SJFC On Bills Podcast 8/21/13 (Audio)

By Robin Lalisse and Billy Bonneau

Robin Lalisse and Billy Bonneau recap the Buffalo Bills Training Camp from St. John Fisher College, including what they saw from E.J. Manuel, Kevin Kolb and Jeff Tuel at Quarterback, the team’s young receiving corp, Doug Marrone and the new coaching staff, and more.

Follow Robin Lalisse (@Robin Lalisse) and Billy Bonneau (@BillyBonneau) on Twitter

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Q And A With Bills Rookie Wide Receiver Robert Woods

By Billy Bonneau

Billy Bonneau: What has been the biggest difference in learning the skills needed for the wide receiver position at the NFL level compared to college?

Robert Woods: “Same concepts I would say but different terminology. Once I got that down it’s pretty much the same thing.”

BB: What has been the most helpful information coach Ike Hilliard has given you during your time with the team and does it help knowing he was a successful wide receiver during his playing days compared to having someone who maybe has never played the position before as your coach?

RW: “He’s definitely given us game experience by telling us to slow down and be patient out there. We have a lot more time out there than we think which has actually been true.”

BB: What about this young group of receivers including yourself makes you think this position group will be a tough matchup for opposing defenses this year?

RW: “We have a lot of speed and guys that can run great routes for us. Everyone brings something different to the table which is a plus for us.”

BB: You’ve had some time working in the return game throughout camp, what about the return game excites you so much and why in your mind is it such an important part of a football game?

RW: “In this game it’s another way to put points on the board and get the ball back. We have a great coach and great scheme which should help us put up some points this year.”

BB: Who is your favorite receiver to watch in the NFL right now that you try and model your game after?

RW: “I look at Jerry Rice a lot, but in today’s game I get a lot of comparisons to Reggie Wayne.”

BB: Favorite pre-game meal?

RW: “White vines, or steak and honey, or apple juice and honey.”

BB: Who’s faster, Marquise Goodwin or your former college teammate Marquise Lee?

RW: “Marquise Goodwin by a couple steps. Both guys are pretty fast but I think Marquise Goodwin is going to win that one.”

BB: With camp coming to a close, what are your thoughts on your first training camp at St. John Fisher College?

RW: “Great food, great facilities, great atmosphere, great turnout for practice.”

Follow Billy Bonneau (@BillyBonneau) on Twitter

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Doug Marrone Press Conference (Video)

By Robin Lalisse

Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone talks about what he saw in last night’s practice, the injury progress of players like E.J. Manuel and Crezdon Butler, how Kevin Kolb has looked this week, his thoughts on the Nigel Bradham arrest, and more.

Follow Robin Lalisse (@RobinLalisse) on Twitter

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Always Open Bills Receiver Opens Up: Chris Hogan Q And A (Video)

By Robin Lalisse and Billy Bonneau

At a press conference last Tuesday, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett revealed the nickname of third-year receiver Chris Hogan.

“We call him 7-11,” said Hackett. “He’s always open. He’s done a really good job. He’s one of those guys, from a quarterbacks standpoint, you know right where he’s going to be. He runs very good routes. He made some great plays today. He’s a guy that definitely opens your eyes. You want him out there. The quarterbacks love when he’s out there.”

For Hogan, however, it was a nickname that he had earned with one of the Bills division rivals. He was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks last training camp with the Miami Dolphins, where then-Dolphins running back Reggie Bush called Hogan 7/11 because he was open 24 hours (video quality isn’t great):

Hogan has had a unique and varied athletic past, as the Democrat and Chronicle’s Sal Maiorana detailed last Thursday:

Hogan played high school football and was an accomplished wide receiver who earned all-state honors twice, setting a Ramapo (N.J.) High School record for career receptions. He was also a baseball pitcher, but after blowing out his pitching arm (left) — “Throwing too many curveballs, and doing it the wrong way, probably,” he said — Hogan switched spring sports and took up lacrosse in his sophomore year.

His dad, James, had played lacrosse back in the day, and he helped his son with some of the fundamentals and the newbie proved to be a quick study. By the time Hogan was a senior in 2006 he was named New Jersey’s Midfielder of the Year, and he was an Under Armour All-American.

There were offers from several schools including Connecticut and Rutgers to play football, but he decided to play lacrosse at Penn State.

“It was a tough decision and I went with lacrosse and stuck with it,” said Hogan.

Hogan was a solid middie for the Nittany Lions, earning first-team all-ECAC honors one year, all-CAA honors another, and he finished with 57 career goals. Having lost his sophomore season to an injury, he had one year of NCAA eligibility left, and he decided to leave Penn State so that he could use it to play football.

Although he enjoyed lacrosse, there were regrets and he said, “If I could go back four years, I would have absolutely played football.”

He wanted to play for Doug Marrone at Syracuse, but he couldn’t get into the Newhouse School of Public Communications, so he headed home to New Jersey to play for Monmouth University in 2010. He played both sides of the ball as a receiver and a safety — he caught three TD passes and intercepted three passes — which, along with a 4.47-second clocking in the 40-yard dash got him some looks from pro scouts.

Hogan, listed at 6’1”, 220, has been a standout in camp, so much so that he has been predicted to make the 53 man roster by WGR 550′s Joe Buscaglia. As Doug Marrone was almost able to coach Hogan at Syracuse, he has been very impressed by the young receiver.

“He has been very consistent for us,” said Marrone. “A big thing about it is availability, and he’s been available all the time. And he’s gotten better, he’s progressed. He’s had a very good camp, and again, it’s one of those things where he’s right there in the mix, playing well, playing hard to make this roster and that’s what you want to see.”

Hogan, 24, has become another potential young contributor to a blossoming before our eyes group of receivers. He was able to talk to us about his nickname, athletic past, the Hard Knocks experience, playing for Doug Marrone, and more:

Robin Lalisse: Teammates have nicknamed you 7/11 because you are always open, and fans have said it a few times. How do you feel about getting a nickname like that, and how have you earned it?

Chris Hogan: “Being a receiver, it’s a nice compliment, people calling you 7/11 because you are always getting open on the field. It’s a funny nickname and it came from the Hard Knocks last year when I was in Miami. I kind of ran with it, and it’s stuck with me ever since.”

RL: You have a background in baseball in high school, and played Lacrosse at Penn State before ending up playing at Monmouth University in 2010 as both a receiver and safety. What do you take out of that varied athletic past to help you now?

CH: “I’m able to adapt. I only played a year of football. I was kind of able to make the change fairly quickly going from playing Lacrosse for four years and then jumping right into football. Being an athlete and using my athleticism, jumping from lacrosse to football, has definitely helped me.”

 RL: You were featured on last year’s Hard Knocks with the Dolphins. How has that affected your life, both personally and professionally?

 CH: “Personally, it’s just something that I’ll always have forever. Something that I worked for and that was just a neat thing to happen on Hard Knocks and it was cool to be featured on that. As an athlete, it obviously helped me and got my name out there moving forward after I was released from the Dolphins. Everywhere I went, people knew who I was.”

 RL: You did try to play for Doug Marrone when he was at Syracuse. When he took the job here, did you believe that maybe this was the best place for you?

CH: “Yeah. I was excited about all the new coaches and the new changes that they were making. I knew it was going to be an up-tempo, fast-paced offense, something I also was excited about that I thrived in also in Miami and did very well there. When (Marrone) came here and all the new coaches came here, I was pretty excited about it.”

 RL: Who do you compare yourself to as a receiver, current or former in the league?

CH: “I like to watch all those guys that play in the slot. I watch Wes Welker and try to mimic some of the things that he does, and also Davone Bess. I also try to mimic a bigger guy on the outside like Brandon Marshall and try to do some of the things that he does on the field.”

RL: Is there an undrafted guy at your position that you use as someone to believe in the possibility of being successful in this league?

CH: “Yeah, absolutely. I know Davone (Bess) personally. I don’t know Wes Welker, but I know they both have a tremendous work ethic and got to where they  needed to be by working hard and that’s something that I’m trying to do as well.”

 RL: How have you enjoyed camp at St. John Fisher college so far?

 CH: It’s been great. The facilities are awesome. The dorms are great. The food is tremendous; that’s something that definitely helps you get through camp a little easier, and it’s been pretty cool.”

Follow Robin Lalisse (@RobinLalisse) and Billy Bonneau (@BillyBonneau) on Twitter

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Bills Address Bradham Arrest

By Billy Bonneau

With only two practices left, the Buffalo Bills are forced to address an off-the-field issue concerning second year linebacker Nigel Bradham. Bradham was charged with marijuana possession on Saturday in Tonawanda, New York.

Following the teams pre-season game against the Minnesota Vikings, Bradham was pulled over on Saturday morning at 2:01 a.m., according to the Tonawanda News.

“I made a mistake,” Bradham said.

The police officer who pulled Bradham over for a window tint violation smelled marijuana in the vehicle of the former Seminole. After originally denying there were any drugs in the car, Bradham eventually admitted there were drugs inside as he opened the glove compartment and pulled out a plastic bag containing marijuana.

The police report stated that the amount of marijuana was not enough to arrest and put Bradham in jail, which is why he was only issued two tickets. One ticket was for a small possession of marijuana, and one was for a window tint violation.

“I just don’t want to be a distraction that’s the main thing, just try to stay focus as a team,” Bradham said.

Bradham will receive a punishment from the league sooner rather than later. As far as the Bills are concerned, the team does not support these actions at all.

“Coach has been preaching accountability. And this is an instance he’s going to have to step up and be accountable for his actions,” general manager Doug Whaley said. “Hopefully it shows to the whole team, anything you do, you’re going to be held accountable.”

With only two pre-season games remaining, it will be interesting to see if Bradham loses any playing time and to what degree will the league punish him due to his actions.

Follow Billy Bonneau (@BillyBonneau) on Twitter

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Nickell Robey Q and A (Video)

By Robin Lalisse

Cornerback Nickell Robey from University of Southern California (USC) is one of many players in NFL training camps trying to make the unexpected jump from undrafted free agent to an active roster.

Robey was complimented by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in an interview by BuffaloBills.com’s John Murphy in June (via buffalorumblings.com):

“Nickell Robey has come in and done a real nice job. You can tell he (was) very well-coached in Southern California. He’s made big plays in big games. I don’t think it’ll be too big for him. We’re pleased with where we are in the back end, and not just in the nickel spot.”

Robey was able to start last Friday against the Vikings with Leodis McKelvin and Crezdon Butler out due to injury. Robey was complimented last Wednesday by undrafted rookie Wide Receiver Da’Rick Rogers (You can see what he said in my analysis of that practice here), and BuddyNixon.com’s Rob Quinn wrote last Friday that Robey could potentially become the Bills’ starting nickel cornerback.

I was able to talk with Robey today, and here is the question and answer of today’s interview:

Robin Lalisse: You started at the left corner spot on Friday against the Vikings. What was that experience like, and what did you gain from it?

Nickell Robey: “It was fun out there playing with the guys. It was fun out there just making plays on the ball and getting a chance to help the team out to win. Overall, I think that my performance was a good performance, I try to get my hands on some balls and get some tackles, and make some good plays. It was good.

RL: In June, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said you had “come in and done a real nice job, You can tell he (was) very well-coached in Southern California. He’s made big plays in big games. I don’t think it’ll be too big for him.” What did that mean coming from him, how is it being coached by him, and how have you used that praise to better yourself?

NR: “I just stay humble, keep working hard knowing that what’s going on right now is just a process, and just to keep moving forward into this preseason. Focusing on making plays and staying coachable. That’s the main thing it is to be in this training camp with me for the most part. Just staying on top of the little things because that’s what counts the most. If you’ve seen the practice out there, it’s a lot of small things that can predict the outcome of a game. I just have to make sure that I’m on top of those things and stay sharp.

RL: Da’Rick Rogers pointed you out as one of the undrafted players  that has played extremely well in camp. What does that mean to you, and how have you approached camp?

NR: “Coming into camp, I had the mindset of just really going strong, and really showing everybody what I was made of, and showing the Buffalo Bills organization that I’m worthy to be on this team. I’ll do whatever it takes just to be on this team and in this league because now it’s a big deal. Like I said, just coming out here and doing what I got to do to make this team is the most important part.

RL: You are listed at 5’8’’, 165 pounds. With size not a strength of yours, what other areas do you perform well in to overcome your lack of size?

NR: “Well, 5’8’’, 177 (pounds), (laughing), but I got speed, quickness. I feel that I have great feet and fluid hips. I can have better leverage on taller receivers, but also use my feet against them, too. Moving with my feet, and just turn and run and go cover my guy down.”

RL: You do play very physical. How do you do that at your size, and how do you control your physicality in order to not get called for penalties?

NR: “Obviously, stay in the weight room. It’s a physical sport. You’ve got to put your hands on people. It’s a grown man league, so you’re going to put your hands on guys at some point and time in the game. When you do that, you got to make sure you’re in the weight room. You got to make sure you’re eating well and sleeping well. All that plays a factor into playing physical on the field. It just doesn’t really come overnight. That’s something that you got to put in your mind and work in the weight room. Those are the things you’ve got to do to be physical.”

RL: What have you seen out of the defensive backfield players, including Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Jumal Rolle and others?

NR: “They are great guys, great guys to play with. They teach me a lot. There’s a lot of things I learn on the fly, they’ll just teach me on the fly. For the most part, they’ll tell me the things to do and the things not to do. I try to apply it to the game and  at practice and play against it to the best of my abilities. If not, go look on film and make corrections on whatever needs to be done. but they help me out a lot.”

Follow Robin Lalisse (@Robin Lalisse) on Twitter

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Bills’ Youth Movement Claims Unlikely Victim (Video)

By Robin Lalisse

With 980 points in the last ten years for Buffalo, kicker Rian Lindell needed just 32 to become the team’s all-time leading scorer (kicker Steve Christie had 1,011 points).

But the Bills announced this morning that Lindell was no longer on the team:

Several veterans like Mark Anderson, Donald Jones, Nick Barnett, and George Wilson have already met the end of their Bill careers with the new Doug Marrone regime. Lindell, despite signing a four-year, $10 million contract last February and being the longest-tenured current player, turned out to be no different.

The drafting of Dustin Hopkins from Florida State, who has a monster leg and has already recorded three touchbacks on kickoffs this preseason. Hopkins has also made all four of his field goal attempts, although none longer than 39 yards.

Here was some early reaction on Twitter

Hopkins hasn’t been consistent in camp, but he did set the NCAA Division I FBS record for career points scored by a kicker with 466, and was a two-time finalist for the Lou Groza award for the nation’s best kicker. As a sophomore in 2010, Hopkins made a 55 yard game winning field goal against Clemson, showing both leg strength and clutch play.

Lindell, 36, missed only one of his 306 extra point attempts with Buffalo, and stands 10th all-time in games played in team history with 152. No Bills special teams player appeared in more games than Lindell.

Marrone knew it was a very tough decision to make, and can empathize with Lindell’s situation.

“A lot of times those decisions are tough,” said Marrone. ”I know about those things. I was released six times myself. I understand what the players go through. I understand what it’s like in that meeting. I want to make sure that I’m giving that player a lot of respect when those times come. Rian is one of the top professionals I’ve been around.”

Hopkins spoke to the media today and while he is sad to see Lindell go, he is ready to step in and capitalize on his new opportunity.

“I find myself in a paradox,” said Hopkins. “”It was only a short time, but I consider him a friend. I need to make every kick, whether its a 55 yard (field goal) or an extra point.”

With Hopkins, the Bills’ three kicking specialists (Long snapper Garrison Sanborn and Punter Shawn Powell) are  former Florida State University players.

Other Practice Notes:

  • Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson said that he is playing on Saturday against the Washington Redskins, according to buffalobills.com.
  • Marrone said that undrafted rookie Wide Receiver Da’Rick Rogers “flashes the ability to win, but it’s a little bit up and down,” though “he should be a fine player” if consistent. Rogers caught a deep ball from fellow undrafted rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel.
  • Rookie Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin caught a deep touchdown again today. Goodwin continues to be nearly unstoppable on downfield passes in practice. It will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets on Saturday.

Follow Robin Lalisse (@Robin Lalisse) on Twitter

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