the AFC East: Week 7 Weekend
By NFL Scout Staff
That all changes Sunday, when the Bills (3-3) travel to Oakland to face a desperate 1-4 Raiders team in the Black Hole. When Buffalo played in Oakland last September, they ran for just 67 yards, Drew Bledsoe was sacked seven times, and the Raiders came away with a 13-10 victory.
Holcomb was 2-5 in road starts for the Cleveland Browns. He said it's more difficult to win on the road but he's been around long enough that he's not in danger of overanalyzing the challenge.
"You have to prove yourself anytime," he said. "No question it's harder on the road. But it's a game. The communication problem, you face that on the road. You can't have mistakes like we've had the last couple of games, we need to minimize those. But boiling it down, home or away, you still have to play."
Holcomb has had some of his biggest passing days on the road. He threw for 429 yards and three TDs in a playoff loss at Pittsburgh in January 2003. Last year at Cincinnati, he threw for 413 yards and five touchdowns, also in defeat.
With any luck, he'll put up big numbers again against Oakland's 29th-ranked defense and will get some defensive support that he never got in Cleveland.
--QB Kelly Holcomb will make his road debut as Buffalo's starting quarterback at Oakland on Sunday. Holcomb has started seven road games in his career counting playoffs, all for the Browns, and has posted a 2-5 record. Last year, he was 1-1 in two road starts for Cleveland going 50 of 68 (74 percent) for 641 yards, six TDs, four interceptions, four sacks and a 101.8 rating.
--WR Eric Moulds has caught 14 passes the past two games, his best stretch since Weeks 4 and 5 last season. He's averaging only 8.4 yards per reception, however. The Bills have been unable to attack deep consistently with many opponents playing two-deep zone in respect of Buffalo's overall team speed.
--WR Roscoe Parrish, the club's top draft pick who broke his right wrist in training camp on Aug. 10, is hoping to make his NFL debut Sunday at Oakland. It is likely to be a game-time decision, but he is practicing full speed and doing well catching balls with a soft cast on the back of his wrist.
--G Chris Villarrial, who missed one game with an intestinal condition and went to the hospital, was able to start and finish the game last week against the New York Jets. Villarrial said he is doing well and will be in the lineup Sunday at Oakland.
--DT Sam Adams plays against one of his former teams Sunday in Oakland. Adams was with the Raiders in 2002 and helped them reach Super Bowl XXXVII. Adams, who recorded his first sack last week, needs a strong game against RG Ron Stone as the Bills look to shut down RB Lamont Jordan.
In what is seemingly becoming an annual tradition, the Dolphins are being forced to adjust to one of their home games being changed because of the threat of a hurricane.
This time, Sunday's game against Kansas City was moved to Friday night at Dolphins Stadium because of the potential impact Hurricane Wilma could have on the area.
The switch has caused both teams to make adjustments for the earlier kickoff. Dolphins coach Nick Saban said he wasn't told until two-thirds of the way through Thursday's practice that his team would be playing less than 48 hours later.
"I think the message that I would send to everyone is this kind of stuff bothers you only if you let it," Saban said. "Sometimes you have to improvise and adjust. You can't let it be a factor, in terms of preparation, how you prepare. Both teams have a similar circumstance. The maturity of those teams will determine who can go out and play the kind of football that you need to play to be successful."
Originally, the Dolphins were hoping that defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Taylor (foot) and linebacker Junior Seau (calf) would be able to practice Friday to gauge their availability for Sunday's game. Instead, it appears the earlier kickoff will sideline both players.
In 2004, the Dolphins had the kickoffs of home games against Tennessee and Pittsburgh changed because of hurricane threats. The Dolphins lost both games.
"Being down here, it seems like every week there's a hurricane or tropical storm forming," said strong safety Tebucky Jones, who is in his first season with the Dolphins. "It's a new experience for me."
--LB Junior Seau (calf) didn't practice Thursday and is unlikely to play in Friday night's game against Kansas City. Donnie Spragan would start in Seau's place.
--DE/OLB Jason Taylor (foot) didn't practice Thursday and is unlikely to play against Kansas City. David Bowens would start in Taylor's place.
--CB Eddie Jackson (hamstring) had some snaps on defense this week, coach Nick Saban said, but he isn't expected to reassume his position as Miami's nickel cornerback against Kansas City.
--WR Bryan Gilmore is expected play a key role as a special teams flier in stopping Kansas City's Dante Hall, who is considered one of the NFL's elite punt and kickoff returners. Gilmore also has emerged as Miami's fourth receiver ahead of David Boston.
--WR Maurice Mann is believed to have been released from Miami's practice squad and replaced by rookie WR Chris Davis.
--DT Vonnie Holliday, who struggled with injuries and inconsistent play during the past two seasons in Kansas City, is tied for seventh on the Dolphins in tackles with 18.
Facing a playmaker like Michael Vick in a game that could determine which direction their season will go, the 2-4 Jets almost seem to throw their hands up at the thought of trying to stop the multi-talented Falcons quarterback.
"It's got to be everybody, it can't just be me," said defensive end John Abraham, who registered three sacks in the first three games but none in the next three. "He can outrun me, so I'm not even going to try and say I'm faster than him. If Shaun (Ellis) can do the right thing and Tank (James Reed) and Dewayne (Robertson) can all do the right things we'll be all right. You can't really freestyle this week because you're not going to have that time to make up if you make a mistake."
Coach Herman Edwards rattled off a handful of theories of how to stop mobile quarterbacks like Vick who still have the arm strength to get the ball downfield when moving. He also named more than a few quarterbacks who beat plenty of those theories, such as John Elway, Randall Cunningham and Vick.
"The best theory?" Edwards said. "Stay on the field offensively and you won't have to worry about it. It's real simple. It's called possession." Easier said than done. The Jets have run just 335 offensive plays this season - not more than 52 in any of their last four - while opponents have run 400 plays on offense.
The Jets are worried about Vick's legs and playmaking talent. Opponents have defended Vick differently each week. Some teams use a linebacker to spy on him at the cost of defending the run as well, others try to pinch the outsides and keep Vick in the pocket as much as possible, while others just go straight at him.
The Jets might just have to try all three.
"Well he can get away from anything," Ellis said. "You get good pressure on him and he can get away, or you don't put good pressure on him and he can get away. Regardless of what it is, we just have to stay in our lanes, penetrate and just keep him in front of us."
--WR Wayne Chrebet has just one catch in the last three games and two in the last four. The veteran, likely in his final season, isn't complaining. In fact, he's confident that as quarterback Vinny Testaverde gets more accustomed to the offense, he'll be called upon more often. The Jets haven't thrown to him at all over the last month.
--RB Curtis Martin was off for Thursday's practice but not because of any specific injury, although he has been bothered by a sore knee. The Jets want to give Martin rest during the week to preserve him for later in the season.
--LB Mark Brown will start against the Falcons on Monday night, his fourth straight start in place of Eric Barton. But Barton has recovered from a high ankle sprain and will play Monday in a reserve role, likely to start following the bye week.
--C Kevin Mawae will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn triceps but hasn't been placed on the injured reserve yet since the Jets don't have the salary cap room to replace him.
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