Every Buffalo Bills fan, it seems, will be paying attention to some specific player or positional group when the Bills open their pre-season schedule against the Chicago Bears on Saturday. I, myself, have seven different players or groups that I'll be paying attention to during (and after) the game, and I'll take you through those one by one leading up to the return of Bills football.
One interesting angle of the Lee Evans trade rumors is that it could open up a roster spot for another receiving tight end on the team, particularly since the team's receiving talent behind Stevie Johnson is largely unproven. It's unclear how many tight ends the Bills will be keeping on the team, but there is a clear delineation between the blockers and receivers at the position. We're focusing on the receivers - namely Shawn Nelson, Mike Caussin and Zach Pianalto.
Now, clearly, if the Bills are going to prioritize a secondary receiving threat in their offense, the depth receivers - and even C.J. Spiller - will rank higher on the list than these guys. The odds are still good that three tight ends will be retained, and at least one of those three players will be on the team come September 11.
Chan Gailey appeared to have significant plans for Nelson in his offense a year ago, but another bout of migraines kept Nelson out of action for much of his second season. The fact that Nelson has struggled to mightily to stay on the field, at least in our eyes, puts him on a level playing field with both Caussin and Pianalto - two very underrated athletes with some receiving upside, much like Nelson himself.
We still believe that the team's two blocking tight ends, Scott Chandler and David Martin, are strong bets for the final roster simply because of the way Gailey uses tight ends in his offense. It's imperative that the team keep two players at the position that are capable of helping the team's overwhelmed tackles seal the edge in pass protection and pick up blitzers. Should we be right about that, it'll leave one spot for an athletic tight end - and as these three youngsters are on an even playing field, the race is wide open for that possible final spot.