The Bills will be looking to build on the many positives that came out of their most recent preseason performance last week against the Colts when they host the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday evening (6:30 pm kickoff). With this the team's third preseason game, the starters are expected to see their most extensive playing time.
"I think we'll be out there a little bit longer," said Trent Edwards. "I think we'll have a chance to find our rhythm and try to get in sync with everybody. There's a little more emphasis placed on this game. Our game plan might be a little bit bigger and we've watched a little bit more film on these guys. They've played three preseason games already, so we kind of know what they're doing. Again, they're probably going to show us some different looks and we'll be in there long enough to get our feet wet and to get in rhythm."
Two starters who will not be in the lineup quite as long are left tackle Demetrius Bell and right guard Eric Wood. The amount of playing time for both offensive linemen has been closely monitored all preseason, and that's not expected to change Saturday night.
"We're going to try to be smart with those guys, especially Demetrius," said head coach Chan Gailey. "Eric can probably go a little bit longer. Demetrius we're going to try to be very, very smart with as we continue to develop him and get him ready for the season."
QB rotationGailey seems intent on letting only his team know what the quarterback rotation will be for Saturday's preseason game.
The Bills sideline boss said he knows what his quarterback lineup will be, but chose not to disclose it for public consumption.
Trent Edwards is expected to start and play with the first unit. Who takes over after that is anyone's guess.
Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick have only played in one preseason game each to this point. Fitzpatrick served as the second quarterback in Washington and Brohm served the same role against Indianapolis.
Nailing down rolesSaturday figures to be the last major opportunity for players to lock up starting jobs, like current number two wideout Steve Johnson.
"We should see a lot of time, but it's still preseason and there's still work to be done like always," said Johnson. "But when we go out there, we've got to show what we can do now. We'll be playing probably three quarters, maybe. We've got to give the fans something and let the coach know that we can make this happen for a full game."
Other projected starters looking to solidify their roles are tight end Jonathan Stupar and inside linebacker Andra Davis.
Roster decisionsAs important as the game will be for the starters, it will also serve a purpose for the reserve players, who are battling for roles on the team.
The first roster cuts will take place on Aug. 31 when the roster must be reduced to 75. Buffalo currently has 78 players on their preseason squad, so only three players will need to be waived. Nevertheless Gailey is not expecting those choices to be easy ones.
"Decisions are going to be tough in a lot of places," he said. "There are some places that are pretty much locked up, but the backups there are some great fights for those spots."
The opponentFor the Bengals, Saturday night's game will be preseason game number four instead of three as is the case for the Bills. Cincinnati played against Dallas in the Hall of Fame game and have five preseason games this summer. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is not planning on playing his starters in the second half, but he doesn't mind the extra preseason game.
"It has been great for our young players," said Lewis. "They have an opportunity to show when the lights come on now. They're handling the situation better, and getting accustomed to playing football at this level. There's only one way to do it in the NFL, and that's to do it out there on the field. You can't simulate it. You can't talk about it. You have to go do it and these guys are getting a real shot at that."
Buffalo had five preseason games last preseason due to their appearance in the Hall of Fame game.
The Bengals are 2-1 in the preseason with wins over Denver (33-24) and Philadephia (22-9). Their only loss was in the Hall of Fame game to Dallas (16-7).
Out for Saturday's game is OLB Rashad Jeanty and free safeties Gibril Wilson and Tom Nelson. Not expected to play is WR Antonio Bryant, OT Anthony Collins, SS Chinedum Ndukwe, WR Maurice Purify, CB Johnny Sears, CB Morgan Trent, FB Fui Vakapuna and SS Roy Williams.
Cincinnati could enter the game without three of their top four safeties.
T.O. encoreAfter the Bills declined to offer Terrell Owens a new contract for the 2010 season, the veteran wide receiver will still be appearing in Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Bills' first preseason game in Orchard Park.
Owens signed a one-year contract with Cincinnati late last month. He, along with teammate Chad Ochocinco have been tweeting back and forth with Bills safety Donte Whitner about what might happen in the upcoming game.
"I'm looking forward to seeing T.O. and (Chad) Ochocinco," said Whitner. "He sent me a couple messages on Twitter. It's all a lot of fun, but when we go out there on the football field we expect to go out there and have a great showing against those guys. We feel like we're one of the top secondaries in the National Football League and we have to go out and show it each and every Sunday."
Owens likes his new surroundings in Cincinnati and with his close friend Ochocinco as his teammate, he feels young again, despite the reality that he's in the twilight of his career.
"Chad has put it in perspective for me going into my last years of playing," said Owens. "Just enjoy football. That's what I intend to do. I'm going to enjoy this year as much as I can. That's what being around Chad has really allowed me to do. I'm not going to play forever. I know I have a small window left."
The last timeBuffalo and Cincinnati produced a very high scoring affair in their last preseason meeting. On Aug. 19, 2006 the two teams exploded for 44 first half points at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills got touchdowns from Willis McGahee and Lee Evans, who had scoring plays of 61 and 46 yards respectively. Rian Lindell also chipped in on the first half scoring with a 51-yard field goal from Rian Lindell.
The Bills however, trailed by 10 points at the half (27-17), thanks in large part to a fumble and an interception both of which were returned for touchdowns by the Bengals. Four total turnovers by the Bills ultimately did them in as they led to 20 points for Cincinnati in a 44-31 Bengals victory. Evans led all receivers with 115 yards on three receptions.