Two games are in the books with two more to go. After reaching the midway point of the preseason schedule, we’re starting to figure out who will start, make the team, and be cut after the fourth game. With some battles still wide open, who’s making their case for a more central role, and who’s falling behind? Here are the Bills’ preseason week two ‘Studs and Duds’:
(P.S.: Since we have other pieces covering everything you need to know about the QB competition, I’ll be keeping the QBs out of it.)
– RB Marcus Murphy
— Nick (@Nick_Wojton) August 18, 2018
For the second consecutive week, Murphy impressed, showing his decisive running style (39 yards on four carries), also adding a nice 39-yard punt return on special teams. He’s doing everything he can to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and it’ll be tough for Sean McDermott to not grant his wish. The guy is always ready to contribute when his number is called.
– K Steven Hauschka
The owner of the NFL record for consecutive successful field goal attempts over 50 yards showed he’s already in midseason form. He hit his three kicks on the day — one extra point and two field goals. The highlight was a 53-yard attempt, which he hit easily, even in difficult Cleveland weather conditions. The special teams captain continues to be a strong asset to the team.
– TE Nick O’leary
Before the game, I wrote about O’Leary’s fall down the depth chart and how he had to do something to recapture his job. Despite playing only in the fourth quarter, with Charles Clay, Khari Lee, Logan Thomas and Jason Croom all seeing time before him, O’Leary showed up big time and did what he could to stay in the competition for a roster spot.
The big-bodied TE led the team with four receptions for 70 yards and one TD, showing his usual reliability and sure hands. He isn’t in a good position at this point, with more athletic options playing well ahead of him, but he certainly helped himself yesterday.
– LB Matt Milano
Out of 11 personnel, TE Wing, #Browns go IZ Kick and have Njoku kick the backside end and let Hubbard climb. Pay attention to Njoku's block and Corbett's turn to open the alley. Helps the Bills sent Milano on a blitz out of his gap. Nonetheless a nice run and burst from Hyde. pic.twitter.com/vjGcjoPJLx
— OBR Film Breakdown (@TheOBRFilmBDN) August 18, 2018
We saw some reports this week about Milano losing some reps with the first team defense, and yesterday we could see why. Milano struggled against the run, missing tackles and allowing big gains. With rookie Tremaine Edmunds still adapting to the pro game alongside him and no other options stepping up as potential replacements, the linebackers are becoming a major cause for concern.
– DT Star Lotulelei
It’s still very early, and Lotulelei still hasn’t played a ton of snaps, but when the Bills signed the former Carolina Panther to the richest contract on the team, they envisioned him as the key piece to improve the run defense. It wasn’t the case yesterday, as the Cleveland Browns ran the ball easily against the Bills’ defense, bringing forth memories of the Saints and Chargers games last season. I wouldn’t call it a major concern at this point, but Lotulelei surely needs to perform better than what he has shown so far.
– RB Travaris Cadet
He started the preseason sharing the first team backfield with Chris Ivory, but with his unimpressive play and Marcus Murphy’s emergence, Cadet is falling behind in the RB pecking order. Against the Browns, Cadet was the third RB to see the field, and he rushed for only eight yards on five carries, also losing a fumble. He’s already being phased out of special teams, and it’ll be really surprising if he can turn things around at this point.