Bills Preseason Game 2: 4 Up, 4 Down

The Buffalo Bills pulled out an 11-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Here's a look at four Bills who helped themselves by playing well and four who disappointed against Cleveland.

4 Up

Ronald Darby

Cam Newton and Derek Anderson picked on Ronald Darby throughout Buffalo’s first preseason game. Last night, Darby handled himself very well when he was tested against the Cleveland Browns. Yes, there was one pass interference call against Darby, but it appears Darby had his legs tangled up with Cleveland’s receiver. Later in the same drive, Josh McCown threw a ball towards Nigel Bradham. The linebacker broke up the play and the ball went right up towards Ronald Darby.

In Cleveland’s second series, McCown felt pressure and delivered a ball down the field. Darby was watching for the ball and the cornerback had better position on the ball than receiver Andrew Hawkins.

It was a great bounce back game for Darby.

Andre Davis

With the game on the line, E.J. Manuel was only looking to get the ball to one receiver, UDFA Andre Davis. The receiver has played well throughout training camp and stepped up when the Bills needed a touchdown late.

If Davis’ strong play continues through the remainder of camp and the rest of the preseason, the Bills will have trouble stashing him on their practice squad. Both Davis and Deonte Thompson are making a case for the 53 man roster.

EJ Manuel

It wasn’t always pretty. Some of Manuel’s performance can be attributed to the offensive line in front of him. There was one play last night when Manuel was sacked about one second after he took the snap. The play in front of him was atrocious at times.

Manuel still made some poor throws that you expect to see NFL quarterbacks make. He still held onto the ball too long at times and he could have lost the game late with his fumble.

Despite all of this, Manuel still put up good numbers on Thursday night. He was 9-of-14 for 111 yards and a touchdown. There were times that he showed some escapability in the pocket and late in the game, Manuel delivered the game winning touchdown and he converted a two point conversion to Bronson Hill.

For one night, Manuel could silence his doubters.

Chris Gragg

There’s no telling how many tight ends the Bills will carry this season but Gragg is currently competing for a roster spot against the likes of MarQueis Gray, Nick O’Leary and Matthew Mulligan. Charles Clay, the starting tight end, is the only player who is truly safe among the group. None of his competition stood out on Thursday but Gragg put in a strong effort late in the game. He finished as Buffalo’s leading receiver with three receptions going for 56 yards. He also recovered Manuel’s fumble late in the drive. Gragg stood out last night and that’s exactly what he needed.

4 Down

MarQueis Gray

Gray didn’t register a catch on Thursday night in his 14 snaps. At practice, Gray has been seeing time as the top tight end behind Clay. Not recording a catch isn’t the end of the world, but late in the game Gray was called for a brutal penalty. The tight end was called for a false start when the Bills had the ball on Cleveland’s one yard line. Penalties like that will frustrate the coaching staff to no end. Gray still has a great chance of making the 53-man roster but it was a disappointing performance.

Dezmin Lewis

Lewis isn’t going to make Buffalo’s 53-man roster but he could land a practice squad spot if he plays well. Unfortunately, Lewis went without a catch on two targets. Lewis really needs to stand out in the last two preseason games if he wants to get a spot on the team’s practice squad.

I.K. Enemkpali

Much like Gray, Enemkpali was called for a penalty that will frustrate the coaching staff. On a 4th and 4 play late in the game, Enemkpali was called for a neutral zone infraction. The penalty gave the Browns a first down as they tried to get into field goal range to win the game. Luckily for Enemkpali, the Bills eventually stopped the Browns to win the game.

Preseason or not, the neutral zone infraction will disappoint the coaching staff. Enemkpali disappointed in his first opportunity to win the backup defensive end up in place of Jarius Wynn.

Duke Williams

No one was worse than Duke Williams on Thursday night. Cleveland’s touchdown came on a play where Duke Williams lost his man badly in coverage. In the third quarter, Williams was called for unnecessary roughness. Luckily the penalty was offsetting. There was a badly missed tackle mixed in there as well.

It wasn’t the performance Bills fans were looking for. Many expected Williams to compete with Corey Graham for a starting role at safety but he has shown that he’s nowhere near ready for a starting job.

On a positive note, Williams was credited with three quarterback hurries on Thursday. It wasn’t all bad for Williams, but it was a disappointing performance.

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