Warm up No. 3 for the Bills

August 22, 2019
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We’re getting there, Buffalo Bills fans. Only two games left in the preseason.

The fourth game is the one where starters don’t usually see the field, but head coach Sean McDermott should get a jump start on that plan against the Detroit Lions on Friday night. At least with the defense.

I saw a comment from Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, who said he was going to sit most of his starters in their third game, which is considered the final dress rehearsal for the regular season. Reich said his guys have been around, they know the systems and what to do so why play them at this point?

I read those comments and immediately thought of the Bills defense. All 11 starting spots are locked up, and all but one of those starters are back from last season. Earlier this week, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was talking about how guys are playing faster and more aggressively because they’ve been here and are familiar with what he and McDermott want them to do on that side of the ball.

That’s great, so give them the rest of the preseason off. 

Even if you take into account the backups/depth guys, there still aren’t many decisions to be made on defense. We are probably talking about the last guy on the depth chart at defensive end, linebacker and cornerback and perhaps the fourth safety. The starting defense has looked good in the first two games, although they did not face a starting quarterback. They might not against the Lions either since there is no definitive word as to whether or not Matthew Stafford will play. He has been held out of Detroit’s first two preseason games.

The remaining questions, as to starting spots, are on offense and one spot on special teams. As far as the offense goes, we still don’t know who will start along the line in Week 1 against the New York Jets, but that is the result of injuries and not performances. The last two preseason contests won’t change that either.

Center Mitch Morse won’t play in Detroit, and possible starting right tackle Ty Nsehke was limited in practice this week and the Bills would be wise to hold him out too. We might see rookie Cody Ford get time at both right tackle and right guard, as has been the case in the previous warm up affairs.

If you want to watch something with line play, you can focus in on center Jon Feliciano, who would seem to be the starter at that spot should Morse not be cleared and ready for the season opener.

I don’t mind some of the starters on offense playing since that group is very much a work in progress, but they don’t really need to play more than a couple of series, which is what their usage has been so far. Get Josh Allen out there with what, right now, is the No. 1 offensive line and let him get a little action in. But the Bills should sit guys like Cole Beasley and John Brown. I know both are working on developing chemistry with Allen and Brown didn’t play in the last game, but use the limited game time for the ones to figure out the receiving battle. The Bills should give guys like Isaiah McKenzie, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Duke Williams and Cam Phillips plenty of reps since it appears those guys are fighting it out for a sixth and final spot on the depth chart.

The Bills don’t need to play LeSean McCoy or Frank Gore, or even Devin Singeltary. They can divide the carries among T.J. Yeldon, Senorise Perry and even Christian Wade. I don’t think he makes the team, but he deserves some earlier in the game playing time. Why not? It's the preseason and nobody cares about the outcome.

One other position that is a big question mark with the opener just over two weeks away is tight end. Seventh round draft pick Tommy Sweeney has taken advantage of an opportunity created by a run of injuries, and looks to have earned a roster spot. Right now, he is the No. 1 guy on the depth chart. There’s good news though since fellow rookie Dawson Knox is expected to make his preseason debut after missing time with a hamstring injury. Knox was looking good early on at camp when he went down and now will have a chance to show off his skills against a different team.

The punting competition remains undecided, but it will be a one man show in this game. Cory Carter, who seemed to have a leg up (get it? leg up... punter) on the job will sit this game out due to a knee injury. That means Corey Bojorquez has the night to himself.

We need to keep a watchful eye on the guy who was previously known as “Hausch-Money”. Stephen Hauschka has missed a couple of field goals in the first two games, and I’m wondering if this is an indication that his late season struggles in 2018 were more than just that.

You can hear the Bills and Lions preseason matchup on WGR beginning with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. with Schopp and the Bulldog. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and then you can talk about the game with Nate Geary and Joe DiBiase on the post-game show.