For the Buffalo Bills, last night's 7-6 loss to the Washington Redskins in their pre-season opener was, to put it simply, sloppy. The team was frequently penalized, made a lot of mental errors, and didn't execute the base offense or defense with much consistency. A few players in particular hurt themselves, but let's start this quick roster review on a positive note (or three), shall we?
Scott Chandler. Those who have seen him practice this summer have talked up Chandler's hands, and that rhetoric was backed up with two excellent hands grabs in the first quarter. Chandler is one of three receivers that Ryan Fitzpatrick feels comfortable with - that was evident last night - he complements David Nelson well in the slot, and he could be in line for a big year.
Kyle Williams. Kyle looks healthy, and played a bit like his old self in limited duty last night. He was disruptive at the point of attack, got into the backfield on numerous occasions, and was simply a handful for Washington's interior line. Right now, Buffalo's starting defensive tackles look like they're already in regular season form.
Kelvin Sheppard. There's still a lot of hyperbole surrounding Sheppard and how good he might one day be. Focusing on the now, Sheppard is still rough in coverage, and he'll be a two-down player as a result. This guy shines in run defense, however. He has a nose for the football, and is one of those linebackers that seemingly can't be blocked cleanly. He sheds well and shoots gaps. Sheppard's going to be an asset as the Mike 'backer this year.
And now, for those that did not impress.
The penalty brigade. Some players that were flagged are locks for the final roster, so while those flags were certainly irritating, they can, in most respects, be excused. For guys like Corey McIntyre, David Clowney, Lee Smith, Sam Young, Mark Asper, Tank Carder and Cris Hill? These guys need to clean up their acts quickly - Smith in particular, who had multiple flags and is always a risk for more because he's a bit of a hothead - or they might find themselves on the bubble. (Well, maybe not Carder, but you get the point. Penalties are annoying.)
Mark Anderson. It was pretty clear last night that Anderson is an excellent athlete, and that if all goes well, he'll be a major asset to this team as a pass rusher. Since the day he was signed, however, the team has tried to sell Anderson as a capable every-down end. I'll try to watch him a bit more closely in subsequent airings of the game, but I thought he was bad in general at the point of attack against the run, and can remember one play in particular where he was flat-out manhandled. I didn't see an every-down player here, but again, I'll reserve that judgment until the sample size is bigger.
Tyler Thigpen. In five pre-season games with the Bills, Thigpen has now completed 47 percent of his passes (39 completions in 83 attempts) for 349 yards (that's 4.2 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns, three interceptions - one of which was a horrendous underthrow in last night's loss - and a quarterback rating of 51.7. At this point, Vince Young may only need to prove that he has a pulse to win the backup quarterback competition, even though Young is struggling, as well.
Who impressed (or didn't impress) you last night, Bills fans?