Defense flashes winning edge in Bills' camp

The Sports Xchange

The Bills wrapped up their first full week of training camp with a live goal-line drill that pleased an overflow crowd of 2,300 fans. The live session of eight plays featured no-holds-barred hitting and tackling to the ground. The defense held on five of eight plays. "Defense won 5-3," coach Chan Gailey said. "And that is the assessment because you either win or lose down there. There is no between, there are no first downs." Said DT Kyle Williams, who played through a groin twinge: "I think it is good to get out here and hit. I think it was a good gut check there at the end of practice. With the heat (93 degrees) and pushing through all day and then getting out there and going live it was good for us and good to get some weariness on your legs and seeing if you can push through."

--Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr., 93, took center state during Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio with the dedication of a new research and preservation center named in his honor. Wilson made the expansion of the Hall possible with a $2.5 million gift. Health issues have prevented Wilson, a member of the Hall, from making public appearances so this was a rare treat for fans of the game. Reading from a prepared speech, he cracked up the crowd, inlcuding this zinger about people who can come to Canton and do research about the game of football: "If they're great scholars -- as I'm sure they must be -- I would like an answer to how the Buffalo Bills have gone to four straight Super Bowls without winning one." Bills HOF's Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Joe DeLamielleure were among those in attendance.

--Former Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis top executive Bill Polian is bullish on Buffalo's football teams. Polian was keynote speaker at the University of Buffalo's kickoff luncheon. After lauding UB's progress as a Division I program, he turned to the Bills, telling reporters Bills fans have reason to be optimistic in 2012. "You have to hit some bumps in the road and overcome them before you become a bona fide Super Bowl contender," Polian said. "You don't just say it, you have to do it. But there's no question in my mind they're on the right path." Polian will be inducted onto Buffalo's Wall of Fame at Ralph Wilson Stadium this fall.

--Injuries to linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Bryan Scott have freed up some invaluable playing time for backups Arthur Moats, Scott McKillop and rookie Nigel Bradham. Moats is looking to capitalize on the additional reps. "The fact is, you've got to take advantage of it," he said. "Since I was getting a little bit of reps earlier through camp and stuff like that, my confidence was already fine. Now it's just more of it, so now I just have to be more consistent and just continue to get better." After being used mostly as an edge pass rusher in 2010, Moats swung between outside and inside last year. He's appears slated as an outside linebacker in Buffalo's new 4-3 look but his versatility makes him a quality backup.

--DE/LB Shawn Merriman knows only one speed to play: all out. That's why practicing is difficult for the former All-Pro, who sometimes can't help but bump into the quarterback at the end of practice plays. Quarterbacks are supposed to be off limits and sometimes Merriman has had to say, "Sorry." While he doesn't want his quarterbacks touched, coach Chan Gailey can't help but smile when he sees the progress Merriman is making from another Achilles' surgery and ankle issues. "It looks like he has some quickness to him. Stamina is good. Hopefully he will make the season and things will go well for him. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do when we get it really live," Gailey said.

"It is hard at this point to see where we are especially. We were talking earlier about the run game; you do not get to see a lot of that in terms of how effective we are being and that is a big part of who we are so I think we are comfortable with where we are right now. I think we are comfortable right now. The communication; we are still working on some things and putting guys in and out just to see what the line-up combinations are going to be and the personnel but I think we have a lot of work to do but we are headed in the right direction." -- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick giving a mid-camp assessment of the offense.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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