Here's the Bills news of note for May 29th.
**1 - Why new LB Gerald Hodges could be a big help
Newly signed Bills linebacker Gerald Hodges was the subject of some encouraging words courtesy of Bleacher Report. Here was their synopsis of the signing with Hodges coming off a career year in San Francisco.
*The 49ers gave Hodges an opportunity to start last season. He took advantage of his chance with a career-high 80 combined tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 15 games (12 starts). *
*Beyond the numbers, Hodges was one of the few bright spots on a San Francisco defense that allowed the most points in the NFL. *
Pro Football Focus named Hodges their third-best free-agent linebacker because of what he was able to accomplish in 2016:
Hodges has graded well in run defense in his career and has posted solid grades the past two seasons rushing the passer when asked to do so. The concern for the former Penn State Nittany Lion are his inconsistencies in coverage, which will limit his ceiling. While he showed improvement in that area — yielding a career low 87.3 passer rating when targeted — he was also targeted a career-low 24 times in 2016 while still allowing two touchdowns.
At 26 years old, Hodges is still very much in his prime and showed enough of a ceiling last year for the Bills* **to believe there is more untapped potential in him to get even better. *
*The Bills have been desperate to find talent and depth at linebacker this offseason. They re-signed Lorenzo Alexander and drafted Matt Milano out of Boston College and Tanner Vallejo out of Boise State for the depth part, but they still needed someone capable of being a starter. *
Hodges can slot in at linebacker on the weak side for Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who is incorporating a 4-3 scheme.
Hodges is the kind of under-the-radar signing Buffalo should be celebrating. He represents a significant upgrade at a position this team needs. Finding a starter at this point in the offseason is often difficult, but the Bills likely got one with their latest addition.
**2 - Charles Tillman visits Bills practice
Recently retired All-Pro cornerback, Charles "Peanut" Tillman, recently visited the Bills during OTA practices last week. Tillman spent 12-years with the Chicago Bears and then played his final year with the Carolina Panthers in 2015.
Carolina is where he was able to develop a relationship with then defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Tillman was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2012, won All-Pro honors in 2012 and captured the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award in 2013.
While the veteran has had a decorated career with many awards and stats, he is famous for his forced fumble technique titled the "Peanut Punch." This technique was when he would use his fist to punch the ball out of the players' hand to force a fumble, while trying to wrap up with his other arm. It obviously worked because in 2012 he was able to force 10 fumbles in that season alone and in his 13-year career he amassed 44 forced fumbles.
His help was most certainly felt amongst the Bills cornerbacks. Bills cornerback, Charles James took his appreciation to twitter where he thanked the veteran for coaching him. The tweet can be found here.
3 - Bills HOF Thurman Thomas receives award from Army
As Memorial Day is here, one of the Bills all time greats, Thurman Thomas recently met with the United States Army.
When visiting, the Hall of Fame running back was able to recognize scholar athletes and received a company coin from the military.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame recently released a video on their twitter account and can be found here showing their exchange.