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Edwards endorses coaching change

Trent Edwards was surprised by the firing of offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, but the Buffalo Bills' quarterback was far from being upset about it.

There were rumors of some friction between Edwards and Schonert, but Edwards said the bigger issue was the state of the offense. He revealed Sunday that he and other players took their concerns to head coach Dick Jauron.

"We had voiced some things with what direction it was going and where it needed to go, and Coach Jauron made the decision on how he felt and what he felt the offense needed best," Edwards said after practice Sunday. "And that's the decision he made and that's something he decided and that's something I need to respect."

Jauron cited "a lack of productivity" on offense as the reason he let Schonert go. Edwards agreed things were not going smoothly.

The Bills' starters scored only three points in the preseason, and the offense as a whole had trouble finding the end zone. The Bills' offense failed to score a touchdown in the last two exhibition contests.

"You have to look at it like we need to score points, we need to be in rhythm and we hadn't done that in the past couple of weeks," Edwards said. "There was no saying that we weren't going to be able to do that without Turk here, but that's the decision that the head coach made."

Jauron's solution to fix what is ailing the offense is promoting quarterback coach Alex Van Pelt to offensive coordinator.

Edwards enthusiastically endorsed the move.

"He's been in my corner and he's been a great coach for me and he's someone I'm very close with within this organization," Edwards said of Van Pelt. "I know he's very excited about this opportunity we have ahead of us and it's going to be a lot of work, but there's no reason why we can't do it."

Despite this move being so close to the regular season, the players are confident they'll be ready for the New England Patriots next Monday night.

"It's enough time," receiver Lee Evans said. "It's enough time because the plays haven't changed now. It's still executing the same plays, but the offense is going to look different."

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Running back Dominic Rhodes was clearly the biggest shocker of the Bills' cuts. Jauron addressed the reason for letting the eight-year veteran go.

"There is no move that we made that was an easy move [Saturday], and that wasn't an easy move," Jauron said. "But we believe in the guys we kept. Again, we'll move forward from here. We wish Dominic the best. He's a good player."

With Rhodes gone and Marshawn Lynch serving a three-game NFL-ordered suspension, the Bills are left with only two running backs on the roster -- Fred Jackson, who will start the first three games while Marshawn Lynch serves his suspension, and second-year man Xavier Omon, who has appeared in only two games.

"Wish we had five," Jauron said. "Wish we could take seven [running backs] in and 80 players, but we can't. I like the guys we kept and we'll get them ready and we'll go."

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Defensive end Chris Kelsay has yet to return from Chicago, where his daughter had surgery for undisclosed reasons. Kelsay has been gone since last Wednesday, but Jauron expects him back this week.

Offensive tackle Demetrius Bell, defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, cornerback Drayton Florence and tight end Derek Fine were at practice, but did not participate.

Bell continues to nurse a sore back. Johnson suffered a thigh contusion in the final preseason game last Thursday. Florence has been out the past three weeks with a sprained knee. Fine is sidelined with an injured hamstring.

Jauron said he is optimistic that all the players will return to practice by Wednesday.

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Linebacker Alvin Bowen, running back Bruce Hall, wide receivers C.J. Hawthorne and Felton Huggins, offensive lineman Nick Hennessey, defensive tackle Corey Mace and tight end Jonathan Stupar were signed to the Bills' eight-man practice squad Sunday. All were part of Saturday's final 18 cuts. Hall, Hawthorne, Huggins and Stupar were practice squad members last year.

The Bills also released center Brandon Rodd from the injured reserve list.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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