NFL Nation: Chris Williams

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.

Chris Williams remains out for Bills

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
1:10
PM ET
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
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.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
4:11
PM ET

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
Sep 18
3:30
PM ET
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.

Woods
"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
Aug 10
5:45
PM ET
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
Aug 6
1:00
PM ET
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:

    Branch
  • 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
Aug 5
4:09
PM ET
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.

Bills Camp Report: Day 13

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
8:55
PM ET
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • The Bills got a pair of offensive linemen back at practice, with both Chris Williams (toe) and Chris Hairston (back) returning to action. Hairston stepped in with the second team at left tackle. He wasn't part of the mix at right guard, where Kraig Urbik and Cyril Richardson split first-team reps. Meanwhile, tight end Lee Smith returned to practice after missing Thursday's session with a lower body injury. The Bills were still without top tight ends Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Scott Chandler (groin).
  • The Bills said after practice that wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was dealing with a hamstring injury. We saw Goodwin pull up after a 1-on-1 route in Thursday's practice, grabbing his hamstring. He participated in the rest of that session but didn't get many reps Friday night. It wouldn't be surprising if the Bills held him out Sunday.
  • After a second long week of practice, the offense was a bit sluggish as it closed out Friday's session. The Bills held a 1:28 drill (instead of a two-minute drill) and EJ Manuel's first three passes fell incomplete against the second-team defense. He recovered on fourth-and-10, hitting Mike Williams for a 20-yard gain. But as the offense crossed midfield, it stalled again, with a delay-of-game penalty preceding a Jacquies Smith sack as time expired. The second-team offense didn't fare much better, with Thad Lewis intercepted on the fourth play by cornerback Nickell Robey.
  • Following the two-minute drill, the Bills closed out their practice with a 7-on-7 drill in the red zone, as they've done for most of camp. Manuel overthrew Sammy Watkins on a fade pattern, then had Evan Rodriguez drop a pass across the middle. Manuel scrambled on his third play, and Watkins dropped a would-be touchdown on the final play. Not the best series. In an 11-on-11 red zone drill earlier in practice, Manuel overthrew Watkins on one play and was picked off by safety Jajuan Harley in the end zone on another before finding Robert Woods (twice) and Chris Gragg on touchdowns.
  • The Bills will travel to Canton, Ohio, on Saturday in advance of Sunday's Hall of Fame game against the New York Giants. The team isn't expected to be present for Andre Reed's induction ceremony but will take part in some other private events. We'll have coverage from Canton all weekend.

Bears Camp Report: Day 4

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
5:05
PM ET
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Chicago Bears training camp:
  • Expectations are sky high for a Bears offense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year in points scored (27.8 per game) and No. 5 in passing yards (267.6 per game), but the opening four days of practice have produced a mixed bag of results from a unit that is expected to return all 11 starters. Monday’s performance was no different. At certain points of the session, quarterback Jay Cutler ran the offensive scheme to perfection, firing completions to wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Marquess Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett that went for huge gains. On the flip side, Cutler badly underthrew Marshall on a deep route into double coverage that should’ve been intercepted by Bears defenders who were stationed in the area. Veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden later picked off a deflected Cutler pass in full-team 11-on-11, Hayden’s third interception since the start of camp. There were also batted-down balls at the line of scrimmage and botched snaps from the center to the quarterback that resulted in Cutler describing the offense as “good and bad.” Cutler continued: “That is to be expected taking the time off in July. We’re getting better and better. There’s been some sloppy stuff out there. We’ve got to clean it up. I think the guys are doing a really good job of just recognizing the plays and getting lined up and knowing the concepts and knowing the checks and everything. So if we just clean up some of the little things as we go, we’ll be all right.”
  • The Bears desperately need their top three draft choices to step in and make immediate contributions on defense. First-round pick cornerback Kyle Fuller looks the part and continues to receive extensive reps on the first team in base and nickel with Tim Jennings temporarily sidelined due to a sore groin. Third-round choice Will Sutton got thrown into the fire on Monday at three-technique defensive tackle as the coaching staff decided to give Jeremiah Ratliff a veteran’s day off. Sutton appeared to hold up OK versus the heightened competition. Rookie nose tackle Ego Ferguson flashes the ability to get up-field in one-on-one individual pass-rush drills, but Ferguson has ended up on the ground on at least three separate occasions since the pads came on. Ferguson needs to find the perfect combination of speed and balance to ensure he doesn’t take himself out of the play when games begin for real next month.
  • Fans chanted “Mega-Punt” whenever first-year punter Pat O'Donnell connected with the football on Sunday. Not to be outdone, punter Tress Way won the matchup between the two aspiring kickers on Monday. As a sixth-round draft choice, O'Donnell is considered the favorite to win the job, but Way has proved to those in the organization that he is an NFL-caliber punter. Even if Way is eventually released, he can still make it in the league. Former Bears “camp legs” have found gainful employment in the league: Spencer Lanning (Cleveland Browns) and Ryan Quigley (New York Jets).
  • Most of the wideouts competing for the final roster spots have done little to distinguish themselves. The two exceptions are Eric Weems and Chris Williams. Not only are Weems and Williams natural fits in the return game, they have managed to catch the football in camp. The other reserve receivers have been plagued by drops.
  • Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long (viral infection) visited doctors on Monday, but the team cannot say if Long will be back on the field when it returns to work on Wednesday. With Long out, the Bears have worked various combinations at guard, with Eben Britton, Michael Ola and Brian de la Puente all seeing time with the starters.
  • Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (sore foot), receiver Terrence Toliver (toe), safety Chris Conte (PUP) and safety Craig Steltz (PUP) were all spectators on Monday.
  • The Bears are off on Tuesday. The next practice is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT.
How much does size matter?

To the Buffalo Bills, quite a lot. On Tuesday, we noted how the Bills have the NFL's tallest group of receivers. That's just one position, but it's not the only spot where the Bills top the league's charts -- at least on paper.

The Bills also have the NFL's heaviest offensive line, and it's barely even a contest. The average weight of their 15 offensive linemen is 325.2 pounds, far and away the biggest group in the league. Only the Oakland Raiders, at 320.3 pounds, come close.

Unlike at receiver, where most of the team's height is concentrated in players at the bottom of the depth chart, the Bills have both starting linemen and developmental blockers who break the scales.

Left tackle Cordy Glenn, who has started 29 games since being drafted in the second round two years ago, is listed at 345 pounds, making him the fourth-heaviest offensive lineman currently on an NFL roster. He's tied with rookie Seantrel Henderson, the Bills' seventh-round pick, who also checks in at 345 pounds.

In addition to Henderson, the Bills added 343-pound Cyril Richardson in the fifth round earlier this month. Ideally, Richardson and Henderson will both stick on the 53-man roster and could have eventually have potential to start.

The two draft picks are the latest in a pipeline of massive offensive linemen that general manager Doug Whaley has brought to Buffalo. They're projects for coach Doug Marrone, a former offensive line coach, as well as Pat Morris, the Bills' current offensive line coach.

The Bills ended last season with a trio of developmental guards who are on the larger side: Antoine McClain (336 pounds), Mark Asper (325 pounds), and J.J. Unga (320 pounds). Whaley plucked Unga off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad, while McClain was claimed off waivers from the Raiders. All three may have an uphill battle to make the cut this season.

No matter who the Bills keep of their current bunch of 15, the size of the group will be striking. It's Whaley's vision to beat his opponents with superior size, and he'll have plenty of it along his offensive line this season.

But will it make the difference? Much like the Bills' ongoing expedition to find a productive, tall wide receiver, the Bills' super-sized offensive line will need to show that their eye-opening height and weight figures printed on the roster are more than just numbers.

The results will need to come on the field before Whaley's strategy can be given the stamp of approval. Take last season for instance. The Bills gave Colin Brown -- a mountain of a man, at 6-foot-7 and 326 pounds -- the nod at left guard to start the regular season. He struggled in five starts and was finding new work by October, replaced by an undersized Doug Legursky.

The Bills should be leery of a similar outcome with Chris Williams, a free agent whom they signed to a four-year deal in March. Williams, who is 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds, has a shaky track record as an NFL starter. He'll slide in at left guard. Could Buffalo be a good fit for him? Of course. But if it isn't, Legursky will be the likely fallback option.

Pass protection will be another consideration. Size and brute strength work well in the running game, especially in power blocking schemes, but technique and athleticism come more into play in the passing game. Glenn handled EJ Manuel's blindside well last season but there were breakdowns elsewhere. With new starters possible at both left guard and right tackle, keeping Manuel upright will be key this season.

In the meantime, the Bills have another distinction to celebrate. With rosters nearly complete after the draft, the Bills have emerged with the NFL's premier size at both receiver and offensive line.

Now they have to show why that matters, on the field -- where it counts.

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