The Buffalo Bills defeated Detroit on Thursday for the team’s first and only preseason win of 2017. The coaching staff gave many guys battling for roster spots a fair shot with plenty of playing time and it creates some tough decisions for the front office heading into the weekend. Here’s a look at the top takeaways from the preseason finale:
Injuries mount: After getting through most of the summer injury-free, the Bills suffered several trips to the trainer for the second consecutive week. Michael Ola and Jerel Worthy both went down in the first quarter and did not return. Ola, who went out after getting his ankle rolled, could’ve potentially lost his roster spot due to the injury. He’s been battling with Jordan Mudge and Vlad Ducasse for the final guard spot on the roster. Mudge played extensively on Thursday night, and even if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, he seems primed for a spot on the practice squad. Worthy is one of the best depth players on Buffalo’s roster, and his injury could be especially hurtful to the team this season. It’s no secret that Marcell Dareus struggles to stay healthy, and Worthy has been a steady backup to both him and Kyle Williams since 2015. The Bills are only calling it a head injury as of now, but don’t be surprised if he lands in the concussion protocol. Finally, Brandon Reilly got banged up late in the game, but his injury didn’t seem to serious.
Playmakers work for final spots: Speaking of Reilly, he had another strong showing on Thursday against Detroit’s secondary.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 20, 2017
His most impressive grab came in the first quarter on a third-and-10 after he extended for the catch and hung on despite taking a big hit. He’s continued to make plays week in and week out, and with an already weak receiving corps, it seems like a no-brainer to keep the undrafted free agent from Nebraska on the roster.
Speaking of guys who boosted their stock, Joe Banyard ran all over the field on Thursday. He finished with 14 carries for 68 yards and got a coveted rushing touchdown for the team this preseason. Banyard made several nice cuts and showed his tackle-breaking abilities. His special team talents are a bonus and look to be enough to push him over the hump.
Peterman shines again: Despite playing with backups at nearly every position around him on offense, Peterman once again proved that he is comfortable in Buffalo’s offense. One of the biggest knocks on Peterman so far this preseason is his accuracy, but the rookie quarterback went 9-for-11 and 81 yards against Detroit. He made some tight passes to his receivers over the middle of the field and trusted his teammates enough to come down with the ball.
After spending most of the summer with some of the same targets on the second-team offense, Peterman seems to have developed a nice chemistry with those players. Although most signs are pointing towards Tyrod Taylor being healthy enough to start Week 1, Peterman once again proved that he is capable of stepping up if Taylor suffers a setback.
"Tyrod is our starter. Nate Peterman is developing. It's important he goes through the process. I was proud of the way he played." pic.twitter.com/Ycze7WmIDr
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) September 1, 2017
Secondary shines: E.J. Gaines. Greg Mabin. Trae Elston. The unit had countless highlight reel plays against the Lions and gave Bills fans some hope that the situation in the secondary may not be as dire as it once seemed. Gaines played well again, and made a couple of pass breakups.
He’s been competing with Shareece Wright and Kevon Seymour for the other starting cornerback spot, and while Gaines doesn’t have it fully locked up, he certainly helped his case on Thursday. Elsewhere in the secondary, Mabin picked off his second pass of this preseason, the one on Thursday coming in the end zone. Mabin’s been one of Buffalo’s highest rated players this preseason, and his playmaking abilities will make him hard to keep off the final roster. Finally with Elston, while his roster spot as one of Buffalo’s backup safeties has been almost certain for a couple of weeks, he officially solidified it on Thursday. Elston showed off his hitting abilities, forcing a fumble and then almost causing an interception after he jarred the ball loose on another play.
Not a lot of yellow: For the first time this preseason, the Bills avoided the attention of the referees. Buffalo had only five penalties for 60 yards against the Lions, and finally seemed to listen to the messages of their head coach. While one game isn’t enough to erase the first three outings–especially with many starters not taking a single snap–it is a step in the right direction for the Bills.
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