After two weeks of training camp the Bills are ready to get some live hitting in with another NFL team.
"There's been some pushing and shoving, guys are frustrated and they want to let loose," said quarterback J.P. Losman. "These guys are pretty much animals when they step on this field and that's what this game is about. They'll be able to get their chance on Friday."
The starters for the Bills however, won't be seeing much action Friday night at New Orleans as is usually the case under head coach Dick Jauron.
"Our first group, both sides of the ball will probably play somewhere between 12 and 15 plays," Jauron said. "It just depends on how it goes. If it goes real well that may just be one drive and you'd love it to be that way. If it goes real poorly it may be three drives. You just don't know. Then we'll get everybody in that we'll can. I would say that most of the guys will play."
Jauron said J.P. Losman will start at quarterback and play "a little." He'll be followed by Craig Nall and Trent Edwards who is expected to get the bulk of the work Friday night at quarterback. NFL Europe quarterback Kevin Eakin may get a chance for a few reps at the end of the game.
"We just want to go out there and be crisp," said Losman. "We know it's our first game, but we want to try to avoid any kind of complications. We want to go out there and be sharp. The plays he'll be giving us I'm sure will be pretty vanilla so we just want to be sharp on those and keep the chains moving and have a good drive of 12 or 15 plays and then they said we'll be out of there."
At running back Anthony Thomas is expected to get the start followed by Marshawn Lynch and the other candidates in the offensive backfield.
It's anticipated that Duke Preston will start at right guard with Jason Whittle rotating in quickly. Throughout training camp Preston has been the first one rotating in at right guard during that competition.
Preparing for crowd noise
In an effort to prepare for crowd noise on the road the Bills practiced Wednesday night with music blaring for almost the entire session.
"We needed to work through some noise," said Jauron. "Every part of our team, offense, defense and special teams. It's really good. It makes them concentrate. It makes them communicate in all different ways. They're used to just vocalizing things, so the noise forces it on them. Whenever we play away we like to work with (the noise)."
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove will make the trip and play according to Dick Jauron. Hargrove has a court date Thursday, but is expected to make the team flight in time to travel.
Brad Butler and Josh Scobey will not make the trip as they have treatments scheduled in Buffalo to recover from their respective injuries. Aaron Merz is questionable to play as he is still recovering from a shoulder problem.
Donte Whitner will likely make the trip, but Jauron indicated that a decision on whether his starting strong safety will play is still to be determined.
"It's a little sore," said Jauron of Whitner's lower abdomen injury. "So we'll just wait on that and see how that goes."
Buffalo's head coach is glad that they're playing a quality team in the preseason like the Saints, feeling it will better prepare his team for the regular season particularly the Bills defense.
"They're really good," said Jauron of the Saints. "They're really a top notch football team and the number one offense in the NFL last year. A lot of speed and a lot of weapons. They're talented and the guy that makes a difference is the quarterback. He's just really good and he's been good. He was good in San Diego, he was good in college so they're a real challenge for us everywhere, offense, defense and special teams. It will be good for us to get down there and play."
The Saints already have a preseason game under their belt after playing in the Hall of Fame game last weekend, a 20-7 loss to Pittsburgh. Again Jauron sees a plus there for his team.
"It's probably better for us," Jauron said. "Hopefully they're ahead of us and make it even tougher for us. That's what this thing is all about because we have to get ready for what I would think is the toughest division in football. So the tougher the better. Let's just go and play and see if we can get better every week."
There are a handful of regulars that may not play for New Orleans Friday night. Starting left tackle Jammal Brown suffered a knee injury in practice earlier this week and Saints head coach Sean Payton labeled him between questionable and doubtful for Friday night. Starting center Jeff Faine was the victim of a leg whip against the Steelers and might not play either. Defensive end Will Smith is not expected to be with the team as he has a funeral to attend out of town. Wide receiver David Patten has missed some practice time this week with a turf toe and may not go as well.
This will be the seventh preseason meeting between the Bills and Saints. The preseason series is deadlocked at 3-3. It's Buffalo's first preseason trip to New Orleans since 1990. The Saints won the last preseason meeting 28-23.
There are several players and one coach with Louisiana ties on Buffalo's roster. Special teams coordinator Bobby April is the only native to have coached football in high school (Chalmette), college (Tulane) and the pros (New Orleans 1996-99) in the state of Louisiana. J.P. Losman is one of the more recognizable players with local ties having played his college ball at Tulane. With so many Bills set to play in front of family and friends Losman says the team will be focused.
"It's not a real game, but it counts," said Losman. "It means a lot to our team to go out there and play a preseason game. We want to be sharp. We want to go out there and perform well. We want to put on a good show for the Buffalo fans for the little bit we're in there. And as far as New Orleans I've got some roots and family there. It'll be good for them to see me play even if it's just for a little bit."