April 25, 2018

NFL Story
By The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: June 19, 2014 08:40:52 PM

Bills have a full house in the backfield

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has had his hands full trying to get quarterback EJ Manuel ready for the season.
One area he won't have to worry too much about is the running back position. There's plenty of talent among C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.
Hackett's greatest difficulty will be playing traffic cop and trying to keep everyone involved.
"You've just got to keep on giving those guys the ball," Hackett said. "That's a great room; we've got a lot of good players on this team. They all want the ball, and that's what you want as an offensive coordinator.
"You want guys that are hungry for it and want the ball every single second."
One of the keys to getting more touches for all the backs will be running more plays on offense, which can only happen if the Bills extend drives.
Hackett pointed to third-down conversions and red zone efficiency as being points of emphasis this year.
"The more plays we run, the more touches we get," Hackett said. "That's what we always preach and that's everybody working together because their time will come as long as we get those plays and keep being able to feed people.
"The big thing for us right now is converting on third down. If you look at us last year, that right there is going to extend so many more drives. We have to continue to be better at that, and it's something I've really challenged the guys with, third down and red zone situations."
Hackett doubled as the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach in his first season in the NFL, but this year the Bills hired Todd Downing to mentor the quarterbacks, and Jim Hostler was brought in to serve as a senior offensive assistant.
Hackett loves the help.
"It's awesome," he said. "Both Todd and Hostler, they've been great. It's one of those things as a coach, just like a player, I want to get better every second.
"You bring in guys like that, like Todd that has coached guys like (Matthew) Stafford in the passing game, it's not only great for EJ, but it's great for me, just to keep on learning and see different ways to do things.
"For anybody in any career, you always want to push yourself, and with Todd, it's one of those things where I can then focus on something else and coach another position."
--The Associated Press reported that the law firm representing the estate of deceased Bills owner Ralph Wilson has completed its data package on the status of the Bills and has begun contacting prospective ownership groups.
Once the groups sign a non-disclosure agreement, they will be free to delve into the Bills' financials, which in turn will help them formulate their bids to purchase the team.
According to the AP, sources have said the documents have been sent to, among others, Donald Trump, and to Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres.
--Jim Kelly, the Hall of Fame quarterback who is battling cancer, made a surprise visit to the final minicamp practice, and he addressed the team.
One of the things he said was, "Let's start playing games in January and it all starts right here in minicamp."
Kelly completed his radiation and chemotherapy treatments two weeks ago, and he looked frail and bald, but in good spirits. He sat in a chair on the sidelines and watched the workout, paying particular attention to quarterback EJ Manuel.
"We always appreciate him," coach Doug Marrone said. "Personally for myself, I miss having Jim around. He was great for myself and great for coach Hackett and coming around, talking to us, having great insight and being a true Bill in every sense of the word.
"We're with him. We're fighting through this. Just like he's been there with us trying to fight through what we're going through."
--With the end of the minicamp, the Bills will take exactly one month off.
They will report to training camp at St. John Fisher College outside Rochester on July 18 because they are playing in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 3 against the New York Giants.
They will have a conditioning day July 19, and then conduct their first training camp practice on July 20.
With ongoing renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills will be at Fisher a full month, with their last scheduled practice coming Aug. 21.
The Bills will conduct two combination practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa., on Aug. 13-14, and then will play the Steelers in a preseason game at Heinz Field on Aug. 16

All Times Eastern