The Buffalo Bills lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 19-16, in their third of five preseason games on Saturday evening. They'll be back on the practice field at St. John Fisher on Monday evening to begin their final week of training camp.
Until then, we have plenty of time to digest not just the week that was for the Bills matching up against the Steelers, but the preseason thus far as a whole. Let's start with an updated look at the team's preseason snap counts on offense, defense, and special teams.
If you were worried that Manuel wasn't going to play enough this preseason, fear not: he's taken more reps than both of his backups thus far, and took more than Lewis and Tuel combined in Pittsburgh. He has completed 28-of-47 passes (59.6 percent completions) for 263 yards (5.6 yards per attempt) with an interception through three games.
It's slightly interesting that, on a night when Buffalo's first-team offense played the entire first half, Spiller saw only 12 snaps. Especially when compared to Jackson's touch count (13 - seven receptions, six carries).
The Hogan and Woods thing continues, as Hogan works in as the third receiver while Woods, very clearly the fourth guy in the rotation right now, blows everyone else out of the water in terms of preseason reps at his position. It's not hard to see that particular personnel decision becoming a point of frustration in the fan base as the regular season approaches.
Buffalo is taking a good, long look at Chris Summers. He's highly unlikely to make the final roster, but seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad.
Hairston finally saw extended playing time in Pittsburgh, which can't hurt his chances at making the team. The same is true for how awful his counterpart, Kouandjio, was in pass protection. Woof. Congratulations on that job security, Erik Pears.
Legursky taking a start at left guard after not practicing there much bodes well for his chances of making the team. Urbik, meanwhile, was situated fairly comfortably ahead of Richardson in Pittsburgh, but that position obviously remains up for grabs.
Buffalo's third-team defense didn't play a lot in Pittsburgh, which meant low snap counts for several players fighting for roster spots, including Igbinosun and Branch on the defensive line. The writing may be on the wall for Branch, who has consistently been behind Bryant, Charles, and Cohen on the depth chart this summer, and who has played the fewest snaps at the position.
Unless the Bills are just trying to get snaps in for Brandon Spikes early, regardless of personnel package, it's looking like he might be part of the team's coverage plans as a sub-package linebacker. Which does not bode well for the team's coverages. Spikes has good instincts, but isn't fluid enough in space to avoid being picked on.
Without looking back at the second half again to see if Cockrell played exclusively slot again, it's at least encouraging that he's seeing a lot of work this preseason. He's going to be on the team, and it'd be nice to see him play some on the outside before the regular season starts.
While head coach Doug Marrone was telling reporters that Branch is fighting for a roster spot, he was downplaying Aaron Williams' appearance on the second-team defense. The team wanted Duke Williams to get a start next to Da'Norris Searcy. Also, on the topic of safeties: Deon Broomfield might be emerging as a strong candidate for the practice squad.
It's an encouraging sign for Gragg that he saw double-digit teams snaps in Pittsburgh. It will be much easier to justify a roster spot for him if he can be useful in that phase. He still ranks behind both fullbacks in that department, however.
The Bills let some younger guys take more teams snaps in Pittsburgh, lowering counts for expected veteran mainstays like Easley, Hogan, Dixon, and Duke Williams.
T.J. Graham has shown fairly well as a punt returner this preseason, and he is still a firm sixth in the pecking order at receiver (or fifth, depending on whether or not Goodwin isn't too dinged up to play). Easley remains a huge hurdle, but Graham is clinging onto hope to make the team despite his inconsistencies.
Lest you worry about the Bills not having room to dress four running backs in a given contest, allow your concerns to be alleviated by the fact that the team continues to take a long look at Bryce Brown on teams. He's actually played more snaps in that phase than Dixon thus far.
What stands out to you, Bills fans?