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BILLS QBS WILL MAKE THEIR CASE

The Buffalo Bills' "Quarterback Derby" is coming down the home stretch.

The Bills brought Doug Flutie into town Monday and were scheduled to visit with Rob Johnson today at the team's Orchard Park training facility.

The meetings are designed to allow the Bills' new coaches to better acquaint themselves with the quarterbacks and to exchange ideas about the team's new offense.

The Bills are likely to announce the decision on which quarterback they will keep some time next week.

Originally, the Bills planned to bring the QBs in only to inform them of their final decision. But Bills president and general manager Tom Donahoe and new coach Gregg Williams decided meetings with the two would be helpful in the information-gathering process before the decision is made.

"We talked about it and thought the only fair way to do it was for Steve Kragthorpe (the quarterbacks coach), Mike Sheppard (the offensive coordinator), Gregg Williams and myself to sit down with both of them eye to eye and face to face and try to get a feel for them," Donahoe said. "We thought it was important to have an in-depth conversation with both of them."

Sheppard, who left his job as quarterbacks coach of the Seattle Seahawks to join the Bills, will be implementing a West Coast-style offense in Buffalo. The attack emphasizes quick, timed passing plays along with balance between the pass and the run.

"As we stated previously, we want to have an in-depth conversation with each quarterback and get feedback from each on various topics," Williams said.

The QB who loses out will have to be released.

NFL teams can release players starting on Thursday. All teams must be under the salary cap for 2001 by March 2. So there figures to be numerous veterans hitting the waiver wire on March 1 as teams scramble to trim their salary totals.

The Bills' release of high-salaried veterans -- including nose tackle Ted Washington, linebacker Sam Rogers and guard Joe Panos -- could start on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Bills are negotiating with center Jerry Ostroski and his agent to get some salary cap relief. Ostroski has two years left on his deal, but it's likely the team will try to extend his contract by at least a year to spread out money and lower his cap figure for both this year and next year.

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