were in the practice bubble while the rest of the team was on the field. Bradham, who was wearing a brace on his left knee, worked with trainers.

Starting left guard Chris Williams (back) and special teams ace Marcus Easley (knee) also remained out.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and linebacker Randell Johnson (knee) were both back at practice Wednesday.

Keith Rivers returns to Bills practice

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
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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.

Spikes' time dips as Bradham returns

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Taking a closer look at defensive snaps played by the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's 29-10 win over the Miami Dolphins:

Defensive ends:
Mario Williams -- 54 of 79
Jerry Hughes -- 51 of 79
Manny Lawson -- 28 of 79
Jarius Wynn -- 25 of 79

Quick-hit thoughts: About a 2:1 ratio for a second consecutive week. Williams and Hughes each tallied a sack, while Lawson or Wynn didn't have any breakdowns when subbing in.

Defensive tackles:
Kyle Williams -- 56 of 79
Corbin Bryant -- 39 of 79
Marcell Dareus -- 38 of 79
Stefan Charles -- 22 of 79

Quick-hit thoughts: Dareus had some cramping issues later in the game that contributed to Bryant's higher snap total. Kyle Williams and Charles -- who was injured, too -- both added sacks.

Linebackers:
Preston Brown -- 79 of 79
Nigel Bradham -- 66 of 79
Brandon Spikes -- 15 of 79
Ty Powell -- 1 of 79
Randell Johnson -- 0 of 79 (special teams only)
Keith Rivers -- 0 of 79 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: The Dolphins' offensive personnel kept the Bills in their nickel package for much of the game. For Spikes, whose strength is as a run defender, that limited his playing time, especially with the return of Bradham from a one-game suspension. In addition to Bradham, the Bills leaned heavily on Brown for a second consecutive week. At this point, the rookie is a weaker link in the Bills' defense compared to their talent up front and in the back end, but he still has avoided major breakdowns.

Cornerbacks:
Corey Graham -- 72 of 79
Nickell Robey -- 68 of 79
Stephon Gilmore -- 53 of 79
Leodis McKelvin -- 33 of 79
Ron Brooks -- 0 of 79 (special teams only)
Ross Cockrell -- 0 of 74 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: A well deserved bump in playing time for Graham, who recorded his first interception in Week 1 and had a team-high three passes defensed Sunday. The Bills rotated Gilmore and McKelvin at the other spot, while Robey was on the field for the bulk of the game in the slot. I'd expect the same look next week; it's tough to take Graham off the field given his recent play.

Safeties:
Aaron Williams -- 79 of 79
Da'Norris Searcy -- 72 of 79
Duke Williams -- 16 of 79
Jonathan Meeks -- 0 of 74 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Aaron Williams and Searcy have settled into their roles and have allowed Bills fans to forget about Jairus Byrd. Aaron Williams in particular has shown aggression, tallying two tackles for a loss against the Dolphins and adding a pass defensed. Duke Williams continues in his role as the dime back.

Bills must dig deeper at linebacker

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Days after losing Kiko Alonso to a season-ending knee injury, the Buffalo Bills signed veteran Stevenson Sylvester to bulk up the depth chart at linebacker.

Alonso
Now the Bills have lost Sylvester to a season-ending knee injury. Though Sylvester wasn't expected to start in Alonso's place, he was considered a strong possibility to make the 53-man roster.

Losing Sylvester could hurt the Bills most on special teams, where Sylvester excelled in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his place, the Bills could lean more on Ty Powell and rookie Randell Johnson for roles on special teams.

Here is a refresher of the Bills' depth chart at linebacker:

Keith Rivers (starter, strong side)
Brandon Spikes (starter, middle)
Nigel Bradham (starter, weak side)
Preston Brown
Randell Johnson
Ty Powell
Jimmy Gaines
Xavius Boyd

The Bills must find a replacement for Bradham in the starting lineup for Week 1. They have used Brown in that spot during practice this week and he's the favorite to take over during Bradham's one-game suspension.

Since Bradham won't count against the roster in Week 1, we predicted that Sylvester would earn the spot as the sixth linebacker. Now, we foresee the Bills keeping only five linebackers on the roster for the opener. Gaines and Boyd, both undrafted free agents, have played sparingly in the preseason and don't seem likely to be on the active roster for Week 1.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills placed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester on injured reserve Wednesday, the team announced.

Sylvester
Sylvester has a torn patella tendon in his left knee, per a source. He had been out of practice since Tuesday.

The fifth-year pro, who spent his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. He was among the candidates to replace linebacker Nigel Bradham in the starting lineup for Week 1, when Bradham will sit a one-game suspension.

The Bills may now turn to rookie Preston Brown alongside Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers for that game.

Sylvester's injury also thins out the depth at linebacker, where the Bills have already lost Kiko Alonso (torn ACL) for the season.
The Buffalo Bills received a slight reprieve from practice Tuesday, as their morning session was shortened to a walk-through because of rain in the area.

With three remaining preseason games following joint practices this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers, let's take a look at some of the unanswered questions about the Bills' roster:

Woods
What will be Robert Woods' role? The Bills' second-round pick has been in the headlines ever since he played into the third quarter of the Hall of Fame game earlier this month. Coach Doug Marrone telling Woods to play more with a "chip on his shoulder" certainly didn't quell the speculation about Woods' role, and the questions continued Friday night when Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins were the top pairing on the outside. The remaining three preseason games could determine how Woods fits into the offense this season after starting 14 games and catching 40 passes from three sub-par quarterbacks last season. We've seen the Bills use various combinations of Woods, Chris Hogan, Watkins, and Williams dating back to early in organized team activities. While game-specific pairings at receiver could continue into the regular season, most teams settle on a top group. At this point, there is little assurance Woods is among the top trio.

What's next for Henderson? Following Cordy Glenn's return to practice over the weekend, Marrone pumped the brakes on any possible position switch for seventh-round pick Seantrel Henderson, who has been starting in Glenn's place at left tackle. Marrone stressed Glenn is being eased back into the lineup and until that happens, Henderson is holding down the fort -- and doing it well. Still, unless Glenn suffers a setback, Marrone will need to make a decision about Henderson. Does he join the competition at right tackle? Does he get a run at right guard? If the Bills want to have their five best offensive linemen on the field, then what we've seen from Henderson thus far suggests he should be part of that group.

Who starts at right guard? The competition at this position continues to churn. Incumbent Kraig Urbik has rotated with rookie Cyril Richardson through two preseason games, with others (Chris Hairston, Antoine McClain, and J.J. Unga) waiting on deck. An injury to left guard Chris Williams postponed the battle this weekend, as both Urbik and Richardson ran with the first team in practice. If Williams remains out as the preseason continues, then the Bills may not have an answer about a starter until later this month. Even then, there are no guarantees. Last season, left guard Colin Brown started five games before he was released and replaced in the starting lineup by Doug Legursky. This question could linger into the fall.

Who starts for Bradham? Through the first few practices of training camp, there wasn't much of a competition at weak side linebacker. Nigel Bradham seemed to have won over the coaching staff after a rocky 2013 season and was the favorite to replace Kiko Alonso. That changed when Bradham lost his appeal of a one-game suspension. As a result, the Bills will be without Bradham for the season opener in Chicago. Who starts in his place? From a depth chart standpoint, it would be Stevenson Sylvester, a four-year veteran who has been the second-team Will linebacker in the preseason. Yet rookie Preston Brown has drawn praise for his work at middle linebacker, where he's played almost exclusively in training camp. Between now and Sept. 7, the Bills will need to decide who starts in Bradham's place. It's not a major question, but one that could factor into the defense's performance on that first Sunday of the season.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Remember training camp last summer, when there was a true quarterback competition between EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb?

Those were the days. With Manuel virtually entrenched as the starter entering his second season, the Buffalo Bills have surprisingly few position battles brewing as they progress through their second week of training camp.

[+] EnlargeDa'Norris Searcy
Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Da'Norris Searcy seems to have the upper hand in the race for the Bills' open safety spot.
How many starting spots are up for grabs? Here's our rundown:

Right guard: Coach Doug Marrone confirmed last week that there was a competition at this position. Kraig Urbik started 16 games last season, but with an influx of depth players along the offensive line this offseason his job isn't safe. His main competition is Chris Hairston, who began to see some reps with the first-team late in spring practices. Through the first eight practices of training camp, we'll peg Urbik's reps with the first team at around 70 or 80 percent. Hairston is getting some time, but it's not an even split. We'd expect Urbik to be the starter in preseason games.

Right tackle: This was our top competition of the spring but it's barely been a contest. Second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio hasn't received any time with the first team and looks to be coming along slower than the Bills would have hoped. Marrone had praise last week for Erik Pears' play through the early part of camp, noting that Pears was healthy after apparently being banged up last season. The real competition for Pears might be seventh-round pick Seantrel Henderson, who has held up fairly well at left tackle in place of Cordy Glenn. If Glenn returns soon then Henderson could get a crack at the right tackle spot.

Third receiver: There might not be a clear-cut winner of this battle. The Bills have used a variety of receiver groupings through the first eight practices. Mike Williams, Chris Hogan, and Marquise Goodwin have all seen time alongside Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. How each of those players are used in the regular season could be determined by the situation. T.J. Graham, who we considered part of this mix in the spring, has barely seen any time with the first-team offense. He's fighting for his job.

Weakside linebacker: This spot opened up when Kiko Alonso suffered a season-ending knee injury. Nigel Bradham has seen the most reps with the first-team defense, but we've also seen the Bills mix-and-match their personnel here. Preston Brown, Jimmy Gaines, Stevenson Sylvester, and Randell Johnson have all rotated through in different groupings. We'd still put our money on Bradham but like the third receiver spot, this could depend on the situation and the offensive style of the opponent.

Safety: This has been Da'Norris Searcy's job to lose since the spring. The Bills have almost exclusively used Aaron Williams and Searcy as their top pairing at safety, which is a notable step down from the Williams-Jairus Byrd combo from last season. The key for the Bills is not putting Searcy in a spot where offenses can expose a weakness in the defense. He's not a rangy ball-hawker like Byrd. Ideally, the Bills would like for Duke Williams to grow into a larger role, but he hasn't shown it yet in training camp. Williams and fellow second-year safety Jonathan Meeks should see plenty of time in the preseason, and they will need it.

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