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Scouting report: Buffalo Bills


Buffalo's Terrell Owens (81) was a flashy acquisition in the offseason, and the Texans hope to limit him and the rest of the Bills' offense this Sunday

The Texans (4-3) travel to the state of New York for a Week 8 showdown with the Buffalo Bills (3-4). Kickoff is 12 p.m. CT at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.

In Week 7, the Bills went on the road and took down the Carolina Panthers, 20-9, to pick up their second straight win of the season. The defense picked off three Jake Delhomme passes and forced a fumble in the victory.

Head coach Dick Jauron is in his 25th season in the NFL and fourth season in charge of Buffalo—the longest tenure for a Bills head coach since Marv Levy led team for 12 seasons from 1986-97. Jauron's record with Buffalo is 21-27 and overall career record is 57-76 (.429). Jauron actually began his coaching career as a Bills defensive assistant in 1985.

OFFENSE Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick made his first start for Buffalo on Sunday at Carolina. Fitzpatrick went 11-for-22 for 123 yards and a touchdown. He threw to just four different receivers and averaged 5.6 yards per pass. His only other game action in 2009 came the week prior in a road loss to the Jets, when Fitzpatrick was 10-of-25 for 116 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Harvard grad started 12 games in 2008 for the Cincinnati Bengals when Carson Palmer was out with an injured elbow, and Fitzpatrick wound up with a 59.4-percent completion rate, throwing eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed 221-of-372 attempts for 1,905 yards.

Trent Edwards started the first six games of the season at quarterback for the Bills before being sidelined with a concussion in Week 6. Edwards leads the Bills in passing in 2009, going 91-for-153 for 985 yards and five touchdowns.

Running back: Marshawn Lynch made his first Pro Bowl last season when he led the Bills in rushing with 1,036 yards on 250 carries (4.1 yds/carry) and seven touchdowns. Lynch tied Travis Henry and Cookie Gilchrist as the second-fastest running backs in team history to reach 2,000 career rushing yards. The three backs accomplished the feat in each of their 27th career game.
He missed three games early in the season and has rushed for 174 yards on 61 carries and a touchdown.

Sunday against the Panthers, he ran for a touchdown, but was held to 40 yards on 17 carries. In all this season, Lynch is averaging 2.9 yards a carry. Catching the football out of the backfield, Lynch has 14 receptions for 117 yards.

Backup RB Fred Jackson received the majority of the carries early in the season in Lynch's absence. He made the most of the opportunity, running for 417 yards on 103 carries to go along with 20 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown. His five rushing attempts versus Carolina netted just two yards.

Wide receiver: The Bills acquired six-time Pro Bowler Terrell Owens in the offseason, hoping to complement Lee Evans, who had over 1,000 yards receiving for the second time in his career in 2008. Owens has 18 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown, and on Sunday against the Panthers he caught three balls for 27 yards. His best game of 2009 was a three-catch, 52-yard performance in a Week 2 win at home against Tampa Bay, and one of those catches was his lone touchdown reception of the season.

Evans is leading the team thus far with 21 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught five passes for 75 yards and a score against the Panthers. Evans has snared 35 touchdowns since entering the league as a rookie in 2004, and his best season yardage-wise was in 2006 when he finished with 1,292 yards.

Eight-year veteran Josh Reed is the third wide receiver, and through the first seven weeks he's caught 14 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. That lone score was a three-yard reception in the club's Week 4 loss at Miami. Reed's best game was a six-catch, 60-yard day in the loss to the Saints.

Tight end: The Bills passing attack has spread the football to three different tight ends through the early part of the 2009 campaign, and statistically Derek Schouman has the best numbers by virtue of his nine receptions for 103 yards. But all that production came in the first two weeks, and Schouman was placed on injured reserve in late September with a knee injury.

Shawn Nelson, a rookie from Southern Mississippi, has six catches for 60 yards this year, but missed the Carolina contest because of an illness. In Week 6 against the Jets, Nelson caught a pair of passes for 34 yards. His first and only career touchdown was an 11-yarder in the first quarter in the season-opening loss at New England.

Derek Fine is the third tight end, and the 2nd year player out of Kansas has seven receptions for 47 yards. His most productive game was a five-catch, 34-yard output in the New Orleans loss.

Offensive line: The Bills' front five has allowed 21 sacks through seven games, as Edwards was dropped 19 times in the season's first six-and-a-half contests. The team's two featured running backs, Lynch and Jackson are picking up an average of just 3.6 yards a carry.

Three rookies--left guard Andy Levitre, right tackle Jamon Meredith and right guard Eric Wood—were in the lineup on Sunday against the Panthers, and left tackle Demetrius Bell was a seventh round draft pick in 2008. Center Geoff Hangartner has the most experience on the unit and is in his fifth NFL season.

DEFENSE Defensive line: Defensive end Aaron Schobel is in his ninth season with the Bills and looking to get back to Pro Bowl form after only playing in five games in 2008 due to a lingering foot injury. Schobel leads the team with four sacks, and he's also tallied 27 total tackles so far. Schobel's also registered two tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and he's returned his only interception of the season 26 yards for a touchdown.

His backup at right defensive end is Ryan Denney, who has a pair of quarterback sacks and 12 total tackles so far.

At the left end spot, starter Chris Kelsay has 31 total tackles and three sacks, along with a tackle for a loss. The seven year veteran from Nebraska registered a career-high five sacks in 2008.

The left defensive tackle in the Bills' 4-3 defense is no stranger to Texans' fans, in Marcus Stroud. The former Jaguar is third on Buffalo's defense with 32 tackles, and he also has four tackles for loss and pair of sacks as well. Stroud spent his first seven years in the NFL in Jacksonville, before switching to the Bills in 2008.

At right defensive tackle, Kyle Williams leads the way with five tackles for a loss. He also has 30 total tackles, but left Sunday's game with a knee injury. Spencer Johnson, who is also listed as the backup at left defensive tackle, slid into Williams spot and has 18 total tackles so far.

Linebacker: Keith Ellison is the leader in tackles with 63 (36 solo). Three of his tackles have been for a loss, and the outside linebacker is on pace to shatter his career high tackle total of 73, which came in 2008.

The Bills defense has been plagued with injuries in 2009. Inside linebacker Paul Posluszny was one of the defensive leaders in 2008, but missed four games after he broke his left arm in the season opener. But the former Nittany Lion has returned strong, and on Sunday against the Panthers he led the club with 11 total tackles, a week after tackling nine Jets and picking off a Mark Sanchez pass.

Secondary: Because of injuries, George Wilson has been pressed into starting duty at strong safety, and he's responded solidly. He intercepted a pass and finished with 10 total tackles against the Panthers, following up his 11 total tackle performance against the Jets, when he picked off his first pass of the season. At Miami, he tallied a pair of sacks, forced a fumble and finished with eight total tackles. Wilson's in his fourth season in the NFL, and now has four career interceptions.

Donte Whitner is the free safety, but he was injured against the Panthers. Jairus Byrd is his backup, and Byrd was big against Carolina, picking off a pair of Jake Delhomme passes for a total of 67 yards. He also notched a pair of tackles in the game.

Terrence McGee is a starter at corner, and he has yet to pick off a pass in 2009. Six of his 32 total tackles in 2009 came against the Panthers, and in 2008 he led the Bills in passes defensed with 21 and interceptions with 3. His 69 total tackles last season lead all Bills defensive backs.

The other starting cornerback is Drayton Florence, who had four tackles against Carolina. He too, hasn't intercepted a pass this season, and joined the Bills after spending 2008 with Jacksonville. Before that, Florence was a San Diego Charger.

Special teams: Kicker Rian Lindell enters his seventh season with the Bills after spending his first three years with Seattle. Lindell totaled 124 points a year ago, connecting on 78.9% (30 of 38) of his field goals including a long of 53 yards. This season, he's 12-for-14 on field goal attempts, with a long of 47 yards. He's also connected on all 11 point-after-tries.

Punter Brian Moorman has appeared in every Bill game since 2001, a streak of 135 consecutive games. Moorman has 44 punts so far in 2009 and has his longest punt average of his career to date at 46.5 yards, third best in the AFC.

In the return game, Roscoe Parrish has handled the bulk of the duties, with 11 kickoff returns and 12 punt returns. He's averaging 23.5 and 6.1 yards per respective return. His best return of 2009 was a 31-yard punt return. Fred Jackson has also handled some of the load, and he broke off a 27-yard punt return.

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