Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 28th.
1 – Preston Brown continues steady play
The Bills defense has been a continuous bright spot throughout the preseason. Despite being a rather unreliable unit the past two seasons, the defense has looked revitalized in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's 4-3 scheme. The leader of that unit has undoubtedly been Preston Brown. After his solid performance against the Ravens, Brown said he's always looking to improve.
"I think I've done alright," said Brown. "I never grade myself higher than a C. I've got a lot to improve on, get some turnovers and help this offense get more points on the board."
Although the humble middle linebacker wouldn't agree, his play was certainly better than a C. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the best player on the field for either team on Saturday. Brown ended the game with seven total tackles, as he led the Bills' swarming run defense. Pro Football Focus gave him an 87.8 grade, and gave him the game ball.
The biggest difference in Brown's play this season has been how he has attacked the football. This idea of swarming the football has been something Frazier has preached all offseason. Brown said the defense has been doing their job well overall.
"The coach is doing a good job getting the best plays in," said Brown. "We're getting our personnel in. Everybody is out there talking and communicating well. Guys are making plays when they're presented to them. Everybody is running to the ball, so it's always a big crowd. When we've watched film, everybody is getting in the picture."
A noticeably faster Brown has been a stalwart against the run, and looks like he'll have a resurgence in 2017.
2 – Dion Dawkins grades well on left
With Cordy Glenn out injured, Dawkins was asked to flip from right to left tackle. Although Seantrel Henderson had been taking first team reps in the absence of Glenn, the former-seventh round pick will have to serve the remainder of his five-game suspension at the beginning of the season. In the event that Glenn couldn't start the season, the Bills needed a possible replacement. Dawkins was tasked with the job, and performed well.
Despite the Bills offensive line overall having a tough time with the Raven's impressive defense, Dawkins fared well on the left side. According to ProFootball Focus, he was one of the top performing Bills on Saturday. Here's what they had to say.
With Dawkins looking to start the season at LT, the game against the Ravens defensive front was a tall task for him on his first start, and he came out looking very solid withnot allowing a single pressureand also looking very good in the run game. His 85.2 run block grade was second in the game, and a team-high.
Playing left tackle is nothing new for the rookie, as Dawkins played on the left side of Temple's offensive line for four seasons. Coming into camp, Dawkins was asked to compete with Jordan Mills at right tackle, even though he was more comfortable at left.
As camp wanes, and Glenn returns to practice, Dawkins will likely return to his battle at right tackle. But, he showed that he could be a very capable back-up to Glenn this season, and could be a dominant right tackle once he adjusts to the new side.
Photos of the Bills taking on the Ravens during Week 3 of the 2017 preseason.
*3 – Tolbert will have role as ball carrier *
With LeSean McCoy playing deep into the third quarter on Saturday, Mike Tolbert's role in the offense became more apparent. Although Jonathan Williams didn't play against the Ravens, Tolbert's role was rather simple – he came in for pass protection purposes, and was used as a short-yardage back.
Tolbert said he understands there isn't a battle at running back, but he still wanted to prove that he can be a key role player this season.
"We all know who is No.1 [RB LeSean McCoy]," said Tolbert. The rest of us are just working hard to see what we can get. We are all trying to eat."
Tolbert has manufactured his career by being one of the best short-yardage backs in the NFL. Built like a fullback, Tolbert has surprising speed and athleticism. This makes him nearly unstoppable at the goal line. The veteran running back ended the night with five rushes for 19 yards, and a score. Tolbert said he was happy with his performance, as he punched in the Bills' sole touchdown.
"I knew I got in," said Tolbert. "It was no doubt in my mind. There aren't too many teams that can stop me from the 1-inch line."
Throughout the preseason, Tolbert has proven that he can certainly be an effective role player on the Bills offense. Although he isn't going to rush for a hundred yards, or make flashy plays, he is going to offer great pass protection and be a reliable option in the red zone.