We are merely a few days away from the opening of the 2008 (pre)season for the Buffalo Bills. It’s fair to say, I think, that the first pre-season game marks the first real test of the newly formed team. We’ve seen them in practice, in mini camps, in the OTAs, now in training camp.
But Saturday, we see them in live, game action.
Saturday night the Bills will face the Washington Redskins who were one of the two combatants in the official pre-season kickoff, the annual Hall of Fame game. Honestly, this was a very good game. The Bills will face not only the Redskins this pre-season, but the other team from last Sunday’s matchup, the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams look like they will be a good test for the Bills, a sort of gauge for how the team has progressed, personnel-wise and coaching/system-wise.
I’m excited! I know it’s only pre-season, and really doesn’t matter much at all (usually) but I am hoping that with so many questions going into 2008, that the Bills really use these four games to see what they’ve got and get ready for what could be such a great year for the team.
The big story surrounding the Bills of course is still Jason Peters lingering hold out. How long will it last? Will he really hold out until they pay him more than the other linemen on the team? That would mean some pretty serious fines, and doesn’t really work that much in his favor. Is he so sure they will break? Do the Bills think Peters will? I’ve said before, I really feel he should report to training camp and then the Bills will take care of him. Perhaps he knows something I do not.
Other news from St. John Fisher… seems the injury bug continues to bite. Thankfully, aside from rookie Alvin Bowen (a promising special teamer) the injuries – and subsequent absence from practice – have been mostly minor. The coaches are erring on the side of caution, especially with veteran players. James Hardy has been bothered by a hamstring injury and they have sat him for much of the first week and a half of training camp, only giving him light duty. He will likely see action on Saturday though.
Hardy is one player I will be watching Saturday, as well as the offensive line playing minus Jason Peters. Langston Walker has been seeing most of the action at left tackle in Peters’ absence. Kirk Chambers moved to Walkers’ spot at right tackle. Rookie Demetrius Bell has also been seeing some second team action at left tackle. Will be interesting to see what the Bills will try to do, especially since they face Washington on Saturday, with newly-acquired DE Jason Taylor, a premier pass rusher.
It will also be interesting to see if the offense will incorporate more throws to the RBs out of the backfield, or even lined up wide (saw that formation at training camp). Both Lynch and Fred Jackson can certainly be excellent offensive weapons in the aerial attack. I’m sure Schonert won’t reveal his full arsenal in the pre-season (especially the first game) but it will be interesting to see how much different the Fairchild-less offense looks.
Other players to watch? Ko Simpson has been a tad hobbled… will he be back to form at free safety? Leodis McKelvin… how much action will he get? Bills running backs Dwayne Wright and Xavier Omon will likely see a lot of action in the second half, will be interesting to see how they do against a good Washington defense. Marcus Stroud and the rest of the D-line should see at least first-quarter action. Washington will be a good test for them as their RB position looked very talented, and deep.
Can’t wait to see some live, game action! 7pm on Saturday night! Football is almost here!