ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – In lieu of H-back Dan Vitale’s release, following a failed physical, the Bills entered Tuesday with one open spot on their roster. Ahead of practice Rex Ryan pointed out that the team was already in the process of “dialing in on specific guys,” and lo an behold, minutes later the team announced they had signed former Bengals WR Brandon Tate.
The 6-1, 195-pound North Carolina product, entered the NFL as a third round draft pick with New England in the 2009 NFL Draft. Over the course of his 8-year career he has played in 98 games, accumulating 57 receptions for 901 yards and six touchdowns.
Tate also has 1,415 punt return yards and 4,680 kick return yards, along with three combined touchdowns over his career as well.
Last week Ryan named Reggie Bush the team’s No. 1 punt returner, and said that the speedster would also be back alongside Walter Powell on kick returns. Tate’s presence certainly may change that, although its’ unclear at this point what his role will be.
“They just signed me, and I mean I’m a return man so I’m looking to help out with that or whatever,” Tate explained after practice. “Whatever they need me to do, I’m gonna do it so, just take it one day at a time, just compete and get better.”
On the injury front it’s all positive for the Bills as they saw the trio of S Aaron Williams, RB Mike Gillislee and WR Marquise Goodwin clear the concussion protocol and return to the field as full participants. Joining them were tackles Seantrel Henderson and Cordy Glenn as well as CB Nickell Robey-Coleman. Everyone except Henderson, who Ryan was weary to confirm will play, has a green light for Sunday.
Williams spoke with the media after practice for the first time since colliding with practice squad receiver Dez Lewis on August 11. It was another setback for the five-year veteran after suffering a career threatening neck injury last season, but Williams said he’s ready to play Sunday, fearlessly.
“The ‘hit’ was when we had the scrimmage. That was the test,” Williams said. “The Dez thing just confirms that my neck is good. There’s no doubt in my mind when I go out there if I can go 100-percent. Of course I’m going to be smart in the way I play, but overall I feel really good.”
The 26-year-old certainly hasn’t lost his drive to keep playing the game he loves and discussed how the road back to playing didn’t change him, but matured him. “I don’t think change would be the right word. Matured would be the definite answer,” Williams remarked. “I relied more on my talent more than I did understanding the scheme of the defense. I relied more on my physical attributes to get me along…and then I got really acquainted with the defense and understanding how this game actually really works. If you have your physical attributes and now with the mental side that’s a dangerous combination.”
On a day where the NFL sent a concussion education video to all it’s players, Williams also had an an interesting statement on whether or not repetitive blows to the upper body have fatal effects on players down the line. “Honestly, it probably does have an effect in the future. But am I thinking about that? No. I can’t think about it because if I think about it it’s gonna happen. I just gotta go out and play and be me.”
Some final injury notes, RB Jonathan Williams and G Ryan Groy were both limited and only CB Kevon Seymour and S Colt Anderson sat out.
Word around the locker room…
- Making his NFL debut on Sunday, DL Adolphus Washington said he is excited to get out on the field and finally make his effort count. Washington says he understands that the speed may be faster than what he’s used to – the veterans have let him know that – but that he’ll ready for whatever is thrown his way and that any nerves he had at the beginning of camp are gone as he learned the playbook and settled in.
- Sammy Watkins said he “thinks he’s there,” in regards to recouping from off-season foot surgery and is more than capable of “playing fast.” Watkins also talked about how the Bills offense expects to be explosive, but that they’re all still working on developing chemistry as a unit. The third-year receiver is expecting to see a lot of different looks from a dynamic Ravens defense on Sunday.
- Safety Corey Graham is thrilled to have is partner in crime, Aaron Williams, back in the secondary. “Finally!” Graham exclaimed when asked about how relieved he is to see Williams return.
- Tackle Seantrel Henderson was reflective when discussing his return to the field after batting Crohns Disease, saying that three or four months ago he wasn’t even sure he’d be here with the Bills, getting ready for Week 1 of the season. While Henderson said he isn’t yet 100 percent, encouraged reporters that he’s getting better everyday.
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