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5 players to watch: Bills-Bucs

Posted Aug 23, 2014

We’ve targeted some key starters who will try to put themselves in a position to lock down their respective roles for good.

It’s a game where the starters are expected to see their most extensive action. With that in mind we’ve targeted some key starters who will try to put themselves in a position to lock down their respective roles for good.

1. Corey Graham - Head coach Doug Marrone insisted that Graham is still a cornerback first and foremost, but he’s likely to see time at safety as the coaching staff gauges just how versatile the veteran defensive back could be for them this season. He may also see time at corner Saturday night knowing Leodis McKelvin’s availability is in doubt due to a groin injury.

2. Chris Hogan - He’s held on to the starting slot receiver role for much of training camp, but Robert Woods has been coming on like a freight train since week two of training camp and has been the offense’s most consistent receiver ever since. Knowing Woods’ versatility, putting him in a primary slot role might not be prudent anyway, but Hogan needs to have a good showing to cement the role.

3. Erik Pears - Shifted inside to right guard this week, the veteran lineman will be playing guard in a game for the first time since Week 4 of the 2009 season when he was with Oakland. Pears has just two career starts at guard, but fared well in practice. This game however, will say a lot about whether he remains there.

4. Da'Norris Searcy - Searcy has been able to stave off competition from the likes of Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks in the battle for the safety role alongside starter Aaron Williams. His performance in this game figures to go a long way in nailing down the job once and for all.

5. Brandon Spikes - The Bills starting middle linebacker is getting some stiff competition from rookie Preston Brown, who has made great progress. Brown is a prime candidate to fill one of the outside linebacker spots in Week 1 knowing Nigel Bradham won’t be available, but how the playing time is split between Spikes and Brown Saturday will bear watching.