Buffalo and Tennessee will kick off the 2009 NFL preseason in the Hall of Fame game Sunday night at Fawcett Stadium as two of the league's original AFL teams square off in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the American Football League.
Both teams will be wearing throwback uniforms for the game. The Titans will appear in jerseys modeled after the 1960 club that won the first of two straight AFL titles in 1960 and 1961. The Bills white throwback jerseys are representative of the team's 1965 AFL Championship club.
"When I first saw them they blew my mind," said Chris Kelsay of the white throwbacks. "I really liked them. They look sharp. I think they'll look good on the field, but ultimately whatever they give us we'll play hard in them."
Sunday night's game is the 13th preseason meeting between the Bills and Titans. They last faced each other in the preseason on Aug. 24, 2007 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, with Tennessee coming away with a 28-17 victory.
This is the fifth time the Bills and Titans are facing each other on a neutral field in the preseason. Buffalo's record in those four previous neutral site preseason games against Tennessee is 3-1.
It's also the third time Buffalo is appearing in the Hall of Fame game in their history. They last appeared in a Hall of Fame game in 1989 against the Washington Redskins.
The starters on offense and defense for Buffalo are not expected to play more than two to three series before exiting the game.
"We still haven't made any final decision about playing time for everybody," said head coach Dick Jauron. "But everybody that's healthy will more than likely play in this game. So all of our starters will see a little bit of time, and then we'll work from there. We think all of the quarterbacks will get playing time, to some degree. A lot depends on how the game goes. But that's our plan going in."
Starters that are expected to see extended action are the two rookie guards Andy Levitre and Eric Wood.
With not much time on the field, quarterback Trent Edwards is focused on the routine of preparing to play a game and the collective mindset he and his teammates must have more than anything else.
"It's just a matter of getting back into the football feel," said Edwards. "Going through the logistics of being prepared for a regular game this is a good chance for this team to kind of get back into the flow of football. That is what the approach needs to be, I know we are only going to be there for a couple series, but it's a good chance to get ready mentally and physically for the regular season games."
Debut of Owens
Terrell Owens will be making his debut in a Bills uniform Sunday night. Though he and his fellow starters aren't expected to see much playing time, he's hoping they can get a better sense as to how far they've come in preparation for the 2009 campaign.
"We're just trying to approach the game just like any other game, get some things accomplished, get a feel for where we are, what we need to do, what we need to do better, so we'll get a sense of that once the game begins and as the game progresses," he said. "We'll come back (to camp) on Monday or Tuesday and look at the film and I think everybody will use this as time to assess where they are in their abilities and what the team is capable of."
Since the 2000 season Owens has recorded 729 receptions, 10,815 receiving yards and 109 touchdowns, all of which rank in the top five in the league among active players.
Health statusBuffalo had a couple of injuries in the last padded practice before the preseason opener as Spencer Johnson and John McCargo both suffered lower leg injuries. Reserve center Marvin Philip also went down with a knee injury. All three were going to re-evaluated for Sunday's game, but the injuries to Johnson and McCargo do not appear to be serious.
Brad Butler has been dealing with a lower back injury suffered earlier in the week. He has not practiced since Monday and is unlikely to play in the game. Expected to start in his place is second-year tackle Demetrius Bell who has seen most of the reps with the first unit at right tackle since Butler has been sidelined.
Also not expected to play is defensive end Copeland Bryan, who has been out over a week with a hamstring injury, as well as defensive tackle Marcus Smith.
Ashton Youboty is a question mark after a groin injury cropped up Friday morning. He did not participate in practice Friday afternoon.
Steve Johnson is returning from a rib cartilage injury and was eased back into the practice setting earlier in the week. He finally participated fully in practice Friday, but the second-year wideout's status is yet to be determined even though he surprised the head coach with his recovery.
"I didn't think it would happen, but he's a tough guy," said Jauron. "So we'll see how he feels. I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say yes either, at this point."
Rookie second-round pick Jairus Byrd is still on the non-football injury list and James Hardy is on the physically unable to perform list. Neither of them will dress for the game. Top pick Aaron Maybin will not be with the team as he has yet to sign.
Remember me?Bills defensive tackle Derrick Jones was signed by Buffalo this past Thursday. Jones had spent most of this offseason with the Titans after serving as a member of the Tennessee practice squad in 2008.
Jones was released by the Titans just last week. He also has a prior history with Buffalo as he first signed with the club almost exactly a year earlier when the Bills brought him in a week into training camp in 2008.