Fan Friday: OTAs reach mid-point

Each Friday Buffalobills.com lead journalist Chris Brown will answer a handful of popular questions that he receives in his inbox from Bills Backers to stay in touch with the fans throughout the offseason. If you have a question you'd like to have answered in Fan Friday just e-mail Chris at Askchris@bills.nfl.net. Here's the latest installment.

1. Chris,
Is there a reason that Jason Peters is not participating in the OTAs? (ie: injury or contract dispute?)
Thanks
Rob

CB: The main reason is he is not required to do so. All of these OTA workouts are voluntary so he does not have to participate. As I understand it Peters should be healthy now coming off of sports-hernia surgery. He had the surgery in late January and it's a three-month recovery period, which would take him to the end of April. Being a month removed from that time period I think it's safe to think he's recovered from what's considered a routine surgery. As for speculation about a contract dispute, at this point that's all it is… speculation.

2. What do you think the chances of the Bills adding a veteran WR to the roster before the start of the season? Whether it be someone like Koren Robinson (who seems to have put his troubled past behind him and can help on KR), Darrell Jackson, some other veteran FA or even waiting for someone still on another roster that may get cut soon. My worry is what if James Hardy either gets hurt or takes a little while to make the transition to the NFL as so many other WRs have. If that happens, we're back to the same receivers as last season that weren't able to get the job done. I like Josh & Roscoe but neither seam suited to play on the outside and both can be so dangerous in the slot. They can fill in for a game or two but if Hardy goes down in week 2, it'll be a long year. I guess you could say that many of us fans feel that the Bills are putting all of their eggs in one basket.
Any thoughts on that?

CB: I think that's a legitimate concern. In fact it's one that I've had myself, but I don't know that the Bills would explore that option unless such an injury occurs. While it's nice to have all of your bases covered at all times, it's a lot easier said than done. I wouldn't rule it out, but I'd say the chances of it happening are 20-80, maybe even less than that.

3. How many receptions to you think Lynch will have this year...a weapon I feel should be utilized...I believe he is the real deal!
Thanks
Christopher Sawyers

CB: I think Lynch will be utilized more in the passing game this year as swing passes have been a big part of the OTA workouts thus far. Of course I should caution that what we see in OTAs and sometimes even in training camp is not always what we end up seeing during the regular season. But I believe Turk Schonert is committed to getting the backs more involved in the passing game. That being said I think Fred Jackson and Lynch will be splitting a lot of those receptions. So I think Lynch will catch 30 passes on the low end this season and 45 on the high end.

4. Chris,
Pertaining to Trent Edwards & Buffalo weather, did he spend some of the offseason in buffalo & possible get together with teammates in the stadium to practice/play touch football etc in the stadium on snowy windy days during Jan/Feb to acclimate himself more to conditions in Buffalo? I think this would be an easy actually fun way to get use to conditions he would face in late season games. Just a thought. Thanks for the time ...Wally James

CB: While your suggestion may have some merit I don't think that Trent even as the quarterback would be able to convince his teammates to hang out in Buffalo for a couple of extra weeks after the season to help him practice throwing in snowy or windy conditions. The season is very taxing on players physically and mentally. The coaching staff encourages them to let their bodies rest for at least two to three weeks after the season so they can properly recover. I understand there was some frustration on the part of fans with some of Trent's struggles in challenging weather, but I think those experiences last year will serve him well should he face more of the same in 2008.

5. Is Stroud 100% healthy? The front office stated that his ankle is not an issue when we traded for him, but I've read stories that say otherwise. What is your feeling on Stroud's health and how is he moving around on the field? Keep up the good work and hope to hear from you soon.

CB: Here is what Stroud told us last week concerning the ankle.

"It's not a question for me. I feel pretty good. The ankle is not quite 100 percent but it's darn close. I feel pretty good moving around. I was running to the ball. I'm excited. I'm optimistic."

By the way I saw Stroud running to the ball and driving off that foot I believe the ankle should hold up well this season. If you remember he had the surgery in 2006 and he told me he was completely healed from the surgery at the start of the 2007 season and then suffered a high ankle sprain in the exact same spot during the 2007 season. The staff is not restricting his snaps in any way, shape or fashion so I believe he will be ready to go.

6. How likely do you think a deal will get done with Lee Evans on a new contract and will the end of the CBA have a major impact on this?
Thanks, Rob

CB: I think there's a very good chance that an extension gets done with Lee Evans, however I think it's going to take some time to broker the deal in light of some of the exhorbitant contracts this offseason (e.g. Bernard Berrian). As for the CBA I think it could prompt both sides to avoid a deal that goes beyond 2011, but I'll try and check on that in the near future.

7. I am interested to know how Tim Massaquoi is doing with the Bills this offseason?
Thanks,
Alan

CB: The Bills tight end was faring well until he suffered an undisclosed injury this past Wednesday in practice. Bills head coach Dick Jauron said it was not serious and he was watching practice Thursday and standing on the sideline. Massaquoi has been consistent in the passing game, and the tight end position might be the most up in the air on the roster with all the candidates. I know Massaquoi is considered an asset on special teams and that can be the difference for a guy like him in terms of making the roster.

8. I believe that teams in the NFL usually succeed using the opposite of the current trend. Adapting speed against size, the "no huddle" vs. situation substitutions, and youthful exuberance to compete with veteran dominated teams have become formulas for recent success. I believe the speed and quickness of Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay matches favorably with the large offensive tackles (the current trend) in use by teams in the league. What is your opinion of this theory?
Bill Greenleaf
Saratoga Springs

CB: I don't debate for a second that innovation is a big part of what's successful in the NFL. It is such a technical game that new ideas that are ahead of the curve often bring about great achievement. That's why coaches spend so many hours trying to devise the next best thing. As for Schobel and Kelsay being lighter and quicker, it's not anything new. As Schobel stated himself most of the "pass rushing" defensive ends in this league are between 240 and 255. Even the monstrous offensive tackles in this league are getting fewer and further between. The NFL works in cycles and eventually trends repeat themselves.

9. Chris:
I know Ralph and Marv started Cash to the cap last year. They didn't officially say "cash to the cap" this year but they sure didn't spend much. I've read a couple of places that point out the Bills did not spend up to their salary cap limit, so players and agents know that. Per the Buff News: "The Bills have plenty of room under the salary cap to extend contracts. They already have begun talks with Lee Evans. The Bills are roughly $15 million under the league wide cap of $116 million per team. However, the Bills have another $12 million of space above that from cap credits they earned that carried over from last season." Even if they re-sign Lee and give an extension to Peters, they will still be way under the cap again next year because of Cash To The Cap. Don't you think it's biting them in the butt? Do you think the Bills organization will potentially get labeled as cheap?
Steve

CB: First of all Steve you can't believe everything you read. As for the 'cash to the cap' financial model, about a dozen teams in the NFL use it and have used it for several years. As for the Bills cap space it's inaccurate. To say the Bills have close to $30 million in space is just not right. The Bills have 10 draft picks to sign. Even though the rookie pool is about $5.5 million, those picks will take up about $15 million in guaranteed money. Though it hasn't been spent yet by the organization it has to be budgeted in for 2008. Add on a Lee Evans extension and you're likely very close to using up all that remains in terms of "space" under Buffalo's accounting philosophy. I'm not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of the financial plan of this NFL team or any other, but this is not an approach that is going to bite this team in the butt as you stated, primarily because they're not alone in that approach.

10. I have a question about Teraz McCray. When we signed him as an undrafted free agent you commented that he has a chance to push Jefferson for the last DT spot. How did he look in OTAs? Did he get any reps? If so what string did he run with? Do you think the Bills will keep 5 DTs on the roster?
Thanks
Brian
Cleveland, Ohio

CB: McCray has been running mostly with the third team defense so his reps have been limited. It's also very difficult to assess the play of offensive and defensive linemen in the OTA setting since there is no live play going on and the players are not in pads. As for whether the Bills will keep five defensive tackles on the roster this year, I believe they will. So with Stroud, Johnson, McCargo and Williams locks for the roster it will be down to Jason Jefferson, Corey Mace, Teraz McCray. McCray could be at a disadvantage there because Jefferson has been good enough to make this roster in the past and Mace offers the versatility of playing some defensive end. However, if for some reason they decide to keep just four DTs, then McCray becomes a viable practice squad option though he would still be competing with Mace for that role. We'll know a lot more when the pads go on in training camp.

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