After seven long months of waiting, on Saturday, football is back once again for the Buffalo Bills. When the Bills take on the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night, it’s the first time for the coaching staff and front office to see the depth players on the roster.
So while you may not see the starters for very long, what can you keep an eye on in the upcoming game? Five things to watch for during the Bills matchup with the Colts, which will air in Buffalo exclusively on 7ABC:
1) Be smart with the starters
- Through their training camp practices at St. John Fisher College, the Buffalo Bills have tried as much as they can to prevent injuries from occurring. As we’ve seen through a number of practices, injuries are bound to happen no matter how cautious you are as a team. Linebacker Reggie Ragland (torn ACL), left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle), safety Aaron Williams (concussion) and left guard Richie Incognito (ribs) have all suffered injuries that has forced them to miss multiple practices. With this upcoming contest being only the first of four preseason games, I’d expect a low output from established starters on Saturday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just elect to sit players like Sammy Watkins, Kyle Wililams, Marcell Dareus, and maybe even LeSean McCoy in the upcoming contest.
2) Cardale’s debut
- This is the facet of this upcoming game many fans will be most excited to say. Usually the second half of preseason games drag on a bit when there isn’t a notable player in the lineup, but this year is much different. On Saturday, it marks the debut of fourth-round pick and rookie quarterback Cardale Jones after a spring and summer’s worth of work. Jones is likely to get a great deal of time in the second-half of the contest against some second and third-stringers of the Colts defense. However, it will be intriguing to track just how far he has come over the course of 11 training camp practices, and all that time in the meeting rooms and with the playbook. We’ve seen both the good and bad of Jones during training camp practices, but he has a tremendous opportunity to give the majority of Bills fans an exciting first look at the big arm and raw talent that he has.
3) WR battle
- Sammy Watkins is the unquestioned top wide receiver on the roster and Robert Woods is his complementary option. Through the first 11 training camp practices, Marquise Goodwin has far and away been the best of the remaining options and as long as he stays healthy, is positioning himself to have a solid role on the Bills offense in 2016. Past him, the group of receivers fighting to make the roster are basically all clumped together. Greg Salas, Dez Lewis, and Greg Little have led the way of the players that were practicing — although Salas may not be able to play due to a hamstring injury. Walt Powell and Jarrett Boykin have been on the next tier, flashing with an impressive play from time to time, while Leonard Hankerson has been a disappointment at training camp so far. Without Salas, it provides a humongous opportunity for all the players past Goodwin to try and get themselves extra reps heading into the final three weeks of the decision making process. Preseason performances will likely carry quite a bit of weight for these players.
4) Kouandjio’s progress
- The Bills almost assuredly will be without Cordy Glenn in the first preseason game of the year, which means former second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio has a glorious opportunity to show both progress and consistency to the coaching staff. With his type of size and length, it makes it difficult for teams to just quit on a player like that, but Kouandjio has yet to find the level of play that the Bills have wanted from him on a week-to-week basis. Kouandjio will likely line up with the first-team at left tackle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he would see some extra time with the second-team at that position as well. With Seantrel Henderson’s status completely up in the air, Kouandjio showing progress can do wonders for him locking down the backup offensive tackle job.
5) How does Seymour stack up?
- It’s been quite a spring and summer for rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour, showing well enough to earn first-team time during offseason practices, and then rising to the occasion during some physical practices at training camp. Seymour, merely a sixth-round pick has played well above the expectations of his draft status, and now has the coaching staff and front office hopeful for what he’ll be able to do on the field. His first taste of live action against an opposing team will be Saturday, and head coach Rex Ryan might just take the 2015 preseason Ronald Darby approach with Seymour — and that’s to throw everything at him just to see how he’ll respond. It ended up being the best thing for Darby, who had a spectacular rookie campaign. If things go awry in contract negotiations with Stephon Gilmore, the Bills could look at Seymour to step in his place for the 2017 season.
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