CANTON, Ohio – As expected, starters like QB Trent Edwards, WR Terrell Owens and RB Marshawn Lynch made only cameo appearances in the Buffalo Bills' preseason-opener against the Tennessee Titans.
The emphasis was on allowing some of the younger players to get on the field and show their potential. And that surely was the case for second-year RB Xavier Omon.
He carried the ball a game-high 11 times for 36 yards in the Bills' 21-18 loss to the Titans.
Another reason that Omon saw so much action was that newly acquired backup RB Dominic Rhodes did not play Sunday night.
"He was certainly going to play on offense, and was scheduled to return our kicks and our punts early in the game," said Jauron of Rhodes. "We ran him before the game, and (his knee) was just sore. It just didn't make sense for us to put him out there. We also needed to see a good deal of Xavier."
And the Bills certainly did see a good deal of him.
Omon saw that situation as an opportunity to be used to his advantage. He also realizes that, although Lynch's three-game suspension at the start of the regular season is unfortunate, it will be yet another opportunity for Omon to possibly see some playing time.
"It's given me more chances, and I'm hoping the more I do, the more I show I'm prepared, they're going to play me more. So we'll see what happens next time," Omon said. "It's a gift for me, and it's an opportunity for me, and I have to try to take advantage of it. So any chance the coaches give me, I have to show them I can go out there and play."
Last year, Omon weighed 233 pounds, but entering Sunday night's game, he weighed 222 pounds. The weight loss was evident because Omon looked faster through the hole. There are obvious differences in his athleticism and physique that should continue to benefit him greatly.
"I mean, they definitely wanted me to lose weight last year, but I feel a lot better myself having lost the weight," he said. "And I feel like I'm back to how I was my senior year in college, that's when I was at my best, around 222. It's a mixture of losing weight and being more comfortable with the offense. Obviously, when you're skinnier, you can run faster. I lost 10 pounds, so I feel a lot lighter on my feet, on top of knowing the offense a lot better."
Though Omon is feeling more comfortable with the offensive scheme he's still adjusting to mastering the Bills' no-huddle offense. But the early preseason reviews were favorable.
"I thought Xavier played well," Jauron said. "Xavier to me ran like he's been running all year, in our OTAs and in our (training-camp practices). He ran well, he found the holes, he stayed low, he showed power, he moved some people, made some people miss. I was really pleased with Xavier Omon."