For the final time of the preseason, the Buffalo Bills took to the practice field in preparation for their upcoming matchup with the Detroit Lions. With much of the roster already decided, the Bills now have an eye toward the start of the regular season.
What are some things that we learned on Tuesday? Five takeaways from practice:
1) Tyrod still concussed, Peterman concerns for Week 1?
- The Buffalo Bills will be entering Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Lions with only Nathan Peterman and the newly signed Keith Wenning as their healthy options at quarterback. That much was discovered when Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced that both starter Tyrod Taylor and third-string quarterback T.J. Yates were still in the concussion protocol. McDermott was asked what type of daily updates they receive on a player in the protocol, and the head coach replied that they receive very little information on concussions as the player goes through the different stages. So, without Taylor, that presents a potential problem for the Bills. If Taylor’s concussion puts him in danger of missing the first week of the regular season — which is a distinct possibility due to the unpredictable nature of concussions — that leaves the Bills with the potential of starting Nathan Peterman against the New York Jets. The problem is that if Peterman somehow gets hurt on Thursday, that puts the Bills in the most unenviable of positions. Enter Keith Wenning, who has some familiarity with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and his scheme. Considering the stakes of a Peterman injury, and with McDermott saying “we’re on top of that,” when the scenario was brought up, I would wager that Wenning sees the vast majority of the game against the Lions — regardless of his knowledge of the offense.
2) The Bills are putting the Dareus situation to bed…. for now
- When we last left the Bills, starting defensive lineman Marcell Dareus met with the media for the first time since being sent home ahead of Saturday’s game in Baltimore. Before that, Dareus had a lengthy conversation with Sean McDermott, with Dareus repeating the common refrain that the two are now on the same page. In speaking with the media for the first time since that conversation, McDermott echoed the same sentiments, saying that the two are now on the same page. However, now, we enter into a zone of the ‘what if’s’ with Dareus and the new management staff. Dareus has a history, the Bills are aware of it, but gave him a clean slate. The trouble is, the slate is no longer clean, so he’s going to be under a microscope for the foreseeable future. From what I’ve gathered from getting to know McDermott and GM Brandon Beane over the months they’ve been in Buffalo, is that they are not the type of people to bluff, and they believe very strongly in having a strong locker room that has accountability within. If a player, like Dareus, disregards that notion, would the Bills actually cut the defensive lineman? It’s premature, and I don’t think it’s on the horizon. However, if he continues to not buy in, I would not be surprised in the least bit if the Bills made an example out of Marcell Dareus.
3) Kyle Williams missing once again
- Over the past three days, the Buffalo Bills have been without starting defensive tackle — and one of the best players on the team — Kyle Williams. Over that span, the Bills practiced twice and announced that the reason for his absence was for “personal reasons.” To this point, we do not know what those personal reasons are but, in the confines of the Marcell Dareus discussion, Williams has primarily been the guiding light for Dareus to get him back on the right path. Except, Williams hasn’t been with the team for that time. The Bills will have to hope Williams will be back for Week 1 of the regular season, considering how great of a player he still is.
4) The Ragland move explained
- The Bills made the move to trade away former second-round pick Reggie Ragland — one that was heavily anticipated due to Ragland’s current standing with the team as a third-team middle linebacker. On Tuesday, McDermott spoke with the media for the first time since the decision to trade away Ragland and said the trade was the “right fit” for all of the Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Reggie Ragland. He was then asked what led to Ragland’s demotion to third-team duties, and he said it was more to do with the job that Preston Brown had done at establishing himself as the starter. However… I don’t exactly buy that. I recognize this as not wanting to kick a player as the traded him the day before, but Preston Brown had nothing to do with Ragland falling so out of favor that he barely got any time with the second-team defense over the preseason games. It was abundantly clear that Ragland just wasn’t a fit for McDermott’s defensive scheme, after giving him an extended chance to prove that he was. McDermott is right about one thing: both the Bills (with a fourth-round pick) and Ragland (with Kansas City’s 3-4 defense) are much better off today than they were before the trade.
5) Bills still holding out hope for Jordan Matthews
- Even though he’s been unable to participate in games for the Buffalo Bills, wide receiver Jordan Matthews is still making his steady climb towards being ready enough to play. Matthews is still dealing with a chip fracture in his sternum, but he’s been practicing with the team on a limited basis for about a week now. Now that we’re under two weeks to the start of the 2017 regular season, his availability is starting to come into focus — no matter how vague it may be at this point in time. McDermott told reporters that he remained “cautiously optimistic” about Matthews to be able to play in Week One. The next big step will be to participate in practice in full, and if he can do that without setbacks, they can start to make a plan for how much they can use a player that has no real time to speak of actively participating in the offense during practice. Even still, it’s a good sign that Matthews is still trending in the right direction.