Update on Buffalo Bills in NFL Europe

Buffalo Bills QB prospect Craig Ochs has his Frankfurt Galaxy squad on the cusp of a World Bowl appearance and a shot at the NFLE crown. They need one more victory to secure a spot in the Championship game. Meanwhile the Bills' Fred Jackson is second in the league in rushing.

Ochs is the second-rated passer in the league after nine games. He has completed 82 of 136 attempts for 993 yards and six touchdowns. He has thrown only four interceptions while completing more than 60 percent of his passes, for a league second-best QB rating of 85.2.

Frankfurt is 6-3, but 6-1 in games in which Craig Ochs starts. In fact, the loss last week to Amsterdam, in which Ochs uncharacteristically suffered two interceptions, was his first defeat as a starter. Ochs has had help fitting into the system from Frankfurt quarterbacks coach Biff Parson. The Galaxy have used their big wide receivers Aaron Hosack (6-5, 210), Walter Young (6-4, 215) and Adam Herzing (6-3, 205) to produce a high-percentage passing game.

Out of the University of Montana, the undrafted Ochs signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers last summer and was later released. He kept himself in shape throughout the football season and signed with the Buffalo Bills. The organization sent him to Europe to hone his skills, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity.

"I just came into this with the mind-set that I wanted to get some things accomplished," Ochs said in a phone interview from his Frankfurt hotel room this week. "The most important thing was to get back on the field and show that I could make plays, read the field and lead a team." Ochs faces stiff competition to make the Buffalo Bills 53-man roster to open the 2006 season. Right now he's 4th on a 3 QB depth chart behind JP Losman, veteran journeyman Kelly Holcomb, and newly acquired free agent Craig Nall- also a former NFLE passing leader. He has passed Tory Woodbury, the 5th QB under contract. Showing some promise last season in camp, Woodbury was re-signed by the Bills and also sent to NFL Europe. Injuries to ligaments in his foot ended his season before it could get started.

The Bills again have a good prospect out of the backfield in RB Fred Jackson . Whether returning, rushing or receiving, Fire running back Fred Jackson gets the job done. He's second in the league with 577 rushing yards on 135 attempts. Jackson also added 315 yards (second on the Fire). His 5-4 Rein Fire are trying to catch Och's Galaxy for the final spot in the World Bowl game.

This season Jackson has stayed true to those claims by gaining countless extra-effort yards after initial contact. He's totaled 1,061 combined net yards this season and is the only running back of the top three in the league to have balanced yardage across the board.

Jackson makes a living by being versatile, and offensive coordinator Steve Logan says he couldn't ask for more. "His lower body strength has been the most surprising thing for me. He's a real slender hip athlete, but he's incredibly strong in the lower body and his yards after contact are impressive," said Logan. "And to top it off, his hands are impeccable and he catches everything thrown to him."

Left Tackle Dylan McFarland has been starting for the otherwise disappointing Hamburg Sea Devils. A team mate of Craig Ochs at Montana , his steady play has earned him a place on the final ballot of the All- NFL Europe team to be determined at the conclusion of the season.

The Sea Devils offense has exploded in the past two weeks, scoring 51 points in their back-to-back victories. Quarterback Brock Berlin (Miami Dolphins) has thrown four touchdowns and for 387 yards coming off the bench.

The Sea Devils success throwing the ball may be partly down to the fact that their quarterbacks are the least sacked in NFL Europe this season. They will aim to retain that mark in this final game against an Amsterdam defense that ranks second with 17 sacks.

"It is a big goal for us to keep that record and one thing that we still have left to play for," says tackle Dylan McFarland. "We have a good offensive line and that is something that we can walk away with to show what we have accomplished this year as a unit. We all can't be like quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs and get all of the glory, but this is one that we have a lot of pride in."

Kicker Nick Setta is 8/11 in Field goals for the Cologne Centurions.

Safety Rob Lee of Frankfurt has a lot of competition when the Bills open training camp in July with the Bills spending three of their first four picks in the draft on defensive backs, including safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson. He has one interception with a 40 yard return. He's also registered 28 total tackles.

Hamburg Sea Devils defensive tackle and Bills prospect Tai Tupai has similar competition. Since his departure to Europe the Bills have acquired Larry Triplett from the Colts in free agency, as well as drafting Johnny McCargo and Kyle Williams. A backup on the Sea Devils- he has managed 1 sack and 6 tackles.



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