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Buffalo Bills: Camp News and Notes

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(Image courtesy of zimbio.com)
(Image courtesy of zimbio.com)

A lot of significant things going on in the Buffalo Bills before their Hall of Fame game against the New York Giants. We highlight a few of them below:

The sale of the team took another step forward on Tuesday when three first bids were submitted by the deadline for doing so.

Morgan Stanley, the investment bank employed by former owner Ralph Wilson’s estate to handle the sale, received bids from current Buffalo Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula, a Toronto based group led by Jon Bon Jovi, and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

Pegula’s bid reportedly topped $1 billion. Former Sabres’ owner Tom Golisano did not submit a bid and has apparently taken himself out of the running before the process really even began.

Morgan Stanley will check those bids to decide which groups will be eligible to go ahead to the next stage in which they would be able to get more detailed financial information about the team to better formulate a final bid.

Many believe an owner could be named by late August with the approval process by the league and rest of the owners to take place shortly afterwards. Trump has hedged a bit in recent days on his determination to actually acquire the team, telling Fox News earlier in the week that he thought it was “very, very unlikely” that he would own the team as he was unwilling to do something “stupid” to complete the purchase.

It would seem that Trump, like Golisano, is unwilling to engage in a bidding war for the right to buy the team.

If that is the case then Bills’ fans had better hope that Pegula is fully committed to doing everything in his power to secure ownership of the team, as even though Bon Jovi’s group denied reports that they intended to move the team to Toronto, it was revealed soon afterwards that the group had begun exploring sites for a stadium in and around Toronto.

· On the heels of the bid submission came word that third-year linebacker Nigel Bradham, the favorite to replace Kiko Alonso at the weak side outside linebacker position in Jim Schwartz’s new 4-3 scheme, had been suspended one game by the league for violating the it’s substance abuse policy.

Bradham will miss the Bills’ first game against the Chicago Bears but is eligible to take part in the rest of training camp and all preseason games. Bradham was arrested last August for marijuana possession but all charges were dismissed in court.

Bradham did not get off so easily with Commissioner Roger Goodell as his appeal of his suspension was denied last month.

There is no need to point out that Bradham’s suspension for possessing a miniscule amount of pot is almost equal to that of Ray Rice who was suspended just two games for striking his wife unconscious last February – the absurdity of such incongruities has been recognized by all – with the exception of the NFL itself – and debated non-stop since last week.

Head Coach Doug Marrone has supported Bradham in this matter, believing him to have matured greatly since the incident. Either way you have to think pretty soon Bradham is going to run out of chances with this team – he hasn’t shown much on the field in his first two seasons and as soon as you’re a distraction from it without parallel production on it your time in the league is finished.

For now the Bills must get rookie Preston Brown up to speed and would be best advised to assign him the majority of the first team reps that had been going to Bradham.

· The positive news of the day was the one year contract extension that running back Fred Jackson signed with the team on Wednesday.

At 33, Jackson is the oldest back in the league, an age when most backs have long since retired but Jackson insists he feels the best he has in a long time and intends on playing for three or four more years.

Normally offering a running back at that age even a year extension can seem foolhardy as the drop-off in production can come quickly. However, Jackson played in the CFL early in his career and did not incur the regular pounding an every down back does while splitting time the last several years with CJ Spiller.

Jackson had a career high nine rushing touchdowns last year and 47 receptions, also a career high. In his seven seasons in Buffalo, Jackson has accumulated 5,121 rushing yards – third all-time on the franchise’s rushing list – and only he and Thurman Thomas have recorded at least 4,000 rushing and 2,000 receiving yards for the Bills.

From a public relations standpoint, the news will be well received by the Buffalo fan base as Jackson is a beloved figure within the community. The Bills now have Jackson, Bryce Brown, and Anthony Dixon under contract for next season.

Spiller, who will become a free agent after this season, is still without a contract and the extension for Jackson may have been an extra insurance policy in case the team is unable to sign Spiller to a long-term deal.

Regardless, it would be difficult to fully replace Spiller – the most dynamic of their backfield options – and his production.

· Besides the tight end position the Bills’ offensive line may be their biggest question mark. The line remains in a state of flux with potential starters and backups rotating in and out at most positions.

There is an open competition at right guard despite incumbent Kraig Ubrik just having signed a lucrative four-year deal little more than a year ago.

Fifth-round draft pick Cyril Richardson and former backup Chris Hairston have all taken turns at the position with the first team in practice although Hairston did leave practice yesterday with an apparent back injury.

Additionally, there is still little explanation about why starting left tackle Cordy Glenn remains out of practice with what the team is declaring an undisclosed illness. Glenn has been seen in recent days working out on the sidelines with team trainers and the Buffalo News reported earlier in the week that the team expects Glenn to be ready by the regular season but a timeline for his return has not been given. The whole situation is a bit strange to say the least.

Rookie seventh-round draft pick Seantrel Henderson has taken the majority of the reps at the left tackle position and the uncertainty of Glenn’s condition could be what keeps Henderson on the roster to start the season.

Meanwhile, second-round pick Cyrus Koundijio has been in a battle with 32-year-old Erik Pears for the right tackle spot. The right side of the line caused issues for the Bills last year and although Ubrik was solid, if unspectacular with his play, Pears struggled, finishing the year ranked 55th out of 76 eligible right tackles by Pro Football Focus.

Pears was responsible for four sacks and 34 quarterback pressures last year, hardly stellar numbers.

Luckily, for the Bills’ coaching staff they have several more weeks of camp and preseason games to sort out all of these moving parts – they are most definitely going to need it.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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