1. Is T.O's toe going to be an issue?
Tyler Dunne: T.O. says the toe is feeling good. Sitting out the entire preseason should have given him ample time to heal up for the opener. Buffalo was ultra-cautious with him all month, and it's easy to see why. Without him, there aren't many playmakers on this team. The toe was definitely a scare. Owens is 35 years old. These types of injuries tend to ease stars into the sunset. But - by all indications - he is fully healthy and ready for the Monday Night Football limelight.
There's nothing up his sleeve, he said on a teleconference, though he did add one thing.
"I might bring my spy camera out," he joked.
Yep, sounds like the T.O. of old to me.
2. How is the no-huddle offense experiment going?
Dunne: Rough. The first-team offense failed to score a touchdown all preseason. Zilch in 15 possessions. It really couldn't have gone much worse. When you talk to the players though, they don't seem overly concerned. While the production wasn't there, they insist they have a good handle of the no-huddle offense. You want to believe them. Trent Edwards is a smart guy that makes quick decisions. His propensity to settle for checkdowns has hampered the no-huddle's progression. He needs to take more shots downfield and the offense needs to sustain possessions. Buffalo's defense was on the field way too much this preseason. If the Bills couldn't move the ball against vanilla defenses in the preseason, I don't know how they'll do it in the opener against the best team of this decade.
3. How big of an impact will he Bills release of Langston Walker be, and how does the revamped line look now?
Dunne:Trading Jason Peters is coming back to haunt the Bills a bit. Sure, Peters is a tad overrated. But he provided stability at arguably the game's most important position. After dealing him to Philadelphia for a first-rounder, the Bills figured right tackle Langston Walker could shift over to the blindside. Bad move. Walker never had a nasty edge in the rushing game and at 6-foot-8, 366 pounds, he's too sluggish in pass protection. The thinking is that Demetrius Bell is the long-term answer. He's a project, though. The '08 seventh-round pick is big and has quick feet, but he was probably a year or two away. Now, he's starting. Could be a steep learning curve.
The revamped line is shaky at best. Two rookie guards. A (virtual) rookie at left tackle. Many, many breakdowns during the preseason. If I'm New England, I'm sending the house at Buffalo. This line will be solid by the end of the year, but not yet.
4. What kind of impact will the firing of the Bills offensive coordinator have? Is there someone replacing him?
Dunne:Dick Jauron was looking to send a message - a loud one before he loses his own job. He did just that in canning offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. More than anything, this reflects the state of the team heading into week one. The foundation of the team is caving faster than the T.O. Show's ratings. Ralph Wilson refused to cue rebuilding after last season's implosion, sticking with Jauron and the status quo. It's not working. Nobody knows what the direction of this team is.
That being said, maybe Alex Van Pelt is what the team is selling - someone willing to take shots downfield. Schonert (and Edwards) didn't. Van Pelt has been in the system as the quarterbacks coach for a few years now, so he's not foreign to the personnel. He should be an upgrade from Schonert. Getting Owens back sure helps too. Still, Van Pelt only had 10 days to prepare as the offensive coordinator before the opener. That's not enough time for any coach in the league. This was a move that needed to be made a long time ago.
5. With Marshawn Lynch's suspension, how well have the Bills been able to run the ball? Has it changed their offense?
Dunne: The shocking personnel decisions came hard and fast last week. Before the team fired Schonert and cut Walker, they made an equally surprising decision by cutting Dominic Rhodes. The veteran running back was primed to shoulder a sizeable workload in the team's first three games with Marshawn Lynch suspended.
Apparently, the team loves Xavier Omon. The pint-sized back had some explosive plays in the preseason. His 52-yard catch-and-run at the end of the team's loss at Green Bay was pretty electrifying. Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber once told me that Omon had the potential to be great some day. Now, he gets that chance.
Without Lynch, Fred Jackson will be the unquestioned No. 1 back. Jackson is a slippery, deceptively fast running back. He's familiar with the Patriots defense, too. In the finale last year, amid blizzard-like winds, he rushed for 100 yards in the first half against the Patriots. He'll be ready. And Omon is a nifty change-of-pace back.
It's mildly hilarious that running back used to be this team's No. 1 concern. When Lynch was nabbed for gun possession, the team went into panic mode. Several free agents were brought in on visits as the team scrambled to land a back. Now, it's hardly a concern at all. There's simply too much disarray elsewhere to be concerned about Lynch's suspension. New England is catching Buffalo at the best possible time.
Hot Topic: Patriots Bills Game Thread