Bills postcard (cont.)
Tight end Shawn Nelson, fourth round, Southern Mississippi.
This is a position of long-term significant need for the Bills, and until Nelson got kicked in practice early this week and missed several sessions, the 6-5 240-pound kid was on course to be an impact player in his first year.
He put together a highly productive college career -- 157 catches for a 13.1-yard average in 52 college games -- and the Bills plan on giving him every chance to be a major part of their offensive packages this year, particularly when they're not in the no-huddle.
See below for a description of nutty crowds going crazy for a 35-year-old wide receiver.
On the Menu
The cafeteria for players, coaches and staff at Bills camp is one of the finest in the league, and it didn't disappoint at lunch Wednesday.
Went to the stir-fry section with Bills' assistant PR man Dominick Rinelli and SI multi-media coordinator Helin Jung, and Helin, making her first appearance at an NFL training camp, was salivating at the sight of the fresh broccoli, summer squash, carrots, bok choi, mushrooms, shrimp, beef and chicken. She collected her thoughts well enough to order a massive plate of the stir fry with the tangy garlic sauce, as did I.
I know I need to rate several meals over the next few weeks, so I don't want to be too lofty too early, but this dish earned a solid 'A'.
Mixed fresh fruit (raspberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, pineapple) followed along with filtered water.
Before she left the cafeteria, Helin also glommed onto a Choco-Taco in the Bills' plentiful ice cream area. I was good. I stuck with a little of the frozen yogurt.
Total grade: A. What a great way to start the camp trip.
1. The crowds here love Owens like they haven't loved anyone since Bruce Smith. Or Jim Kelly. Or maybe Thurman Thomas. On Saturday, when Owens went out to stretch for his first practice as a Bill, one fan shouted, "Way to stretch, T.O.!" The honeymoon is on. I told Dick Jauron the whole scene reminded me of Mannywood at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where Dodger fans have forgiven Manny Ramirez all past transgressions and are there to worship him whether he homers or strikes out. That's how hungry these fans are for a winner. And for a star.
2. There's no question in my mind the coaching staff, the offense and perhaps some of the front office will be overhauled by impatient owner Ralph Wilson unless this team finishes over .500.
3. Owens, according to one front office source, "was a broken man" when the Cowboys cut him and Buffalo began negotiating with him in the spring. He looked anything but broken in the two practices I saw. He was happy and loving the fan adulation.
4. The Bills' schedule is a killer. They open at New England Monday night, come home to face Tampa on a short week, then get to deal with the Drew Brees passing circus the following week. I do like the Patriots and Colts at home in the last three weeks of the season.
5. With how good the AFC East is, everything is going to have to go right for this team to win 10 or more games. And I mean everything.
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