Two’s company for Bills’ banged-up tight end corps

Tight end Jonathan Stupar can stop feeling lonely. The Buffalo
Bills finally brought in a reinforcement by signing free agent J.P.
Foschi on Monday to double their healthy corps of tight ends to
two.

”It was a sigh of relief to finally get some fresh legs in here
and share some reps,” said Stupar, who happily shook Foschi’s hand
as the fourth-year NFL player arrived on the field a few minutes
into practice. ”I got a chance to say `Hi,’ to him real quick. But
I’m looking forward to getting to know him.”

The two will have time to familiarize themselves given the state
of Buffalo’s banged-up unit.

Foschi’s signing came after the Bills waived/injured tight end
Michael Matthews, a day after he hurt his left foot in practice.
Derek Schouman, who opened as last season’s starter, is expected to
miss up to six weeks after hurting his right knee in a 34-17
preseason win over Indianapolis last week.

There’s Shawn Nelson, who’s not only nursing an undisclosed
injury but will also miss the first four games of the season after
being suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance
abuse policy. And then there’s Joe Klopfenstein, who was placed on
injured reserve a week before training camp opened.

Enter Foschi, who has been looking for an opportunity since not
being re-signed by the Cincinnati Bengals in March.

”I’m just happy to be somewhere right now,” Foschi said. ”To
be honest with you, this never gets old.”

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, Foschi is a blue-collar type
player who set career highs last season with 27 catches for 260
yards and two touchdowns in 15 games, including 10 starts. Foschi
has also played for Kansas City and Oakland, and originally entered
the NFL with the New York Jets in 2004 as an undrafted free
agent.

The key reason for Foschi’s arrival in Buffalo is his
familiarity with head coach Chan Gailey. This marks the third time
the two have been together after Gailey was Foschi’s head coach at
Georgia Tech and the player’s offensive coordinator two seasons ago
with the Chiefs.

That means Foschi shouldn’t have any trouble learning the Bills’
playbook under their first-year head coach.

”I think I can probably learn this playbook in seven to 10
days,” said Foschi, who’s expected to make his debut Saturday when
Buffalo hosts Cincinnati in a preseason game. ”The plays are all
coming back to memory. I feel comfortable.”

During practice, Foschi dropped a pass from Trent Edwards over
the middle but rebounded by making a nice running catch from Brian
Brohm in the right flat.

Gailey described Foschi as ”a tough guy,” who shouldn’t have
trouble fitting in.

That doesn’t mean the Bills are done addressing the
position.

Gailey didn’t rule out the team signing another tight end. He
added that second-year tackle Nick Hennessey will also get practice
time at that spot.

Stupar now has the inside shot at opening the season as the
team’s starter. Initially signed to the Bills’ practice squad in
2008, Stupar made the active roster last season. Used sparingly and
mostly in blocking situations, he finished with six catches for 40
yards in 14 games.

”With football, you never know what can happen,” Stupar said
about his rise up the depth chart. ”It’s tough to see injuries and
stuff like that, but that’s part of the game.”

Undrafted out of Virginia, Stupar had 80 catches for 803 yards
and three touchdowns in 38 games, including 28 starts, in
college.

The Bills also announced they waived defensive back John Destin,
an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tulsa.