If you take a look at the depth chart for the Bills’ upcoming preseason game, there aren’t too many surprises. The Bills head in with most of the expected starters in place as they prepare to take on the Redskins tomorrow night. There were three surprises that I found on the depth chart, one I approve of, one I’m not sure what to think about, and one that I find worrisome.
On the offensive side of the ball, Trent Edwards is entrenched as the starter. It appears to me that he must have been head and shoulders above the other QBs in camp. Fitzpatrick and Brohm have been alternating reps with the 2nd and 3rd string offenses, though Fitzpatrick will start the preseason as the #2. C.J. Spiller will start as the third string RB, which is where I feel he should be after just a week of camp behind two accomplished backs. I have heard that Spiller will see a lot of time in Friday night’s game, though it’s all speculation at this point. Stevie Johnson will line up opposite Lee Evans as a starting WR.
James Hardy is officially listed as “other” on the Bills’ web site. Not first, second or even third string. I know he’s been hurt, but other players with injuries are still listed as starters even if they’re not playing Friday night. I’m not sure what to think of this. On one hand, I have yet to see any encouraging signs from Hardy since his late game heroics at Jacksonville two seasons ago, so I’m glad he has to earn his spot. On the other hand, the Bills spent a 2nd round draft pick on a 6’5″ WR who can’t even crack the Bills’ top 6 wideouts, behind the likes of David Nelson and Donald Jones (not exactly Reed and Lofton).
The starting TE for the Bills is Jonathan Stupar. With the way Trent likes to use underneath routes, an athletic TE like Shawn Nelson should be an ideal pass-receiving TE. However, I have heard Nelson struggles to move blocking sleds and must not be improving his technique and/or strength if he can’t start on this team. I am not encouraged to see Stupar this high on the depth chart.
On defense, the big surprise, if you haven’t been following camp too closely, is that journeyman LB Reggie Torbor is starting over last year’s first round pick Aaron Maybin. Personally, I’m not surprised by this as Maybin is, AT BEST, a speed rusher at this point to come in on third-and-long situations. He’s just too light to hold up at the point of attack in the run game. The pleasant surprise, I feel, is Drayton Florence starting opposite Terrance McGee at CB. Personally, I feel like Leodis McKelvin‘s injury and Florence’s play are big reasons why the Bills were ranked 2nd in pass defense (that, and the fact that no team actually needed to throw to beat the Bills’ defense) last season. McKelvin has shown me absolutely nothing in terms of his ability to cover receivers to this point. Florence played very well last season, and I’ve always liked Ashton Youboty in coverage when he’s been healthy.
Overall, I’m glad Gailey is going totally by his own evaluation of the players. There really is no reason to respect the opinions of previous Buffalo Bill regimes at this point.
Tags: Aaron Maybin Andre Reed C.J. Spiller Depth Chart Drayton Florence James Hardy James Lofton Jonathan Stupar Lee Evans Leodis McKelvin Redskins Reggie Torbor Shawn Nelson Stevie Johnson Trent Edwards