Jimmy Gaines

Jimmy Gaines released by Bills

The Buffalo Bills released linebacker Jimmy Gaines, a Buffalo native and Canisius High School graduate, and also designated offensive tackle Tyson Chandler as waived/injured Tuesday.

The two moves were required to make room on the 75-man roster for center Dalton Freeman and linebacker Kevin Reddick.

Freeman was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets. The 6-foot-5, 291-pound Clemson product played in all 16 games under Ryan last season in New York.

Reddick comes to the Bills off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. The 6-1, 240-pounder has played in 21 career games over two seasons, spending time with New Orleans, Carolina and San Diego. In those games, he’s made 12 special teams tackles. Reddick played in college for North Carolina.

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How Jimmy Gaines became a more controlled 'Ferrari'

When Jimmy Gaines first showed up at Proformance Sports Training in Amherst as a Canisius High School junior, his raw numbers were "off the chart," trainer John Opfer said.

He could get A to B as fast as anybody Opfer has seen at that size, be it at the high school, college or pro level.

"But his body control," Opfer said, "was absolutely atrocious. As soon as he had to change direction on somebody, he had so much momentum going one way and no body control of a first, second and third gear in his engine. He was like a missile. If he hits you, watch out. But if he misses, he might take somebody else.”

Fast forward to today and Opfer sees an explosive athlete who starred at Miami (Fla.) and is now ready for Sundays.

As he detailed in Friday's paper, Gaines believes his smarts, his ability to take total control of a defense could be the difference. The second-year undrafted linebacker will try to make his hometown team this training camp.

And here at Northtown Center in Amherst, with Opfer, is where he transformed his body to reach this point.

“I told him he was a like a Ferrari engine with one flat tire," said Opfer, who also works with former UB stars Khalil Mack and Branden Oliver. "What an unbelievable raw ability and desire to be great. Those are the two things I can say about Jimmy Gaines. Raw talent, his God-given talent was through the roof. But his willingness to work compared to guys I’ve had, and their talent, it’s just not even close.

“I would honestly rank Jimmy’s work ethic up there with any of those guys. Bo Oliver, probably, in my mind as far as work ethic is hand in hand with Jimmy. ... Those guys realize how close they are to exploding in the NFL, so they refuse to let it slip through their hands.”

While Gaines' pre-draft workout numbers didn't dazzle, Opfer believes the 4.70 time in the 40-yard dash can be deceiving.

For his job, moving in 10-yard spurts, Gaines is as fast as Mack, who pulled a 4.47 at his pro day.

"When you put that into perspective — the ground he’s covering — four, five steps it’s insurmountable," Opfer said. "The problem is when you deal with guys who have that kind of stature, if you look at the frame on him, he’s packed. He’s dense. So when you deal with guys like that, typically they break apart after 12-15 yards, they’re not strong enough in their little muscles to keep up with what their big muscles are generating. So that’s the secret with Jimmy we’ve been working on in the off-season. We’re trying to get all those small muscles that haven’t had to do anything to support these muscles so that the power output is as efficient as possible."

A strong core has always been a focus with these two. That helped him control his explosion.

And this off-season, Opfer is making Gaines use his mind during drills.

Between exhausting reps in the weight room, on the field, wherever, the trainer will ask "What are you thinking on third and 4?" It's all part of playing fast in what promises to be a complicated Rex Ryan defense. Soon, Gaines will be gunning for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"I want him to be able to understand that game," Opfer said. "It’s so fast. So he has to think as fast as he’s able to move. Above and beyond that, we’re fine-tuning his speed for not just forward but multi-directional as possible. I’m trying to help him be a stop-start guy at any angle and absolutely shut down an offense.”

"Sometimes guys go and you say they’re a perfect fit and they get there and they’ve got two other guys they got in free agency that play another position and you’re now a practice dummy, a guy who won’t make it out of camp. So my thing with Jimmy is, ‘as long as you get a fair handshake, we’re going to be prepared to make a splash.’ I don’t think any different.”

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Latest proCane Cuts & Signings

It was one of the busiest NFL proCane roster cut weekends of all-time. See below all the action.

WR LaRon Byrd was cut by the Dallas Cowboys who signed him this offseason, but was quickly picked up by the Cleveland Browns and placed on their active roster.

DB Brandon Harris was cut by the Texans, who drafted him out of Miami 3 years ago, but was also quickly picked up and added to the Titans active roster.

Practice Squad Signings: Stephen Morris: Jags, Tommy Streeter: Dolphins, Chase Ford: Vikings, Erik Swoope: Colts, Brandon Washington: Rams, Harland Gunn: Falcons, Micanor Regis: Panthers, Asante Cleveland: 49ers.

Cuts: Maurice Hagens: Falcons, Eric Winston: Seahawks, Richard Gordon: Chiefs, Tyler Horn: Titans, Jared Wheeler: Bills.

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Jimmy Gaines Looks To Make “Homecoming” a More Permanent Residence

Jimmy Gaines is a native of Buffalo, and played at nearby Canisius High School. But when he went undrafted, he had no indication that his hometown NFL team had any interest in him.

“I really wasn’t in too much contact with Buffalo during that process,” said Gaines. “Once the draft ended, I got a call from my agent telling me that Buffalo was interested in signing me. That was an amazing feeling, just being able to come back home.”

It’s been a long trip for Gaines to return back to the Buffalo area, as he was a star for Canisius, playing linebacker, safety, tight end, tailback and receiver in his senior season. He came to the University of Miami in 2010 as a small 6’2”, 215 pounder who had some room to grow, and came out as a well-built, 6’3”, 240 pound linebacker who shows the versatility to play multiple roles and positions.

Gaines started 27 games at the University of Miami, with 13 of them being this past season, all of them at the middle linebacker spot with 83 tackles and two fumble recoveries. With Gaines putting on 25 pounds since he began playing for the Hurricanes, he was named the Strength Training Athlete of the year for Miami.

Gaines’ improvement from year t0 year as a player coincided with the Hurricanes’ advancement, as they went from 7-6 his freshman season to 9-4 as a senior. Gaines enjoyed helping the once-vaunted University of Miami football program re-establish itself.

“It was a great experience,” said Gaines. “The guys at Miami really want to be great. It wasn’t very hard to help those guys achieve greatness and to try to turn that program around from where it was before. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to do that.”

Gaines told me that “it’s been cool” to begin his NFL journey in Buffalo, as he has seen “a lot of guys from Canisius” attend practices.

“It’s been cool. A lot of guys from Canisius that have came out to the practices. It’s pretty much a homecoming for me, so it’s a great feeling.”

Gaines was listed as the third-string outside linebacker on July 28, and got his first NFL action in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, getting two tackles. Gaines called the experience “amazing”.

“Having the opportunity to play in my first NFL game, it was a dream come true,” said Gaines. “I’m just glad I was able to do a couple good things but there are things I still have to clean up, too.”

With the injury to Kiko Alonso, the Bills’ linebacker core has undergone a lot of experimentation with players taking turns playing at different positions. Under that difficult scenario, Gaines has very much appreciated the guidance from linebacker coach Fred Pagac and the veteran players at his position.

“Coach Po, he’s a great coach,” said Gaines. “He’s a great football mind. I try to take as much from him as I possibly can. And the experience of a guy like Brandon Spikes, and Keith Rivers, Nigel Bradham, those guys have really helped me out in the transition just understanding the playbook and understanding little details within the game.”

The rookie linebacker’s work ethic and film study were profiled during Gaines’ senior year at Miami by 247sports.com’s Christopher Stock:
Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onforio has a message to his players that has resonated with Gaines.

“When you’re done learning, you’re done,” D’Onofrio says.

“That’s what I’ve tried to continue to do since I’ve been here,” Gaines said. “I try to always work on my deficiencies. I’m working. I’m never complacent with where I am like right now. I’m not satisfied with where I am. I want to improve and get better every day. Every day you’re either getting better or worse. You’re never the same. I try to get better. Once you feel like, ‘Oh I know it’ or ‘I got it’, then what’s when you start messing up like Kansas State for me.”

Even though he has 31 games under his belt, he’s continued to take the same amount of notes as he did as a freshman preparing for his debut.

“I’ve always taken a lot of notes,” Gaines said. “I did it because that’s how I learn. I learn better if I just go over it and keep writing it down so I don’t try to keep anything to memory. If I forget something I wrote it down and I’ll check my notes. That keeps me up-to-date with my assignments and what I’m supposed to do.”

Gaines has brought along that willingness to study to his first stop in the pro game.

“Take the same approach to every meeting,” said Gaines. “Make sure I have a notebook, pen, and paper, be ready to write and to takedown whatever details that need to be taken down.”

Gaines said he is willing to play “whatever role” they need him to, whether it is at linebacker, special teams, or both.

“Whatever I can do to help this team, that’s what I would like to do,” said Gaines.

Off the field, Gaines is a big Los Angeles Lakers fan due to Kobe Bryant being his favorite player, with teammates giving him “a little stuff” about their struggles, but “all in good fun”. Gaines also sang in a church choir and for teammates at Miami, according to Stock, though he laughed and said nobody with the Bills has asked him to sing.

Though he has other interests and skills, Gaines very much wants to be a Buffalo Bill.

“It would mean a whole lot to me,” Gaines said of making the team’s roster. “Just like I said, it’s a dream come true. Just trying to make the most of every opportunity I get every day, and hopefully at the end of the day I’ll make the team.”

Gaines has both the work ethic and talent to make it in the NFL. But whether a deep linebacker depth chart will stop him in his attempts to do so for Buffalo has yet to be answered.

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Jimmy Gaines Gets Noticed

PITTSFORD – Doug Marrone was able to summarize his thoughts on Jimmy Gaines in four words Friday.

“He runs extremely well,” the Bills’ coach said of the Buffalo native attempting to make his hometown roster.

OK, so it’s not the highest of praise – but at least the coach knows Gaines’ name.

That’s a good start for an undrafted free agent.

“I’m just trying to go out here and make them notice me a little bit more,” Gaines said Friday night after practice at St. John Fisher College.

Gaines is currently running with the Bills’ second team on the left side at linebacker, meaning he could be a weak- or strong-side ’backer depending on the offensive formation.

“I’m focused on doing my job and knowing my assignments,” he said. “Once I know my job, it’s time to play football after that. After that, you can start making plays like you did in college.”

Gaines starred at Canisius High School before attending the University of Miami. As a senior in 2013, he started all 13 games for the Hurricanes and made 83 tackles.

Wearing his Bills uniform every day at practice still hasn’t completely sunk in.

“It’s still crazy. Every day I think, ‘Wow, am I really on the Bills?’ It’s a childhood dream,” Gaines said. “The first practice I had jitters, then the first practice with pads I had jitters. Now coming up to the first preseason game, I’m sure I’ll have them too, but I’m having fun with it. It’s been a great experience.”

With Kiko Alonso being lost for the season before training camp and Nigel Bradham suspended for the season opener, Gaines has a good opportunity to make the 53-man roster, but he’s not getting ahead of himself.

“This is my job interview every day,” he said. “The only thing I can control is me, so I’m trying to do that.”

Gaines said the message from the coaching staff has been to play “fast and physical.”

“As a linebacker, you’ve got to play downhill,” he said. “I’m getting pretty close. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with it.”

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Jimmy Gaines will need special teams to make roster

Buffalo Bills LBs Jimmy Gaines, Darrin Kitchens and Nathan Williams likely will need to become core special teams players during the preseason if they have a shot to make the final roster.

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Two More NFL proCanes Sign As Free Agents

David Gilbert and Luther Robinson – signed NFL contracts Monday.

Gilbert signed a contract with the Tennessee Titans where he will play outside linebacker, which is moving to a “hybrid” 3-4 defense. Gilbert had tried out for the Titans last week, as did AJ Highsmith who was not signed.

Luther Robinson signed a rookie deal with the Green Bay Packers, where he is listed as a defensive end.

Here is the full list of NFL proCane Rookies and where they have signed.

RG Brandon Linder: drafted 3rd round, 93rd overall by Jacksonville
P Pat O’Donnell: drafted 6th round, 191st overall by Chicago
OT Seantrel Henderson: drafted 7th round, 237th overall by Buffalo
QB Stephen Morris: signed with Jacksonville
WR Allen Hurns: signed with Jacksonville
Basketball player Erik Swoope: signed with Indianapolis to play TE
TE Asante Cleveland: signed with San Francisco
OG/C Jared Wheeler: signed with Carolina
FB Maurice Hagens: signed with Atlanta
DT Justin Renfrow: signed with Arizona
LB Jimmy Gaines: signed with Buffalo
S A.J. Highsmith: had Tennessee tryout, but was not signed, will workout with San Francisco
S Kacy Rodgers II: will try out with Kansas City this weekend
LB Tyrone Cornelius: will try out with Washington this weekend
DT Curtis Porter: signed with Oakland
DE Shayon Green: signed with Miami

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Jimmy Gaines sees Bills as his ‘best choice’

Jimmy Gaines knows the odds are stacked against him.

But the Getzville native and Canisius High School product is determined to make the most of his opportunity with the Buffalo Bills.

Gaines is one of nine rookie undrafted free agents who have signed or agreed to terms with the Bills ahead of the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend.

“It’s amazing. It’s amazing being back home and being well-received from people back home – from my high school teammates and everybody just excited for me to be here,” Gaines said Tuesday at One Bills Drive, where he spoke with Western New York reporters.

Gaines signed with the Bills after a four-year career at Miami (Fla.). With the Hurricanes, he started 27 games and appeared in 41 games, registering 199 tackles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his career. As a senior in 2013, he started all 13 games at middle linebacker, making 83 tackles.

“I was told I would go late rounds or be a free agent, so I wasn’t surprised by the fact that I was a free agent,” Gaines said. “The Bills, I really wasn’t expecting it honestly because I wasn’t really in contact with the Bills. When they called I felt like this was the best decision for me. This was the best choice.”

The opportunity to come home is an obvious selling point, but Gaines said the defensive scheme the Bills run is another reason he chose Buffalo. “The linebacker situation that we have here, I have the ability to compete for a job,” he said.

Gaines landed at Miami after originally committing to play at the University at Buffalo. He decommitted after Turner Gill left, and some bigger programs then came calling.

“Nothing came easy for Jimmy. When he got the opportunity at Miami, he was not a five-star recruit,” said Canisius coach Rich Robbins. “He was the only guy from New York State on Miami’s roster and anybody that I’ve talked to down there, they love the kid.”

Robbins explained what the Bills were getting in his favorite Gaines story.

“We’re playing a team in Ohio, and they’re kicking our butt. This is back in the day. We weren’t very competitive like we are now with Ohio teams,” Robbins said. “Jimmy was in there and he got his hand caught in a kid’s helmet. He ripped the webbing of his hand between his ring and his middle finger.

“He ripped his hand open and he was gushing blood. He’s bleeding all over the place and nobody notices it. The kid stays in the game. Finally the referee saw all the blood and got him out of the game. I’ll never forget an Ohio referee saying ‘that’s the toughest kid I’ve ever seen.’ Work ethic, toughness, leadership … that’s what Jimmy brings.”

The Bills last year got big contributions from cornerback Nickell Robey. Gaines said he’ll lean on him for advice on making the final roster.

“It just shows his work ethic,” Gaines said of Robey. “With the odds stacked against him, he was able to overcome them and have a great rookie season. … I’m excited to talk to him.”

Gaines, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, won the Hurricanes’ strength training athlete of the year award in 2013 – a good sign of his commitment.

“His work ethic and his leadership in our program in the decade I’ve been there are second to none,” Robbins said. “We’ve had some real good players over the years, but not even John Urschel was the leader that Jimmy was. He was the unquestioned leader of our team. In his senior year at Canisius, we only had six seniors on the team, and he put the team on his back and led us to a championship.”

Gaines was named to the All-Western New York first team in 2009 after finishing with 154 tackles, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

“We talk about it still. My whole staff – we had a bit of a meeting a little while ago – and we were looking at that picture of him up on the podium today with the Bills sweatshirt on, and it was just such an awesome moment for all of us, but at the same time none of us were surprised. Even as a 16-year-old we saw the potential and the ability to do what he’s doing now, so it’s been awesome,” Robbins said.

Gaines didn’t have the luxury of a redshirt season with the Hurricanes, as former Miami coach Randy Shannon elected to use him on special teams.

“That was unfortunate, because with another year in school, who knows what could happen?” Robbins said. “But everything happens for a reason and he’s getting an opportunity with his hometown team, the one he grew up rooting for. At the end of the day, he’s happy with how things worked out.”

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3 NFL proCanes Drafted, 11 Sign Free Agent Contracts

Three NFL proCanes were drafted this past weekend during the NFL Draft, while 11 other proCanes signed Free Agent Contracts.

3rd Round, 93rd pick overall: Brandon Linder, Jacksonville Jaguars.
6th Round, 191st pick overall: Pat O’Donnell, Chicago Bears
7th Round, 237th pick overall: Seantrel Henderson, Buffalo Bills

Free Agent Signings:

Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
Shayon Green, Miami Dolphins
Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills
AJ Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
Curtis Porter, Oakland Raiders
Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
Erik Swoope, Indianapolis Colts

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