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.