Bills Preseason Primer: Bills vs. Panthers

Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor

Buffalo Bills football is back, and the team opens their preseason on Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.

The Bills go into Friday’s exhibition match-up with a large amount of stories and competitions surrounding this team, as Buffalo begins a new quest to end the longest playoff drought for a team in the National Football League.

So what should everyone be on the look out for on Friday night?

All eyes on three guys

The Bills have tons of players that will be playing in this game against Carolina. However, many fans will be looking at just three: Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel, respectively. Heading into Friday’s game, Cassel has the most momentum, looking good for most of the week. Manuel has been with the 3rd team for most of the week as well, starting to fall behind.

Many times in training camp, the Bills defense has made life hard for every one of these quarterbacks. Now, with players allowed to hit the quarterbacks and pressure to be more realistic, the coaching staff can properly evaluate each quarterback (particularly Taylor, a scrambling quarterback) in realistic game play.

New coach, new scheme, new attitude

The hype that follows Bills head coach Rex Ryan is unusual for a Buffalo coach. The aggressive, brash Ryan brings his defensive intellect to the Bills, as well as his charm.

He also brings along former San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who loves a smash-mouth style and is able to adjust to any quarterback that starts. Roman worked with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, two quarterbacks of different styles. Roman will give different looks for Cassel, Taylor and Manuel, and play to their strengths.

On defense, Ryan will give cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby tough tests, as they will play press-man coverage with no safety help rather often. That will be tough when facing towering Carolina wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Gilmore, in particular, is expected to make a leap into the elite echelon of cornerbacks in the NFL.

Other Competitions

With the headline on the quarterbacks, here are some other position battles to look out for:

  • RT – Seantrel Henderson vs. Cyrus Kouandjio
  • RG – John Miller (rookie) vs. Cyril Richardson vs. Cyrus Kouandjio
  • FS – Corey Graham vs. Duke Williams
  • WR – Robert Woods vs. Percy Harvin
  • Backup TE – MarQueis Gray vs. Nick O’Leary (rookie)
  • 4th WR – Chris Hogan vs. Marquise Goodwin

New Weapons

Whoever the quarterback winds up being, he has a stable of new weapons to utilize in Bills uniforms.

Tight end, Charles Clay, who caught flak for not being targeted often in training camp, comes in as the best tight end Buffalo has had in recent memory. Running back, LeSean McCoy is really THAT good as a rusher, and will ease any pressure on the quarterbacks. Percy Harvin is a talented, but troubled wide receiver. It will be fun to see how Roman deploys the new weapons, as well as wide receivers, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.

Injury Watch

Bills fans won’t see new starting left guard, Richie Incognito against Carolina. Incognito injured his ankle and is expected to sit out. Expect Cyril Richardson to step in for the injured Incognito.

Cornerback, Leodis McKelvin had a setback with returning from ankle surgery from last season. He may not be ready to start the season.

Running back, Anthony “Boobie” Dixon is not going to play, as he is out with a calf injury. Fred Jackson will not play either, which will allow Bryce Brown and rookie running back, Karlos Williams to get a large amount of playing time.

Canisius High School graduate, and Bills linebacker, Jimmy Gaines may not be available for Friday’s tilt with the Panthers

Keep it locked to Better Live Than Dead Sports for all the latest from the Bills and around the NFL.

Written by Derek Kramer

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