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Bills-Steelers game preview


EJ's first, but other QBs will followEJ Manuel will get his chance to play with the starting offense Saturday afternoon after head coach Rex Ryan decided he'd be the starter against Pittsburgh. Even though the starters are expected to go at least a series into the third quarter Manuel is not going to play as much as the other 10 starting players.

"I'm not backing myself in a corner saying he's getting this amount of plays," said Ryan of Manuel's playing time specifically. "But all three guys will play with the ones. All three of those quarterbacks will have an opportunity to play with the ones."

Manuel figures to get the most time with the starters since he has not seen time with them to this point in the preseason.

"I wanted an opportunity with the first team offense and show what I can do with those guys," said Manuel. "I've had opportunities in practice and I think I've done well with that. Now it's time to carry it over to the game."

Skill positions still leanThe Bills health at running back isn't all that much better from where it was last week against the Browns, but Fred Jackson is ready to go in his return from a hamstring injury.

"Fred is ready to play," said Ryan. "That's huge. I think the reason he got hurt in the first place is he was pushing it. He maxed out and knew we had some guys down. That's who he is. He's a pro man. So it probably doesn't surprise anybody. You guys have been around him for years now. I'm sure he's always been like this."

Bryce Brown, Boobie Dixon and LeSean McCoy are not expected to play Saturday.

At receiver the situation might be worse than last week. Buffalo will be without Chris Hogan (knee, ankle) who was healthy going into last week's game at Cleveland. Ryan also gave indication That Percy Harvin, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods will all sit Saturday's game out.

"We'll probably err on the side of caution," said Ryan. "We're going to be cautious on some of those guys."

Defensive communicationBuffalo's starting defense won't be unveiling any of their anticipated exotic looks that Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman likely have saved up for the regular season. If there is one focus they have for Saturday's game it's being on the same page before the snap.

A lot of teams have tried to no-huddle Buffalo's defense in the preseason and catch them off guard.

"I think that's going to be the main thing for us," said Kyle Williams. "I think that's going to be something that would be the thing that would hold us back. If we're not sharp on our communication and our checks of what we can get in and out of. We have to sharp on that. If we can get in the right position pre-snap I think we'll  be okay."

One other area they'll be looking to tighten up is their fundamentals when it comes to getting ball carriers on the ground.

"Just better tackling," said Preston Brown. "We had so many missed tackles, me included. That's where we have to step up is have sure tacklers to make sure we get them down."

The opponentThere's no debating that the Steelers have a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, but it didn't keep Pittsburgh from making waves at the quarterback position. The Steelers signed veteran free agent Michael Vick after backup QB Bruce Gradkowski was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated finger on his throwing hand.

"Landry (Jones) has been helping me learn the offense and giving me tips here and there," said Vick. "He's a great teammate and we're going to try to get through this the best way we can. I think in this offense I can do some great things as long as I keep learning."

Vick is hoping to play in Saturday's game, but has not yet been told whether he will see any playing time having only been with the Steelers for all of four days.

"Whatever coach (Mike Tomlin) decides," said Vick. "If he's comfortable with me getting back out there then yeah, I'm all for it. If not, then definitely next week."

Pittsburgh sustained a couple of significant injuries in their 24-19 win over Green Bay last week. Starting C Maurkice Pouncey suffered an ankle injury that required surgery and is out indefinitely. Meanwhile starting DE Stephon Tuitt also sustained an ankle injury and is expected to be out a couple of weeks.

In the win over the Packers, the Steelers defense looked as good as usual. The unit, which is now under the direction of new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, logged six sacks in the victory. 

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