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Bills-Bears game preview

The Bills first home preseason game of 2009 will have the Bills hosting the Chicago Bears for a 7pm kickoff at Ralph Wilson Stadium Saturday. This is the 14th time Buffalo and Chicago will meet in preseason play.

It's the first exhibition matchup between the two teams at Ralph Wilson Stadium since 1997, which was won by the Bears (20-17). Chicago has had the upper hand in the preseason series between the two clubs.

In their 13 previous preseason meetings Buffalo has just one victory with an overall record of 1-11-1 against Chicago. Their most recent preseason meeting was in 2005 when the Bills dropped a 16-12 decision.

Playing time
The Bills' starters on both sides of the ball did not play much more than a series or two in their preseason debut last Sunday in the Hall of Fame game. Quarterback Trent Edwards and most of the offense played just nine snaps.

Edwards believes they'll see a bit more action on Saturday.

"We will probably be in a little longer," said Edwards. "Again, you get so mentally ready for the games. I still get butterflies, you still play hard, and it is kind of a letdown when you get taken out of a game. But, it is all part of the preseason. 

"You don't want to get hurt. You want to make sure that you are efficient come regular season.  I feel like we are getting there. We are going to get a few more reps this game."

"We're not looking to play them significantly more than we did a week ago," said head coach Dick Jauron. "If they do, it'd be a few more plays. Then we'll proceed into the preseason kind of along the same lines."

No T.O.Terrell Owens is not going to dress for Saturday's game as his sprained toe has kept him out of practice all week leading up to the game. Edwards admits it will be different without Owens on the field.

"I would like to have him in there in the game just to get used to his mannerisms and what he likes and what he doesn't like and going through game reps again," said Edwards. "That also gives us a chance, and a good thing, to get Josh (Reed) and Roscoe (Parrish) and all of those guys involved in the offense."

Also not expected to dress for the game are S Jairus Byrd, WR James Hardy, WR Steve Johnson, LB Pat Thomas and LB Ashlee Palmer.

A question mark for Saturday is running back Dominic Rhodes. A sore knee kept him out of the preseason opener against Tennessee, but he has been practicing this week.

"It's still bothering me a little bit, but it's nothing," said Rhodes. "I'm going to work through whatever I've got to work through. It's just something that was kind of bothering me a little bit earlier in the summer, and it's just something that I know I've got to work through and eventually it will go away again and I'll be back jumping around."

Free safety Ko Simpson missed practice Thursday night due to a sore ankle, but was participating in Friday's morning practice. Whether he plays on Saturday could be determined in pre-game warm-ups. If he can't go Antwain Spann is expected to fill his role with the second unit.

Players who did not play in the first preseason game that are expected to take the field Saturday are DE Copeland Bryan, OT Brad Butler, DT Marcus Smith and CB Ashton Youboty.

Notable performersSome of the noteworthy performances in the first preseason game last Sunday included quarterback Gibran Hamdan, who led the team in passing with 89 yards on 11-13 passing.

Xavier Omon rushed for a game-high 36 yards against the Titans and also had three receptions.

Felton Huggins led the team in receptions with five, while tight end Jonathan Stupar led the team in receiving yards with 36.

Defensively Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner recorded interceptions, with Corner returning his takeaway 26 yards for a touchdown.

As a unit the Bills had 10 tackles for loss led by George Wilson who had a team high five solo tackles including two for loss.

Defensive tackle Derrick Jones posted the team's only sack in the game.

Kicker Rian Lindell had three field goals.

Cutler revisitedThe Bills saw him last season and he's still wearing orange and blue, but there's a 'C' on the side of his helmet now instead of a bronco. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 359 yards against the Bills in Week 16 last season, but Buffalo won the game 30-23.

"Jay (Cutler) is Jay," said Marcus Stroud. "He is a great quarterback. Last year in Denver and he threw for a whole bunch of yards. Hopefully he doesn't do that this preseason. He is a thinking quarterback, he is very mobile and he has a cannon for an arm."

A strong-armed quarterback however, is just what Buffalo's defensive backs are looking for knowing it will get them sharp for the regular season.

"It's always good to go against a quarterback like that," said Terrence McGee. "You've really got to have some good breaks as a defensive back standpoint if you want to try to make a play on the ball because that ball is coming out quick."

Rookie debuts
For Buffalo's draft class it will be their first game on their new home field. Starting offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre are just two of the rookies excited to come out of the tunnel at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"I've heard a lot of good things about the fans of Buffalo," said Levitre. "I'm ready to see what they're all about and what kind of atmosphere we're going to have this year. It should be fun."

Buffalo homecomingThe Bills will be hosting one of Buffalo's home grown products when the Bears come to town. Chicago cornerback Corey Graham is a Buffalo native and Turner Carroll high school alum. Saturday will mark the first time Graham returns to play in his native city as a professional.

"I went to a lot of games growing up as a kid and was a big-time Bills fan," Graham told "I watched Jim Kelly and all of those guys. So I'm just happy and very excited about going back home."

Graham is expecting 50-60 friends and family members to attend the game.

"Some of them haven't seen me play in a long time, so it's going to be very exciting," Graham told "It's my first time having an opportunity to go back home and play in front of the home fans and a lot of family members, so it's definitely great. It's an opportunity that I've always looked forward to."

Kids day
Prior to the game, the Bills will host Kids Day activities in the Lot C parking lot in front of Ralph Wilson Stadium from 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Parking lots open at 2pm.

The complimentary event will feature an interactive games area, a Buffalo Zoo exhibit, vendor giveaways, photo opportunities, Jills cheerleaders, Billy Buffalo, face painters, clowns, plus ice cream and other food/drink samples. In addition, the first 6,000 kids 14-and-under to enter the game will receive a Trent Edwards growth chart.

Also, in the Lot C parking lot, a Food Network tailgate competition show will be filming their premier episode with Guy Fieri as the host. The show will feature a battle between two top tailgating teams…one from Buffalo, and one from Chicago. Guy Fieri will referee the showdown.

At pregame, the Buffalo Junior Jills cheerleading squad will perform along with the Buffalo Jills. In support of the Kids Day, Delaware North Sport Service and Sahlen's Hot Dogs will provide $1.00 hot dogs and $1.00 sodas in select concourse locations. Immediately following the game, the team will also put on a fireworks display.

Game to air live
For the sixth consecutive year the Kids day game is sold out and will be televised locally. The game will air live Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on WKBW-TV in Buffalo, WHAM-TV in Rochester, WTVH-TV in Syracuse and WBNG in Binghamton. The game will air on a tape-delayed basis on CityTV in Toronto.

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