It's expected to be the most extensive playing time for the starters as the Washington Redskins play host to the Bills Saturday at FedEx Field for a 4:30 pm kickoff. Head coach Doug Marrone and his staff are just looking for consistent play from the starters knowing it's their final lengthy dress rehearsal for the regular season.
"Again they've got to be ready to play the whole game and I tell that to the whole team," said Marrone. "There will be a point where we'll look to see where we are with the starters and how far we want to take them. I don't think it's a secret. I think most teams usually play them a little bit more. I won't look at it as far as a unit. I'll look at it player to player."
The players recognize the importance of the third preseason game. C.J. Spiller is hopeful they can nail down all their assignments and play error free football.
"This is the last time we'll play again until September," he said. "So we've just got to make sure we come out sharp and don't have too many mental mistakes. That's the biggest thing and we're really trying to get our tempo going. That's the biggest thing we're trying to accomplish in this game so we're sharp and ready to go come September."
Kolb looks to take next stepAfter knocking the rust off in his first game action since Week 6 of the 2012 season last Friday against Minnesota, Kevin Kolb is eager to pick up where he left off last week in the 20-16 win over the Vikings.
"That's what I want to do," said Kolb. "My body feels a lot better. It's good to get healthy. I just keep pressing. Again this is all for game one against the Pats. Win, lose or draw we'll just keep working and keep pushing toward that goal."
Offensive players want to get more work with Kolb in a live setting knowing there's a possibility he's lining up with them Week 1 against New England.
"I think any time you're able to watch a quarterback get consistent reps with the same group of guys, they're going to be more comfortable, they're going to be more successful," said Scott Chandler. "I think that Kevin's had a good last couple of days here and hopefully we can go out and execute in the game."
Kolb is glad he'll be facing Washington's starting defense for most of his time on the field because he still wants more exposure to live game speed after such a long layoff from last season.
"For me missing a little bit of time a lot of it is about the speed of the game," said Kolb. "It's good for me to get out there and have the game slow down for me some so when I get to Week 1, and we get to Week 1 we have everything ready. And we feel comfortable with all the plays we have in and when your mind is comfortable you can read and react a lot quicker."
Stevie, T.J. to play
For the first time this preseason two of Buffalo's top receivers will be in the lineup together as T.J. Graham and Stevie Johnson have both returned from injury and will play Saturday.
"It'll be nice to get out there with the guys and get the first game action under my belt," said Johnson. "It was like my first practice where I was moving almost too fast for my own good. So it'll be good to just get the first game out of the way and get that feel."
Coming off of injury it's expected that Graham and Johnson will be on a strictly monitored play count by the coaching staff, much like Scott Chandler and others.
Mario expected to playHe did not play in the Minnesota preseason game last week after he played sparingly at Indianapolis, but Mario Williams is expected to see game action Saturday against the Redskins.
"He feels pretty good," said Marrone. "I think it's one of those things where we just keep going. We know we want him 110 percent healthy for the season so we're just being smart and it's just a matter of a pitch count and how many plays we want to put him in there."
Corners backFor the first time this preseason Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers will see game action. A groin problem kept McKelvin sidelined, while Rogers is finally back healthy from a hamstring injury. Both of them worked their way back into the practice setting this week and figure to see limited action.
Also set to return is Crezdon Butler, who after a strong preseason opener at Indianapolis was unable to against Minnesota. He's since returned to practice and he too will be seeing limited work.
"It'll be on a (play) count," said Marrone of the cornerbacks. "A lot of it is when you get those type of injuries I like to make sure I talk to the player. He might be cleared for a practice, but now a game situation like last week we worked out Butler before the game and it was still a little tight. So we're not going to throw him out there because we want to see what they can do at 100 percent and be as competitive as possible so we can make the best decisions as possible for our club."
Butler is competing for a roster spot after spending a good portion of last season on Buffalo's practice squad. Another strong showing against Washington could land him a spot on the 53-man roster.
EJ outOut for the game is rookie QB EJ Manuel. Following knee surgery he's out for at least the remainder of the preseason. Also not expected to play is OLB Kourtnei Brown. DT Jay Ross is questionable after leaving the team for the birth of his daughter Wednesday.
The opponentThe Bills won't be the only team shorthanded at quarterback. Washington will be without Robert Griffin III as he is still rehabbing from his devastating knee injury in last year's playoffs. His backup Kirk Cousins, who started this past Monday against Pittsburgh sustained a foot injury and is not expected to play either.
"I know we'll evaluate it day by day," said Washington head coach Mike Shanahan. "I think it'll be a long shot for Saturday, but we'll wait and see."
That means veteran Rex Grossman and Pat White will split the snaps against the Bills Saturday night.
Washington is coming off a 24-13 win over Pittsburgh this past Monday and like the Bills the Redskins are 2-0 in the preseason. In fact the Redskins have won their last five preseason games dating back to 2012.
Coming off a short week, Shanahan still intends to play his starters into the third quarter.
"That's why everybody the majority of the team played in the first half last week offensively and defensively," he said. "We've got a lot of work in the second game and with the short week we'll (still) probably play as much we normally do in the third game."
Washington also lost highly underrated NT Barry Cofield to a broken hand Monday night. His status for Saturday's preseason game is up in the air.
"If we were playing a regular season game this weekend he would play," said Shanahan. "I can't tell you for sure exactly what we're going to do, but I'd say it'll be a long shot if we play him. We'll see how he feels after putting it in a cast."
While the score on the board favored Washington they did not demonstrate great ball security losing a pair of fumbles and posting a pair of interceptions for four total turnovers. What helped was Pittsburgh had three turnovers of their own leading to 14 points for Washington, the difference in the game's final score. Buffalo and Washington squared off last summer in the preseason. The Redskins won that game 7-6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.