With two games in the past now for the Buffalo Bills, the team returned to the practice field for a full session and to prepare for the ‘dress rehearsal’ contest of the preseason. And on Sunday, the Bills had a few different developments that are notable as the regular season draws near.
Five takeaways from Bills practice on Sunday:
1) Matthews “extremely confident” he’ll play Week One
- One player that the Bills will be depending on in the 2017 season to start for them started to take minor steps forward in a potential return to the field. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who suffered an injury just 15 minutes into his first practice with the Bills at training camp, hasn’t been able to do anything since that day. The chip fracture in his sternum kept him on the sidelines through the past week, but head coach Sean McDermott made it known that Matthews was “improving.” And then, on the practice field on Sunday, Matthews had his helmet on and was taking part in some individual drills — although he didn’t have any shoulder pads on. And then after practice, Matthews said that it’s a pain tolerance thing, and while they aren’t rushing him to get on the field for a preseason game, he remains “extremely confident” that he’ll be able to play in Week One of the regular season.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) August 20, 2017
This is a positive sign for Matthews, and although they probably won’t rush him back just to get on the field for Saturday’s game against Baltimore, at least the start of the regular season perhaps looks attainable now.
2) Glenn on the mend
- Along with Matthews, another starting player that they’ll desperately need on the field took a step forward on the field -- or so it seemed. With left tackle Cordy Glenn, like Matthews, the Bills also believe he’s improving — although they list him as “week-to-week.” On Sunday, Glenn was on the field putting a little bit more work on that injured left ankle, as you can see below:
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) August 20, 2017
The team says they remain cautiously optimistic for Glenn to be ready for the start of the 2017 regular season. Based on what we’ve seen at left tackle and on the right side of the line, the Bills badly need their usual starting left tackle back at 100-percent.
3) Dawkins at left tackle
- As the Bills have alluded over the past couple of weeks, they had a contingency plan in place to move rookie Dion Dawkins to the left side in the event that Cordy Glenn may not be ready to play at the beginning of the season. That contingency plan was put into effect officially on Sunday, with Dawkins lining up at left tackle with the first-team all throughout. The rookie has had an up-and-down summer, sometimes showing flashes of brilliance at right tackle, but unable to do it consistently enough to unseat Jordan Mills from the starting job on that side of the line. With the change, it also facilitated a change for the plan with Seantrel Henderson, who moved from being the left tackle of the first unit to right tackle with the second unit — which also gave Jordan Mills all the reps with the first-team offense. The depth of the offensive line, which isn’t great, to begin with, is already being tested just two weeks into the preseason.
4) Three names brought up for RCB competition
- With the Bills trade of Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, that brought on an immediate opening for a starting position. While it was between two players to begin the week — that being Shareece Wright and Kevon Seymour — the competition appears to be extending to having a third participant. When asked of Wright and Seymour’s performance, head coach Sean McDermott also brought up the name of EJ Gaines without being prompted as part of the right cornerback job. Gaines came down with an interception against the Eagles and could be working himself into starting consideration. However, during Sunday’s practice, Gaines had to leave the session with a trainer — at least while the media was able to watch the practice. It's a hamstring injury, according to the team. Gaines looked the best of the trio against the Eagles with Wright looking a tad slow, and Seymour not staying true to some of his responsibilities. This job is wide open and for the taking for one of these three.
5) Rod Streater update
- The Bills were extremely happy with the job that veteran wide receiver Rod Streater was able to do throughout training camp, and as it extended into the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at first, it looked like he was poised to snag a spot on the 53-man roster. That was, until, he went down with a toe injury in the second half and needed to be carted off the field. The Bills have since been vague about Streater, continuing to say he’s still being evaluated for the second time in the last three days. When pressed on the topic of surgery being a potential outcome, head coach Sean McDermott said the Bills were still mulling their options, but failed to offer an affirmation, nor did he lay out a potential timetable for Streater. His absence clearly brings on an opportunity for another player that you probably could argue would have been on the outside looking in on the roster, whether that be veteran wideout Philly Brown, third-year player Dez Lewis, or whoever else. Another opportunity likely just opened up, depending on the severity of the injury.