NFL notebook: Bills will play at home Sunday
Barring another act of God, the Bills’ home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday against the Browns will go on as scheduled — at home.
After the Bills were sent packing to Detroit by a historic snowstorm last week, their game against the Jets moved out of Orchard Park, the snow has begun to melt, and the cleanup effort at the complex has gone exceedingly well during the past three days.
The Bills battered the Jets, 38-3, and are enjoying a warm reception back here.
“The heat wave has certainly helped over the last 48 hours,” team president Russ Brandon said with a laugh, referencing the unusually warm temperatures Sunday and Monday in western New York that melted some of the record snow.
Following a tour of the facility, Brandon anticipates the stadium will be “100 percent operational,” despite experiencing some minor damage during the storm.
The problems ranged from burst pipes, to leakage, to parts of the wall separating the field from the stands being damaged during the snow-removal process. A portion of the wall of the Bills’ practice facility caved in, but has already been repaired.
Brandon said engineers found no structural issues to the stadium itself.
A weekend warmup contributed to the speedier than expected cleanup. Crews of about 500 snow-shoveling volunteers did the rest by working three shifts around the clock from Saturday morning to Monday night.
If not for the thaw, the Bills projected it would have taken until Friday to clear the 200-acre grounds of the estimated 330,000 tons of snow — enough to fill the team’s fieldhouse about 12 times over.
Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay
A judge has agreed to delay the trial of former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 slaying of two Boston men.
Hernandez is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after a chance encounter at a nightclub. His trial was scheduled to begin in May.
But during a court hearing, Hernandez’s lawyer asked a judge to delay the trial by six months, citing a separate murder trial Hernandez faces in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.
The judge agreed to delay the Boston trial, but said he wants to see how long the trial in Lloyd’s murder takes before setting a new date.
Jury selection in the Lloyd case is set to begin Jan. 5.
Goodell and Smith meet
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and players’ union chief DeMaurice Smith met to discuss the league’s personal conduct policy.
The NFL Players Association has been unhappy with what it calls “lack of transparency” in the NFL’s policy. Smith has said the only way to have a fair policy is if the NFL and owners “commit to collective bargaining.”
The NFL counters that the union agreed to the policy during labor negotiations to end the 2011 lockout. That collective bargaining agreement runs through 2021.
The union also is displeased with the way Goodell increased the minimum penalty for violation of the policy to six games following the Ray Rice case. The league contends the personal conduct policy gives him that right.
Bengals tackle Smith out for season
The Bengals put right tackle Andre Smith on injured reserve with a torn left triceps, ending his season.
Smith got hurt during a 22-13 win in Houston on Sunday. He’d missed the two previous games with a sprained ankle.
The Bengals filled his roster spot by signing offensive tackle Jamon Meredith, a sixth-year veteran who has started 24 games.
Broncos change kickers
The Broncos switched kickers again, waiving first-year pro Brandon McManus and signing Connor Barth, who hasn’t kicked in an NFL game since 2012.
Barth, 28, won a competition with 38-year-old Jay Feely at the Broncos complex.
The Broncos were in the market for a new kicker after McManus clanked a 33-yard field goal off the right upright in Denver’s 39-36 win over Miami on Sunday. That came on the heels of a game in St. Louis where they passed up field-goal attempts of 54 and 55 yards indoors.
McManus’ longest field goal was from 44 yards, and he didn’t really get the chance for a pressure kick for the AFC West-leading Broncos.
While solid on kickoffs, McManus was 9 for 13 on field goal attempts. His 69.2 percent conversion rate was dead last among NFL kickers, ranking ahead of only Nate Freese and Alex Henery, both of whom were released by Detroit earlier this season.
Barth has made 84 percent of his career field-goal tries. He was the most accurate kicker in Buccaneers history but missed all of last season after tearing the Achilles tendon in his right foot during a charity basketball game. He returned this year but was beaten out by rookie Patrick Murray.
Lions’ Raiola: No fine
Detroit center Dominic Raiola says he hasn’t been fined by the NFL for his cut block during a kneel-down at the end of the Lions’ loss to New England on Sunday.
Raiola says he didn’t intentionally try to hurt anybody or try to do anything out of the ordinary, and he “would have gotten a FedEx letter” if he had. Raiola spoke with reporters Tuesday but tried to keep the focus on Thursday’s game against Chicago.
The Patriots scored a late touchdown in their 34-9 win over Detroit. Afterward, Raiola told the Detroit Free Press: “We took a knee, so I cut the nose (tackle). They went for six. They went for a touchdown at 2 minutes. They could have took three knees and the game would have been over.”
Manziel’s agent disputes report
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was the victim, not the instigator, in the early Saturday morning incident in Cleveland that police described as a “riot” scene upon arrival at 2:30 a.m.
That’s the position of Manziel and his agent, Kevin Burkhardt, who was responding to allegations that Manziel and “his entourage” struck a fan who approached the rookie quarterback for a hug at a party.
The Cardinals signed former Bears and Raiders running back Michael Bush and released Kerwynn Williams. Bush has 809 carries for 3,250 yards and 29 touchdowns along with 104 receptions for 1,010 yards and two touchdowns over a seven-year NFL career. … Ex-NFL defensive back Fred Smoot was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault after a woman called police to say he grabbed her during a fight at a Virginia home. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office says Smoot was arrested Sunday in Ashburn. … Jets rookie tight end Jace Amaro has a head injury and is going through the NFL’s concussion protocol, while New York defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has an ailing toe.