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Friday Morning Mailbag: Training Camp

9:45 PM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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It's Friday. And if you just hummed this, reassess your life.

With that, we unveil the second edition of Friday Morning Mailbag.

Q: What's going on with Mario Williams' tender foot? - @acr23g7f

A: What ISN'T going on with Mario Williams? Every week, it's something else. This week: 1) Missing drills with a sore left foot. 2) Inadvertently getting a Texas police academy suspended. That's a solid week for Mr. "Get After It."

Straight up, head coach Doug Marrone has made himself and his highest paid player look like bozos this week. First, Marrone gets asked reasonable questions about Mario's foot and the new coach got noticeably irritated. It's week one of TRAINING CAMP. Compose yourself, dude. Second, Marrone said he had no information on Mario's foot. He didn't know what happened, when it happened or the severity of the injury. YOU'RE THE HEAD COACH. HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW?! Third, Marrone's lack of information forced the media to press Mario for details on Wednesday. Williams was less than obliging because of "team policy."

That's what's going on with Mario Williams' tender foot.

Side note: "Tender" is a perfect word to describe this whole fiasco.

Q: Hope we get our moneys worth with Mario Williams. So far doesn't look like it. What you think? #Bills #BillsMafia? - @profound511

A: Fans want to see their top players on the field, which makes Mario's recent injury (wrist, foot) history unbecoming. However, off-field distractions (engagement rings, accusations of drug abuse, etc.) have no proven influence on a player's value. Mario led the team in sacks last season (10.5), five more than the next Bill (Marcell Dareus - 5.5 sacks). Those 10.5 sacks were also seventh most in the AFC. Given his wrist issues and Dave Wannstedt's vanilla defense, that's your moneys worth. When you cough up that much cheddar, you should expect production. But to expect record breaking numbers every year is irrational.

Short answer: Yes. And, you'll see it more this season.

Q: You think Stevie will be a Wes Welker style slot? - @TJLuckman

A: No. Stevie Johnson is not as quick off the line as Welker, nor does he have the acceleration after the catch. HOWEVAH (Stephen A. Smith voice), he is ridiculously elusive. At least once a week, I try to figure out what makes Stevie one of the Top 20 WR's in the league. It ends with me feeling like Lewis Black and passing out.

Receivers Robert Woods and T.J. Graham are better fits on the outside. If they produce, Stevie will have more room to work with out of the slot. (This is assuming he moves to the slot, which I think he will.) Slot corners are typically smaller, which also works to Stevie's advantage. The receiving weapons are there- just need the right guy to get them the ball.

Q: O-Line depth seems to be a concern to me, what have you seen from them on the practice field? - Torvald S.

A: The offensive line was a big question mark back in April, when we expected the Bills to draft one in the first five rounds. They did not. Buddy Nix said he felt confident in the current roster and depth on the line.

He better be right. The O-Line's success last year was a bit misleading. The Bills ran a gazillion short pass plays (dump offs, screens, slants), which didn't force the line to protect longer than 2-3 seconds. With two new quarterbacks and an improved receiving corps, the line will determine how good the offense can be.

So far, I've seen good things from the vets Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik. Cordy Glenn and Sam Young were valuable contributors last season. And, the addition of former Alabama All-American guard Antoine Caldwell will certainly help. Doug Marrone's hands-on coaching approach with the linemen and his NFL experience on the line cannot be understated either.

Q: Does Ron Brooks have a legitimate shot at outside CB or is he being evaluated for slot only? - @thxnks

A: He's in the mix with a handful of guys for the second and third cornerback spots. My hunch is Leodis McKelvin will start opposite Stephon Gilmore, Brooks will work the slot and Justin Rogers will be the fourth corner. I liked Brooks a lot at LSU, and he showed promise when he was healthy last season. Considering Rogers got burned ALL THE TIME last year, I'd be stunned if he usurps McKelvin to the starting role.

Q: What have we been seeing from [rookie WR] Marquise Goodwin? Going to take him some time to come along? - @JP_Rudy

A: Holy crap this kid can run. (Trust me, I know.) Top 40-time at this year's combine and an Olympian. He's got all the athletic gifts except height, which doesn't matter if you burn everyone. My only concern is his hands. Speed-demon receivers typically have less reliable hands because they move too fast to focus on the ball. From what I've seen so far, Goodwin doesn't have this problem. But, that question is best answered in preseason games, not camp drills and 11 vs. 11's.

Q: Haven't heard anything about Duke Williams. Has he made any plays? - @mattymelts

A: Recent safety-convert Aaron Williams has stole the show so far in offseason workouts and drills. (I know. I can't believe it, either.) He's made some great plays at free safety including a handful of interceptions in 11 vs. 11's.

Duke hasn't made any eye-popping plays, yet. But, his college tape is full of them. Like Goodwin and the other rookies, our first legitimate assessment has to wait until preseason games begin.

Q: How far can you punt a football? - @BuddyNixon

No clue. Hit a 45-yard field goal once.

Q: Strangest thing you've seen someone get autographed at training camp? - Josiah K.

I'll let you know after Training Camp ends. For now, this will have to do.

Q: Is it true if you don't use it, you lose it? - Anne V.

If we're talking about timeouts, yes. Otherwise, yes.

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