Buffalo Bills: What to Watch for in Preseason Game vs. Washington Redskins
Preseason games are not meaningless. If they were, why would they be played in the first place?
The players use these games to tune up for the regular season; the coaches use these games to evaluate the players and ultimately determine their futures.
And if you're a Bills fan, you should use this game to observe a few key topics of note around the Bills.
The Defensive Line
The hype train stops in Western New York. We will finally get to see the Bills' new-look defensive line in action.
Mark Anderson, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams will get a chance to put their talents to work against a Redskins offensive line which gave up 41 sacks in 2011. The Bills' defensive line has come every bit as advertised thus far, with head coach Chan Gailey remarking that the defense was far ahead of the offense at the start of camp.
Not only that, but as reported by The Washington Post, injuries are piling up for the Redskins' offensive line, a unit which already had question marks around it with right tackle Jammal Brown and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger both coming off injuries. The Bills may get to capitalize on a group that is thin in some spots and rusty in others.
Bills Offensive Tackles vs. Redskins Pass-Rushers
Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are a dynamic duo of pass-rushers, and the Bills were exposed for a lack of manpower at offensive tackle last year.
They added tackle Cordy Glenn in the draft, hoping that he could provide depth. He has done more than that thus far in training camp, having taken a good deal of the first-team reps at left tackle. He had looked good there before being listed as the second-string tackle on the early depth chart behind Chris Hairston.
With an injury to right tackle Erik Pears, though, it appears both will get their shot at first-team reps.
Both have been flat-footed, and will need to show that they can handle double-moves if they want to stand up against the more agile edge rushers in the game.
Donald Jones and Others Involved in Battle to be No. 2 Wide Receiver
We can finally stop wondering who will be the Bills' No. 2 wide receiver and start watching how they perform.
It's still early, very early, to say with certainty that Donald Jones will finish camp as the Bills' No. 2 receiver opposite Stevie Johnson. He's listed there for now though, so we'll get to see if he can provide any sort of spark for the offense.
Jones has had his most consistent camp to date, and has been marked for just two dropped passes in all of camp according to the Bills official website.
Sure-handedness is a great quality to have, but let's face it, the Bills offense struggled last year because they lacked an explosive threat. By several accounts, T.J. Graham has looked every bit as dynamic as advertised, and he could get snaps with the first-team offense. Defenses will have to account for his speed, but only if he proves he can consistently get open and catch the ball.
It's safe to say that Aaron Williams, Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks are the Bills' plan for the future at cornerback.
What's not safe to say, yet, is whether that plan will go according to...um, planned.
Gilmore has looked good in press coverage, but has been beaten deep a few times in camp. He has earned largely rave reviews from those in attendance at training camp, so it'll be worth watching whether he looks as good in a game-time situation as he did in practice.
Williams looks poised to start, according to the team's official website, and after flashing potential as a rookie, he'll need to string it together here to prove he's up to the challenge.
The Bills' corners will have a tall order to cover the Redskins' receivers, a group which they've bolstered heavily this offseason in adding Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. We'll get to see how they hold up under real conditions on Thursday night.
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