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BILLS WON'T TRY TO CATCH A RECEIVER EARLY
TEAM LIKES REED TO REBOUND; HENRY COULD BE DEALT TODAY

The Buffalo Bills are poised to bolster themselves in the trenches on the eve of the NFL draft. A big lineman on offense or defense figures to be in the cards on the first day of selections.

The Bills also appear poised to trade Travis Henry. A deal for the disgruntled running back could happen today or Saturday if the Bills can get a price they like. Arizona, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia have expressed interest. Those teams have eight, 11 and 13 draft picks, respectively. Arizona might be willing to sweeten its offer, which would be essential given the Bills' lukewarm attitude toward Cardinals tackle L.J. Shelton.

One thing the Bills do not appear poised to do is draft a wide receiver early in the selection meeting.

Only four NFL teams had fewer catches from their backup wide receivers than the Bills last season. However, the Bills say they think the circumstances are right for a revival by No. 3 wideout Josh Reed.

"We are not anywhere near as down on Josh Reed as a lot of people are," said Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe. "Josh was hurt last year, and even when he did come back he wasn't healthy. We're hopeful we can get him healthy and utilize him in the role we intended for him when we took him, which is to be a good slot No. 3 receiver.

"We think when Josh is healthy he's very good in that role."

Reed finished with 16 catches for 153 yards last season. He suffered a knee injury in the seventh game of the season, against Arizona, sat out for most of five games (counting the Cards game) and then did little upon returning for the final five contests.

It was a disappointing third season for Reed, who had looked very good in training camp for a second year in a row.

"If you look back at his numbers his first year when Eric (Moulds) and Peerless (Price) were together, Josh was in the ideal spot," Donahoe said. "Peerless left, which changed Josh's role. Eric got hurt, which further changed Josh's role, and now he's trying to do something that we didn't draft him to do. We didn't draft him to be a No. 1 receiver."

Reed had 37 catches for 509 yards as a rookie and 58 for 588 as a 16-game starter in 2003.

"We have a lot of confidence in him," Donahoe said. "He's got to have it in himself. He's an ideal No. 3 receiver because he's very good on third down, he's very good in the red zone, he's got that short-area quickness where he can uncover, and then he's physical with the ball. The key for Josh is to stay healthy so we can get him in that role."

Reed figures to battle third-year man Sam Aiken during training camp. Jonathan Smith was the fifth wideout last year. Other receivers on the roster include Drew Haddad, Kahlil Hill, George Wilson and LaDaris Vann.

Meanwhile, the Bills have agreed to terms on a deal for street free agent LaWaylon Brown, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle. Brown was undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 2003. He was among the last preseason cuts by Seattle last summer and later was on Minnesota's practice squad.
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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