Bills need some more work

By scoreboard standards, the Browns beat the Bills 30-12 at Edinboro University's Sox Harrison Stadium Aug. 4 – but four of the Browns' touchdowns came when the ball was placed on the two-yard line so the teams could practice goal line situations.

Suffice it to say, the Bills could work on their goal line defense a little more, which Gregg Williams said has not seen much work yet.

The scrimmage was each team's first live action against an opponent this season, drawing 8,537 fans to the small northwestern Pennsylvania town. It was also the pro head coaching debuts of Williams and the Browns' Butch Davis. Other than that, it was a typical preseason affair filled with good plays, bad plays, stupid penalties and plenty of mistakes.

Fortunately for Buffalo, scoreboard isn't what counts during a controlled scrimmage. Rather, the Bills coaches were gauging how individuals and units performed.

Judging how the Bills practiced against the Browns Friday afternoon, it appeared they were heading for trouble. But the team played better on Saturday, at least early on. Toward the end, it was pretty rough.

Johnson mediocre

Johnson completed an 18-yard square-in pass to Eric Moulds on the opening play of his first 12-play series from the Buffalo 35. But he made a poor throw to Price on a 12-yard out, rushing the pass despite decent protection. He also threw a very un-Johnson-like interception on a deep fly pattern pass to Peerless Price in single coverage – which should be likable odds. The ball fluttered, like it slipped out of Johnson's hand, so it didn't go as far. Price cut off the route, and went up for it, but Browns corner Corey Fuller made the catch. Price could have done a better job to knock the ball down. Later, Johnson overthrew Moulds on the same pattern.

Johnson finished the first series two of six for 20 yards. He wasn't sacked and wasn't running for survival. However, most of his passes weren't crisp.

His second series at the end of the scrimmage was an unabashed disaster. He was sacked five times, including four in a row to wrap up his day. He also had a seven-yard scramble when protection broke down. Four of the five sacks were the fault of the line and the other one was because he held the ball too long.

"Obviously, we need a lot of work," said Johnson.

Line good then downright awful

Buffalo's first-team line performed well with left tackle Robert Hicks (in for the injured John Fina), left guard Ruben Brown, center Bill Conaty, right guard Jerry Ostroski and right tackle Kris Farris. During series No. 1, there were no sacks and the running game gained 36 yards. After that, things worsened. Then they steadily worsened, until finally – putridity. That's where things stayed, unfortunately, because the scrimmage was over.

The Bills gave up 11 sacks, six during the first and second teams' second go-around on the field.

The pivotal point came four plays into the series with each team's starters. Ruben Brown and Browns cornerback Daylon McCutcheon somehow got into a fight and Brown left the field after that. He was replaced by rookie Marquez Sullivan, who was responsible for one of the four sacks Johnson received at day's end. The others were attributed to right tackle Robert Hicks, with two, and left tackle, Kris Farris, one. Hicks and Farris were at opposite tackles earlier in the day, and both seemed to do better then.

"I think the pass protection late got sloppy because of some fatigue things," said Williams. "I think it got sloppy because of some distractions once the little altercation broke out. It's obviously not where I want it to be, not where we want it to be as a team. I think we can do some things coaching-wise and (choose) better play selection sometimes to help them also. But you have to put them in some unforgiving positions to see what we can and can't do under fire."

Turnover-inspired defense nets none

Williams has said that the Bills will run an attacking-style of defense with a focus on turnovers. However, there was only one Cleveland fumble, which Cleveland recovered. There were no interceptions.

Pass defense-speaking, Buffalo clearly needs starting corners Antoine Winfield and Ken Irvin to stay healthy for the season, otherwise interceptions might be hard to get, and the defense, which relies on a healthy dose of man-to-man single coverage, may not work.

Top-pick Nate Clements started at right corner during the scrimmage, replacing Chris Watson, showed speed to match up with the Browns' fastest receivers, but he also let Darrin Chiaverini get open for a 25-yard completion. He never came close to picking one off either.

There is obviously a major drop-off between the defensive back starters and the second team.

Various notes . . .

The Browns converted 50 percent of their third downs (6 of 12), but the first team only gave up one of three attempts . . . Cleveland scored four of six times – three rushes, one pass –from the Buffalo 2 during goal-line defense drills. It was two-for-three against the first team and second team . . . Cleveland gained 277 total yards to Buffalo's 205 yards . . . The Bills' first-team defense only played one series, as opposed to Cleveland's two. Williams admitted it was a mistake to send Johnson out there a second time because he was going in cold after sitting out. But he didn't say that it was bad for the rest of the first-team offense . . . Larry Centers is not as well known for his blocking as he is for his pass catching, but he threw good blocks on two Bryson runs, including one for a touchdown.

Helped

RB Shawn Bryson – Showed explosiveness around corner; scored TD.

TE Bobby Collins – Made block springing 18-yard Bryson run; showing improvement in run blocking.

NT Ron Edwards – Showed good penetration of the line.

DE Bryce Fisher – Made three sacks playing second-team right end.

RB Travis Henry – 10 carries, 41 yards. Ran well behind blocks and into holes.

DE Kendrick Office – made a good stop on RB while playing tackle in goal line defense.

Hurt

CB Lance Brown – Playing nickel back on third down, had five-yard pass interference penalty for first down.

RT Jon Carman – Gave up a sack.

RT Robert Hicks – Played better at LT than RT where he gave up two sacks, which will hurt in RT race with Farris.

RG Corey Hulsey – Called for offside.

LB/DE Corey Moore – Was non-factor playing some LE, though he says he's not 100 percent yet.

SLB DaShon Polk – Called for offside.

DT Ty Robertson – Called for offside.

RE Aaron Schobel – Jumped offside with Jarrett Procell once, but did have a late sack.

CB Jimmy Williams – Called for 30-yard pass interference penalty.

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