2010 NFL Preseason Preview: Buffalo Bills Vs. Detroit Lions
On Thursday night at 6:30 P.M EST, the Buffalo Bills will take on the Detroit Lions in their fourth and final matchup of the preseason. The Bills are coming off of two very impressive and inspiring victories over playoff caliber opponents in the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bills have put up over 30 points in consecutive games, leaving much to be excited about.
While it isn't clear exactly how long the Bills starters will play, it will be exciting to watch the reserves battle for the final roster spots.
Ndamukong Suh Vs. The Bills Offensive Line
Last week in a preseason battle against the Cleveland Browns, the Lions second overall draft pick, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, blew past a double team block, throwing quarterback Jake Delhomme to the ground by his head.
The Bills offensive line has finally been coming together, and it will be a great test against a premier defensive tackle of the future.
The Buffalo offensive line was a huge question last season, but throughout the three preseason games, they have allowed just three sacks, a promising number that will give Trent Edwards some confidence under center.
CJ Spiller Vs. Jahvid Best, Who's The Top Rookie?
Although Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller was the first running back to get selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, many are still pointing to Jahvid Best as the running back who will have the biggest impact this season.
Spiller has already had two touchdown runs of 20+ yards, and has displayed a blazing speed and explosiveness that will be sure to keep opposing defenses off guard.
Best has carried the bal 15 times this preseason, gaining 129 yards, including a 51 yard gain against the Cleveland Browns.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson Vs. Buffalo Pass Defense
The Bills have struggled containing the pass throughout preseason, while facing some of the best wide receivers in the game, in Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Reggie Wayne.
Last week, the Bengals marched down the field in consecutive drives, allowing quarterback Carson Palmer to complete 9 of 11 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
The Lions feature arguably the most physical and one of the top receivers in Calvin Johnson, who has caught six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns this preseason.
Terrence McGee is a solid cover corner, but his lack of size has proven to be an issue against the larger receivers like Johnson.
Can Aaron Maybin Build On Last Week's Performance?
Aaron Maybin has been adjusting to his new outside linebacker role, and has been dedicated to proving he is worthy of the No. 11 overall selection of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Last week, Maybin made two sacks against the Bengals. Although they came against reserves, it was a promising sign that he isn't giving up, and his motor is always running.
Maybin hasn't earned a starting role yet, but will be seen on the field in passing downs as a rusher.
Coach Chan Gailey told Sirius NFL Radio “He’s adjusting to the 3-4 down in and down out, first, second and third.”
”We all know what an excellent pass rusher he is and he can be even better. If he’ll continue to work at it he can be a very, very good pass rusher. And he can be a third down and second and long presence for us on the field. That’s how I see him starting initially this season and then hopefully as time goes on he can continue to work himself into that outside backer mentality and size and everything to be able to play down in and down out.”
Marshawn Lynch Returns To The Lineup
After sustaining an ankle injury in the first series of the first preseason game against the Washington Redskins, Marshawn Lynch is returning to the lineup for the Buffalo Bills.
C.J. Spiller has started the past two games, and earned a respectable 122 yards, and is averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry, in addition to 35 yards on three receptions, while finding the endzone twice.
Lynch's return is good for the Bills, and offers a different skill set than Spiller. Lynch is a between the tackles runner, while Spiller is a speedster to runs away from defenders.
With Lynch on the field, Buffalo can hopefully use some of the exotic plays that Coach Gailey has been trying out.
Running back Fred Jackson isn't expected to play, as he is still out with a hand injury.
Can Namaan Roosevelt and Joique Bell Make The 53-Man Roster?
When Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch went down in the first preseason game, undrafted rookie free agent Joique Bell stepped up, gaining 132 yards on 16 carries, scoring two touchdowns against the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.
However, last week Bell managed just 10 yards on six carries against the Cincinnati Bengals. This game could be the last chance Bell has to display his talents on the field to the Buffalo Bills coaching staff, and fans are rooting for the former Wayne State standout to make the final roster.
Fellow undrafted rookie free agent, Namaan Roosevelt, a native of Buffalo, New York, is also battling for a final roster spot.
Roosevelt has caught just six passes for 46 yards in limited preseason action, but has reportedly been making strides in practices.
On his last preseason game, Roosevelt told BuffaloBills.com, “Knowing it’s the last game I’ll just try to give it my all and do everything I need to do. I haven't played a whole game in a long time. So I’m definitely ready for that to see what I can do.”
Lions and Bills Standout Safeties Battling Groin Injuries
While the Bills were enjoying the rookie sensation, Jairus Byrd's nine interception campaign last season, the Lions were enjoying the success of their rookie safety, Louis Delmas, as well.
Now both are battling groin injuries, and aren't expected to see the field in the last preseason matchup. Byrd's injury seems to be more serious, as he is out indefinitely, while Delmas is making a comeback and working his way back into the roster.
Last season, Delmas made 94 tackles while intercepting two passes.
Both Byrd and Delmas could be standout free safeties of the future, but their presence on the field Thursday night is doubtful.
Trent Edwards Finding His Rhythm
Trent Edwards has emerged as the clear starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. After a shaky 6-12, 58 yard, one interception performance in the first preseason game against the Redskins, Edwards has shown better pocket presence, and made better decisions.
In the two games following, Edwards has completed 18 of 25 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Edwards is looking like the leader this young team needs, and is limiting his bad decisions, and not holding on to the ball as long, while making his reads before checking down.
Who Will Emerge As The No. 2 Wide Receiver?
The Bills are still searching for someone to emerge as the No. 2 receiver to line up opposite Lee Evans, and as of now, undrafted rookie David Nelson is the leading candidate.
Nelson caught five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown in the first preseason game against the Redskins, before suffering an undisclosed injury that sidelined him for the second game against the Colts. Nelson returned to the lineup last week against the Bengals, catching two passes for 34 yards and another touchdown.
Former second round draft pick James Hardy found the field for the first time this preseason after battling a leg injury, and caught a 30 yard pass, but dropped another. Hardy is on the roster bubble as of now, and needs a strong outing against the Lions if he wants to continue as a Buffalo Bill.
Stevie Johnson, who was expected by many to emerge as the clear No. 2 hasn't done much of anything thus far, catching just three passes for 28 yards.
Chad Jackson was a former second round draft pick brought in this offseason, and had an impact against the Colts while Brian Brohm was under center, catching five passes for 52 yards, but has only caught one pass for four yards in the other two games.
Roscoe Parrish is a clear slot receiver, and found the endzone last week, but isn't really a No. 2 option. If someone steps up this week, the job could be easily theirs.
Will Brian Brohm Or Ryan Fitzpatrick Earn The No. 2 Quarterback Job?
Brian Brohm was the fan favorite to earn the starting quarterback job this offseason, but hasn't competed well enough to earn that title just yet.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has made the most of his limited reps, completing 15 of 23 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing no interceptions.
Brohm had a solid performance against the Colts, completing 14 of 21 passes for 125 yards, but didn't throw a touchdown.
As of now, rookie quarterback Levi Brown is expected to sit on the sidelines throughout the season while he learns the offense, but Fitzpatrick has earned the No. 2 job as of now.
If Brohm doesn't have a good game against the Lions, his roster spot is definitely in jeopardy. Fitzpatrick isn't exactly what the Bills want for competition, but he has made the most of his opportunity thus far, and isn't giving anything away.