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Robert Woods a second-teamer in Bills' preseason loss to Giants

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The Buffalo Bills' first-team offense wasn't on the field for long in Sunday's preseason loss to the New York Giants, but it was noteworthy that when they were on the field, Robert Woods wasn't.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

During his rookie season in 2013, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods left one game early due to injury, missed two others completely, and left a fourth early after an ejection stemming from punching an opposing player in the face. (He did that during the second day of training camp this summer, too.) In the other 12 games that he finished healthy, Woods played a whopping 94 percent of offensive snaps, more than any other receiver on the roster.

It was surprising, then, that when the Bills' first-team offense took the field for their two series in Sunday night's preseason-opening, 17-13 loss at the hands of the New York Giants, that Woods didn't see the field at all.

"For Woody not to be in with us and the ones is a bit surprising," quarterback EJ Manuel said after the game (via "But he did great. Woody's going to be Woody with whatever he's given. I was still glad to see him go out there and do a great job with (Jeff Tuel)."

Woods played with the second- and third-team offenses, seeing field time with both Tuel and Thad Lewis, and had one of the strongest games among Buffalo's skill players on the evening. Targeted five times, Woods caught four passes for 49 yards, including a two-yard touchdown from Tuel in the second quarter, and a pretty 26-yard catch-and-run from Lewis in the third.

But when the first-team offense needed a third receiver on the field, it was Chris Hogan, not the second-round pick from USC, that trotted onto the field.

In his post-game press conference, head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that the coaches had a specific plan to get players reps. On Hogan working in ahead of Woods, he offered up only this short explanation: "He came in only in slot."

Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle asked Woods if he had been told anything about why Hogan worked in ahead of him with the ones. "No," Woods said, grinning.

It's sometimes difficult to fight the urge not to make a mountain out of a molehill in the preseason, but this is looking like a situation worth monitoring moving forward.

Whatever the Bills' reasoning for keeping Woods out of the starting lineup, there's no question that his presence in the second and third quarters did a lot to help the two quarterbacks competing for the backup quarterback job. Most reporters that have consistently attended training camp practices have come away impressed with Woods' efforts thus far.