The Bills are preparing for their first preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be played in Washington and will be the first time fans can see the 2008 Bills team in a formal game setting. One of the more pressing issues for the Bills is the number of injuries plaguing the team so far.
Already listed as out for Saturday's match-up are WR Josh Reed, SS Donte Whitner, and LB Angelo Crowell. Dick Jauron commented on the players saying, "They won't even make the trip, they'll stay back and get treatment."
Reed is still dealing with a strained lower back, while Whitner is still getting treated for a sprained ankle suffered last weekend during practice.
Crowell's injury is still getting treatment for his knee that he injured last year during training camp. The condition flared up again this year and Jauron wants to be cautious with his starting linebacker. Jauron was asked about the injury and he replied, "I guess I could answer by saying I seem to always be nervous about everything, so I'm worried about it yeah, I worry about everything."
Rookie WR James Hardy is expected to play despite dealing with hamstring issues this week during practices.
Things to watch for during the game:
Impact of Peters' absence on the offensive line
It's unclear how much time the starters will be getting in Saturday's game, but hopefully we'll be able to see just how much the Bills may miss their Pro Bowl left tackle, who is still holding out for a new contract. The Redskins have one of the best defensive ends in Jason Taylor and he could give the Bills' offensive line some major headaches. Langston Walker was moved to fill the void, but he's no Jason Peters. Maybe if Taylor dances his way past the line to Trent Edwards too many times, the Bills will consider putting out an offer to the reclusive lineman sooner.
D-Day for McKelvin, Hardy
With backups expected to get some major playing time during preseason games, it will be primetime for the Bills' top two draft picks to show they were worth the money. The two rookies have had a steep learning curve the first few weeks in camp, both are practicing with the second team units. If these two want to crack the starting lineup come September, they'll need to shift their game into overdrive to impress the coaches. If they do in fact turn some heads, they could get more reps with the starting units in the coming weeks during practice and better compete for the starter spots in their respective positions.
Last season the Bills defense got torched in nearly every category. So far this year, the defense seems to be outshining the offensive units on the field during practice. Contributing factors include the healthy return of some starters including Paul Posluszny, Ko Simpson, and Ashton Youboty. They also have impressive depth because of the experience gained by backups last season when they filled in for the injured starters. So is the defense really that much farther ahead than the offense? Matching up against another team for a change should give us a good indication of their progress.
Turk's new offense
Much like the defense, the offense's progress will be gauged on Saturday. Turk Schonert is in his first year as offensive coordinator and he is bringing with him a new offensive system. The Bills acquired some fresh offensive talent to hopefully score more points this season. Will Schonert's new offense be the wide-open, point-scoring system he's said it will be?