With Kevin Kolb’s questionable status this weekend, EJ Manuel & Jeff Tuel should be geared up to take first and second string reps. This is as big a moment as any for these young and inexperienced quarterbacks; both looked to gain ground throughout training camp and the preseason opener will be their first chance to build on that experience in their first NFL game. Considering Kolb will be back soon, EJ really needs to go out on the field and just play. He should have no worries or concerns of the QB’s behind him, which will allow him to go out and make some plays and learn from his mistakes. There is no pressure for him to learn any faster than he is comfortable with. For Tuel, he is set to continue to wow coaches and add to his already impressive preseason resume with a strong arm and great deep ball accuracy.
Wide Receiver Competition
It is common knowledge that the four of the six wide receiver positions are taken by Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and TJ Graham. The last two spots are up for grabs and there are a good number of wide receivers competing for them. The last updated roster has Brad Smith and Da’Rick Rogers as the last two wideouts but we know that nothing is certain in the NFL. I plan on seeing some big plays from these skill players throughout the preseason, although I foresee Brad Smith and Da’Rick Rogers making the most explosive plays on offense to secure those last two roster spots. Brad Smith brings experience and versatility while Da’Rick Rogers brings speed, size, and the ability to out muscle defensive backs for the ball. However, Chris Hogan and Brandon Kaufman have been making plays throughout training camp as well. It will be exciting to watch these players compete for the last two roster spots.
Jairus Byrd is still out, Aaron Williams has been moved to safety, and Leodis McKelvin may be nursing a sore body from the scrimmage earlier this week. This leaves a solid opportunity for our young cornerbacks to make a strong preseason impression on the coaching staff in an effort to make the roster. Nickell Robey has been a solid nickel corner thus far into the preseason and he looks to solidify that with consistent game play. Justin Rogers is nursing a hamstring injury, leaving Ron Brooks to also make a run for the reserve corner spot. Besides Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore, the defensive backfield has been on the weaker side of the defense but these players competing for a roster spot look hungry to play for this defense. The depth at corner is young, but definitely the strongest we’ve had in at least a few years.
Heading into the first preseason game with Coach Doug Marrone, Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, the Buffalo Bills players need to apply the developing chemistry from the training camp and OTA’s into their actual game play on the field. The team and this organization are committed to the philosophy of these coaches, thus the Buffalo Bills need to show us how well that chemistry is coming together. With a new program and system, players will be able to learn quickly while also feeling comfortable, allowing them to have fun on the field. In past years the team seemed to be easily moved by big plays or lack of scoring, leading to a lackluster offense and a soft defense. The good thing about this system is that mistakes will happen but now is the time to make them because the scheme is new and players can learn early on what to do and what not to do. The Buffalo Bills have not been able to have faith in an offensive scheme for at least a decade; A strong preseason will be a step in the right direction for this organization, their fans, and the players. It will be exciting to see how the team plays this weekend under Doug Marrone and his staff.
The Buffalo Bills have been subject to a “weak” mentality over the years; this can be attributed to poor draft picks, lack of consistent coaching, and poor management. This year is the time to change that mentality and it starts this preseason. The players all look hungry but they need to transfer that feeling onto the field. If we can have a team who not only has the talent to win, but wants to win, we can be a dangerous opponent for teams who underestimate how good we are. But it has to start with the team. The organization made great strides in adding weapons to the offense and the defense is coming together well under Mike Pettine. This team looks and acts like they want to win, now all they have to do is actually win. I can’t imagine a harder stadium to play in than Ralph Wilson Stadium in late December with a Buffalo Bills team with a winning record and a chance to make the playoffs. Feel free to leave your comments below.