Snowbound Bills head to Detroit to 'host' Jets
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) After days of cabin fever, the Buffalo Bills were finally able to practice.
Then they changed clothes at portable lockers in a hallway - a makeshift setup that underscored just how different this road trip is going to be.
The Bills arrived in the Detroit area Friday and held practice that night at the Lions' headquarters in Allen Park. The team's schedule has been in flux because of a lake-effect storm that dumped more than 5 feet of snow on the Buffalo region since Monday. This weekend's game against the New York Jets was moved from Buffalo to Detroit and will be played Monday night.
''It felt really good. Being laid up in the house for a while is not fun,'' tight end Scott Chandler said. ''It was good to get to just focus on football for a few hours, and not have to worry about anything else.''
Chandler needed a snowmobile ride to leave his neighborhood, and he said some of his teammates did too.
''A local guy, lives around the corner from a lot of us, and they were able to flag him down at a gas station, and he was willing to come help us out. They were trying to plow the road, but it wasn't going to get done fast enough,'' Chandler said. ''He was able to come get us and just take us around the corner to where we could get in a car and get to the stadium.''
Coach Doug Marrone and his staff had been living at the Bills' headquarters, going over the game plan and consulting with the team by phone and computer because players were snowed in. Now the Lions are letting the Bills in their practice facility, where Detroit had a workout earlier Friday.
''They've been outstanding,'' Marrone said. ''Opening everything up, that's really not heard of in this league, unless they force you to do it. Detroit wasn't forced to do that, so I have a great appreciation for the organization here. We have everything. We have the locker room right behind us, we have the meeting rooms and things of that nature.''
The venue is a familiar one for Buffalo defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was fired in December after five seasons as Detroit's coach. Schwartz was carried off the field by the Bills after they beat the Lions in Detroit in October. He'll coach at Ford Field again Monday.
Schwartz was not available to reporters Friday.
Fans are being offered free tickets to Monday's game, and Bills running back Fred Jackson said he's not sure what kind of environment to expect.
''I'm kind of excited to see what happens,'' he said. ''It'll be a different experience for everybody.''
This is the second time in four years Ford Field has hosted a neutral site game. In 2010, a game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants was moved to Detroit because the Metrodome roof collapsed.
Fans who showed up for that game witnessed a bit of history. Brett Favre's streak of 297 regular-season starts came to an end that night.
The Bills are hoping conditions will be less harsh back home next week, but next weekend's home game against Cleveland also could be affected by the weather.
Bills President Russ Brandon says the team is planning to return to Buffalo after Monday night's game in Detroit.
''Our plan is to get right back to Buffalo after the game,'' Brandon said. ''We'll have a short work week as we prepare for Cleveland, but we'll stay nimble and see how the situation evolves and we'll go from there.''
Lions President Tom Lewand was asked Friday if Ford Field could be available for the Bills again next weekend. Detroit hosts Chicago on Thanksgiving, and there are high school championship games scheduled for the venue Friday and Saturday.
''I don't want to get into projections. Let's deal with what's in front of us right now,'' Lewand said. ''I know the folks at the Bills' organization are working awfully hard to get themselves prepared not only to play the Jets on Monday night, but the Browns next week. It wouldn't be fair on me to comment beyond trying to get them as successful as possible for a great game on Monday night.''
AP Sports Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, Dennis Waszak Jr., in Florham Park, New Jersey, and AP freelance reporter Mark Ludwiczak contributed to this report.
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