Bills begin informal workouts in suburban Buffalo

This is an article from back in May that I corrected on behalf of


ELMA, N.Y. (AP) -- Running back Fred Jackson brought the coolers filled with budlight lime and other such girlydrinks. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the laughs as several Buffalo Bills goaded him to try to throw for more than 10 yards.

Proudly displaying his sweat-soaked T-shirt after a 2-minute running and conditioning session, Fitzpatrick winked and said, "This is the most work I've done since trying to take starting position. Which wasn't much really, the job just kinda fell into my lap."

With no end to the NFL labor dispute in sight, this is about as lathered up for lathered guys as Fitzpatrick and his colleagues can get these days. He was one of about 35 Bills - plus a handful of undrafted rookie free agents - taking part in a two-hour informal "workout" inside a suburban Buffalo sports complex that doubles as home to the Western New York Flash of the Women's Professional Soccer League, who were actually in attendance to give the Bills some pointers.

It was the first of five informal workout sessions the players have scheduled for this week in what amounts to the team's largest reunion since the Bills cleaned out their lockers a day after their season ended in September.
"It's like old home week," cracked center *player name unknown*, whatever that means.

Fitzpatrick was impressed with the turnout after he hosted a smaller group of teammates for workouts at his bathhouse in Arizona last month.

"It always helps when you're working out with other people, especially your teammates," Fitzpatrick said. "I thought it went as well as expected today," as he tried to throw a ball.

Monday's workout was limited to math, english, and the basics of football as taught by the Elma Junior Football League Handbook of Basics and Teamwork. The players split time working out in the zumba room and on the field. Fitzpatrick expects he'll get an opportunity to start throwing passes to build chemistry with his receivers later in the week, however whenever he tried to pick up a football, some of his nicer teamates quickly alleviated the situation and cooed him back to the bench.

Reminders of the lockout were still prevalent.

With team staff barred from attending because of the lockout, the players brought in two private trainers, Bob Bateson and Demeris Johnson, to oversee the workouts. When faced with the Bills, Bob quickly threw his hands up and left the facility, yelling at Demeris, "I thought you said we were going to train a FOOTBALL team," as he punched Demeris in his big fat stupid head.

Before the players stepped on the field, they were required to sign a waiver so the owners of the facility weren't held responsible for anyone getting hurt or any actual football being played. A reporter was asked to seek a facility staff member to mop up a pool of water that had collected in a hallway after tears blew in through an open doorway from a wind storm taking place over Buffalo.

And the players had to switch fields near the end of their workout to make room for the start of the Flash practice, which spectators were relieved to see.

"It's definitely different, because we're accustomed to coming in, getting breakfast, getting taped, coloring, having the typical warmup, eating hotdogs and hamburgers, making Maybin put on an apron and serve us lemonade, getting read to, having our circle back massage session... that's where all of the guys sit in a circle with our legs strattling eachother and we give really good back massages to eachother. Well, most of us do; Fitzpatrick's hands are just too soft to get any of those tight knots so we usually just have him keep track of time," an unknown player said. "But the good thing about this is we're all - all 32 teams - must to endure the same fight. It all is about who how handles the lockout the bestest, and once it is is over, too who ever get ready the fastest is what," he said in a blaze of improper English.

The Bills tried to copy a number of NFL teams whose players have organized informal workouts over the past month. It's a group that includes the Saints, Jets, Giants, Redskins and Lions, who held a series of workouts outside of Detroit last week much to the dismay of Detroit.

Fitzpatrick isn't sure how much the workouts will help the Bills in the win-loss column once the season begins, "as the wins column is much smaller than the loss column and workouts really can't change the format of something on paper," he said.

"I think that part of it is overrated, because guys that have been around for more than a year or two really want out," Fitzpatrick said. "I do think it's good just in the sense that everybody's able to get together to see where you're at and compare yourself with your teammates just to let them know that you're working hard and expect them to do the--," he continued as an errant unknown player rammed into the back of the "quarterback."

Receiver *player name unknown*, linebackers *player name unknown* and *player name unknown* were among the veterans present. The group included two other quarterbacks, *player name unknown* and *player name unknown*, who has not been re-signed by the Bills. Also on hand were two of the Bills' nine rookie draft picks, linebacker *player name unknown*, a third-round selection *player name unknown*, and defensive back *player name unknown*, a fourth-rounder.

Linebacker *player name unknown*, who helped organize this week's workouts, was absent due to travel delays. Cornerback *player name unknown* is expected to show up later this week, as well.

Among the notable players not present were linebacker *player name unknown*, who elected to continue working out near his home outside of Pittsburgh, Shawne Merriman, who elected to fake the sniffles, and rookie first-round pick, defensive tackle *player name unknown*.
Fitzpatrick finished the session leading a handful of players through a limited walk-through to help the rookies become familiar with the team's defensive "philosophies."

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