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Top 3 things we learned from Bills-Vikings

Posted Aug 10, 2017

There were a number of things learned from Thursday night's preseason opener, but here were the three items that stood out from Buffalo's first outing under Sean McDermott.

1 - Yarbrough looks like diamond in the rough
Bills defensive line coach Mike Waufle kept a watchful eye on Eddie Yarbrough as he did not make the Denver Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie last summer. Signed by the Bills this past April, Yarbrough has made more of his opportunity than perhaps anyone on Buffalo’s roster.

After a strong week and a half at training camp that has seen him rise to second team on the depth charter, the masses saw Yarbrough dominate in the first half of the team’s preseason opener.

Starting in place of the injured Shaq Lawson at left defensive end, Yarbrough was consistently winning his one-on-one battle with Vikings RT Mike Remmers. Whether it was turning the corner or working back inside, Yarbrough was the most frequent disrupter of the Minnesota passing game.

“A young player who has worked extremely hard,” said McDermott of Yarbrough. “This wasn’t the first time that he has flashed. He earns it. He really does. That’s going to personify or typify our football team. He’s one of the first ones in the team meeting every morning and he’s got flash cards and he’s drilling himself mentally. So his success on the field tonight is not a surprise to those that know him and I’m really happy for him.”

He finished with three tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. There were a handful of other plays where he was hurrying the timing of the Minnesota pass game.

“Eddie’s a hard-worker,” said fellow defensive end Jerry Hughes. “I’m so happy to see his success (Thursday night). He puts in a lot of hard work throughout the week. So I’m super happy for him and hope he can keep it up.”

Yarbrough spearheaded a pass rushing effort that racked up three sacks and five quarterback hits Thursday night.

With his first two weeks of camp and his standout performance against the Vikings, Yarbrough has put himself in excellent position to not only be on the team’s 53-man roster, but to be the first defensive end off the bench in the rotation on Sundays.

But Yarbrough isn’t assuming anything yet.

“Definitely headed in the right direction,” he said. “As Kyle (Williams) tells me, it’s never a destination it’s a journey. You’ve got to flush this game and keep building, keep stacking good days and another good day.  Eventually you get to where you want to go.”  

2 - Jonathan Williams is a very capable backup
The backup running back role was a vacant one for the Bills entering camp. The favorite was Jonathan Williams, and through the spring he fared well. But when the pads went on Williams has raised his game.

On Thursday night, Williams put his game on display. He showed good vision and showed he can be elusive despite being a more squarely built back than feature back LeSean McCoy.

“He’s always been a patient runner,” said Tyrod Taylor. “That’s one of the things I told him when I first met him, I love his patience in the backfield. He’s a shifty runner.  Once he sees a hole he gets downfield fast. It’s good to see him going out there and creating plays in the running game. It was big for us.”

Williams had 39 yards on four carries and added a seven-yard reception as he started in place of McCoy, who saw no action Thursday.

“I was impressed,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He ran hard, secured the ball and we have to evaluate the whole game though. What happens in pass protection and we’ll get a better chance to do that tomorrow. That said I thought he did some good things with the ball in his hand.”

Williams looks to not only have a firm grip on the backup running back job, but has shown he can serve as a more than capable complement to McCoy.

The only unfortunate thing was he sustained a strained hamstring in the game, the severity of which was not known after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated Friday.

3 - Offensive tempo was brisk
It wasn’t the no huddle offense, but offensive coordinator Rick Dennison wanted his offense to operate at a specific tempo. On Thursday night that tempo was fast.

Buffalo’s starting offense was breaking the huddle with 25 to 28 seconds left on the play clock and snapping the ball usually with 20 seconds or more.

“I thought we got off to a good start on offense that way. Really the offense was just in a rhythm,” said McDermott. “Tyrod was going through his progressions.”

“I felt like I got the ball out on time,” said Taylor. “As an offense, we moved the ball up and down the field.  We wanted to score on one of those drives but I think we ran the ball well and I think we were efficient as far as passing the ball.” 

Taylor and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have been working hard on speeding up Taylor’s release time knowing it aids in the functionality of the rest of the offense.

“It really helps. It helps everything else,” said Richie Incognito. “It helps with the timing. Really getting the ball out quick gives us a break up front. Not having to hold on and block forever. It really lets us get in a rhythm with those quick jump plays.”