The Buffalo Bills head down the interstate to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Steel City this Saturday. It’s Week 2 of NFL Preseason football, and Bills Mafia will finally get to see quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs in action outside of a camp/practice setting. For a bit, at least.
Head coach Sean McDermott informed the media that his team’s starters would play around a quarter and a half, give or take. This is actually a bit of a departure for at least Josh Allen from last preseason, when he played just one series in leading the offense on a very quick and efficient touchdown drive.
Everyone in the world knows what One Bills Drive has in Allen and Diggs, but it’s important to give them time to ramp up to game action. Playing this week helps that effort. It’s impossible to replicate the in-game feel in practice, no matter how intense those sessions get.
And intense they became this past week. Linebacker Tyrel Dodson was an oft-reported participant in team arguments — two heated-enough situations that compelled the media to report on, and that involved Josh Allen and Dion Dawkins on separate days.
Fresh of the team’s PUP list, will we see linebacker Tyler Matakevich makes his 2023 debut with the Bills — against his former team? Safety Damar Hamlin makes yet another return to his hometown black and gold, and all those in attendance are certain to give Hamlin a standing, roaring ovation.
As is typical of preseason games, guys will continue battling with everything in them for a spot on the final 53. But even then, it’s often a process to continue proving you belong on the active roster throughout the season. Many players next snaps aren’t guaranteed, for myriad reasons. That’s why preseason football is important, allowing players to string together consistent play that catches the right coach’s eye.
While winning is always fun, and the Bills have had a near-perfect preseason record under McDermott, the real value is found within individual snaps, and gaining more perspective about a player’s potential role in the regular season.
Following Saturday’s game, the Bills play one more preseason game against the Chicago Bears on August 26. Final roster cut downs from 90 to 53 must be completed by end of business on August 29.