Bills head coach Rex Ryan has flipped the script on traditional priorities in the NFL preseason. Normally the third preseason game is the final dress rehearsal for an NFL team's starting units. But tonight against Washington, Ryan has chosen to sit most of his starting defense and a good number of his starters on offense.
After strong performances on both offense and defense in the Bills first two preseason games, Ryan has chosen to prioritize player health for the start of the regular season over a final tune-up in preparation for Week 1.
"It's a much different year for us injury-wise and other things that have factored in," said Ryan. "I see how we play every day. Our team has done well to this point in the preseason. At this point it's most important for us to get to the opening game healthy. We have to be smart about it."
Buffalo lost Reggie Ragland to an ACL knee injury in training camp and top pick Shaq Lawson is not expected to be back from offseason shoulder surgery until near midseason. DT Marcell Dareus will also be serving a four-game league-imposed suspension at the start of the regular season.
As a result players like Preston Brown, Ronald Darby, Stephon Gilmore, Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams are not expected to play on defense. Manny Lawson, who has been out with a pectoral injury, will see game action.
On offense LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay are among the starters sitting tonight.
Expected to play on offense however, Richie Incognito and Sammy Watkins who are both seeing their first action in the preseason. Incognito is returning from a rib injury and Watkins is testing his surgically repaired foot for the first time in the preseason.
Tyrod Taylor and Eric Wood will also start, but both are expected to make early exits with Incognito and Watkins.
Rookie QB Cardale Jones is also not playing because of a sore throwing shoulder. Mike Gillislee, Marquise Goodwin and Aaron Williams are all in the concussion protocol.
Bills players not dressed for Washington game
QB Cardale Jones
WR Kolby Listenbee
S Corey Graham
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
S Aaron Williams
CB Stephon Gilmore
RB LeSean McCoy
CB Ronald Darby
RB Mike Gillislee
LB Preston Brown
LB Jerry Hughes
LT Cordy Glenn
TE Charles Clay
WR Marquise Goodwin
OLB Shaq Lawson
DT Kyle Williams
DT Marcell Dareus