2012 Countdown to Camp Archive

Every summer leading up to veteran player report day Buffalobills.com asks 25 of the most pressing questions facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. Here those 25 questions as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 24th and Sept. 9th.

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Hope springs eternal every fall for the Bills, and there is a lot of new proven and promising talent that has been added to the roster. Still the question remains as to whether Buffalo can finally end its playoff drought in 2012.

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It's no secret that putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been a major problem for the Bills. Only once in the last five seasons has Buffalo ranked higher than 25th in the league in sacks (2009 – 18th). The 2009 season was also the only time in the last five years that the Bills logged 30 sacks or more (32) as well.

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Buffalo showcased some of its offensive firepower during that time period, and they were able to establish their most important offensive pieces moving forward. Heading into this year it begs the question, who is the most indispensable player on offense?

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#4 - What will be 's role?

After a successful surgical repair of Merriman's Achilles late last season it appears the opportunity to see just what kind of role the three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher might have will come to fruition.

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Position battles are nothing new to the training camp setting and typically the most intriguing ones involve starting roles. While there are some of those that exist for the Bills, there will be a healthy number of eyes focused on the competition involving a pair of quarterbacks, neither of whom has a chance to be the starting signal caller for the team in 2012.

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Despite his success, particularly against New York's Darrelle Revis, Johnson felt there was something missing from his game last season. That something is at the top of his priority list with respect to his personal game heading into 2012.

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There are several established veterans on this defense, but also some young talented players that are prepared to make a name for themselves. The question is who will take that next step and become a playmaker on defense?

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After finishing 25th in total offense and 28th in points in 2010, Buffalo's attack jumped up to 14th in offense and 14th in points per game last season. And that's with a significant second-half slide on the offensive side of the ball in 2011. With a focus on better consistency and some better luck on the injury front, can the Bills be a top 10 offense in 2012?

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[#9 - Can Fitzpatrick be an upper echelon QB?

](http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-2/9---Can-Fitzpatrick-be-an-upper-echelon-QB/72a08536-ff1e-459c-a50d-b17e4e8bed47 "#9 - Can Fitzpatrick be an upper echelon QB?")

"I think Fitz can certainly play to the level that he played at last year when we were 5-2," Chan Gailey told Buffalobills.com. "That's what I expect him to be for the entire season. I think he can do that. I think he will do that. We've got to keep him healthy and make sure we're hitting on all cylinders on offense. I think there's no question that we can achieve lofty goals if we just play the way we're supposed to play."

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Not long after Dave Wannstedt was installed as Buffalo's defensive coordinator the decision was made that the Bills would be moving to a 4-3 defensive front after spending the previous two seasons trying to implement a 3-4 scheme. What's unfortunately remained constant through all those changes is a very poor run defense. Can Wannstedt's new scheme significantly improve the unit's effectiveness in stopping the run?

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Every year there are some surprise talents that emerge at Bills training camp. Entering the third season under Chan Gailey however, the team has advanced to the point where it's less likely that an under the radar type player could impress and make the roster.

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Stevie Johnson has solidified his role as the number one playmaking wide receiver on the Buffalo Bills roster. Question marks still remain as to who will complement him as the team's number two receiver on the opposite side. The Bills unquestionably have talent at the position, but are still waiting for one player to decisively stand out amongst the group.

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When it gets down to the last few decisions a lot of factors can come into play. Player versatility, style of offense or defense and football smarts are just a few of them. One of the positions that is expected to carry a lot of interest in not only who will man certain roles, but how many will be carried on the active roster is the wide receiver position.

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Every NFL player aspires to produce statistics worthy enough to allow themselves the opportunity to be selected to the Pro Bowl. With expectations high heading into this year, the Bills hope to be well represented in Honolulu for the 2013 game.

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It's as good a problem to have if you're a head coach in the NFL. You've got a pair of tailback talents that are both extremely versatile in their skill sets and both show a high rate of big play ability. Both have also proven they are dangerous weapons with the ball in their hands. The only question is how do you split the work on offense between them?

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Their depth is also appreciably better in some areas, but injuries have compromised promising Bills' seasons before. And as hard as GM Buddy Nix has tried to make his roster complete there are still a few areas where if a starter goes down it will be hard to maintain the same level of play.

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#17 - Will have an offensive impact?

Whether it was his 4.41 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine or his playmaking potential, the Bills did not want to let Graham get away from them. That kind of speed is undeniable and should get him on the field, but will he be more than just a deep threat decoy during his rookie season?

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If an NFL club can win its division it removes any worry about tiebreakers and scoreboard watching the last couple of weeks of the regular season. A division title automatically punches a team's ticket to the postseason. Unfortunately for the Bills, Dolphins and Jets the New England Patriots have turned winning division titles into an art form.

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Though he had more than his share of injuries to keep him out of the lineup, over the last three years no other offensive lineman saw even a third of the time at left tackle that Demetress Bell did for the Bills from 2009-2011. In 2012 however, it will be a truly open competition for a role that right now does not have an incumbent, yet is the most important on the offensive line.

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In an offseason where the additions on the defensive side of the ball have largely grabbed the headlines, Buffalo's offense has gone about their business. The question is can the Bills offense take another step forward in their point production to turn more tightly-fought games into victories?

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Players selected in the first round of the NFL draft are expected to be instant contributors, if not starters heading into their first professional season. Bills first round draft choice Stephon Gilmore could easily be a steady role player, but can he be a game changing starting cornerback this season?

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#22 - Can return to form?

He's come back from a severe leg injury already once in his career. Can he again return to form a second time?

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[#23 What position group will adapt to the 4-3 the quickest?

](http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-2/23-What-position-group-will-adapt-to-the-4-3-the-quickest/b1948c54-fbc5-4729-aa5f-50e732776fde "#23 What position group will adapt to the 4-3 the quickest?")

After experimenting with a 3-4 defensive system for two years, the Buffalo Bills are switching back to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Dave Wannstedt is making the change in his first year as the team's defensive coordinator. Each position group will have to adapt to the new defense this season.

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Fortunately the Bills have more than their share of candidates to fill the position. The question is which cornerback will win the job coming out of training camp?

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The Bills addressed some key team needs and added some much needed depth to their roster with their 2012 draft class. This has a lot of people optimistic about the rookies' chances.

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