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Bills-Redskins: Quick-hit player observations

What stood out during the Bills-Redskins preseason tilt.

Man, the Bills-Redskins preseason game sure was an exhibition slop fest. A severe shortage of starters. Missed tackles. Too many legitimate penalties. Too many brutal calls. Dropped passes... the works.

Anyway, here are the most noteworthy observations in a player-by-player format:

Reggie Bush

It’s always looks weird to me when Bush gets carries between the tackles... maybe just because I’ve seen 95% of his big plays come on plays to the outside. On the few runs he did get as a “traditional” running back, he looked spry and showcased nice vision. The speed and quickness were there. For as much as the zone blocking scheme is famous for the cutback lanes it creates, Greg Roman’s power sweeps do the exact same thing — we saw Bills RBs break off many long runs on the toss sweep a season ago — which will work wonders for Bush, who still has impressive lateral agility and burst. I noticed him open a few times out of the backfield, too.

Brandon Spikes

Monster in this game. He’s looked like the run-plugging stalwart we saw in 2014 — and before that in New England. Spikes is just so darn wide and plays with so much pop in the run game. The Bills SnapChat posted a picture of Spikes standing next to Jerel Worthy before they boarded the team plan on Friday, and it wasn’t easy to tell who was the linebacker and who was the defensive lineman. I’m serious.

Jerel Worthy

Speaking of this man... he was a disruptive force once again, more so against the run than when Kirk Cousins’ dropped back to pass although he got to the quarterback’s grill on a few instances. Just like he demonstrated at Michigan State, Worthy transfers a noticeably quick burst to immense power in a short area and has aggressive, fundamentally sound hand usage. He’s a lock to start on the Bills defensive line in the regular season.

Richie Incognito

Gotta get some Richie analysis in here. He was his typically stout yet nimble self while playing with the first team early in this game. His ability to pull, locate, then destroy linemen and linebackers alike is key to the outside runs in Roman’s offense. As a pass-protector, Incognito flashed his usual balance and power at the point of attack.

Lorenzo Alexander

Who knew Alexander had pass-rushing moves... and good ones at that? He only has nine sacks in his career and has made his living as a special teams ace. Thrust into considerable starting SAM linebacker duties due to injuries, Alexander has not only set the edge with conviction, but he’s provided some serious pressure on the quarterbacks this preseason. That spin move on Morgan Moses was nasty, and his sack should not have drawn a low-hit flag. Sorry not sorry, Ed.

Walt Powell

#SummerOfWaltPowell. There. Got it in another article. He’s simply proved his ability to make electric plays with the ball in his hands regardless of when that happens all summer. The catch falling out of bounds near on the final drive was gorgeous, and how about the cutback that sprung his long punt return? The latter was an on-field example of his 6.70 three-cone quick-twitch athleticism. Powell is a roster lock and almost assuredly will see the field as a receiver during the regular season.

Seantrel Henderson

It’s been a long road back for Henderson, and we’re all happy he’s able to play again. His preseason debut went probably how some expected — he was underwhelming in pass protection, especially against small, speed rushers.

Lavar Edwards

His inclusion in the stat sheet was one assisted tackle, but the former Dallas Cowboy found his way into the backfield often, against the run and pass. Late in the second quarter, Edwards flaunted his surprising strength by bull-rushing his way right into Cousins’ face. The veteran defensive lineman should make the final 53-man roster as a rotational defender who can play all the defensive line positions.

David Hawthrone

He plays with great speed and authority for a veteran linebacker, yet the missed tackles need to be cleaned up.

Sterling Moore

I’ll group all the missed tackle culprits together. Moore was textbook blowing up a wide receiver screen early in the game. However, he missed a few tackles as well, one of which resulted in a touchdown.

Jonathan Williams

He exemplifies a back who “runs hard.” The overwhelming majority of his runs in the preseason have come behind second-and- third-string offensive linemen, and he’s taken plenty of hits in the backfield. But Williams has played with a strong demeanor and finally got a lane on his 37-yard score. Bouncing off a defender like he did on that scamper was precisely what he did often at Arkansas. He’s a talented runner.

Kroy Biermann

Can’t be an edge-setting run defender and miss arm tackles.

EJ Manuel

When Manuel plays, there are going to be at least two or three ugly tosses or less-than-brilliant decisions. That we know. Last preseason he looked to take a magnificent step in the ever-important pocket-drifting aspect of the quarterback position yet ultimately reverted back to bad habits in the regular season. Last night in Washington, he did some amazing work with his legs when pressure mounted thanks to porous protection from backup offensive linemen. Also, he zinged a few gorgeous tosses over the linebacker and in front of the corner on sideline routes to Greg Little and Powell. EJ is EJ, but he looks more comfortable than ever.

Dez Lewis

The dropped pass early in the game will really hurt his chances to make the roster, especially with the emergence of Powell and the amount of playing time Little has received in the preseason. My guess... Lewis gets cut but is sent back to the practice squad.

Cyrus Kouandjio

His finest preseason showing. Outside of a waist-bending holding call that came after his hands were swiped, Kouandjio was dominant at left tackle in all facets. As I alluded to in the opening preseason game, even if it’s he’s beat initially he has the foot quickness, length and hustle to recover to keep pass-rushers off the quarterback. He’s a legit road-grader in the run game.

Adolphus Washington

On the subject of arm length, Washington’s tentacles are so beneficial to him. He’s bulky and clearly is a gifted athlete. However, his initial, arm-extended punch helps him shed tackles almost effortlessly. Washington was reliable against the run once again.