With one pre-season game in the books, the Bills resume practice this afternoon at St. John Fisher college. Taking the first stretch of practices and the Saints game into account, it's likely (but not certain) that we will begin to see the first major changes made to the player rotations and the depth chart with this group of players. Which players will be climbing the depth chart? Buffalo Rumblings takes ten stabs at answering that question by giving you ten players who are likely to, at the very least, see more extended action as training camp and pre-season games continue:
RB Fred Jackson: The obvious big mover is Freddie Jackson, whose tough running and receiving skills could leapfrog him all the way up to the #3 position on the depth chart - at least for the pre-season. My guess is that he won't stay that high too long with Dwayne Wright on board, but I believe that once Anthony Thomas and Marshawn Lynch have rotated through, the coaching staff will want to see Jackson next as opposed to Shaud Williams, whom they have seen play much more. Jackson made the most of his opportunity on Friday, but he'll likely have an even bigger opportunity now.
RB Dwayne Wright: Maybe it was just me, but I was impressed with what Wright did on the field Friday night. He's not the most elusive of backs in open space, but did anyone really expect him to be? Yet he looked fluid catching passes out of the backfield, and he's a big guy that knows how to finish runs. If he can continue to protect the ball as he did against the Saints, he'll move up the depth chart quickly.
OL Jason Whittle: The Bills' first-unit running game was anything but proficient against the Saints, and the biggest problem from what I can remember came on problems up the middle. The Bills need to select a starter at right guard soon so that the line may have as much time as possible to gel before the start of the regular season. My guess is that since Duke Preston started the Saints game, Whittle will get the call against the Falcons; if the run game fares well, Whittle may stick at the starting position.
DE Eric Powell: Powell will likely get a boost from the suspension of Anthony Hargrove, but his play makes him deserving of a longer look as well. Powell put on a lot of weight this past off-season, and he looks just as athletic as he was last year when he made the team's final roster. I would love to see him get some second-unit reps at both end and inside at tackle to see if he can provide any sort of pass rush in passing situations; that could make Hargrove expendable.
DE C.J. Ah You: Another beneficiary of the Hargrove suspension, I expect Ah You to see a lot of playing time this coming Friday. He worked a bit with the second-team defensive line against the Saints, but saw the majority of his reps on the third unit. He looked surprisingly sturdy against the run and was part of a unit that consistently pressured Tyler Palko in the fourth quarter. This is another player I'd love to see at both end and tackle, and I'm particularly interested to see if he can hold his own against a higher level of competition with the second unit. Time will tell if he makes it into the game in those situations.
DT Corey Mace: Mace is another player that saw a bit more playing time than I anticipated on Friday. Given Tim Anderson's uninspiring play over the past few years, this is a prime opportunity for a guy like Mace to leapfrog Anderson on the depth chart. There is some more-experienced depth at the position, but I myself am particularly fond of Mace's versatility and pass rush potential. Even if he doesn't end up making the roster, I believe he'll see reps even earlier in pre-season games and would be a great prospect to stash on the practice squad.
LB Paul Posluszny: Boy, does this kid look like the real deal. Working with the second-team defense, Posluszny was the team's leading tackler Friday night and consistently was in proper position. It's obvious that he's got a pretty firm grasp on the defense, but as with any rookie he needs to speed up his read-and-react play to really become a playmaker in this defense. It's only a matter of time until Poz is roaming the middle of the field with the starting unit.
CB Jabari Greer: A mainstay as far as pre-season playmakers go, Greer's two-interception performance Friday night could jump him far enough up the depth chart to see time with the first unit against the Falcons. I am curious to see how he would perform as a nickel/dime back in the first quarter - his playmaking has never before translated to the regular season, but he deserves another chance to prove he can finally make that transition. Plus, I'd rather see him get that opportunity in the pre-season when the games don't count than risk it in the regular season.
CB Ashton Youboty: He's still a bit inconsistent, but I was pleased with Youboty's performance against the Saints, especially his play on special teams. It showed that he's not going to tank the season if he does end up being the fourth or fifth cornerback; it shows that his work ethic and determination are sound. This is another player I'd like to see worked into the nickel role with the first team defense (filling in the role Jim Leonhard played against the Saints), because I think his coverage skills - when honed - will be an asset in that role. Youboty is still an enigma, but only more playing time will resolve some of the mystery surrounding him.
S George Wilson: I know that the coaching staff is high on Leonhard, but I was more impressed by Wilson's play against the Saints. In his first game as a defensive player, I thought he did a sound job against the run and performed well on special teams. I'm keen to see him more in coverage (something that could make or break him in terms of making the final roster), but overall I think you have to consider his positional transition a success. He's still entrenched as the #4 safety, but I'd love to see him used a bit more.