NFL Preseason Week 4: Recap of Buffalo Bills Loss to Detroit Lions

Robert QuinnCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Marcus Easley #81 of the Buffalo Bills returns a kickoff against the Detroit Lions at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Detroit won 16-6.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Just a week after an impressive outing by the Buffalo Bills' starters against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bills seemed to make a complete turnaround in Thursday's game against the Detroit Lions

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick saw limited playing time, yet he completed just two-of-five passes for minus-one yards—a large differential from last week's 11-of-12 for 165 yards and two touchdowns. 

While the fourth preseason game is usually most important for the 20-or-so players on the "bubble," it was still a bit disappointing to see the first team offense play so poorly. 

Running back C.J. Spiller started in place of Fred Jackson, most likely in order to earn him some extra reps before the regular season. He finished the night with two carries for 29 yards, one coming on a 27-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage. 

Shawne Merriman returned on the defensive side of the ball and continued to impress, making three tackles, one for a loss, in his single series of play. Torell Troup started at nose tackle in place of Kyle Williams and seemed to be in much better shape than last year. His play showed that.

Danny Batten continued to impress in his play at outside linebacker, making two tackles, one of which was for a loss.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13: Shawne Merriman #56 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a sack against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bills were unimpressive as far as the second team was concerned, to say the least. Cornerback Reggie Corner was targeted early and often and couldn't seem to compete with any of the Lions receivers. However, he did finish the night with four tackles and three pass deflections.

Second-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen played absolutely terrible, completing 12-of-21 passes for just 92 yards. He continuously overthrew his receivers and took unnecessary sacks.

Thigpen was sacked five times for a total of 47 yards, which is a strong statement about the inconsistency of the offensive line.

Mansfield Wrotto was atrocious in his play at guard, and apparently the Andy Levitre experiment at left tackle is over as Demetrius Bell was the starting tackle on the blindside.

Craig "Buster" Davis was the Bills' leading receiver with six receptions for 38 yards, while Kamar Aiken caught two passes for 37 yards. However, both are expected to be cut.

Tight end Mike Caussin was highly involved in the game, being targeted seven times and catching four passes for 32 yards.

The Bills' rushing attack wasn't too strong, but Bruce Hall had another strong performance. Hall carried the ball four times for 25 yards and scored the lone Buffalo touchdown of the game.

Inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, the Bills' third-round draft selection out of Louisiana State, saw a large amount of playing time in his first taste of preseason action and performed well. The 23-year-old made six tackles and defending a pass, while showing good instincts for getting to the ball carrier.

The Bills defense continued to struggle against the run, allowing 176 yards on 34 carries, including a 47-yard dash by Jerome Harrison. The team must sort out this run defense, because it will definitely cost them some games this year if they can't get the defense off the field.


Players Who Impressed

Antonio Coleman played like his life was on the line, making four tackles for a loss. No. 59 was on the screen during every pile up. In addition to his four tackles for loss, he displayed a high-motor that surely will earn him a spot on the final 53-man roster. 

Aaron Williams continued to impress with his solid coverage, locking down opposing receivers and could be fighting for a starting role.

Jon Corto should not be cut, by any means. He made two spectacular plays on special teams, defended a pass and made a key tackle that could have resulted in a touchdown.