Bills hit the road for 2-game West Coast swing

Fred Jackson is getting a little grief from his Buffalo Bills

teammates after the running back’s last trip to Arizona turned into

a humorous misadventure.

The ribbing has left Jackson wanting another chance at driving

quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s off-road vehicle and go

four-wheeling into the rocky wilderness outside of Phoenix. And

this time he vows not to blow out a tire and nearly leave everyone

stranded in the middle of nowhere.

”Stranded is a harsh word,” Jackson said with a laugh Friday.

He’s referring to what happened during the NFL lockout last year,

when Jackson and a number of Bills players spent a week at

Fitzpatrick’s home in Arizona holding informal workouts.

”They were making fun of me for it, and I told them (the

vehicle) just couldn’t handle it,” Jackson said. ”I ran over a

pretty decent-sized rock, and the rock won.”

Jackson is being reminded of his off-road exploits as Buffalo

(2-2) prepares for an extended West Coast swing.

After playing San Francisco (3-1) on Sunday, the Bills will

travel to Arizona, where they’ll spend next week practicing for

their game against the Cardinals (4-1) on Oct. 14.

This, of course, will be more of a business trip, though Jackson

said his approach will be no different on the field – or off it –

than last time.

”I’m not going to change the way I drive, or the way I run

either,” he said. ”Full pedal to the metal.”

Coming off an embarrassing 52-28 loss to New England, the Bills

can’t afford too many more blown tires entering what’s become a

critical portion of their schedule. Buffalo is opening a stretch in

which it will play four of its next five on the road.

”It’s going to define what we want to do this season, we know

that,” Jackson said. ”To get to where we want to be, we have to

be able to go on the road and win games, and win games against

opponents like this.”

Coach Chan Gailey made the decision to have the team stay out

west rather than travel home between games. By eliminating a pair

of cross-country flights, Gailey believes his players will be more

rested and better accustomed to the time change.

The Bills will spend next week staying at Phoenix resort, and

practicing at Arizona State University.

”I think it’s going to be kind of like a training camp

atmosphere where it’s just us,” linebacker Bryan Scott said.

”There’ll be no distractions. It’s just us. It’s a business

trip.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities for players to

have fun and opportunities to bond.

Fitzpatrick has already been pegged to serve as a quasi-tour

guide, and is also preparing to host a number of players at his

home for a barbecue.

Fitzpatrick is looking forward to the week away as an

opportunity for the players to gel.

”I think we’ve got great chemistry in this locker room, and

that’s how you pull through in adverse times,” he said. ”And

that’s how you pull through and are able to overcome a lot of the

negative things that are going on around you.”

The Bills could certainly use a boost after an inconsistent

start to the season.

And Fitzpatrick can’t help but be reminded of the adversity he

and his teammates faced last year after Jackson blew the tire to

one of the two off-road vehicles they were driving.

Fitzpatrick came to the rescue, by gently driving the vehicle

down a hill and some two miles on the flat tire to where the

players had parked.

”Yeah, I saved Fred’s butt,” Fitzpatrick said, with a

smile.

Jackson wouldn’t mind another shot.

”I’m up for another drive if Fitz will let me get behind the

wheel,” said Jackson, who’s still waiting for a reply. ”He said

he needed a couple of days to think about it.”

NOTES: OG Chad Rinehart was held out of practice Friday for

precautionary reasons a day after hurting his calf. Gailey said

Rinehart – who is filling in for injured starter Kraig Urbik

(ankle) – should be ready to play Sunday. … S Jairus Byrd (hip)

continued to practice and should play despite being listed as

questionable. … The Bills haven’t played consecutive games on the

west coast since 1965, when they played at Oakland and San

Diego.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL