Several Buffalo Bills are making a homecoming of sorts when they travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Sunday.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe was born in Ellensburg, Wash., and starred at Washington State. Safety Lawyer Milloy grew up 30 miles south of Seattle in Tacoma. Kicker Rian Lindell played for the Seahawks for three seasons and also played at Washington State, while defensive tackle Sam Adams was drafted in the first round by the Seahawks in 1994 and played six seasons there. Bills long snapper Jon Dorenbos is also a Washington native.
"There will be a lot of people coming and it will be nice to see the family," said Lindell, who grew up in the Portland, Ore., suburb of Vancouver, Wash. "It will be fun to see some of the guys during pregame because I'm still good friends with them."
Milloy and Bledsoe haven't played at home since their college days.
"I'm really anxious and I probably have about 50 tickets and it might end up being about 75," Milloy said. "I've never played against the Seahawks. They're the last team I haven't played in my nine-year career, preseason or regular season. Now I have a chance to go home and try to get a win on the road.
"Everybody in my hometown is excited to have me come back and I want to play well, but I have to make sure I don't go out there and press."
Bledsoe remains a bit of a folk hero in Washington. He is credited for helping put the Washington State program on the map after leading the Cougars to the 1992 Copper Bowl, and he left second on the school's career passing list (7,373 yards) in just 28 starts. At the time, it was just the school's fourth bowl bid since 1916.
There was disappointment in Seattle when New England picked Bledsoe first overall in the '93 NFL draft. The Seahawks picked second that year and selected Notre Dame's Rick Mirer.
Bledsoe was scheduled to play against the Seahawks in the old Kingdome during his rookie season, but he missed the game with a sprained MCL. He has requested over 200 tickets for the game.
The last time the Bills' defense faced Seattle wideout Jerry Rice, he was with the Oakland Raiders and had his streak of 274 consecutive games with a reception snapped.
After Rice, the Seahawks have talented yet erratic performing receivers in Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. They are without Koren Robinson, who has been suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
"They have a good receiving corps, but unfortunately Koren's not playing," said Bills cornerback Nate Clements. "They should have a good group of guys and we just have to go in there and stick to the receivers, and when the balls (are thrown) there we have to make sure we're there with them."
Count University at Buffalo alum Drew Haddad among the many who nearly left when the Bulls men's basketball team trailed Fairleigh Dickinson by seven in the final minute Tuesday, only to come back and win in overtime.
While the basketball program is enjoying success, Haddad is hoping for the same from the football program, yet realizes it's going to be difficult.
"I think the program is taking the necessary steps, but as we're stepping toward the future, the other (Mid-American Conference) teams are kind of leaping," said Haddad, a member of the Bills' practice squad who played at UB from 1996-99. "Until we bridge that gap, we'll continue to struggle. We have the formula right -- coach (Jim) Hofher is doing what he has to do. He's got the guys in there and I know those kids work really hard. I think they have to keep buying in and it will happen real soon."
Bills backup quarterback Shane Matthews is happy that Steve Spurrier is returning to college football with South Carolina, but the former Florida quarterback would have preferred that the old ball coach returned to the Gators.
"What he did in 12 years with seven SEC titles and one national championship, he built Florida football to what it is today," Matthews said. "We lost that powerhouse right now and hopefully we can get it back.
"He'll do a tremendous job (at South Carolina). As long as he finds a quarterback who understands the system, he's going to win a lot of games."
Matthews said he hopes that Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is hired at Florida.
Defensive end Ryan Denney missed practice Thursday because his wife, Laura, was expected to give birth to the couple's second child. Denney has a daughter, Kyle, who was born in April of last year.