Two preseason games are left before the Bills begin their regular season with the opener against the Jets. The third preseason game is known for being the dress rehearsal for starters, so here are five players to watch on Friday night.
1. Josh Allen, quarterback
Josh Allen had a sound command of his offense against the Carolina Panthers completing nine of 11 passes for 102 yards. Allen played for two offensive series, his longest completion being a pass to tight end Tommy Sweeney for 25 yards. Head coach Sean McDermott did not specify how much Allen will play on Friday explaining they will take it one series at a time.
“There’s nothing like live reps, game reps,” Allen said. “I appreciate what he’s [Brian Daboll] doing and how he’s helped me progress so far, how this team has helped each other gel and the camaraderie we have right now and how we’re working to become the best version of ourselves every day. Those game reps are invaluable. As many as we get is as many as we’re going to do.”
2. Dawson Knox, tight end
We haven’t seen much out of Dawson Knox in training camp after he suffered a hamstring injury. The past two weeks, Knox has been working his way back to full health. Knox spent the majority of the week practicing at full speed. The third-round tight end said he is excited to participate in his first preseason game.
“It’s just a different flow with the offense when they’re [Dawson Knox and Jason Croom] in there,” Allen said. “It’s fun to have them back. It gives Tommy and Lee [Smith] a little break, I know they were working really hard. Trying to manage all the reps that they were getting. To have those guys back it, solidifies the depth a little bit more there.”
3. Cody Ford, offensive lineman
Cody Ford is one of the linemen who has regularly taken reps at two positions in camp - right tackle and right guard. Ford played mainly right tackle through the first two weeks of training camp before shifting to guard. Taking reps at guard isn’t completely new to Ford as he played that position for part of his college career at Oklahoma.
In the preseason game against the Colts, Ford saw time at guard and tackle playing 18 snaps at guard and 15 at tackle. Against the Panthers, Ford played mainly tackle because Ty Nsekhe did not play. McDermott did not give a definite answer if Nsekhe will be available on Friday as he was limited in practice on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see where Ford spends most of his time on Friday.
“I think it’s been a display of his mental toughness, to come in as a rookie and play two positions and play both of the positions at a high level, not just in practice but in games,” McDermott said. “So, overall it would benefit us, once we get this thing set, to have some consistency and continuity.”
4. John Brown, wide receiver
John Brown received a rest day and did not dress for the Panthers game. The receiver was targeted twice in the first preseason game, making one catch for 10 yards. Brown has been a go-to receiver for quarterback Josh Allen through camp. In the first two preseason games, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has put a pass-happy offense on display. Against Carolina, Allen linked up with receiver Cole Beasley four times on the first offensive series, finishing the night with five catches for 44 yards. Look to see how many times Allen throws Brown’s way in the third preseason game.
5. Matt Milano, linebacker
Missing the final three games of last season due to injury, Milano was motivated in camp to get back to where he was at in 2018. The linebacker racked up 78 tackles and three interceptions in 13 games. Milano received eight snaps against the Colts and 15 against the Panthers. He recorded four tackles against Carolina. The defense will be stronger this year with the trio of Milano, Lorenzo Alexander and Tremaine Edmunds on the field together.