It’s never good for a team to suffer injuries, particularly to two of its most talented players, but there are some silver linings to this newest Buffalo Bills’ cloud. With Fred Jackson (4-6 weeks) and Marshawn Lynch (3-4 weeks) out for at least the rest of the preseason with injuries, the Bills can find out even more about the rest of their offense in the remaining three preseason games. While Jackson and Lynch are sure to be the focus of the offense when the games start to count, there are some people that can benefit from their injuries to try and get their games up to par by the regular season.
C.J. Spiller: This is the most obvious person to step into the spotlight with injuries to the two backs ahead of him on the depth chart. As fellow BLD-blogger Paul Miller pointed out, Spiller is learning on the job in the NFL. Playing time with the first team offense (and against starting defenses) is exactly what he needs to be ready by the regular season. There is some worry that Spiller won’t be able to carry a full workload himself, as he is viewed as more of a speed back whose touches need to be limited. I would doubt he feels that way (at least I’d hope he doesn’t), and I don’t think you should assume Spiller is incapable of being an every-down back. Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans is listed at 5’11″ 191 pounds on NFL.com, the same site where Spiller is listed at 5’11″ 196 pounds. Johnson had 408 touches last season, and I think it’s safe to say he was pretty effective all season.
Chan Gailey: While Chan is getting a lot of credit for being a sharp offensive mind in the optimistic circles of Bills’ fans, he may get some opportunity to prove his expertise. A big reason Gailey is the head coach for the Bills is that Bill Cowher, the former Pittsburgh Steelers‘ coach, recommended Gailey as an offensive coordinator to Bills’ GM Buddy Nix. In Pittsburgh, Gailey was able to utilize Kordell Stewart as “Slash.” Stewart had some unique talents that Gailey was able to utilize in unorthodox formations and play-calls. I don’t expect Gailey to show his hand in the preseason, but with talents like Spiller and Roscoe Parrish (who no one has been able to utilize to this point for some reason), Gailey may get a chance to be creative with this offense. This is particularly true if “workhorse backs” and more proven talents Jackson and Lynch miss regular season games.
Trent Edwards: I hate to keep adding pressure on a guy who is on his last life as Bills’ starting QB, but if Jackson and Lynch are limited or unable to play in games at the start of the season, this offense will have to rely even more heavily on Edwards. I’m not of the opinion that Spiller can’t get 25 touches in a ballgame, but even the biggest workhorse backs in the league can’t carry the ball on every play. With unproven backs Chad Simpson and Joique Bell as the players behind Spiller on the depth chart, Edwards will need to play much better. I think we’ve seen Trent be able to play game manager and not turn the ball over, but all QBs need to be able to make plays down the field. Without Jackson and Lynch, the Bills may be facing some third-and-long situations that Trent is going to need to be able to convert, at least every once in a while. I think Brian Moorman is a wonderful punter, but I think we can agree he is over-utilized.