Keeping track of snap counts is a far less interesting exercise during preseason action than it is during the regular season, but we're going to do it for the Buffalo Bills this exhibition season, anyway. Why? Because there is always something to learn from hard data. The snap counts from last night's 25-24 preseason loss to Carolina is no exception.
That said, the surprises in these numbers are few and far between. You'll come away with a pretty good idea of the rotation, and which players have seen extended looks over others to this point, but not a lot more. The numbers are affected by the large number of players that sat out last night's contest, as well.
Here's what stood out to me:
Offense (81 snaps)
There isn't a ton to see here that's surprising. Felton's number is low, but perhaps only so that the Bills could run multiple-tight end looks to see more of the players there. (They used an extra tight end on roughly 40 percent of snaps last night.) Davis deserves more reps at receiver, but my hunch is that the Bills are trying to hide him from the eyes of other teams' scouts. If you're thinking the Bills will keep a fourth tackle, Darryl Johnson is the clear clubhouse leader, though he struggled against Carolina.
Defense (66 snaps)
It was, at least to me, mildly surprising to see Enemkpali see such a large amount of playing time right away. Sure, he's familiar with the defensive scheme, but the Bills also had a stable of equally-unproven and talented edge rushers that had put in the work for months, only to lose reps to the guy who punched Geno Smith. Seemed a little weird to me. Johnson, in particular, seemed to sacrifice snaps to the Enemkpali cause. The other surprising number? A huge amount of playing time for Steward, the sixth-round rookie who saw twice as much playing time as any other Bills linebacker last night. Take a look at that safety competition, too - that's about as even as rep-splitting can be. That fourth safety job is wide open.
Rather than take a full accounting of everyone's snaps on special teams, which we do in the regular season but is not strictly necessary in the preseason, let's instead just run through a list of numbers that stood out to me.
- RB Bryce Brown (16 snaps): That's a lot of field time for Brown, who blocked on kick returns and covered kicks, as well. If he can play special teams, that will obviously help his cause, but he'll need to prove a lot to surpass Boobie Dixon in that phase.
- TE Chris Gragg (12), MarQueis Gray (10), Nick O'Leary (9): As far as the backup tight end race goes, special teams contributions will be considered as a tie-breaker. Gragg did not play much teams for Danny Crossman last year, but he was the beneficiary of a fairly long look on Friday night.
- ER Randell Johnson (14): Enemkpwa may have stolen Johnson's reps on defense, but Johnson played far more special teams snaps than the rest of the edge-rushing contingent. He's the best athlete out of that group, and he had some solid teams play at the outset of the 2014 season, as well.
- LB Tony Steward (11), A.J. Tarpley (11): If the Bills are going to keep a fourth traditional linebacker on the roster, it's probably going to be one of these two guys. Steward played more than twice as many snaps as Tarpley on defense, which bodes well for him, but neither holds an advantage over the other on special teams yet.
- CB Mario Butler (15): One of training camp's biggest surprises so far is Butler, who might be the favorite to make the team as the sixth cornerback for now. If he does, he won't play on defense much, so he'll have to play on teams, and the team has thus far afforded him an opportunity to earn a role there.
- S Jonathan Meeks (12), Bacarri Rambo (11), Kenny Ladler (9): Just as with Butler, the Bills' fourth safety will have to contribute on special teams on game days. Rambo had a nice tackle and Meeks has been a mainstay for Crossman when healthy in years past, but it's worth pointing out that the little-discussed Ladler ran with the first-unit return and coverage units last night.