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FORD SPUTTERS IN TEST DRIVE AS KICKOFF MAN

The Buffalo Bills' experiment with kickoff specialist Cole Ford basically turned out to be a clunker.

Ford, acquired off waivers from Oakland on Wednesday, came up short on four of his six kickoffs in the Bills' victory over the Washington Redskins on Friday night in the preseason finale.

Ford's opening kickoff went to the 7-yard line, and his second went to the 5. He also landed short on his fourth and fifth attempts. His final kick was a low liner that went 3 yards deep into the end zone but was returned 40 yards to the 37.

"I was looking for him to kick it 30 percent into the end zone and other times kick it high," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "There's still a decision to make on the 53 (man roster).

The Bills were hoping Ford would supplant Steve Christie on kickoffs. Ford had 19 touchbacks on 68 attempts last season with the Oakland Raiders while Christie had just five on 63 attempts. Ford's kicks Friday did have more hang time than Christie's last year.
The Bills came through the game with only minor injuries.

Defensive backs Manny Martin and Ray Hill were shaken up in the fourth quarter when they collided while breaking up a pass intended for Redskins receiver James Thrash.

Tight end Jay Riemersma and linebacker Dwayne Sabb sustained hip pointers, but both were expected to be OK.

Defensive end Bruce Smith (knee) and guard Joe Panos (knee) did not dress for the game. Smith is expected to be in the starting lineup next week for the season opener against San Diego. The Bills still were uncertain about Panos' status.

Nine years ago, Doug Flutie was told he wasn't good enough to play in the NFL. They said he was too short, too undisciplined, too everything.

Well, the 5-foot-9 Flutie hasn't grown an inch since 1989, but the Buffalo Bills are certainly happy he'll be their backup quarterback when they open the season next week. He took the Bills 99 yards on one drive and found Kevin Williams along the sideline for 58 yards on another in Buffalo's win over the Redskins in the preseason finale.

"When he's on the field, you can expect a big play at any time," Williams said. "He has the heart of a lion."

The Canadian Football League refugee completed four of 11 passes for 88 yards and no touchdowns but, more importantly, he made few mistakes and did not throw an interception. His one error was a 10-yard grounding penalty.

"It feels more comfortable each week," Flutie said. "I'm still just a hair away from the whole package."
Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, special teams ace Steve Tasker and former coach Marv Levy were invited to the game by the team.

Tasker and his wife, Sarah, and Levy and his wife, Fran, watched the game from a booth adjacent to the press box. Kelly went to the game with his college roommate, Mark Rush. Kelly and Rush watched most of the game from the sidelines.
Ranell, a Buffalo native and considered the leading recording artist for Hood Records, sang the national anthem. Ranell is a graduate of Performing Arts. It was her first performance of the national anthem.

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