The fourth game of the NFL’s preseason is typically a rest game for the starters on both teams, as the last thing a coach wants is to lose a key player to an injury in a game that doesn’t count in the standings.
So when the Buffalo Bills (1-2) travel to take on the Chicago Bears (2-2) at 8 p.m. tonight at Soldier Field, Bills fans shouldn’t expect to see much (if any) action from veterans like LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde.
What’s at stake in the fourth and final preseason game? A spot on either the 53-man roster or the practice squad, as the players who are fighting for a valuable roster spot will have one last chance to impress head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane.
There are many positional battles that are still undecided, and much of the team’s depth chart is still unsettled.
When the preseason began, AJ McCarron was vying for Buffalo’s starting quarterback, but as the preseason winds down, there are rumblings that McCarron could be traded after a lackluster preseason performance (and after rookie Josh Allen and second-year man Nathan Peterman exceeded expectations).
Most notably among the other positions, the team still is seeking clarity on the wide receiver pecking order (outside of Benjamin, Zay Jones, Jeremy Kerley, and Andre Holmes); tight end (will Buffalo keep either Nick O’Leary, Keith Towbridge, or Khari Lee as insurance policies behind Charles Clay and Jason Croom?); defensive end (after a strong start to the preseason, will Mike Love or Terrence Fede crack the roster as valuable depth?); defensive tackle (can Adolphus Washington or Rickey Hatley show enough vs. the Bears to secure a roster spot?); in the secondary (where do Dean Marlowe, Rafael Bush, Siran Neal, Taron Johnson, and Lafayette Pitts fit in the team’s plans); and, at punter, where Colton Schmidt’s up-and-down preseason prompted the team to bring in veteran Jon Ryan as competition.
Just because the usual starters won’t be playing as much as on a normal game day/night, doesn’t mean this game isn’t worth watching for the above-mentioned roster developments.
Go ahead and post your observations around the starters and their replacements in the comments below as the game plays out.