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Bills add experienced QB depth in T.J. Yates

After parting ways with EJ Manuel, the Buffalo Bills needed some experienced depth at quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor.

On Monday, they found some by signing T.J. Yates, a veteran of six NFL seasons. Three of those seasons were with new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison when Dennison worked in the same capacity with the Houston Texans from 2010 to 2013.

"It’s obvious by the coaches and we talked about it, this is obviously Tyrod’s team," Yates, who spent the end of last season as a backup with the Miami Dolphins, said during a conference call with reporters covering the Bills. "I’m just here to bring experience to the quarterback room and knowledge in the system and help out in any way I can and just try to make this quarterback room better."

The only other quarterback on the Bills' roster is Cardale Jones, whom they made a fourth-round draft pick from Ohio State last year.

The 6-foot-4, 217-pound Yates said he expected to compete for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

"Yeah, that was one thing that was expressed to me, that no matter what, there’s going to be competition in the quarterback room," he said. "And whoever it may be, I’m here to compete and raise the level of play in the quarterback room. Competition is something that I welcome, that I’ve been a part of my entire career and it makes everybody better.

"The more competition, the better."

The Texans made the University of North Carolina product a fifth-round draft pick in 2011. As a rookie, he led the Texans to a 31-10 wild-card playoff victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. Yates became only the fifth rookie quarterback to win a postseason game. He had previously led the Texans to a win over the Bengals to clinch a playoff berth.

Yates also started in the Texans' 20-13 divisional-round playoff loss against the Baltimore Ravens.

"It obviously was a very long time ago, but I started out my football career a little bit differently than most quarterbacks, getting thrown into the fire like that my rookie year," he said. "I learned so much that year from all the veterans that were around me in the quarterback room and coaches that were around me and just trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could. Obviously, I haven’t played much since then, but that rookie year, it kind of did a lot for me as far as my development mentally, as a football player.

"I remember that more over the years since then and just hopefully I can bring as much knowledge and leadership to this team as possible."

After three seasons, the Texans traded Yates to the Atlanta Falcons for linebacker Akeem Dent.

The Falcons released Yates as part of their final roster cuts before the 2015 season, and he re-signed with the Texans, who had released quarterback Ryan Mallett. Late in the '15 season, Yates suffered a torn ACL against the Indianapolis Colts and finished the year on the injured-reserve list.

Last December, after starter Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury, the Dolphins signed Yates. When a hard hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree sent Matt Moore to the sidelines, Yates took over for one snap, but then Moore returned for the rest of the game.

In 18 career games, including seven starts, Yates has completed 132 of 227 passes for 1,534 yards and six touchdowns, with eight interceptions. His career passer rating is 72.8.  In two playoff starts, he completed 28 of 55 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions -- all against the Ravens.

"With experience comes a lot of different things and knowledge of different situations and being in different situations," Yates said. "I’ve been in all types of them, from being the backup, to being the guy, to playoff games, to when stuff’s going bad, just try to help whoever I can as much as I can.

"It’s always good to have as many veteran guys on the team as possible in my opinion because the more experiences you have in the league, I think it’s better."

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