In a game that was rather ugly and boring even by preseason standards, the Detroit Lions defeated the Bills 16-6 in Thursday’s preseason finale. The win capped an unbeaten 4-0 preseason for the Lions, while the Bills finish the preseason 1-3.
Not a ton to report out of this one, but here’s a few tidbits.
– Both starting offenses lasted just two series, with neither scoring any points. Both teams had one big play with the starters in: C.J. Spiller ran for a big gain and Lions QB Matt Stafford hit WR Calvin Johnson for a near-40-yard completion.
– The Bills’ starting defense looked good. Shawne Merriman in particular looked VERY good. He’s a big, big difference-maker for this team if he stays healthy. I’m not sure if there’s two guys on the roster more important to the Bills right now that Merriman and fellow LB Nick Barnett. It’s a totally different (and much worse) defense without those two.
– The run defense, in particular, has looked good. The Bills could even be decent against the run in 2011 it’d be a huge boost.
– No one exactly seized control of the #2 WR job tonight. It was a tough night all around for the receivers, who didn’t get a ton of opportunities because of poor blocking and poor QB play (more on that later). And when the receivers did get chances, there were quite a few drops. Craig Davis led the Bills with six catches for 38 yards. Really.
– A very interesting story will be undrafted rookie WR Kamar Aiken. Aiken has an NFL body and has looked good all preseason – including two catches for 37 yards tonight. How the heck was this guy not drafted? I’m sure if he gets cut the Bills will want him back on the practice squad, but do they dare cut him? Could he unseat Naaman Roosevelt for a roster spot? Will the Bills simply decide to bite the bullet and keep seven receivers?
– Backup QB Tyler Thigpen was pretty bad again tonight (12-for-21, 92 yards). and the offense went nowhere with him in the game. In his defense, the offensive line play in front of him was awful. Interestingly, forgotten QB Levi Brown rose from the ashes and directed two successful drives – including the drive that culminated with Buffalo’s only score (a 1-yard TD by Bruce Hall). Could Chan Gailey give up on Thigpen and keep Brown? Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
– Holy crap is the backup O-line bad. Mansfield Wrotto was especially brutal. He needs to go away. But no one looked good. Poor Johnny White had absolutely nowhere to run all night (14 carries, 21 yards, 3394327437 tacklers to dodge in the backfield). The starters really need to stay healthy. Don’t be the least bit surprised if Buffalo scours the waiver wire after final cuts Saturday for anyone who can help this unit out.
– Chan Gailey has a lot to figure out with the linebackers. Which of his young ‘backers does he keep as backups? Chris White had a pretty rough night tonight, while Antonio Coleman looked pretty good.
– Speaking of young linebackers, third-round draft pick Kelvin Sheppard got his first preseason action tonight and looked good. He’ll get more and more time as the season goes along.
– Rookie CB Justin Rogers got a lot of time tonight. We’ll see if he did enough to unseat Reggie Corner (who got beat for the Lions’ only TD) for a roster spot.
– If you’re curious, the Bills have until Saturday night to make their final cuts. Check here tomorrow for my projection of the final roster.
– That’s all I got. Thank goodness preseason is over. Let’s see some real football!