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Jackson, Dareus and Bell get starting assignments

There weren't any major surprises in the Buffalo Bills' starting lineup on Saturday against Jacksonville.

Fred Jackson started at running back as expected although backup C.J. Spiller entered the game on the third play from scrimmage while Jackson remained in the backfield. Spiller split wide left at receiver.

Rookie Marcell Dareus, who suffered an ankle injury after getting kicked in the back of the leg, started at defensive end while Demetrius Bell started at left tackle. Midway through the second quarter left guard Andy Levitre moved to left tackle and Chad Rinehart played left guard.

Second-year man Alex Carrington started at outside linebacker in place of Shawne Merriman, who was held out again this week as a precaution with a sore groin. Also out for the Bills were Roscoe Parrish, Chris Kelsay, Naaman Roosevelt, Donald Jones, Johnny White, Arthur Moats, Kelvin Sheppard, Ed Wang, Kellen Heard, David Martin and Chris White.

Not in uniform for Jacksonville were Maurice Jones-Drew, David Jones, Jeremy Cain, Eben Britton, Aaron Kampman, Zach Miller and Jeremy Mincey.

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The Bills caught a break in the first quarter after rookie Da'Norris Searcy fumbled a punt that was recovered by Kevin Rutland deep in Buffalo territory. Jacksonville was forced to punt again after being penalized, and Searcy signaled for a fair catch.

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Kyle Williams lasted until the fifth round in 2006 because scouts considered him undersized, but the Bills rewarded him with a $39 million contract extension on Friday because he's an underrated athlete.

"This guy is a scratch golfer and he probably could be playing professional baseball if he wanted," said Albert Elias, Williams agent. "His hand-eye coordination is some of the quickest and best that I've ever seen. Athletically speaking, that's what makes him such a dominant player in the NFL."

Williams recorded a sack against David Garrard in the first half.

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Jaguars rookie Blaine Gabbert is the second-string QB behind Garrard, the starter. Gabbert, the third quarterback taken in last year's draft after Carolina took Cam Newton and Tennessee plucked Jake Locker, was the No. 10 pick overall in April. Most believe Gabbert eventually will unseat Garrard sometime this season although coach Jack Del Rio said last spring that Garrard would go into the season as the starter.

Still, Del Rio wasn't pleased with Garrard's performance last week against Atlanta.

"We need more efficiency offensively and certainly the triggerman plays a large role in that," Del Rio told Jacksonville reporters this week. "We have the same system. We have the same quarterback. We have the same players. We should expect to play at a higher level. I expect us to play at a higher level and now would be a good time."

Garrard wasn't much of a passer in the first half, but his 4-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter was classic.

He was flushed from the pocket, and Bills linebacker Antonio Coleman slipped in pursuit. Then defensive end Spencer Johnson and middle linebacker Andra Davis whiffed at Garrard who waltzed in the end zone.

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In seven of the last nine seasons, at least one undrafted rookie free agent had made the Bills' season-opening roster.

Since 2002, the following players have made it to opening day: Joe Burns, Grant Irons and Mike Houghton (2002); Jon Dorenbos and Antonio Brown (2003); Rashad Baker, Jabari Greer, Constantin Ritzmann and Shaud Williams (2004); Jim Leonhard (2005); John DiGiorgio (2006); Ashlee Palmer and Garrison Sanborn (2009) and Antonio Coleman, Cordaro Howard, David Nelson and Jones (2010).

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Former University at Buffalo wide receiver Andre Forde was at the game serving as a scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

email: rmckissic@buffnews.com