3 QBs could all see time with starters Saturday
Bills head coach Rex Ryan did not state it himself, but when posed the question of whether all three of Buffalo's quarterbacks in the competition to be the starter would see time with the starters against Pittsburgh next Saturday, Ryan inferred that could very well be the case.
The premise of such a plan makes sense. It's clear that two of the quarterbacks, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor have been neck and neck with EJ Manuel not far behind. The starters are expected to see the most time in the third preseason game against Pittsburgh, which affords the coaching staff the opportunity to rotate all three signal callers through if they want.
Ryan and his offensive staff was no doubt hoping that one quarterback would rise above the others, but to this point all three have stepped up their games through the course of training camp.
"Position group-wise quarterback, I think that position has played as well as any on offense," said Ryan. "It's a surprise."
"I think collectively we've done a good job," said EJ Manuel. "Our biggest thing is being consistent and (quarterbacks) coach (David) Lee has done a great job coaching us up just same as all the coaches I think have done a great job. Coach (Greg) Roman's done an awesome job as far as putting plays and putting us in good situations to have success out there, especially in these games. So the main thing in preseason games, you want to get the ball rolling—you want to get first downs, you want to execute, and obviously you want to win the game too. But I think we've all done a good job."
Receivers sitting again
The receiver position has been without key personnel for most of the last two weeks. Percy Harvin was absent again Sunday night and Chris Hogan was out with an ankle injury. Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods also pulled out of practice early, though both watched the rest of the session from the sidelines.
"I'm feeling pretty good. It's a day-to-day kind of thing," said Hogan, who doesn't think he'll be back healthy in time for Pittsburgh. "After it happened the doctor told me that everything was intact, so that was a relief and I'll be back in a couple of weeks."
Benefiting the most from Buffalo's top four receivers being sidelined Sunday was seventh-round pick Dezmin Lewis who turned in a bunch of plays in the passing game in the team's final night practice. One of his better efforts was a deep ball down the left sideline that he came back to and fought off the cornerback and safety to make the catch for a 40-yard play from Cassel.
Prepping like game week
The Bills had some lengthy team periods where the first team offense and first team defense both ran plays against the scout team in 11-on-11. Heading into the third preseason game, the coaching staff is making a concerted effort to make this practice week resemble a regular season game week as much as possible.
"It's the closest you'll get to it," said Preston Brown. "You start to get that feel for the practice week and the game planning so you understand what you'll be doing in season."
"It's still training camp, but we try to replicate it as much as we can as if it's a game week and get ready for Pittsburgh," said Tyrod Taylor. "So we had practice here, then a day off and get back to it on Tuesday." Brown said the coaches were putting the players on the same schedule as the Steelers, who played a preseason game Sunday, which is why the team is off Monday before returning to camp practice Tuesday.
Bonus Notes S Aaron Williams was pulled out of practice early due to hamstring tightness. DT Marcell Dareusdid not practice Sunday night, but was watching practice from the sidelines. No word on why he did not participate.
S Jonathan Meekswas another new non-participant Sunday.
The defense had the better of the two-minute drill period. The three series ended with a sack by Corey Graham on a safety blitz, an interception in the end zone by Mario Butler and an interception by Ellis Lankster.