Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

So much for easing rookie wide receiver T.J. Graham into action. After the loss of David Nelson for the season with an ACL injury, the team's third-round draft choice who was inactive against the Jets last week will suit up for Sunday's home opener against the Chiefs.

"He was not ready," said coach Chan Gailey bluntly when asked why Graham was inactive. "To be honest with you he is very similar to where C.J. (Spiller) was two years ago when we had him as a rookie. Very talented but not quite ready to play. Now he is going to be thrust in there."

The loss of Nelson robs the Bills of a tall, versatile target but Graham gives them raw speed that has been lacking in their lineup. Other options for Nelson include more playing time for veterans Donald Jones, Ruvell Martin and Brad Smith, who is coming off a groin injury.

"Whether T.J. (Graham) plays 10 snaps or 50 snaps, I do not know yet," Gailey said.

Graham knows what he has to do: listen, learn and step up.

"I feel like coming into Week 2 that I will be a lot more prepared for all of this," he said. "Stretch the field and I have to know my assignment, too. Get in the books and stay a little longer. I am going to stay here for a couple more hours today trying to watch Chiefs tape. I am playing catch-up to the other guys. They have been here for a couple years and they know a little more than I do. I am learning from them while they are learning on top of that. I am a quick learner but I still have to ask more questions and figure things out. My time will come and I will make plays. If they do not trust me out there, I have to study a little more."


--RB Johnny White was signed to the club's 53-man roster. A fifth-round pick in 2011 out of North Carolina, White was released on Aug. 31. The Bills need depth at running back after losing Fred Jackson to a three- to six-week knee injury. White was assigned No. 29.

--QB Tyler Thigpen will serve as the club's backup quarterback for a second week in a row when the Bills host the Chiefs, his old team, on Sunday. Newcomer Tarvaris Jackson is still not equipped yet with the playbook to handle the No. 2 duties, but is expected to assume that role when he is.


--RB Fred Jackson will miss a minimum of three weeks with a sprained right knee suffered in last week's opener against the Jets. Jackson was tackled awkwardly from the side and was able to walk off the field. Last year, he suffered a broken right fibula but not until the 10th game of the year. The Bills have good depth at running back with C.J. Spiller in the wings.

--WR David Nelson, who suffered an ACL tear in last Sunday's opener against the New York Jets, was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Nelson was the team's second-leading receiver with 61 catches for 658 yards and five touchdowns. His 6-5 height will be missed as a slot receiver and red-zone threat.

--DE Mario Williams, a non-factor in a season-opening loss to the Jets, is dealing with a sore wrist that may have affected his ability to push off blocks, coach Chan Gailey suggested. "It probably had some effect," said Gailey, who added Williams' wrist is becoming less and less an issue each day.

--WR Stevie Johnson, who was limited in practice last week with a groin, is practicing fully for Sunday's game against Kansas City. "Right now, the way I feel I really do not care if it lingers or if it goes away today or tomorrow. I am going to be ready to play," he said.

--CB Terrence McGee, hampered all training camp with a knee issue, did dress and play against the Jets, getting in a decent number of reps and coming through the game in good shape. The team, whose experience is thin at defensive back, is hopeful he can play a larger role against the Chiefs on Sunday.

The Chiefs opened last year losing to Buffalo 41-7 at home, fired their head coach late in the year, endured front-office bickering and injuries, and still finished with a better record than the Bills. With both teams laying giant eggs last week, this an early "must win" for both teams, but especially Buffalo which can ill afford to lose at home after so much preseason hype. The Chiefs, now under the guidance of coach Romeo Crennel, get back the services of two key defenders this week (and four defensive starters overall) in LB Tamba Hali and CB Brandon Flowers, meaning it might behoove the Bills to concentrate on running the ball and giving erratic QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (three picks vs. Jets) a comfort zone. Meanwhile, now would be a good time for Buffalo's expensively remodeled defense to show up after not showing up at all vs. the Jets. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel was roughed up for three sacks and two interceptions by Atlanta and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt needs to be more aggressive if he wants a similar feeding frenzy.

Bills DE Mario Williams, who was held without a sack in his Bills debut against the Jets, vs. Chiefs free-agent RT Eric Winston, his former teammate in Houston. There are no secrets between the two.

Bills run defense vs. Chiefs running game fortified by the return of Jamaal Charles from a knee injury and addition of bruising free-agent RB/FB Peyton Hillis.

Bills WR Stevie Johnson, who needs to pick up the slack for the loss of David Nelson (knee), vs. Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who is coming off a groin injury but is expected to start.

Bills RB C.J. Spiller, coming off a 169-yard effort against the Jets, vs. Chiefs defense getting back four starters, including LB Tamba Hali from a one-game suspension.

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


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