Bills’ two new veteran receivers must elevate their games

By Connor Byrne  |   Thursday, August 17, 2006  |  Comments( 8 )

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One reception, eight yards.

The above total is all Buffalo Bills receivers Peerless Price and Andre' Davis could muster in their first preseason game last weekend. The duo was brought in during the free-agency period to help bolster a Bills receiving corps that lost its most experienced and productive pass catcher, Eric Moulds, in April.

Both wideouts possess top-notch speed, which is supposedly perfect in new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's scheme. The former Rams assistant was brought to Buffalo under new head coach Dick Jauron, with the goal of introducing his vertical passing scheme to the Bills.

In his seven-year career, Price has been erratic to say the least. He went from an ever-improving force in his first four years to a tailspinning disappointment in his last three. Between 1999-2002, the former second-round pick out of Tennessee caught 232 passes as a member of the Bills before moving onto Atlanta and Dallas, where he caught just 117 balls from Michael Vick and Drew Bledsoe, respectively.

The 5-foot-11 Price signed a four-year, $10 million deal this offseason to rejoin the Bills. Last Saturday, he was on the receiving end of zero passes.

Davis has a less-proven track record than Price. As a member of the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots for the first four seasons of his career, Davis caught 102 passes. He mostly played the role of a fast wideout incapable of joining the NFL's above-average class of receivers.

The 6-1 Davis signed a one-year deal in Buffalo on the first day of free agency, since it was among the few teams interested in him. After meeting with general manager Marv Levy and Jauron, the 27-year-old was too impressed to leave Western New York without a contract, no matter how minimal.

Last Saturday, his numbers read as the abovementioned total: one reception, eight yards.

Although these two veterans signed notable deals with the Bills in the offseason months, by no means were or are they etched in stone to crack the final 53-man roster. Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish are locks to make the squad, but the receiver outlook gets much cloudier thereafter.

Out of Price, Davis, Josh Reed, Sam Aiken, Jonathan Smith, George Wilson and Martin Nance, the Bills can't keep everyone. In fact, they'll probably be able to retain four - at most.

And when it comes to those players, Aiken proved the most in Buffalo's first preseason outing, catching four balls for 73 yards to accompany outstanding special teams play. Reed, Smith and Wilson also showed promise, making the race for roster spots that much more difficult.

If Price and Davis want to be one of the four lucky enough to remain in Buffalo, they'd better start running crisper routes and becoming bigger downfield threats tomorrow evening, when the Bills take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

With big-armed quarterback J.P. Losman scheduled to play most of the first half, the two aspiring playmakers will have ample opportunity to stay ahead of their competition.

As they know, one reception for eight yards won't get the job done.

--Connor J. Byrne can be reached at

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