Posted: Wednesday August 9, 2006 5:41PM; Updated: Monday August 28, 2006 1:47PM
4. Keep an eye on Bills new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (pronounced 'fuel'). He's a coach with good things in his future, and if he can help the Bills defense rebound from a dreadful 2005 (when the unit ranked 29th in yards) to something closer to its No. 2 overall ranking in 2003-2004, even more people will become aware of his work. Fewell was the Bears secondary coach in 2005, where he helped both cornerback Nathan Vasher and safety Mike Brown reach the Pro Bowl, and he has worked with defensive backs in St. Louis (2003-2004) and Jacksonville (1998-2002).
5. The Bills are probably a couple years from challenging New England and Miami in the AFC East, but this isn't a hopeless situation Jauron finds himself in. The Bills defense fell apart last year when linebacker Takeo Spikes got hurt, but if free-agent defensive tackle Larry Tripplett can help the run game, and first-round picks Donte Whitner (safety) and John McCargo (defensive tackle) can make some impact, that side of the ball could be better than expected. On offense the Bills will benefit if it simply figures out whether Losman is the team's future at quarterback.
Entering his ninth NFL season, Bills middle linebacker London Fletcher is now London Fletcher-Baker. He had his name officially changed this offseason to help preserve his grandfather's and father's surname, which is Baker. Fletcher was his mother's last name, and as the family's only male offspring, he wanted to keep the Baker name going as well. Fletcher will still be the name he uses in his football career, and on the back of his jersey.
Fantasy Geek Note
If you can't get running back Willis McGahee in your draft, don't forget about receiver Lee Evans, who is the Bills' big-play threat. Evans had a team-best seven touchdowns last season, and was second in the NFL with seven catches of at least 40 yards. With Eric Moulds gone to Houston, Evans is the team's clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the first time, and he should easily top the 48 receptions he has logged in each of his first two seasons.
Whither McGahee? He ripped off 100-yard games in seven of his first 10 starts in 2004, but he had only four triple-digit efforts all of last season, including none in November or December. His touchdowns dropped from a team-best 13 in 2004, to just five in 2005. But the Bills believe McGahee is poised for a big comeback this year, and there are signs that he has his old mojo back. For one, at about 225, he's lighter by 10 pounds, losing some of the bulk that made him less elusive in 2005. Former Bills head coach Mike Mularkey encouraged McGahee to bang away between the tackles, and stop trying to bounce his runs outside so much. But Jauron and Co. say there will be no such restrictions, and that McGahee is free to run wherever his blocking leads him. He's got to like what he's hearing.
"We're kind of hanging our hat on him,'' Jauron said. "We're going to run the ball. We have to run the ball.''