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Five things to watch in the second Buffalo Bills preseason game

Here’s what we’re looking for when the Bills kick off this afternoon against the Giants.

The play of Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins

Rex Ryan said this week that Sammy Watkins might play, but if he does it’ll only be for a series. How sharply he cuts at the top of his routes will certainly be worth monitoring. Tyrod Taylor is expected to play a little longer today than he did against the Colts. Quarterback is the position I draw the least conclusions from in the preseason mainly because of the lack of an offensive gameplan, minimal-to-nonexistent checks at the line, and the vanilla defensive looks they get, but I’m sure the Bills and their fans would like to see some connections between Taylor and his receivers in this one.

The new-look linebacker group

Veteran Lorenzo Alexander took the majority of first-team reps at SAM linebacker this week, so expect him to be on the field with the starting unit next to Zach and Preston Brown against the Giants. Beyond tracking his play, we’ll get our first look at edge-rusher Kroy Biermann. Our friends at The Falcoholic told us, “he's a solid run defender, occasionally useful pass rusher, and genuinely terrific special teamer who plays hard. You'll come to like him just fine, and I expect he'll excel so long as he's not pressed into starting duty.”

Can Walt Powell continue his impressive summer?

I’m starting to think Walt Powell can push Marquise Goodwin for the Bills WR3 role, a spot Goodwin became the front-runner for after a steady start to camp. Powell’s training camp has been just as if not more impressive than Goodwin’s, and he’s coming off a four-reception, 88-yard performance against the Colts a week ago. He’s the team’s primary kick returner too. The small receiver has showcased quick-twitch athleticism and dynamic burst when he has the ball in his hands. With another strong effort today, I think Powell will be an absolute lock to make the team and, probably, find his way into Greg Roman’s offensive plans for the regular season.

(We should also keep a close eye on Dez Lewis, who missed the first preseason game. By most accounts, his training camp has been solid, and at 6’4”, he has the most size in the Bills’ receiver group. Can’t forget about Jarrett Boykin either. )

Cardale Jones’ second preseason game

His surprisingly poised preseason debut a week ago drew rave reviews from most. I thought Cardale Jones was good, not great against the Colts, and I shied away from the “great” label simply because he was inaccurate on all of his deep passes. However, his pocket movement was fantastic, his rocket arm was on full display, and he was accurate to the short and intermediate levels of the field. Can he pick up where he left off?

Will the penalties be cut down?

Although the majority of Buffalo’s penalties against Indianapolis came either on special teams or from a third-or-four-string player, flags will always been a point of contention among Bills fans... until the issue is fixed. Rex has made it clear all summer that he’s prioritized cutting down the penalties and even said the team watched all 11 flags from the first preseason game. A “cleaner” outing on the penalty front would ease the minds of many Bills followers.