boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
NFL Notebook

Bills get younger, not deeper

Buffalo needs help at defensive end

Dick Jauron has no concerns that the Bills just got younger after announcing yesterday that rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny and second-year guard Brad Butler will start the regular season.

A bigger concern for the Bills coach is the sudden lack of experienced depth the team has at defensive end a week before Buffalo hosts Denver to open the season.

"We're looking at all the options," Jauron said, noting the team hasn't ruled out signing a free agent this week. "We really got unlucky there unfortunately."

The Bills are back to square one in their search for defensive end depth after Al Wallace was placed on the reserve-injured list Saturday because of a shoulder injury he sustained in Buffalo's preseason finale at Detroit last week. Wallace, a seven-year veteran, had only signed a week earlier and was being counted upon to be the team's primary backup to starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay. Buffalo's ranks were already depleted with Ryan Denney out indefinitely with a broken left foot, and with Anthony Hargrove suspended by the NFL for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Barring the Bills signing someone this week, Eric Powell becomes the team's lone backup, the player having yet to appear in an NFL game four years since completing his college career at Florida State.

Jauron's decision to name Posluszny his starting middle linebacker didn't come as a surprise after the second-round draft pick out of Penn State capped a solid preseason. Posluszny finished second on the team with 18 tackles and added a sack in four preseason games. Posluszny takes over the play-calling duties for a revamped unit that lost linebackers London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes and cornerback Nate Clements this offseason.

Butler's emergence at right guard, however, was unexpected after he missed most of training camp and all but one preseason game with a hamstring injury. The second of Buffalo's two fifth-round picks, Butler appeared in only two games last season and beat out nine-year veteran Jason Whittle and third-year player Duke Preston for the job.

The Bills also announced linebacker Keith Ellison is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, and Coy Wire will replace him for the season opener. The Bills were counting on the second-year player to take over the weak side spot.

New deal for Simmons

The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed right guard Kendall Simmons to a four-year extension that could be worth as much as $24 million, a deal that makes certain they won't go into the 2008 season without both starting guards. The deal secures Simmons through the 2011 season and guarantees him $7.85 million in new money. He was already set to make $900,000 this season, with a salary cap value of $1,435,664 to the Steelers. Simmons's signing almost certainly rules out any chance the Steelers will reopen contract talks with left guard Alan Faneca, the five-time All-Pro lineman who is going into the final season of his contract. The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts after a season begins, and they have had no substantial talks with Faneca for months. Faneca may have assured his departure from Pittsburgh when, after reporting to a mandatory minicamp in May only because he could be fined for missing it, he criticized the team's negotiating tactics and promised he would not re-sign . . . Veteran guard Zach Piller had his contract terminated by the New York Giants. Piller signed with the Giants June 7 after spending eight seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Piller was replaced on the roster by Kevin Boothe, who was waived this weekend by the Oakland Raiders.

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES