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DEPARTED JONES DISPUTES NOTION HE ROCKED BILLS' BOAT

Henry Jones built a reputation as a consummate team player over 10 seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

Now he's out of a job.

He says that doesn't bother him so much.

But what does bother him is the way he ended his outstanding Bills' career.

Jones scoffs at the suggestion that he wasn't physical enough to play strong safety in the Bills' new defense. And he bristles at the idea -- leaked out by some in the Bills organization since his release -- that he wasn't a positive force in the locker room under the new regime.

"I'm not upset they cut me, I'm upset by the circumstances behind it," Jones said from his Atlanta-area home this week.

"I'm a team player, and I've always been a team player. I was doing everything they asked me to do. I'm always going to do whatever the coach tells me. I feel my character has been attacked."

Jones admits he does not love the way coach Gregg Williams deals with players.

"I didn't totally agree with their approach," he said. "He's not treating them like men. And I'm not the only guy who feels that way. You don't insult players. There's a certain way you talk to grown men, and there's a certain amount of respect you give grown men, and liberties and freedoms you give them. . . . I think he's still trying to figure that out as a head coach as far as how he wants to do it."

Jones also said he considered it part of his role as a veteran to act as a liaison between coaches and players, and he would discuss policies at times with coaches.

"Young guys would come to me to raise issues at times," he said. "That's my role as a veteran leader on the team, and that's something veterans have always done. But I'd never complain behind anyone's back or do anything to hurt the team.

"Everybody who knows me, after all these years, knows I come to play and I give everything I have, just like I did under the last two head coaches and the coordinators I've had."

Jones, who is 6-foot and 200 pounds, says the suggestion that Raion Hill, who is also 6-0, 200, is better-equipped to play the hard-tackling strong safety role the coaches want, doesn't make sense.

"Nothing against Raion, but come on," Jones said. "Raion is no more physical than I am. I haven't seen any Ronnie Lotts out there. The bottom line is getting a dude on the ground. I've made going on 1,000 tackles in my career. You tell me I don't know how to tackle?"

The truth is the Bills don't have a linebacker-style safety, like Tennessee's Blaine Bishop, on the roster this year.

"They've been asking everybody to be somebody in Tennessee," Jones said. "They act like we didn't play football here before."

Jones also wasn't thrilled with the fact that, just like kicker Steve Christie, he found out about his release from his position coach, not from the head coach or general manager. Defensive backs coach Pat Thomas called Jones with the news.

"They didn't handle it in a classy way, but they did me a favor," Jones said. "I loved it in Buffalo, and I want to thank all the fans and everyone who supported me over the years. We made a lot of good friends in Buffalo. I've got a lot to be thankful for."

Now Jones, 33, is waiting for the right opportunity. He had a tryout with Detroit this week but said he turned the Lions down.

"I'm looking to get with a winner at this stage of my career," Jones said.

Here's hoping Jones winds up playing for a playoff team in January.

Thinking about '63

Joe Schmidt, the Lions' Hall of Fame middle linebacker and former head coach, this week recalled playing in 1963 two days after the Kennedy assassination.

The Lions lost to Minnesota at Tiger Stadium.

"I don't think anybody had their heart in the game," Schmidt said. "It was one of those things, you really couldn't believe it happened. You couldn't get your mind on what you were doing. The mood in the locker room was not what was conducive to getting ready to play a great football game."

Schmidt agreed with the NFL's decision this time to take a week off.

"It would be better for everybody to just let it go by for a week," Schmidt said. "I don't think something of this magnitude is conducive to people thinking about football. That's just me. One week, in respect to people who lost their lives, would not be detrimental to the NFL."

KGB on loose in Green Bay

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has done it in practice, in the exhibition season and in the first game of the regular season.

He's one of the early surprise stories in the NFL.

Gbaja-Biamila, or "KGB" for short, registered three sacks, set up a fourth and was a split-second away from being credited with another as the Packers amassed seven sacks last week in their 28-6 rout the Lions.

"Let's not get him ready for the Pro Bowl just yet," defensive tackle Santana Dotson said. "But Kabeer has one of the quicker get-offs right now in the NFL."

Gbaja-Biamila is an undersized speed rusher at 6-4, 253. He was a fifth-round draft choice out of San Diego State in 2000.

He also goes by the nicknames "K-12" and "Kaboom." He grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is of Nigerian descent. His name in Nigerian means "Big man come and save me." His name is pronounced kah-BEER BAH-jah BEE-ah-MIL-lah.

"God gave me a great ability to have speed and use my hands," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I don't even worry about holding. I just knock their hands off and go around the corner."

Run defense streak

The Bills limited the Saints to 3.8 yards per rush last week. If they hold opponents under 4.0 yards per rush for the season, it would be their 16th consecutive season doing so. That would break the NFL record they currently share with the Dallas Cowboys, who did it from 1964 to '78.

Viking offense out of whack

Things came easily to the Vikings in their 4-0 preseason, and their offense opened the season out of whack. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper had a bad game in the loss to Carolina. The Panthers' plan was to stop the run with just four or five, play pass defense and double-team Randy Moss on every play. Culpepper tried to force the ball into Moss. He threw six passes his way. One was caught, two were intercepted. The Vikings also abandoned the ground game, calling just 15 runs.

Look for Culpepper to learn from his mistakes soon and play better.

Onside kicks

The ironic transaction of the week came in Tennessee, where the Titans signed ex-Bill Daryl Porter because they lost starting free safety Bobby Myers and backup cornerback Dainon Sidney to serious knee injuries last Sunday. Porter, of course, was the prime player who left his lane while covering the Music City Miracle. Porter was one of Miami's last cuts this preseason.

More bad news in Dallas: The Cowboys are without defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban, a former top pick, for four to eight weeks with a herniated disk in his lower back. . . . Dallas rookie Quincy Carter had a fumbled snap, two interceptions and a QB rating of 14.5 in the opener. Of the Cowboys' 44 plays, only 19 went for positive yardage. . . . All six new head coaches lost last week and their teams were outscored, 163-69.

The Panthers entered the season as the first NFL team in 24 years to go into an opener without a quarterback who had thrown a pass in a regular-season game. Chris Weinke's backups are Dameyune Craig and Matt Lytle. The last time it happened was on the 1977 New York Giants, who started Jerry Golsteyn, backed by Joe Pisarcik and Randy Dean.
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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