Not many questions

Most of the Bills starting spots are set, with some like Jabari Greer (left) looking to fend off newcomers. The Bills hope this continuity will get them back to the playoffs.

The Bills have been in a state of rebuilding for going on nine years.

The last time they made the NFL playoffs was 1999 when the Tennessee Titans broke their hearts in a wild-card game with the infamous Music City Miracle.

Is this the year the drought ends?

Heading into training camp, Buffalo's coaching staff is feeling encouraged by a young roster that is also experienced with many starters and backups gaining valuable playing time that last two seasons due to massive turnover and injuries.

Suffering through consecutive 7-9 seasons has hardened these players and created better depth.

"Certainly since I have been here, we are deeper," said coach Dick Jauron, starting his third season. "We have a lot of depth on both sides of the ball and our question marks will be answered during camp."

The questions aren't many.

Second-year man Trent Edwards must continue to prove he's the right choice at quarterback, but former first-round pick J.P. Losman -- who has made 31 starts -- was kept on the roster as insurance.

Set in place on offense are explosive young players in running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receivers Lee Evans and James Hardy. The line is the best it's been in years, providing Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters doesn't miss much time holding out for a new contract.

Defensively, the secondary is young but talented featuring safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson and corners Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer and No. 1 pick Leodis McKelvin. But the front seven should be improved with the addition of linebacker Kawika Mitchell and tackles Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson. Their presence should make young linemen Kyle Williams and John McCargo better. The pass rushers -- Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney combined for 10 sacks last year -- should feel rejuvenated chasing quarterbacks that can't step into the comfort zone of a secure pocket.

On paper, the position battles are minor.

Josh Reed and Hardy will battle for the No. 2 receiver job opposite Evans and Derek Schouman will battle three others for the backup job behind Robert Royal.

Defensively, who will start alongside Stroud -- Williams, McCargo or Johnson? And does it really matter when the scheme calls for playing in waves of players?

At cornerback, Greer will try and hold off McKelvin and if he does, McKelvin will be left to compete with veteran Will James and fellow rookie Reggie Corner for the nickel job.

Not having a lot of question marks is a very good thing for a young team many experts believe is on the rise and will benefit from a much easier schedule.

"I'm a big believer that you better believe you can win," Jauron said. "You better believe it, or you have no chance. And I believe our guys have faith in their ability. I do think we have done the right things with our draft and free agency. But it's not going to make a difference if we don't do it right on the field. But we feel good about the work we have done, we feel good about the guys we have added, and obviously about the guys we have kept. So we're anxious to get started and we're certainly excited about the season. Let's face it -- it's a great league and it's a very difficult league to succeed in and that's what we all want. We want success."

CAMP CALENDAR: July 25 to Aug. 20 at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. Players report July 24. First practice is 8:30 a.m. July 25. There are just two double-session days. There are seven scheduled evening practices each beginning at 7. As in past years, coach Dick Jauron has not scheduled any scrimmages against other teams. The preseason schedule includes a game against Pittsburgh in Toronto where Buffalo is trying to expand its fan base.


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