QB Edwards a game-time decision (Photo Source)
The Buffalo Bills close out their pre-season schedule tonight in their first real home game, in which they'll take on the (undefeated) Detroit Lions. After playing extensively just four days ago, Buffalo's starters are only expected to play a series or two as the coaching staff allows younger players to compete for final roster spots. The Bills must reduce their roster to 53 players on Saturday.
Your humble narrator will be attending tonight's festivities in person, checking out our newly upgraded seats at good old Ralph Wilson Stadium. I'm excited - and not just because of the seats. I have plenty to keep an eye out for tonight; here, in a more specific manner, is what I'll be watching for:
Trent Edwards? Please?
Look, I'm all for keeping a guy healthy, but since the starters are only going a series or two tonight, I really hope Trent Edwards plays. Buffalo's starting quarterback is a game-time decision with a thigh contusion that held him out of the win over Indianapolis; Tom Brady and Peyton Manning might be able to skip the pre-season and not miss a beat, but I highly doubt Edwards is in the same boat. Even a series or two helps kick off a little more rust before we take on Seattle.
Wright vs. Omon
My guess is that these two guys are going to play the majority of the game, with Bruce Hall getting work at third down back. A roster spot is on the line for Buffalo's two young running backs. So, naturally, I'll be paying attention to their special teams integration as well as how they tote the rock. For the record, I'm pulling for Wright. I think he's got a chance to be a good back. I want to trust him again, and I think the Bills do too.
No, I'm not talking about the crappy Keanu Reeves flick made worse by John Madden's cameo (though Rhys Ifans is excellent in that film). At least one key player (LT Langston Walker) is not expected to play in this game, and other players such as receivers Josh Reed, James Hardy and Roscoe Parrish could miss the game as well (and that's just me speculating - I expect we'll know more later on today). That means young guys like Demetrius Bell, Justin Jenkins and Felton Huggins are going to see time quite early. If they perform well, they'll probably make the team. (Not that two of the three I mentioned here aren't virtual locks already).
Let's face it - guys like Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney aren't going to see a ton of time tonight. Chris Ellis, on the other hand, will. I haven't paid as much attention to him this pre-season as I've liked to (though I've enjoyed what I've seen of him thus far), so he'll be my primary focus on defense tonight.
The Cornerback Carousel
I don't expect much to change in terms of the cornerback depth chart based on tonight's game, but this is the last chance for guys like Ashton Youboty and Reggie Corner to make some plays - and with them, a serious attempt at a move up the depth chart. I enjoy watching all of Buffalo's cornerbacks play (save Leodis McKelvin last week), so their play should be charted closely tonight as well.
There isn't a better indicator of who is making a late move up the depth chart than who is playing where on special teams. I'm going to do my best to keep track of coverage units and playmakers on special teams tonight. Bobby April has a lot of pull when it comes to those last few roster spots, so anyone who stands out tonight has a pretty good shot of at least warranting serious roster consideration.
Regrettably, as I'll be at The Ralph, I will be unable to join you in tonight's open game thread. I will be in contact via email at The Ralph, so if you're bored (and if you're in the open thread, you probably won't be), fire me a question and I'll try to get back to you promptly. Tonight's open thread will open at 6, approximately a half-hour before the game is set to kick off.
Just get through tonight, folks. Regular season football is just around the corner.