--The release of veteran LB Jeff Posey was a surprise only in its timing. Posey lost his starting strong-side job to Angelo Crowell entering training camp and his $1.75 million salary was a hefty price tag for a backup. Reserves Mario Haggan and Josh Stamer are competent players, key special teams performers, and, perhaps most importantly, come a lot cheaper. The Bills also drafted an OLB in Keith Ellison.
Still, the coaches had indicated Posey would be given a look as a pass-rushing end. They quickly concluded, however, that free agents Mark Word, Eric Powell, Ryan Neill, Jason Hall and Josh Cooper deserved those repetitions in competition for the fourth DE job, rather than spend time experimenting with Posey.
In Buffalo's new scheme, speed is favored over size.
"Maybe ideally in terms of body type and movement skills, he didn't fit the package as you define it on paper," coach Dick Jauron said. "He can play, though. He's proven it in the league. I'm fairly certain he'll play in the league this year."
Posey, who had 9 1/2 sacks in his three Bills seasons, was never the impact player promised, but part of that stemmed from being asked to be a safety net for London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes so they could gamble more and make plays. Posey, in the final year of his deal, will cost Buffalo $437,500 on its cap.
--SS Matt Bowen suffered a lower-leg injury in Saturday's preseason opener at Carolina but X-rays were negative, the club announced. His injury could open the door for rookie Donte Whitner, the team's top pick, to win the starting job.
--SS Donte Whitner, the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, played extensively in Saturday's preseason opener after veteran Matt Bowen suffered a lower-leg injury in the second quarter. He wound up with five tackles but drew a late-hit penalty.
--QB Craig Nall, a free agent from Green Bay, who has sat out two weeks with a severe hamstring pull, is scheduled to resume practicing Monday. He hopes to play in Friday's preseason game against Cincinnati and make the team's QB competition a three-man race again.
--RB Lionel took the lead in the race for the No. 1 backup job by rushing for 31 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against Carolina.
--LB Mario Haggan, who has no regular-season NFL starts in three seasons, started Saturday's game at Carolina in place of Takeo Spikes (Achilles' tendon). Haggan played the strong side and Angelo Crowell shifted to Spikes' weak-side spot.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK
Craig Nall vs. J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb at quarterback. Nall has missed a solid two weeks recovering from a severe hamstring pull but he's expected back at practice. If he can make something happen in Friday's preseason game against Cincinnati, he could earn the start the next week against Cleveland if the coaches want to truly make this competition fair. Right now, Losman has the early lead.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS
Mark Word, Ryan Neill, Eric Powell, Jason Hall and Josh Cooper for the fourth DE job. The Bills want to improve their pass rush beyond ends Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney. Word, Neill and Powell have each had their strong moments in practice. Word had a tipped pass against the Panthers and Powell generated consistent pressure.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DT Kyle Williams. The fifth-round pick out of LSU is starting to develop the look of a late-round steal. The 6-1, 295-pounder isn't tall but he has made up for it with quickness and a nonstop motor, earning a spot on the Bills first nickel unit where his speed rushing the passer can be utilized. In Saturday's preseason opener, Williams had three tackles and drew double-team blocking. "He's one of those players who doesn't look a lot different than he looked in college," coach Dick Jauron said. "Sometimes you're fearful that a player who was good in college, all of sudden that step up in talent leaves him behind. But he doesn't look like he's that kind of a guy at all. He looks very comfortable here, very confident, he steps right in and plays. He's very smart."
SS Donte Whitner played extensively in Saturday's preseason opener on just five days of practice after his contract holdout. He had a team-high five tackles, but was also flagged for a blatant late hit out of bounds.
--DT John McCargo, who has had strong practices, finished with two tackles against Carolina playing with the second unit.
--CB Ashton Youboty returned to practice from a hamstring injury and saw action in the second half against the Panthers. He dropped a potential interception but had nice coverage on the play.
--FS Ko Simpson, who has looked good all camp, had two tackles and a fumble recovery.
--DT Kyle Williams continues to impress. He's working with the first nickel package and in Saturday's preseason opener drew double-team blocking. He wound up with three tackles.
--LB Keith Ellison had three tackles.
--SS Matt Bowen suffered a lower leg contusion in the second quarterback against Carolina. X-rays were negative but he'll miss some practice time.
--WR Roscoe Parrish suffered a minor groin strain and did not play the second half.
--FB Jon Goldsberry suffered a high ankle sprain that could sideline him for an extended period of time.
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