The Buffalo Bills’ secondary has been dealt a devastating blow.
Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss 6-8 weeks because of a broken wrist, coach Doug Marrone announced following Monday’s practice. Gilmore, 22, was hurt during the Bills’ 30-7 loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday.
“We felt really good about him, and he’s put a lot of work in to try to be the best player at his position. I give him a lot of credit for that,” Marrone said. “He’s really had an outstanding camp and has really played extremely well for us. It’s unfortunate the amount of work that he’s put in, to be in a situation now where he’s not going to be able to participate for a period of time.
“Whenever you lose a player like that — we consider a very good player — someone has to step up and play that position.”
The Bills are thin at cornerback. Leodis McKelvin, the presumed starter opposite Gilmore, has been limited much of the summer as he returns from offseason groin surgery. With McKelvin out, the Bills have tried Ron Brooks, Nickell Robey, T.J. Heath, Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers and even the since-released Don Unamba as a starter.
“We’re looking at Rogers and Butler and Heath really to play that corner position,” Marrone said Monday.
Gilmore started all 16 games as a rookie, making 61 tackles, three forced fumbles, one interception and 16 passes defensed. He was hurt Saturday in the second quarter against the Redskins during a tackle of Washington receiver Aldrick Robinson when Gilmore’s teammate, safety Da’Norris Searcy, came into the play late.
Gilmore did not immediately come out of the game, but was eventually taken to the locker room for an X-ray.
Marrone was asked whether his absence will change the Bills’ philosophy on defense.
“We’re going to evaluate to see where we are with that, to see what the ability of those players that we have out there are in these next couple days,” he said. “But then I think you have to look really hard at matchups, really. Do we feel good about these matchups, and how do we want to match up defensively on teams’ receiving ability? So if you don’t feel comfortable in a matchup, obviously you can cloud him, put someone behind him, because at the end of the day if you’re just having single coverage man-to-man they can get to you. So it’s probably more schematic about how you want to go about it, which puts a little bit more planning on our part but that’s what we do. Our job is to put our players in the best position.”
Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller has left the team to be with his family in Florida.
Spiller’s step-grandfather, Hubert Allen Jr., allegedly shot two men to death and wounded two others before killing himself Saturday morning in Union County, Fla.
“I think we all feel the same way,” Marrone said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims as well as C.J. and his family in this situation.
“I don’t have any answer of when he’s going to come back, but we’re in communication, just making sure that we’re there to support him, that he’s doing well. And then obviously we’re monitoring of when he needs to come back, but we want to make sure that he handles what he needs to handle.”
Allen was married to Spiller’s maternal grandmother, Nettie Pearl Allen, who died when Spiller was in eighth grade.
Da’Rick Rogers’ production with the Buffalo Bills simply never lived up to the hype.
Because of that, he’s now a former Bill.
Rogers was one of five players released Monday morning, an unceremonious end to a brief career that began as an undrafted free agent in April. Rogers’ size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) and production in the Southeastern Conference with Tennessee in 2011 (67 catches, 1,040 yards, nine touchdowns) led many to believe he had the potential to be the steal of draft weekend — despite the character concerns he came with. Rogers was booted from Tennessee for multiple failed drug tests, and played last season at Tennessee Tech.
But throughout training camp, he was stuck behind players like Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Brad Smith and Brandon Kaufman on the depth chart. In Saturday’s preseason game at Washington, Rogers did not get an offensive snap.
“He definitely has skill,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said today of Rogers, “ but I think when you look at the production of that group, and who’s produced for a long period of time, it’s just a matter of, it’s just as simple as, we feel that we have better players on the roster right now than the players that we released. That’s what I’ve communicated to them.”
Marrone said Rogers’ production right now, more so than his potential in the future, factored into the decision. In three preseason games, he finished with just one catch (which went for a 6-yard touchdown against Indianapolis).
“I’m a big believer on the production part of it right now rather than what are we going to get down the road,” the coach said. “So I think all those players that were released have the ability to play, but we feel as an organization that we just have better players right now.”
Along with Rogers and fellow wide receiver DeMarco Sampson, the Bills also released cornerback Jumal Rolle, defensive back Dominique Ellis and center Ryan Turnley.
Offensive tackle Chris Hairston, who was expected to compete for the starting job on the right side of the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line this season, will not get that chance.
Hairston’s season is over after the Bills moved him to their reserve/non-football injury list Monday afternoon.
Hairston did not practice at all during training camp while on the team’s active/physically unable to perform list. His activity was limited to slow walks around the practice field at St. John Fisher College.
The move means Erik Pears is the likely starter on the right side, with Thomas Welch serving as the team’s “swing tackle,” the primary backup to both Pears and starting left tackle Cordy Glenn.
The Bills’ active roster now sits at 75 players, meeting the maximum that will be allowed at the 4 p.m. deadline today. Safety Jairus Byrd has a two-week exemption from counting against that number.
Additionally, the Bills reached an injury settlement with guard Keith Williams and released him from injured reserve.
News Sports Reporter Tim Graham contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org