NFL Nation: Chris Williams

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

November, 11, 2014
A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

The film review from Sunday's 55-14 victory over the Chicago Bears was so easy that coach Mike McCarthy said he and his staff moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier on Monday than they usually would to start on the opponent.

But one area they need to shore up is their special teams coverage units after allowing the Bears' Chris Williams to return a fourth-quarter kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.

Sure, it came in garbage time with the Packers already leading 55-7. And yes, the Packers had several backups on their coverage team. But the Eagles bring a dangerous return game to Lambeau Field on Sunday.

In case they needed to be reminded, it was on display Monday night against the Carolina Panthers. Veteran Darren Sproles returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the first half against the Panthers, who foolishly kicked right down the middle of the field to Sproles. That was Sproles’ second punt return for a touchdown this season. Kickoff returner Chris Polk already has a 102-yard return for a touchdown this season; it came in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins.

The Packers came out of Sunday's game ranked 26th in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing an average of 26.07 yards per return. However, their punt coverage unit has fared much better, ranking fifth in the league after allowing an average of only 5.87 yards per return.

The Packers should be able to neutralize Sproles with Tim Masthay's outstanding directional punting. Masthay is averaging a career-best 41.38 net yards per punt.
The Buffalo Bills placed starting left guard Chris Williams (back) on injured reserve Saturday, ending his season.

Williams, who has been dealing with a nagging back injury since the preseason, started the first three games of the season at left guard before leaving the game in a Week 3 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

After missing the next two games, Williams returned to practice this week, participating on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday. He did not practice Friday and was declared out for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

In his place, the Bills will continue to turn to rookie Cyril Richardson, a fifth-round pick, as their starter at left guard. Richardson was flagged for three penalties in Sunday's 17-14 win against the Detroit Lions.

Williams signed a four-year, $13.5 million free-agent contract in March that included $4 million in guaranteed money.

To replace Williams on the 53-man roster, the Bills promoted rookie safety Kenny Ladler from the practice squad.

Previewing Bills-Lions at Ford Field

October, 5, 2014
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.

Previewing Bills-Texans at NRG Stadium

September, 28, 2014
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.

Chris Williams remains out for Bills

September, 25, 2014
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were without starting left guard Chris Williams at the start of Thursday's practice.

Williams missed Wednesday's practice after leaving Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers with a back injury.

In Williams' place, the Bills used rookie Cyril Richardson as their first-team left guard in warm-ups Thursday.

Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin (illness) and Marcus Easley (knee), as well as linebacker Randell Johnson (knee) were not on the practice field Thursday.

EJ Manuel added to Bills' injury report

September, 24, 2014
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
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Keith Rivers (groin) returned to practice Wednesday.

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.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

September, 21, 2014

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 22-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

What it means: The Bills fall back down to Earth and slide back into the AFC East pack with their first loss of the season. After trailing for a total of 4½ minutes through their first two games, both wins, the Bills got into an early hole Sunday and couldn't recover. Credit the Chargers' offense, which at one point in the third quarter nearly doubled up the Bills in time of possession. Receiver Malcom Floyd (two catches, 98 yards) and tight end Ladarius Green (four catches, 64 yards) proved tough matchups for a Bills defense that showed holes. A run-first Bills offense couldn't keep up.

Stock watch: CB Leodis McKelvin, down. It wasn't a good day for either of the Bills' starting cornerbacks -- McKelvin or Stephon Gilmore -- but McKelvin in particular struggled. He gave up Floyd's 49-yard catch that led to a Chargers field goal late in the second quarter and was flagged for a 31-yard defensive pass interference penalty in the third. Surprisingly, the Bills started McKelvin and Gilmore over Corey Graham, who has arguably been the Bills' top-performing cornerback early this season.

Penalties add up: The Bills had numerous penalties that both stalled the Bills' offense and gave the Chargers' offense added life. Notably, running back C.J. Spiller had a 29-yard run called back by a holding penalty on tight end Scott Chandler in the second quarter. That's not the way to win a game. The Bills had 11 penalties for 101 yards, the second-to-last of which was intentional grounding against EJ Manuel in the end zone for a safety.

Watkins quiet: The Bills' offense received a boost from rookie Sammy Watkins last week, but the connection between Manuel and the fourth overall pick wasn't there Sunday. Watkins' first catch -- for a 3-yard gain -- came early in the fourth quarter. He caught two passes on eight targets from Manuel.

Multiple starters injured: Left guard Chris Williams left in the first half with a back injury, which has been a recurring ailment for the veteran this season. Starting safety Da'Norris Searcy injured his ankle early in the game, returned, but later left for the locker room. Special teams ace Marcus Easley was carted to the locker room in the second half with a knee injury.

Game ball: RB Fred Jackson. After his 38-yard run to seal the Bills' Week 1 win, Jackson quipped, "I'm old, but I can still play." He proved it again Sunday by darting through defenders on an 11-yard catch-and-run for the Bills' only touchdown. That third-quarter score came on one of only two red zone trips for the Bills in the game. Jackson, 33, caught eight passes for 78 yards. He also gained 34 yards on six carries.

What's next: The Bills, now 2-1, have back-to-back road trips coming up. They face the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium next Sunday before traveling to Detroit in Week 5.

Bills might be without WR Robert Woods

September, 18, 2014
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After injuring his ankle late in Wednesday’s practice, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods did not practice Thursday and might not play in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

"Right now he wouldn’t be able to play," coach Doug Marrone said.

Woods has started the first two games of the season alongside rookie Sammy Watkins. He has five catches for 83 yards.

Watkins was more optimistic about Woods' status Thursday.

"I think he's fine. I think they just wanted to rest him today. He tweaked his ankle the other day," Watkins said. "He went through the walk-through [Thursday morning] pretty fine. But I think it was kind of sore a little bit, but he gonna be fine."

Meanwhile, the Bills added starting left guard Chris Williams to their injury report. He was limited.

"He went throughout the practice," Marrone said. "We just watched his reps."

Here is the Bills' full Thursday injury report:

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

Limited participation:
LB Keith Rivers (groin)
DT Stefan Charles (hip)
G Williams (back)

Full participation:
WR Watkins (ribs)
TE Lee Smith (toe)
CHICAGO -- A rash of injuries on the offensive line and at wide receiver prompted the Chicago Bears to make a handful of roster moves in advance of Sunday night’s road game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Sources confirmed the Bears waived quarterback David Fales and released veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden and veteran fullback Tony Fiammetta.

The Bears announced following Friday’s practice that Fales (shoulder) and Fiammetta (hamstring) had been officially ruled out for Week 2.

Hayden was a healthy inactive in Chicago's 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener.

The expectation is the Bears will look to fill some of the open roster spots off the practice squad. With Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) questionable, and Josh Morgan (groin) doubtful, the Bears could choose to promote one, or more, of their current practice squad wide receivers: Josh Bellamy, Greg Herd, Chris Williams and Rashad Ross. Practice squad center/guard Taylor Boggs is a candidate to help with depth on the offensive line after starters Roberto Garza (high-ankle sprain) and Matt Slauson (high-ankle sprain) were both declared out for the 49ers game.

Most significant move: After finishing last season on the injured because of a hamstring injury in training camp, veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden made it through the preseason healthy and appeared to perform well throughout camp and the preseason to make the team. Perhaps Hayden became a victim of the numbers game, as the Chicago Bears decided to go into the regular season without him. The Bears drafted Kyle Fuller in the first round, and he turned heads throughout the preseason which likely gave the club enough confidence to use him opposite Charles Tillman on passing downs, while sliding Tim Jennings inside to the nickel. Hayden has proved to be a capable at both cornerback spots and at nickel. So by cutting Hayden the Bears lose solid veteran depth at corner.

Too little, too late: Eben Britton could be considered somewhat of a surprise cut. Britton played 13 games last season and started in four games, but pulled a hamstring early in camp which limited his availability throughout the preseason. Britton played in only the preseason finale at Cleveland because of the injury, and didn’t perform particularly well when called upon. Receiver Chris Williams entered training camp as one of the favorites to win the job as Chicago’s primary return man. But like Britton, Williams missed too much time because of a hamstring injury suffered Aug. 8 while catching a 73-yard touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles. Britton and Williams should catch on with other teams as both are capable of playing in the NFL. But hamstring injuries limited their opportunities to show what they could do for the Bears, and the team couldn’t give either the benefit of the doubt in making Sunday’s decisions.

Whacked again: Defensive end Austen Lane wrote this great account of what it’s like to get cut last year for The MMQB. At the time, Lane was getting ready to try again with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’d eventually be cut again. Lane ended up appearing in two games with the Detroit Lions last season, only to be waived 22 days after the club signed him. The Bears signed Lane on Feb. 27, but the veteran failed to nab a roster spot in what seemed to be a logjam at the defensive end position despite performing solidly.

What’s next: With cuts now out of the way, the Bears will establish a 10-man practice squad by the end of the weekend before turning their attention to the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Team moves: WR Josh Bellamy, C Taylor Boggs, DT Brandon Dunn, LB Jerry Franklin, OG Ryan Groy, LB DeDe Lattimore, CB Al Louis-Jean, WR Dale Moss, DT Lee Pegues, DT Tracy Robertson, S Marcus Trice, WR Chris Williams, CB C.J. Wilson, OT Eben Britton, CB Kelvin Hayden, DE Austen Lane, S M.D. Jennings.

Bills Camp Report: Day 22

August, 10, 2014
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • After a lighter workout Saturday, the Bills ramped it up for a full-pads practice Sunday that lasted well over two hours. The session featured 38 plays in the red zone (split between seven-on-seven, nine-on-nine, and 11-on-11) as well as a four-play live tackling drill at the goal line. That's a significant and much-needed red zone workload for a team that lacked an ability to punch it in the end zone on Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.
  • The results of the red zone work were mixed. EJ Manuel's first six reps came in a nine-on-nine drill where there was a half-offensive line on the right side. We scratched our head when Manuel was pressured from the right side, tucked the ball, and scrambled to the left. Doug Marrone has previously emphasized the point of the seven-on-seven drill (or its cousin, the nine-on-nine drill) is to throw the ball downfield, so scrambling to the side of the field with no offensive or defensive linemen -- by design -- is a questionable decision. In 11-on-11 red zone work, Manuel was sacked on two of his first four reps and didn't record a touchdown in any of his seven total reps in that period. In the final seven-on-seven series, Manuel's first two passes didn't score points but he finished on a strong note, hitting Lee Smith and Mike Williams for back-to-back touchdowns.
  • Manuel's best friend on the field continues to be Sammy Watkins, who made a great adjustment to catch a ball over cornerback Ross Cockrell in the first 11-on-11 period. In the next 11-on-11 series, Manuel threw a pass behind Watkins on a quick-out route, but Watkins snagged it out of the air with his left hand, back-handed. WGRZ's Jonah Javad posted a still frame of the impressive catch.
  • Safety Aaron Williams continued to line up with the second team Sunday, with Duke Williams and Da'Norris Searcy as the first-team pairing. Marrone said not to read into Aaron Williams' placement as any sort of indication of his performance.
  • With Chris Williams remaining out with a back injury, the Bills cycled through guards Sunday. Kraig Urbik, Doug Legursky, and Antoine McClain all saw time at left guard, while Urbik and Cyril Richardson were the top right guards. Marrone said he doesn't have long-term concerns about Williams' back injury. Other players who remained out Sunday: cornerback Leodis McKelvin, tight end Tony Moeaki, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, cornerback Ron Brooks, safety Jonathan Meeks, and linebacker Ty Powell.
  • The Bills have an off day Monday before returning to the practice field Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET. They then travel to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers beginning Wednesday afternoon.
CHICAGO -- With Martellus Bennett serving an indefinite suspension, reserve tight end Zach Miller took full advantage of the extra repetitions, catching six passes for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Chicago Bears soared past the Philadelphia Eagles 34-28 on the strength of strong play from their quarterbacks.

Chicago's top three signal callers combined for 339 yards and four touchdowns.

Here are some other thoughts on the Chicago Bears' first preseason game of the year:
  • Considering Jay Cutler hasn't played an entire 16-game season since 2009, Chicago's competition for the No. 2 quarterback is vitally important. Both candidates made strong cases with Jimmy Clausen coming out with a slight edge. After Cutler performed sharply in two possessions (9 of 13 for 85 yards and a TD for a passer rating of 112.7), Jordan Palmer entered the game with 58 seconds left in the first quarter. Palmer started 3 for 3 for 39 yards before throwing an interception to Nate Allen on his fourth attempt. Palmer completed 8 of 11 for 104 yards and a touchdown to go with a passer rating of 94.9.

    Clausen, meanwhile, passed for 150 yards and two TDs for a passer rating of 134.6. Clausen's first scoring strike came on a 73-yard bomb to Chris Williams. He later hit Micheal Spurlock for a 22-yard touchdown, before finding Rosario for the conversion.

    Clausen may lead the No. 2 QB derby right now, but don't expect coach Marc Trestman to make a decision about the backup until later in the preseason.
  • Chicago's revamped defense put together a strong showing in the three possessions the starters played. Ryan Mundy and Sherrick McManis contributed interceptions as the defense held Philadelphia's first-team offense to 55 yards and 0-for-2 on third-down conversions. Remember, the Bears ranked last against the rush last season. But their starters limited Philadelphia's starting offense to 11 yards on four attempts. The front four generated plenty of pressure in the passing game, too. Mundy's interceptoin with 13:26 left in the first quarter came from a rushed Foles throw due to heavy pressure from Lamarr Houston.
  • Mundy and Danny McCray came out with the starters at safety, while Adrian Wilson and rookie Brock Vereen worked with the second team.
  • Rookie first-round pick Kyle Fuller received an extended look in his NFL debut. Although the starting defense played just three possessions, Fuller stayed in the entire first half and contributed three tackles.
  • Center Brian De La Puente suffered a knee injury late in the second quarter. The severity wasn't immediately known. De La Puente left the field under his own power, but shortly after the team announced he'd be out for the game. Williams suffered a hamstring injury on his touchdown reception and was unable to finish the game.
  • Non-participants Friday included Chris Conte and Craig Steltz, who remain on the physically unable to perform list. Tim Jennings (quadriceps) and Isaiah Frey (hamstring) were also held out along with Eben Britton (hamstring), Kyle Long (ankle), Jordan Mills (foot) and Bennett (suspension).

Final thoughts from Bills-Giants

August, 6, 2014
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- As the focus shifts to the Buffalo Bills' next preseason game in Carolina, providing some final thoughts from the Bills' loss Sunday to the New York Giants:

  • Where's Alan Branch? That was our first thought when the Bills' second-team defense saw its first action late in the first quarter. The Bills used Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant as their top two reserves at defensive tackle behind Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Branch didn't see the field until after the two-minute warning of the first half, and then not again until later in the third quarter. For a 29-year old veteran who signed a three-year extension with nearly $4 million in guaranteed money last December, that is surprising. Branch failed the Bills' conditioning test to start camp, but presumably was the favorite to start if Dareus faces a suspension to start the season. Branch's roster spot might not be in jeopardy, but his playing time in Sunday's game indicates his position on the team has slipped since last season.
  • Linebacker Brandon Spikes said after Tuesday's practice that the defense "dominated" when the first team was on the field Sunday. Much of that success can be attributed to the push generated by the front four on the defensive line, which leads to this thought: How much will defensive end Jerry Hughes benefit next offseason from playing with three Pro Bowlers this season? Though the Bills' decision not to extend Hughes this offseason makes sense -- you probably want to see more than 16 games of production before handing out a long-term deal -- Hughes could hit it big in free agency next spring. If Williams and Dareus create double-teams inside, Hughes will face a lot of single-man protection on the outside.
  • As Seantrel Henderson and battles on the right side of the line have been the centers of attention along the offensive line, left guard Chris Williams has flown under the radar. He played the entire first quarter and the first drive of the second quarter Sunday. He was solid in pass protection. Against the run, he had a few notable breakdowns. Williams tried to cut block Jonathan Hankins on the back side of a Fred Jackson run but couldn't execute, allowing Hankins to stop Jackson in the backfield. That replay was shown on national television, so it was hard to miss. In the second quarter, Giants linebacker Devon Kennard was quick to diagnose a Bryce Brown run to the left, shooting the gap to Williams' left. Williams was slow to get off an inside double team and was blown back by Kennard, who stopped Brown for a loss.

Bears Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • While the Bears actively monitor the waiver wire and scan the list of available free-agent wide receivers in the aftermath of Marquess Wilson’s fractured clavicle, Tuesday’s practice allowed the team to try out several different receiver combinations. Minus Wilson and veteran Brandon Marshall (coaches' decision), the Bears trotted out a three-wide receiver set to begin 11-on-11 drills that featured Alshon Jeffery, Eric Weems and Chris Williams. Weems, a former Pro Bowl return man in Atlanta, figures to be a lock to make the team based on his familiarity with the offense and immense value on special teams, but the remaining roster spots are wide open. According to quarterback Jay Cutler: “Eric Weems has had a great camp, but so have a number of other guys. Right now it’s too early to peg anybody. We’ll just see how it plays out.” Cutler later added the Bears expect Wilson back on the field in 2014 after he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning. But with no timetable set for Wilson’s return, the Bears do need to find a reliable option in the slot to bridge the gap over the first couple weeks of the regular season, at the bare minimum.
  • Cornerback Isaiah Frey suffered a right hamstring injury at practice and had to be carted back to the locker room. The Bears’ 2013 starting nickelback, Frey is facing an uphill battle to make the team with veterans Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kelvin Hayden and Sherrick McManis, plus rookie first-round draft choice Kyle Fuller ahead of Frey on the depth chart. Frey told reporters he plans to vigorously attack the required rehabilitation program, but stressed the importance of resisting the urge to return too soon from a pulled hamstring injury, since those types of injuries tend to linger.
  • Starting right tackle Jordan Mills hurt his foot at the tail end of Tuesday’s practice. Mills stayed and watched the final drill before walking off the field under his own power. Mills suffered a foot injury during pregame warm-ups in last year’s regular-season finale versus the Green Bay Packers that required offseason surgery. The Bears did not reveal the severity of the injury, but Mills seemed to be in good spirits when he arrived at lunch later in the afternoon.
  • Adrian Wilson and Ryan Mundy again took first-team reps at safety.
  • Jennings (quadriceps) and guard Eben Britton (hamstring) were held out of practice, but linebacker Lance Briggs fully participated after a knee injury kept him off the field for final portion of Monday’s session. Defensive end Jared Allen was excused from another practice due to personal reasons, while running back Shaun Draughn went through an entire practice following a couple of personal days away from the team.
  • The Bears' next scheduled practice is Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT.