Bills go short, plus notes

Kevin Gilbride denies that the Bills' offensive philosophy has changed much from last year. But what I saw in the June mini-camp (which is officially called the organized team activity) is anything but the high-flying, vertical ballgame Buffalo threw at defenses last year.



Today quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe, Alex Van Pelt, Travis Brown or Jason Johnson threw nearly every pass underneath to running backs on screens or swing routes, and to wide receivers and tight ends running short outs and ins. I counted two passes longer than 20 yards. If that doesn't say that the offensive philosophy has been modified, then the quarterbacks are being more conservative than Rush Limbaugh …

I'm a little worried that Marcus Jones hasn't suited up during any of the off-season mini-camps. The Bills signed him in November and promptly put him on injured reserve after he had left knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. In August, he tore his left lateral meniscus.

I think this might be a situation similar to Shawn Price last year. Buffalo signed Price because they really needed someone to play under tackle, but it was so obvious that Price couldn't play in the condition he was in, that he was released shortly after being signed.

When Tampa Bay released Jones last year, he seemed hopeful that he could resume his career. But he also made comments that sounded like he wouldn't have a problem retiring either. I wouldn't be surprised if he never plays for the Bills.

And I think that bodes well for Chris Kelsay. The coaches have told Kelsay not to rule himself out from starting this year, just as strong safety Coy Wire did as a rookie last year. Buffalo is going to play the most productive player at left end, rookie or veteran.

Kelsay has excellent speed and pursuit, but he said he'll be even better when he's in pads because his physical game will surface. Kelsay is much quicker than Ryan Denney. Plus, he said he's picked up the defense with ease.

As for Denney, he must be feeling some pressure because he's pursuing every play, even when it's 10 yards down field. I don't recall seeing that last year. Aaron Schobel joked that last year the linemen used to take a few steps toward the play, but then they'd stop. This year, different story …

Veteran end Keith McKenzie has been backing up Schobel at right end mostly. Initially, he was a left end candidate. He might still play there. Certainly, versatility is important for any reserve …

One player told me that he hasn't seen any evidence that the team would be using Gregg Williams' 46-hybrid defense this year.

Look, I think Williams is a very flexible coach, and good coaches usually are, but none of the systems he brought to the Bills, are being used anymore. That doesn't bode well for him …

In uniform, but not practicing today were running back Willis McGahee, defensive end Marcus Jones and defensive back Scott Turner. Cornerback Jason Bostic, who's recovering from knee surgery, was not present at all …

Team officials told McGahee that he won't be in pads when training camp opens. I don't expect McGahee to be in pads at all during 2003 …

The Bills were supposed to practice in Wilson Stadium and debut their new AstroPlay field to fans, but it was raining and the team moved the 10:30 a.m. practice inside the field house. Some fans who hadn't heard that the outdoor practice was canceled, came and were disappointed. Three men pleaded with a team official to keep the field house door open so they could peer through the glass doors. Unfortunately, he said he wasn't allowed to do that.

The team canceled the outdoor practice just one hour before it was supposed to start. So there were a number of fans at the stadium. Not surprisingly though, the Bills had their ticket window and team store open for business.


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