Bills Notebook: Confident in Ellison?

Are the Bills as happy with Keith Ellison at outside linebacker as they say they are? Buffalo brought in Pisa Tinoisamoa on a visit this week. Could the Bills be on the verge of shaking things up defensively? This and much more inside...

--The Bills keep saying they are happy with Keith Ellison as their starting right outside linebacker, but their actions might be sending another message.

Paying a visit recently to One Bills Drive was St. Louis Rams free agent Pisa Tinoisamoa, the Rams' leading tackler four of the past six seasons who was released in a salary cap move.

Tinoisamoa would be an upgrade over Ellison, free agent Pat Thomas, rookie Nic Harris and second-year pro Alvin Bowen, or whomever else the Bills decide to line up on their strong side.

A second-round pick out of Hawaii in 2003, Tinoisamoa led the Rams in tackles his first three seasons in the NFL until shoulder, elbow and ankle injuries slowed him down in 2006 and '07.

He recovered to play all 16 games last season and posted a team-high 135 stops. For his career, he's added 10 sacks, nine forced fumbles and seven interceptions.

Earlier in free agency, the Bills courted Cato June and Freddy Keiaho but were reluctant to pull the trigger.

--The Bills knew that signing Terrell Owens would bring them attention. But this? A TV crew for VH-1 will be in tow when Owens takes part in a series of voluntary organized team activities. Footage is being shot for T.O.'s reality show that premieres in July. Dallas was supposed to be the setting when Owens signed the deal in January, but the Cowboys cut him and he landed in Buffalo. Producers followed. Owens' friends and publicists, Monique Jackson and Kita Williams, will be featured in the show as Owens attempts to re-examine "his personal life and finally put a plan into action," VH-1 said.

--A piece of Buffalo Bills lore has been sold: Jim Kelly's 4,800-square-foot home he had built in 1989 in Orchard Park, N.Y., a short drive from Ralph Wilson Stadium. The home had a nightclub in the basement and it was the place to be after every game as the young, star-studded Bills teams of the early 1990s bonded on way to winning four consecutive AFC championships. The home sold for $535,000 to a local developer.

--Defensive backfield coach George Catavolos is very high on rookie Jairus Byrd, who played cornerback in college but will play free safety for the Bills. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell watched Byrd play in high school while coaching with Byrd's dad, former NFL Pro Bowler Gill, in St. Louis. "Perry knows the young man very well from his time in St. Louis and his dad worked on the staff there, but it wasn't nepotism or whatever you want to say," Catavolos said. "It was more or less we really scrutinized him as an athlete. When you watch him on film he did an excellent job on the wide receivers playing on the West Coast, good speed receivers. He played them well when he had the proper footwork. He got beat deep a couple times, but most of the time he played excellent leverage and made nice plays on the ball."

--The Bills added some depth at defensive end and cornerback signing free agents Jermaine McGhee and Kyle Ward. McGhee, 6-2, 257, played at Prairie View A&M and spent part of last season with the Chiefs. Ward, 6-1, 198, played at Louisiana-Lafayette and spent time last season with the Packers. Linebacker Vince Hall was released.

--The Bills are on pace to top last year's season-ticket count of 56,011, which was the second most in team history. The signing of Terrell Owens and an encouraging college draft have apparently offset the sagging economy, the team's second-half collapse last season and the retaining of coach Dick Jauron, who has posted three consecutive 7-9 records. Owens' one-year deal worth $6 million has already been recouped at the box office.

--K.C. Joyner, "The Football Scientist" for ESPN and The New York Times, analyzed Buffalo's offensive line last year and concluded that as run blockers they were "abysmal." Only two Bills had a "point of attack" blocking percentage of more than 80 percent. One was Derrick Dockery, whom the team cut. Can a great running back overcome inferior blocking? In Buffalo's case, no. Joyner said that when running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson received successful point-of-attack blocks, they averaged 6.0 and 5.2 yards per carry. When the blocking failed, they averaged 2.1 and 1.7. And now you know why the Bills front office has blown up their line and is starting over.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was something that we've been working on for a little while now, and with it being over and done with, it's just about playing football, so you just want to go out and just play football. It's a kid's game and as long as you have fun doing it, you're going to enjoy it." -- RB Fred Jackson after signing a four-year contract extension.


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