The preseason opponent Buffalo has seen more than any other in their history will be on the other sideline Thursday night as the Detroit Lions host the Bills for a 6:30 pm kickoff. This is the 29th meeting between the Bills and Lions in the preseason and the ninth straight preseason in which they have faced one another.
Buffalo and Detroit will meet again in the regular season in Week 10 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Playing timeThe starters for Buffalo will see significantly less time than they did in last weekend's preseason game against Cincinnati. When asked if the starters would see more than a few series of work, head coach Chan Gailey indicated that was unlikely.
"Probably not, unless plans change between now and then, I don't see them playing much past the first quarter anyway," Gailey said.
The offense, defense and special teams will all look to be tightening up their execution for the regular season.
"You always try to finish the preseason in rhythm and moving the ball and converting on third down and not making stupid mistakes, and I feel like we've been doing that for the most part," said Trent Edwards. "But the preseason is kind of a no win situation because it doesn't really count. It'll help hopefully come week one during the season."
Inside linebacker Andra Davis had a few specific points of emphasis for the defense.
"We've got to get a better pass rush," he said. "We've got to have tighter coverage. Everything is hand-in-hand. It's not one spot. We're all in it together. When we all do good, we all look good. When we look bad, we all look bad together. We still have a lot of work to do."
Gailey offered no hints as to what the quarterback rotation would be after Edwards night is over with the starting lineup.
Lynch in the lineupOne prominent player that could see a bit more action is Marshawn Lynch.* *After missing all but one series of the preseason slate due to an ankle injury, Lynch is expected to be in the Bills lineup Thursday night after coming through practice well Tuesday.
"Marshawn took quite a few reps (Tuesday) and looked good," said Gailey. "He didn't look like there were any residual effects so we're looking forward to seeing him Thursday night."
Last chanceThursday night's game is also the last chance for some rookies and other reserve players to leave a lasting impression on the coaching staff as they fight for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
"Knowing it's the last game I'll just try to give it my all and do everything I need to do," said receiver Naaman Roosevelt. "They told us we're going to run a lot and do a lot of special teams. I'm ready for the challenge. I haven't played a whole game in a long time. So I'm definitely ready for that to see what I can do."
"I love the pressure," said running back Joique Bell. "The more the coaches give me the more I know they're looking for a lot out of me. So I'm going to go out there and give it my all."
"There are some big decisions to be made," said Gailey. "There is a lot still out there and quite a bit will ride on this ball game for a few guys. Not necessarily a lot of the starter guys, but more of the other guys."
The opponentThe Lions are coming off a 35-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns last Saturday. Much like the Bills, the Lions have had good success running the ball as they netted 154 yards on the ground in their last outing averaging almost six yards per carry. It was a big rebound performance for the Detroit offense as they finished the game a perfect 4-4 on red zone opportunities after struggling the week before.
The Detroit starters are not expected to play as much in the preseason finale as they did in their game last weekend.
While the Bills are enjoying the exploits of C.J. Spiller, Detroit has a new ultra-quick running back in second-round draft choice Jahvid Best, who had a 51-yard run and a 10-yard reception that led to a Lions touchdown in the victory last weekend. Last season's feature back Kevin Smith, along with second-year back Aaron Brown, also had good performances in the last preseason outing for Detroit.
Starting safety Louis Delmas is working his way back from a groin injury and was limited to 20-25 plays the Lions' last preseason game. He's questionable for the preseason finale.
The team signed veteran free agent LB Rocky Boiman on Monday and he's expected to play both inside and outside linebacker. Last Friday the club signed safety and former Bill John Wendling.
Not expected to play in the preseason finale for the Lions are starting LB DeAndre Levy (groin), safeties C.C. Brown (forearm) and Ko Simpson (knee).
The last timeThe Bills dropped a 17-6 decision to the Lions to close out their 2009 preseason at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Ryan Fitzpatrick played the first half going 9-17 for 78 yards, but was unable to convert a Reggie Corner 52-yard interception return into points as he was intercepted before the Bills could reach the end zone.
Trailing 7-0 entering the third quarter Steve Johnson had a pair of big receptions for 27 and 33 yards respectively to set up a 1st-and-goal situation at the eight-yard line. The drive resulted in a 24-yard Rian Lindell field goal to pull Buffalo to within four (7-3) late in the third quarter.
But the Lions outscored the Bills 10-3 in the final stanza to post the 11-point win (17-6).