Last week, we took at look at some of the Buffalo Bills’ on-going position battles and how the team’s upcoming preseason game might reset the various competitions. Now that we’ve moved past the game, it’s time for an update on how the four position battles may have changed since the preseason victory.
Although it was only the first game of the preseason, fans can at least begin to draw some conclusions from the action. Below is how we think the Bills’ 24-16 win affects some of the starting positions that are currently up for grabs:
Outside of the five wide receivers who are virtual locks for the roster, it was Cam Phillips, Ray-Ray McCloud III and especially Isaiah McKenzie who stood out during the game. While Phillips came down with the only receiving touchdown of the night and McCloud has had the better training camp, McKenzie actually led the team in receiving yards with two long receptions, having a chance to show off his strong hands. It was not a good night for the likes of Duke Williams, David Sills V and Nick Easley. All three players were victims of Tyree Jackson misfires and only saw limited time towards the end of the game.
Ty Nsekhe (and by extension Cody Ford) seems to have thrown a “wrench” into the plans for the right guard position. It appears that the veteran has played so well at right tackle that he’s forcing the coaching staff’s hand. With Nsekhe starting at right tackle, that pushed second-round rookie Cody Ford into the right guard spot in place of presumed competitors Jon Feliciano and Spencer Long. Ford played decently, considering he hasn’t had much practice at the position. Should this situation hold, it looks like the rookie could be the starting right guard Week 1 against the New York Jets.
Before the game, I said that backup corner Kevin Johnson would need to make some conspicuous plays if he was going to unseat Levi Wallace for his starting position. While the former Houston Texans CB had a few tackles, he didn’t come down with any pass breakups or interceptions against Indianapolis. The coaches seemed content to have their corners play off coverage, keep everything in front of them and make tackles. Its looking more and more like Wallace has this competition sewn up.
As predicted, Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox and Jason Croom were all declared out for the game. This meant rookie Tommy Sweeney saw the lion’s share of snaps at tight end. Unfortunately, despite being targeted twice in the passing game, he wasn’t able to come down with either. That type of performance isn’t the type to force the coach’s hand into giving him time with the starters once Dawson Knox and Jason Croom come back from injury.