1 – New Era Field crowd draws national attention
On New Year's Eve 2017, Bills fans were glued to their televisions hoping that the Cincinnati Bengals would defeat the Baltimore Ravens to send the Bills back to the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons. On fourth-and-12 from the Ravens 49-yard line, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton fired a laser of a pass to wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a touchdown. The score broke the playoff drought for Buffalo, and to repay Dalton for his late-game heroics, Bills fans donated over $450,000 to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation.
Yesterday, Dalton took the field in Buffalo to face off against the Bills in a preseason contest, but the fans in Buffalo had not yet forgotten about what Dalton did for them. Prior to the game, the Bills showed a pre-recorded thank you message from Andy Dalton to the city of Buffalo, and the fans in the stadium gave Dalton a standing ovation.
Dalton's foundation raises funds for children in hospitals who are either ill or that have special needs and need money to continue their care. Dalton and his wife Jordan started the foundation in 2011 after talking with two of Jordan's college roommates, who are special education teachers. The Daltons have been focused on raising awareness for their cause by creating community outreach programs in the Cincinnati area.
2 – Safety Rafael Bush continues to impress
Prior to the 2018 draft process, there were questions about the Bills overall depth at safety, and those questions have largely been answered by veteran safety Rafael Bush. Bush signed a two-year deal with the Bills on March 15 of this year, and Buffalo is Bush's fourth stop in five NFL seasons. In last night's preseason contest, Bush intercepted a Matt Barkley pass in the third quarter, showing off his ability to force takeaways as he has throughout training camp. Bush says that part of his job is to lead by example for the younger guys on the team.
"I think it is always important to set yourself up to make plays," said Bush. "I tell myself to make a play every day that I am on the field."
Bush came into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2010, but he said he always envisioned that he would stick around in the NFL.
"I have always prayed to God for longevity," he said. "A lot of guys are in and out of the league quickly. My longevity is just a testament to hard work, doing your job, and being appreciated by your team and the coaching staff."
Bush noted that the NFL involves quite a bit of give and take, and that he can learn a lot from veteran safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.
"Those guys have been in this scheme longer than I have, this is a new defense for me," Bush said. "Hopefully from being around the game and playing in multiple different defenses, I can help them out as well."
3 – Right cornerback position wide open
Entering the Bills' third preseason game, many believed that the right cornerback spot was already locked down by Vontae Davis. However, veteran cornerback Phillip Gaines made a serious push for the job during yesterday's game.
"It's just the competition at the position," said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. "There's still open competition at every position and it's no different at that position."
With McDermott noting that Davis is by no means a lock to be the starter on opening day, Phillip Gaines is certainly still in the mix to earn a starting role. McDermott spoke about how Gaines has closed the gap between the two veterans of late.
"It's close. We were looking at combinations out there," said McDermott. "We had worked it that way this week in practice as well."
Although McDermott acknowledged that Gaines has closed the gap, he also noted that both will need to show more to earn the starting role.
"I thought Vontae [Davis] had some good moments in the game and some moments he'd like back," he said. "The same could be said for Phillip [Gaines] as well."