The Buffalo Bills open their 2019 preseason slate tonight against the Indianapolis Colts. Preseason performances often are essential in determining which players deserve to become starters at certain positions, and the coaching staff has no shortage of battles to evaluate this preseason.
Head coach Sean McDermott recently stressed the importance of the preseason games himself:
“Sometimes it just takes these guys time, multiple exposures to environment, to game, to the NFL speed, for them to show you the best versions of themselves,” said McDermott
The Bills have several competitions going on this year that fans should keep an eye on tonight. Listed below are the ones to watch.
Five wideouts are virtual locks for the final roster at this point in time: John Brown, Cole Beasley, Zay Jones, Robert Foster, and return man Andre Roberts. Assuming the Bills keep six wideouts on their roster, that leaves only one open position left for a mix of players that includes Ray-Ray McCloud III, Cam Phillips, Duke Williams and Isaiah McKenzie, as well as rookies David Sills V and Nick Easley. McCloud impressed at Fisher, but whomever manages to standout against the Colts in a live game situation will receive a significant boost compared to their peers.
Newcomers Jon Feliciano and Spencer Long were locked into a battle at right guard during camp before both suffered injuries. Now that they’re both healthy, the second round of the competition can begin in earnest. Feliciano is listed as the starter on the team’s unofficial depth chart, with Long listed as the backup center. A positive performance tonight, though, may see the Bills officially declaring Feliciano the winner imminently. Of course, Cody Ford could swoop in and steal the spot. The second-round pick was moved over from tackle earlier this week.
With early reports coming out of camp listing corner Kevin Johnson as a clear standout, it was thought that he would push Levi Wallace for starting snaps. That never seemed to pass during the team’s stay in Rochester, so Johnson will need to really make himself heard against the Colts. Playing lockdown coverage and coming up with a big play or two might be too much to ask, but that may be his only chance to fully sway the coaches at this point.
With Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox and Jason Croom all nursing respective injuries, Tommy Sweeney and even Nate Becker have stacked good practices together, by all accounts. Assuming all three aforementioned players are left out of the Colts game, that gives Sweeney and Becker a monstrous opportunity to persuade the coaches that they deserve to not only make the team, but see the field during the regular season.