Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bills will hunker down out west

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had no problem offering advice to Bills coach Chan Gailey about whether it would be best for Buffalo to not travel home during the team's two-game West Coast swing that opens at San Francisco today.

If their decision to stay out west means the Bills will be better prepared -- and more rested -- to play the 49ers' NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals the following week, Harbaugh isn't going to complain.

"Yeah, I certainly hope it works out for them in the second leg," Harbaugh said with a laugh during a telephone conference call with Buffalo-area reporters this week.

Gailey credited Harbaugh in making his decision to have the Bills not travel home between games. After playing the 49ers, the Bills will spend the next week staying outside of Phoenix to prepare for their game against the Cardinals.

Gailey turned to Harbaugh because the 49ers have enjoyed success in not travelling home during a pair of swings east the past two seasons.

Last year, after winning at Cincinnati, the 49ers stayed in Youngstown, Ohio before travelling to Philadelphia to score a 24-23 comeback win over the Eagles. They went back to Youngstown again last week. After a loss at Minnesota, the 49ers set up camp in Ohio before travelling to the Meadowlands to rout the New York Jets.

"When you're not making a 5 1/2-hour, six-hour flight, that's when it all seems worth it that following Friday or Saturday," Harbaugh explained.

It will be particularly worth it to Harbaugh if the Bills falter in San Francisco, then win at Arizona.

SLIPPING AWAY: When the Bengals were looking to replace Cedric Benson as their primary running back, they wanted someone known for holding onto the football. No one had been better than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who didn't lose a fumble in 510 carries during four seasons in New England.

Now that he's in Cincinnati, he's having trouble holding onto it.

Green-Ellis lost a fumble for the first time in his career during a win over Washington in the third game of the season. He fumbled again -- this time as he tried to stretch the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line -- during a 27-10 victory in Jacksonville last Sunday. He also had another fumble that the Bengals recovered.

What gives?

"It has been terrible the last couple weeks," the running back said. "Just making bad decisions and doing too much. You have to make better decisions with the ball."

The three fumbles in two games have the Bengals worried.

"I don't know what to say," offensive co-ordinator Jay Gruden said. "It's very uncharacteristic of him. It's not in his history. It's not in his DNA. But sometimes they happen.

"It can't continue because obviously he's a featured back. It can't continue or he won't be a featured back."

The Bengals would like to think it's an aberration rather than the start of a new, bad trend.

"We're going to assume this is just a fluke and he'll get through it," said Gruden.

FITZ FALTERS: Like his teammates on offence, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald struggled in a 17-3 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night. Fitzgerald even dropped a pass, something as rare as, well, a team giving up nine sacks in one game, the number the Rams got on Kevin Kolb.

Fitzgerald also failed to reach 10,000 yards receiving for his career. He needed 140 and got 92 on eight catches.

Houston's Andre Johnson can beat Fitz to 10,000 if he gets 76 against the Jets on Monday night.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 7, 2012 B6

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