The Six Types of Buffalo Bills
This 2012 training camp has revealed to us a lot about the Buffalo Bills. Every player has left some sort of impression through two preseason games, for better or for worse.
This list looks at six different players who can be classified in five different ways. With the NFL season right around the corner, this is as good of a chance as ever to break down player performance and to classify Bills based on their play.
Here are the six types of Buffalo Bills.
The Stud: Fred Jackson
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Fred Jackson is still the do-it-all back for Buffalo.
C.J. Spiller filled in well for Jackson last year and earned some 2012 carries, but there is no doubt that this offense runs through Jackson.
Before he got hurt, Jackson was a Pro Bowl running back. He showed that same burst against the Vikings, gaining 27 yards on five carries. He is versatile and elusive, doing just about anything a football player can do to make plays.
Jackson will need to make plays on the ground and continue to be a threat in the passing game if Buffalo wants the playoffs this year. He had a solid training camp and left no doubt that he is the premier weapon of the offense.
The High Riser: Scott Chandler
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Scott Chandler started off hot with Buffalo in 2011, then quickly became irrelevant in the offense.
Though he scored his four touchdowns in the season's first three weeks, he is poised for a strong 2012. He had by far one of the most impressive training camps than any of the Bills.
He demonstrated that he can elevate to make a catch and stay composed to make a catch in traffic.
With the lack of a true No. 2 receiver outside of Stevie Johnson at this point, Chandler will remain ideal for third down and red zone passes. He is 6'7'', and the Bills need to start taking advantage of that. His blocking has also improved, meaning the running game should open him up in the passing game.
With a stellar training camp, Chandler should have a bigger role in the Bills offense. He provides such a big frame that he can catch nearly anything within his reach—clearly a positive for the Bills.
The Sleeper: Ron Brooks
Ron Brooks wasn't a starter at LSU, but he is quietly earning himself quite a role on the Bills.
In his preseason debut, he recorded two tackles, deflected three passes and notched an interception. Against the Vikings, he recorded four solo tackles.
Top it off with a solid camp, and Brooks not only rises on the depth chart, he could push Leodis McKelvin or Terrence McGee off the team. That's how promising this rookie is.
The fourth round draft pick is still flying under the radar, but he has shown his talent and left coaches impressed. So while he may initially not come to mind as a key player, Brooks really has potential to be great.
The Question Mark: Brad Smith
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The Bills have made it clear that Brad Smith will be the No. 3 quarterback. But their intentions with Smith are far from clear.
As a traditional quarterback this preseason, Smith has struggled. He even threw a pick-six in his first pass against Minnesota. But the probability that Smith sees regular season action as a pocket passer are extremely slim.
He isn't planned on being used as a receiver—something he looked decent at against the Jets late last year. The Wildcat formation is apparently coming back into play for Buffalo, and that is Smith's role with the team.
But if you all remember, Smith did little as a Wildcat quarterback last season.
His only pass, in the season opener, was intercepted. His main use by the Bills was as a short yardage runner, though he only had 20 carries on the year. All Smith did was line up in the shotgun on third-and-one, take the snap and move the chains. Getting the first down was good, but a waste of his talent.
So Smith will not be featured as a receiver, even though he had 23 receptions for 240 yards and a score last season. His special teams role seems to be reduced as well, and this Wildcat thing is yet to be revealed.
As a result, Smith's role and potential production are a huge question mark at this point in time.
On the Decline: Tyler Thigpen
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Though Tyler Thigpen has a history with Chan Gailey and a year of experience in the Bills system, it appears that the No. 2 quarterback job will go to Vince Young.
The competition seemed to be fierce as training camp began, but Young slowly caught up to Thigpen and surpassed him with a stellar game against Minnesota. Both quarterbacks looked rusty before the preseason opener, but from that point on, Young has stepped up his game.
Thigpen has struggled with accuracy at times and has yet to make an impact on the field like Young has. He hasn't done anything noteworthy and owns a 6.8 passer rating this preseason.
A 6.8 passer rating? Tim Tebow could have a better passer rating throwing the ball right-handed (well, maybe).
Young is starting to pull away with the job, and Thigpen has done little to suggest that he is capable of making up ground.
Over the Hill: Terrence McGee
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Terrence McGee is 31 years old and long past his prime. He was once a Pro Bowl returner and solid corner back, but he now struggles to stay on the field.
In the past three seasons, McGee has played in 26 games, starting 19 of them. The last time he played a full 16-game season was in 2004, which happens to be his only complete season.
McGee is simply injury-prone and his on-field production doesn't make him worth the risk. He has again struggled to stay on the field and was limited all preseason.
With the addition of younger and talented corners, McGee may see his Bills tenure come to an end. He is aging and tearing apart at a very fast rate. He is past his prime, can't stay on the field and isn't getting any younger.
Ultimately, this may lead to his departure in 2012.