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Bills-Browns game preview


It was a solid performance in their preseason debut even though the result wasn't what the Bills wanted. Preseason test number two comes against the team they've practiced against earlier in the week as they face the Browns in Cleveland in primetime on ESPN.

Taylor's big opportunityThursday night is Tyrod Taylor's greatest opportunity to prove he can be a capable starting quarterback for the Bills. Taylor will get the start against the Browns and is expected to see at least a quarter of playing time and probably more.

"I'm excited for it and I can't wait to play," said Taylor. "I think all those years that I spent in Baltimore being behind Joe (Flacco) prepared me for this opportunity that I have now and I'm taking everything that I've learned previously and I'm putting it towards my game. Just taking it day by day and showing the coaches what I can do."

Taylor is coming off a game in which he passed for 49 yards and rushed for 47. He's just looking to build on his performance against Carolina last week.

"Continue to be consistent," he said. "Get the ball to the playmakers efficiently and just continue to go out there and be me. Command the offense, move the guys up and down the field and take control."

EJ Manuel is expected to see the most extensive work after Taylor with potentially up to a half of work in the game.

Running back shortageThe Bills rushed for over 200 yards in their first preseason game, but the running back contingent was extraordinarily shorthanded this week due to injury. The situation only got worse on Tuesday when they lost LeSean McCoy to a hamstring injury.

Despite signing undrafted rookie Ricky Seale to boost the running back numbers, they signed another in Cierre Wood Wednesday just to get back to three healthy running backs. Wood joins Seale and Bronson Hill, another undrafted rookie. The three backs will be putting in a lot of study sessions with running backs coach Anthony Lynn over the next two days.

"Cramming. You know like, college or high school how you cram for an exam that you didn't study for, it's pretty much what I've been doing for just the playbook," said Hill. "So it's pretty much just practice and trying to learn the playbook."

Boobie Dixon (calf), Fred Jackson (hamstring), Bryce Brown (hamstring) and Karlos Williams (surgical procedure) are all out for Thursday's game in addition to McCoy.

As much as the rookie backs did not want to see the more experienced backs go down, they do see a special opportunity for themselves.

"It's quite the dream come true," said Hill. "Two weeks ago I was just sitting on the couch waiting for a call and now I can possibly start an NFL game. It's what I asked for so now it's up to me to do something with it."

Offensive limitationsAs much as Hill and Seale are doing to learn as much of the playbook as possible the facts are that a lot of what Buffalo's offense would like to work on and execute in Thursday night's game that will be compromised by not having many backs and not having any backs who have an extensive knowledge of the offensive system.

In addition Buffalo is expected to be short a few receivers with Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins both missing time in practice this week.

"You know we're still going to be competing and going hard and everything else," said head coach Rex Ryan. "But are we going to be limited, absolutely we'll be limited."

New additionsIn addition to the aforementioned Seale and Cierre Wood, there have been a few other roster additions since the Bills played in their first preseason game last Friday. Buffalo has also signed DL Red Bryant, DL Quentin Groves and CB Ellis Lankster this week.  

The new players are all expected to suit up for Thursday's game.

The opponentThe Browns dropped their first preseason game 20-17 to the Washington Redskins. Cleveland's offense struggled after their opening touchdown drive against Washington. They had just 170 total net yards for the game with just 45 yards on the ground.

Cleveland got an encouraging performance from backup QB Johnny Manziel, who was 7-11 passing for 42 yards and a rushing touchdown. Starter Josh McCown was 5-5 passing for 33 yards and a touchdown.

The Browns defense gave up four drives of nine plays or more to Washington including a pair of touchdown drives. Cleveland tried to fortify their defensive front using two of their first three draft choices on NT Danny Shelton and OLB Nate Orchard.

The Cleveland secondary could be shorthanded Thursday night. During the practices with the Bills, the Browns were without Pro Bowl CB Joe Haden, Pro Bowl S Tashaun Gipson, CB Pierre Desir and CB K'Wuan Williams.

The Bills hosted the Cleveland Browns for joint practices at St. John Fisher College in advance of their 2015 preseason game in Cleveland.

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