Archive for August, 2011

Five Players to Watch

August 18, 2011

The Buffalo Bills made some national news this week with one roster move and confused the hell of their local fan base with another. The Bills cut loose former first rounder and infamous draft bust Aaron Maybin on Monday to the delight of the majority of the Buffalo fan community. Maybin failed to total one sack in 27 career games and two seasons with the team, and wasn’t even deemed serviceable to dress for five games during the 2010 season. Maybin signed with the rival Jets yesterday and says being cut by the Bills will somehow magically give him motivation to become a performer for the Jets. Good riddance.

In another roster move along the offensive line, Coach Chan Gailey shocked onlookers as he demoted Andy Levitre to second unit duties at left guard while promoting Chad Rinehart to play with the starters. It was by no means surprising that Gailey would want to address consistency issues along the o-line but it seemed that, that switch should’ve been made at the right guard position where Kraig Urbik has been struggling. Urbik has been the weak point on the offensive line through the first few weeks of camp and had a terrible preseason opener last Saturday against the Bears. The third year pro and first year starter out of Wisconsin was blown back three yards deep in the backfield by Bears reserve defensive tackle Harry Melton who in turn dropped C.J. Spiller for a loss on the play on the team’s second offensive drive Saturday. On the same drive he whiffed on a block on Brian Urlacher who tackled Spiller inches short of a first down on a third and long play. The inconsistent play of Urbik should’ve opened the door for a player like Reinhart to garner some playing time but the demotion of Levitre in favor of Reinhart remains a mystery.

It should be noted that Levitre was back with the starters during practice on Wednesday but it seems as though Gailey plans to use a rotation at left guard for the time being.

The release of Aaron Maybin and the issues surrounding the offensive line aside, the Bills have a game to play on Saturday against the Denver Broncos. The team also disbands from St. John Fisher after a 2:00 PM practice today and returns to the friendly confines of Orchard Park next week. There are still a multitude of questions to answer and with the roster currently standing at 87 players and the first round of cuts right around the corner, it’s time to take notice of some individuals who have not only have a shot at making the team but playing major roles as well. Here’s a look at five players to keep your eye on as the Bills take on the Broncos Saturday.

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Is the NFL Phasing Out Fans?

August 11, 2011

When the NFLPA decertified and the owners locked the players out on March 11th both sides alienated a fan base that made the league the most profitable sports franchise in the country. When the lockout officially ended on July 25th both sides assumed all was well and good with its loyal followers and it appeared as though it was. NFL fans seemed overjoyed that the longest lockout in league history was finally over and their favorite players and teams had returned to work.

In the month of August there is plenty to look forward to in terms of football. Preseason, although not a top draw amongst most football fans, begins and the faithful get their first glimpse at what their home team will look like as the season approaches. Fantasy football (which is like a religion to many) kicks off with the formation of leagues, draft dates being set and good old-fashioned rivalries amongst friends being reignited.

What the majority of fans look forward to most however, is the season’s first kick-off and the beginning of a new football year. With the lockout now in the rearview and most pigskin enthusiasts getting over four months of collective bargaining proceedings, it would seem that fan morale would be back to normal. This should be the case in every NFL city but a trend which started with the passing of Roger Goodell’s “Fan Code of Conduct” initiative in 2008, has become progressively more restrictive in the average NFL fan’s game-day experience.
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Bills put their Faith in Injury-Prone Stars

August 3, 2011

Nick Barnett was a second-team All-Pro in 2007 and was the leader of the Green Bay Packers defense for the better part of the past decade. Shawne Merriman was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, a three time Pro Bowler (2005-2007), a three-time All-Pro (2005-2007), and his elite pass-rushing skills earned him the nickname “Lights Out.” In other words Barnett and Merriman were two of the most physically imposing linebackers in the league during the first decade of the 21st century.

Fast forward to 2011 and the once promising careers of two of the game’s elite have turned into a collective nightmare of injuries and personal controversies. Barnett lost the majority of his 2010 season to a wrist injury and a torn ligament in his knee cost him half of the 2008 season. Merriman’s story of woe has been far more publicized. After his sensational rookie season in 2005, Merriman tested positive for steroids in October of 2006 and was suspended for four games that year. Even with a shortened season, he finished the year with a career-high 17 sacks. In 2007, clean from steroids, Merriman appeared in 15 games and tallied 12.5 sacks. He lost all but a portion of the Chargers’ season opener in 2008 and has appeared in just 17 games since. In 2009 he struggled with a foot injury and only totaled 4 sacks, while in 2010 he was placed on injured reserve and released by San Diego after three games. Merriman’s also had legal troubles in the past stemming from his relationship with former reality TV star Tila Tequila.

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