What's happened to Hicks?

After watching Monday night's practice, I have a couple of concerns. What's happened to Robert Hicks? The fourth-year tackle, who was so promising as recent as 12 months ago, now seems like he's in a terrible career slide.

Kris Farris is still the starter at right tackle, Hicks' old position, and rookie Jonas Jennings was playing first-team left tackle, in for the injured John Fina. That was a spot Hicks would normally be in as a reserve. Hicks says he feels good and that he's working hard, but something is not happening for him. During the 11-on-11, he was soundly and quickly beaten by Phil Hansen while playing second-team right tackle. Hansen went on to sack the quarterback.

Gregg Williams, Tom Donahoe and line coach Ronnie Vinklarek are behind Hicks, and have stated that publicly, but unless he improves his play, he could be in danger of being released from the team.

Hicks has talent. He showed that early in his career. Unfortunatley, we could be watching a good player on the verge of extinction, just like former Bills quarterback Todd Collins was after '97 . . .

Antoine Winfield, Ken Irvin, Travares Tillman, Sammy Morris, Josh Roth, Brandon Spoon and John Fina are still out. Williams said Winfield and Irvin will be back for Tuesday morning's practice . . .

Williams said because defensive end Bryce Fisher had a good scrimmage vs. the Browns, with three sacks, he'll earn more playing time at right end in the preseason game vs. the Rams Sunday night. Perhaps Fisher will take over the starting right end's job from Erik Flowers. I don't think Flowers could play anything else but right end because he's not a great physical lineman. This should be interesting . . .

The offense was 2-for-2 in scoring touchdowns during the one-minute drill from their own 35. Rob Johnson threw a touchdown to Peerless Price in the right corner of the end zone as time expired and Alex Van Pelt found Avion Black on a Hail Mary, a 40- to 45-yard throw, also as time expired. Black got himself in good position, getting in front of the corner and free safety, and made the grab at the 3 then fighting off a tackle to get to the end zone . . .

Will linebacker Jay Foreman intercepted a poorly thrown Rob Johnson pass intended for a wide receiver in the flat during the 11-on-11 . . .

Buffalo sent Henry Jones, Sam Cowart and Keith Newman in on a blitz and Jones easily sacked Alex Van Pelt. If they don't defend the blitz better, fourth-stringer Jack Hawley could be taking the snaps come Week 8 . . .

Buffalo practiced some three-man defensive fronts during third-and-long plays. That's the first time I've seen a three-man front since Ted Cottrell was coaching the defense . . .

Safety Carl Nesmith intercepted an Alex Van Pelt pass . . . NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in attendance. Tagliabue visits five to six camps a summer and he thought St. John Fisher was one of the nicer setups in the NFL. He also talked to the players about being responsible NFL professionals.

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