Buffalo Bills: 5 key position battles to watch in the first preseason game

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages
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It’s not exactly what we’ve all been looking forward to, but it’s close to it. The Buffalo Bills are just days away from playing an actual game. The Bills will host the Indianapolis Colts for their first preseason match of the summer. The game is slated for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff and will give the Bills their first opponent to face besides themselves to get the gears cranking.

While it’s not been stated what starters will and will not play, based on previous years, we can almost guarantee 75 percent, if not more, of the Bills starters will not play. Guys like Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Jordan Poyer, etc. will be on the sidelines watching. However, the Bills have numerous position battles going on and these games will give the coaching staff a great look at them. Let’s take a look at the five position battles you should keep a close eye on as you watch preseason game one.

**All stats listed in the article are from Pro-Football-Reference unless otherwise noted**

Buffalo Bills Position Battle: Middle Linebacker

The Bills have a competition at middle linebacker for the first time in five years. Tremaine Edmund’s departure for a big money deal in Chicago left the Bills with the biggest hole on their entire roster. Early on at training camp, it seemed to be a three-horse race between Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard, and Baylon Spector. Now, heading into preseason game one, it seems like it’s narrowed down mainly to Dodson and Spector.

Dodson has been with the Bills since he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Since then, he has been a core special teamer and backup linebacker. In his time backing up Tremaine Edmunds, Dodson has started five games in the past three seasons. Defensively, he’s posted 69 total tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two passes defended, and a fumble recovery. Dodson has also looked up to par in pass coverage in his limited defensive action. So far in training camp he has looked good and is making a real case to be the middle linebacker in week one.

Terrel Bernard, the second-year man for the Bills, went from Matt Milano’s backup last season, to competing for the starting middle linebacker spot. Bernard had one start last year, in which he looked overwhelmed and struggled in pass coverage. Last season he played a total of 110 defensive snaps, in which he recorded 11 solo tackles and 11 assisted tackles.

In pass coverage, he was targeted five times, allowing four completions and 8.8 yards per completion. He will have to show improved pass coverage in these preseason games if he wants to be the starting middle linebacker. Sean McDermott gave a vote of confidence to the young linebacker earlier this week.