Spikes returns to Bills after Ragland injury

Former Buffalo Bill veteran linebacker Brandon Spikes has resigned with the team after rookie linebacker ReBills Brandon Spikesggie Ragland went down with an knee injury.  Spikes last played in Buffalo in 2014 and was cut last year by the New England Patriots.

“I’m not real sure,” Head Coach Rex Ryan said about Ragland. “I guess I was just so hopeful there’s not going to be ligament things. My understanding is that as you get going, your leg is so tight, they’ll fight it. You don’t really get a true look of that. So as we mentioned, we got to wait for that swelling to go down.  I know every Bills fan out there is hoping for the best, and that’s certainly what we’re doing, but there is concern.”

The Bills kick off the preseason against the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday.  Plenty of great seats and affordable tickets are still available so be sure to grab yours today and help cheer on your Buffalo Bills!!!

 

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Bills Acquire Prized Free Agent Mario Williams

Terms of the contract were not disclosed but media said the deal would make Williams, 27, the highest-paid defensive player in the National Football League (NFL).

Williams, who was flown to Buffalo this week on a private jet with the team’s general manger and defensive coordinator, said he was excited about joining the organization and said a determined fan base that showed support by putting his name on pizzas and on signs along roads helped get the message across.

“You don’t get many chances like this and opportunities to come in and be the guy who can help the team get across the hump and that’s definitely what I am here for,” Williams told reporters at his introductory news conference.

“My whole intention is to come here … and make this thing happen. It’ a great opportunity for myself and the team and for us to succeed and get better. This city is looking for that.”

Williams, regarded as one of the top free agents available, was drafted first overall in 2006 by the Houston Texans and would be counted on to bolster a Bills defence that managed just 29 sacks last season.

His signing gave Buffalo their most accomplished pass rusher since Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who left the team in 2000 as the franchise and NFL all-time sacks leader.

The Bills, who finished 6-10 in the 2011 campaign and missed the playoffs for the 12th straight year, entered the offseason intent on bolstering their pass rush.

Williams, who was limited to five games last season due to a torn chest muscle, has 53 sacks and 241 tackles in 82 career games during six NFL seasons with the Texans.

“It’s an exciting day for us and for our football team, we got a lot better,” said Bills General Manager Buddy Nix.

“Once we got him here and got him to listen, not to people who have heard about Buffalo but the people who live here, then you find out what unique place it is and he’s going to help it get even better.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)

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Struggling Bills Heading Toward Uncertain Future

After five straight losses, barring a sporting miracle, the Bills (5-7) will miss the National Football League (NFL) playoffs for a 12th straight year, a run of gridiron failure that could stand alone.

If the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans clinch a post-season spot as expected, the Bills will become the only NFL team not to make a playoff appearance since 1999, heaping more misery on a franchise that has had just one winning campaign in 11 seasons.

“It’s hard. It’s tough. It’s no fun,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said about his team’s flickering playoff hopes. “I know we’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and you don’t ever concede it until you are, but at the same time it’d be very difficult for us to make it.

“You feel a huge responsibility to the organization, to the football team and to the fans.”

The glow from a 4-1 start to the season, which included an upset of AFC East powerhouse New England, has long faded as evidenced by the more than 16,000 unsold seats at the Bills’ home loss last Sunday to the Tennessee Titans.

The game was the first this season the Bills failed to sell enough tickets for to prevent a local television blackout and with two home dates remaining against Miami on December 18 and Denver on December 24 the chances of a full stadium seem remote.

“The fans have been awesome especially early on when we were winning games,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was rewarded with a six-year $59 million contract extension after the team’s quick start. “This was truly a home field advantage and it was electric.

“The way that we’ve played lately hasn’t been good enough.”

Sitting at the eastern end of Lake Erie, winters are long and hard in Buffalo and this year’s could be particularly nasty with the franchise’s future once again in doubt.

The Bills’ 93-year-old owner Ralph Wilson has been secretive about succession plans for the franchise while the 38-year-old stadium that bears his name in the tiny hamlet of Orchard Park is in desperate need of major renovations with the current lease agreement set to expire in 2013.

“You absolutely have the perfect storm for a team that may get relocated,” Robert Boland, professor of sports management at New York University’s Tisch Center told Reuters. “The NFL has its roots in small cities like Buffalo and Green Bay, around the Great Lakes and if you are the NFL, you would hate to lose that legacy.

“But on the other hand the city of Toronto beckons 60 miles away with incredible wealth and a cosmopolitan environment that has to seem appealing.”

FAN BASE

The Bills’ problems extend well beyond a losing record and aging stadium. Like other cities in the Rust Belt, the city of Buffalo has watched businesses flee and its population shrink.

Desperate to expand its fan base, Wilson sold five regular season games and three preseason contests between 2008 and 2012 to their northern neighbours in Toronto for $78 million.

With a robust corporate community, the Toronto market is one the Bills may have to keep leaning on to remain viable.

But Toronto has an eye on a permanent NFL team of its own while Los Angeles, with plans for a new stadium in place, will soon be looking for a tenant.

The biggest concern for Bills fans, however, may well be the health of the team’s owner.

It is not known if Wilson has a succession plan in place and without one the Bills franchise could die with their owner.

“Let’s say the Bills get a very conservative evaluation of $600 million, you’re talking about an inheritance tax for Ralph Wilson heirs of around $300 million,” explained Boland. “They may be forced to leave Buffalo because of the inheritance tax situation.

“If Mr. Wilson were to pass away, this team in Buffalo may not be savable.

“The sad part about this is that if Buffalo were to lose their team is that there is no other city other than Green Bay where a pro sport franchise probably means as much.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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