Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 19th.
1 – Still time for Gaines to make a move
After an impressive debut for the Bills, E.J. Gaines could push his way into the battle for the starting outside cornerback opposite Tre'Davious White. When Ronald Darby was traded, White took over the starting left outside cornerback position. However, this has created a wide-open competition at right cornerback. Coach Sean McDermott said that Gaines could certainly factor into the battle.
"What I liked about his play and it really showed up on the interception was he was in great position," said McDermott. "That was clinic tape for all of our players, all the corners on this roster to understand when you're in that type of position good things happen. He played within the system and made a big time play for us, so that was good to see. He did some other good things in the game in terms of run support and what not. So, it was good to see him get some good action and really acclimate himself to our system."
Veteran Shareece Wright was given the start against the Eagles. After playing a quarter, he gave way to Kevon Seymour. Although both played solid games, neither made plays that stood out. E.J. Gaines, in his first action with the Bills, entered the game in the second quarter at left cornerback. In the third quarter, he made an athletic play when he intercepted a deep pass in the middle of the field. He ended the game with two tackles, an interception, and two pass break-ups.
Gaines said he was happy with his play in his first preseason game with the Bills. He said he's ready to play in any role the coaches ask.
"I can't complain I went out there, and made some plays," said Gaines. "I honestly will play anywhere the coaches want me. If that's starting, nickel, or special teams – however I can help this team is what I'll do."
Although Gaines arrived late to Bills camp, McDermott thinks he's a fit in their system. McDermott said that he can play inside, and either of the outside positions. He plays best in zone coverage schemes, which the Bills will be implementing. He also thrives in run support, which corners are often asked to do in McDermott's defenses.
"When you make big plays you catch the coaches' eyes," said McDermott. "He made a big play and he did it playing the defense. He played within the system, made a big play and that was encouraging. As he continues to get comfortable we look forward to watching him develop more and more within the system and continue to compete for those corner spots."
2 – Peterman continues good play
Coming out of Pittsburgh, Peterman was considered one of the most polished quarterbacks in the 2017 draft class. After starting camp as the third-string quarterback, Peterman has shown that he has quickly adapted to the NFL game. In his first two preseason games, Peterman has been calm under pressure, and has found receivers when given time. According to ProFootball Focus, this shouldn't be surprising.
Similar to last week, Peterman had success moving the ball when he was able to throw from a clean pocket…The fourth-round pick went 9 of 12 for 160 yards and a116.7 passer ratingfrom a clean pocket, compared to just 1-of-8 for seven yards and a 39.6 passer rating when under pressure.
In his first preseason game, Peterman proved to be elusive under pressure. Despite being a pocket passer, Peterman used his legs several times to elude oncoming pass rushers. When he was given time to throw, he was precise and nearly unstoppable. When he had a clean pocket, he completed 13 of 17 passes. According to ProFootball Focus, his performance was good for the third-best grade among all quarterbacks for the first week of the preseason.
Against the Eagles, playing with the second-team, Peterman continued his good play. At the end of the second quarter, Peterman saw his first action of the game. He led the offense on a nine play, 77-yard drive in just 47 second. The drive was capped off with a field goal, as time expired in the half. When Peterman had time to throw, he was accurate and on time. He was one of the highest graded Bills by ProFootball Focus once again this week.
Peterman showed that he's certainly capable of being a solid back-up to Tyrod Taylor. Although he has struggled to throw under pressure, he has shown great pocket awareness, and mobility at times. As camp wanes, Peterman will only develop into a more confident passer.
3 – Reilly and Mabin make an impression
Undrafted free agents Brandon Reilly and Greg Mabin were complimented by McDermott for their performance against the Eagles. Rookie wide receiver Reilly was given the fourth quarter to show his pass catching talent on Thursday. Rookie cornerback Mabin entered the game in the third quarter, and took extended snaps on the outside. McDermott said he was encouraged by the play of several rookies.
"Greg Mabin and Brandon Reilly showing up at the end there with a great catch, a contested catch," said McDermott. "So, we had an opportunity to give the young guys some playing time and they stepped up. Good to see."
Both Reilly and Mabin were instrumental in the Bills comeback in the second half. Although they came up short, both players helped their chances of earning a roster spot or a place on the practice squad.
Mabin, an undrafted free agent out of Iowa, has received steady reps at outside corner during training camp. As he entered the game in the third quarter, the Bills trailed 13-9. In the fourth quarter, he picked off a contested pass and immediately set up the offense in the red zone. He ended the night with two tackles, and an interception.
Mabin described his highlight play.
"I just played off," said Mabin. "I read the three step by the quarterback and I tried to make a break on the ball. I saw that the receiver didn't catch it clean, and he was kind of bobbling it. So, my first instinct was to go and grab it. It all happened so fast I didn't really realize what I was doing. By the time I realized it, I was running down the sideline."
Mabin's interception was quickly capitalized on. Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates threw a strike to Reilly in the corner of the end zone, to give the Bills a 16-13 lead. The undrafted free agent out of Nebraska ended the night with four catches for 39 yards, and a touchdown.
The touchdown catch by Reilly could be key in his effort to make the team. He described the play.
"I heard the play call and I had a good feeling," said Reilly. "One on one fade was going to go to me. Someone throws a ball like T.J. threw me, it's almost hard not to catch it. All the credit goes to T.J. on that one."
Both Reilly and Mabin entered the second preseason game with rather poor odds of making the team. However, Mabin's interception, and Reilly's touchdown catch put the rookies on the coaching staff's radar. Although they may still find it tough to earn a roster spot, they certainly increased their chances of receiving a spot on the 10-player practice squad.
Check out photos from Buffalo's second preseason game against Philadelphia.