Heading into the first preseason game against Washington last week Ryan Fitzpatrick said he was most interested in seeing how the run game would look since teams can't fully replicate game conditions when executing run plays. Ironically, Fitzpatrick did not call a single run play in the 14 snaps he and the first team offense ran last week. This Friday night against Minnesota that's going to change.
"We have not run the ball as much as we wanted to in preseason and we made this week the week we're going to come back and work on the run game quite a bit," said head coach Chan Gailey.
The run game was a big focus more than once over the final week of training camp, so it's anticipated that Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will get some carries during the time they're lined up in the offensive backfield.
"We're all looking forward to having the opportunity to get more in our base offense than just working in the no huddle," Gailey said. "So I think everybody is excited about that, but the running backs especially."
Playing timeThe starters on both sides of the ball are going to get a bit more playing time in this second preseason contest at Minnesota than they did in the preseason opener.
"A little bit more," said Gailey. "Maybe 20 (plays). We tried to go about 15 with them in the first game, and we'll try to go about 20 with those guys."
Ryan Fitzpatrick is aiming for the offense to have a more respectable performance than they did against Washington.
"I think we have that mindset that we're going to come out and be more clean in terms of the pre-snap penalties and in terms of our execution and making sure we've got the right assignments, we're blocking the right guys, we're throwing to the right guy and running the right routes," said Fitzpatrick. "And then we want to come out of it healthy. We want to get some momentum going into the season here so we expect to come out and be crisp."
Young to roll with the twosIn the battle for the number two quarterback job, Tyler Thigpen got snaps with the second team offense against Washington and Vince Young ran with the threes. The two signal callers will switch roles for the Minnesota game with Young taking snaps with the second unit. Ideally Gailey would like to keep the snaps for Young and Thigpen even.
"It didn't happen last week," said Gailey. "I think Tyler got 19 and Vince got 30. We'd like to stay at 20 and 20 if we can. With Fitz getting 20, you think a game is 60-something plays. Tyler may end up with a few more this week."
Young has made progress through the course of training camp in terms of absorbing and executing the offense, but he feels there is still some ground to cover.
"I feel comfortable with some of the things that are being called, but at the same time I'm still working hard," said Young. "Overall I'm still not where I want to be at so I'm going to continue to keep working."
Gailey is hoping one of the two backup quarterback candidates makes a move to distance himself from the other.
"They've made it tough the whole time," he said. "It's going to be a tough decision for us."
Lineup notesEric Wood is going to miss the second straight preseason game as he's not yet ready for game action coming off ACL surgery. Kraig Urbik will again replace him at center with Chad Rinehart starting at right guard in place of Urbik.
Starting right tackle Erik Pears has a chance to make his first appearance in the preseason even though he didn't participate in Wednesday's scaled back practice. If he does it's believed that Cordy Glenn and Chris Hairston could rotate reps at left tackle.
If Pears cannot go Glenn would start at left tackle with Hairston manning the starting right tackle spot. Then Hairston might get left tackle reps with the second unit.
Kellen Heard (ankle) and James Carmon (wrist) were both injured in practice Tuesday night, but they're going to be game time decisions. Johnny White is still battling a nagging ankle injury, but is likely to dress.
Terrence McGee, Justin Rogers and Torell Troup are among the other notables not expected to play Friday night.
The opponentThe Vikings are coming off a 17-6 defeat at the hands of the 49ers. Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder led the two field goal drives against the Niners vaunted defense going 4-9 passing for 80 yards without the services of top receiver Percy Harvin.
Bills rookie linebacker Nigel Bradham is looking forward to facing his former college teammate at Florida State.
"It always adds a little more excitement," Bradham told Buffalobills.com. "You kind of trash talk because we know each other personally so it's going to be exciting just to see each other again. I haven't seen him since he left Florida State so it's definitely going to be exciting for us to get out there and be on the field again and compete against each other again kind of like the old days of offense, defense."
Defensively, the Vikings struggled against San Francisco's power run game as they gave up 260 rushing yards in the game, almost 200 of which came in the first half. Minnesota's defense was without three of their better players as DE Jared Allen, DT Kevin Williams and CB Antoine Winfield sat out of the preseason opener.
The Vikings will be without RB Adrian Peterson Friday night. The Pro Bowl back is coming off offseason ACL and MCL knee surgery and was just activated off the PUP list this past weekend. Starting nose tackle Letroy Guion is also out with a PCL knee injury and the Vikings will also be missing TE John Carlson with a sprained MCL. Rookie third-round pick CB Josh Robinson is probable coming off a hamstring injury.
Watch preseason games liveNFL Preseason Live enables fans in the United States to watch live and on-demand NFL Preseason out-of-market games. Preseason Live gives fans additional viewing options including picture-in-picture, dual and quad view modes, so fans may watch multiple games on the same screen. Fans may pause, rewind, and replay live and archived game action with full DVR controls. The Condensed Games feature will also be coming to Preseason Live this season, allowing fans to watch any preseason game in roughly 30 minutes. (Note: NFL Preseason Live does not include Coaches Film or telestrator option).