Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 29th.* *
1 – WR Reilly pushing for roster spot
Being an underdog is nothing new for Brandon Reilly. In high school, he was an all-star athlete. Not only was he a leader on the football team, but he was also an impressive basketball player. Despite collecting all-state accolades during high school, Reilly didn't receive any major scholarship offers. Instead of taking the academic path, he walked on the Nebraska football team.
After redshirting his freshman year, Reilly slowly turned into one of the key receivers on the Cornhuskers team. After seeing minimal playing time his redshirt-freshman and sophomore years, he broke out during his final two seasons. His most successful season was in 2015, when he had 40 catches for 754 yards, and four touchdowns.
Although he entered training camp as a long shot to make the team, his play has planted him firmly in a battle to make the final 53-man roster.
"I didn't think I was a long shot," said Reilly. "I walked on at college, so I kind of use to the underdog thing. Me and [Daikiel] Shorts were talking, and we said we need to just keep working, and we're going to get chances some time. So, when they come, we need to just make the most of it."
Reilly has used each preseason game to further his chances of making the team. In the first preseason game, he ended with four catches for 55 yards. He ended the second preseason game with four catches for 39 yards, and a touchdown. Reilly said he was disappointed with his performance on Saturday, as he ended the game with a catch for 18 yards. But, he had a critical fumble in the fourth quarter, which ended the Bills' chance of winning the game.
"I've had a few opportunities, and I've made a few plays," said Reilly. "Obviously, that fumble hurt, but that's part of the game. I can't keep dwelling on it, or more mistakes will happen. I just have to put it behind me and finish this last game by making plays on both offense and special teams."
Although Reilly had a tough game against the Ravens, he has been one of the steadiest players on the Bills roster throughout camp and preseason. He said that he's certainly had to learn on the fly, as he adjusts to the NFL.
"Just the mental side of everything," said Reilly. "Just reading defenses. In the NFL, they disguise defenses a lot better than in college. I was playing slot at the beginning, which I wasn't too familiar with. I got moved outside, and that's where I've played a bit, and that's where I'm most comfortable. So, just getting comfortable with the playbook, and understanding defenses helps immensely."
In the final preseason game, Reilly should have a considerable amount of playing time. If he's going to earn a roster spot, he'll have to continue to impress the coaching staff.**
2 – Wood happy to stay in Buffalo
Before the third preseason game, the Bills announced that they signed Eric Wood to a two-year contract extension. Entering the final year of this contract, the Bills ensured that they would be able to keep one of their best offensive lineman, and a leader in the locker room. Wood said he's excited to stay in Buffalo.
"It's an honor to play for this organization, I got drafted here and they've always treated me well," said Wood. "I really appreciate the opportunity to be here, but I love the direction of this organization as well. I like what [Sean] McDermott and [Brandon] Beane are building, I like what they stand for, I like the guys that they're bringing in, and I like the direction."
The timing of the signing was rather unique, as the Bills announced the extension hours before their preseason game against the Ravens. Wood said it was a weight off his shoulders, knowing he could stay in Buffalo.
"We had kind of worked through it for a few weeks," said Wood. "They got to the point where both sides knew it was going to get done yesterday. Pretty crazy timing signing it right before the game, it was kind of a whirlwind. Really glad to get it knocked out."
A mainstay on the Bills line, Wood has become one of the better centers in the NFL, and one of the best leaders in the Bills locker room. Signing a high character player, such as Wood, bolsters the culture Coach Sean McDermott is trying to build.**
3 – Preston Brown top performing linebacker in NFL
Preston Brown cemented his spot as the starting middle linebacker in the Bills' defense. Entering camp, there was doubt that Brown had the athleticism to play in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's scheme. Slimmed down, Brown has looked fast and explosive as he attacks the football. According to ProFootball Focus, Brown was the top performing linebacker in the NFL during the third week of the preseason.
Brown posted the top *linebacker grade of the week at 87.8, thanks in large part to his five solo tackles and four stops against the run. His run stop percentage of 22.2 was the best in the league this week among backers that played more than 10 run snaps.*
Brown ended the third preseason game with seven total tackles in just over a half of playing time. Further, he proved to many that he can act as a rangy middle linebacker that can make tackles from sideline to sideline.