Maybe Nolan Norwacki was on to something. According to one league executive...
Three Things To Take Out Of Preseason Week Two
1. The backup quarterback competition is over. Vince Young made at least one, possibly multiple impressive plays during Friday’s game, which was enough to distance himself from Tyler Thigpen for the number two quarterback job. Young’s most notable contribution was a 64-yard bomb to rookie receiver T.J. Graham in the third quarter. Thigpen, on the other hand, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Vikings rookie linebacker Audie Cole. If the first cut day was today, Thigpen would probably be on the list. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they released him early to give Young more practice reps to prepare for the season.
Today, I don’t feel supremely confident with Vince Young as the backup quarterback. However, regardless of Young’s current level of preparedness, he provides an upgrade at the position from last year. Young’s ability to improvise and make plays with his speed and live arm makes him more dangerous than Thigpen, who frankly has not shown much since joining Buffalo. At this point, I think Young would make a very good injury replacement if Ryan Fitpatrick got hurt mid-game, but might not be an ideal quarterback to lead the Bills in multiple games.
2. The wide receiver position may be a little better off than I anticipated. I knew the Bills had a first (Stevie Johnson) and slot (David Nelson) receiver, I knew that there was talent competing for the fifth receiver (Derek Hagan, Marcus Easley, Namaan Roosevelt, etc..), but I had no clue what to expect out of Donald Jones and T.J. Graham. It looks like both of them could be very useful this season, and showed that on Friday. Between Graham’s 64-yard gain and Jones’ impressive touchdown, I am officially satisfied with a Johnson-Jones-Nelson-Graham foursome (purely in a football sense).
What do the performances of Jones and Graham mean for how that fifth receiver shakes out? Absolutely nothing. Look for that picture to get a little clearer in the next preseason game. So far, Hagan’s great training camp has not quite translated to (preseason) gameday competition, and none of the others have separated themselves from the pack either.
3. In case you had any doubts, rookie kickoff specialist John Potter is on the team. Potter’s strong leg has put every one of his kickoffs through the end zone or too deep to return. He isn’t a threat to take Rian Lindell‘s job as placekicker, but he has put the heat on some other players who may have made the team as special teamers. Because kickoff coverage basically isn’t a play that the Bills have to worry about any more, this may lead to them keeping less players solely for the purposes of special teams. Add this in with the fact that Potter himself will be taking up an extra roster spot, and players like Ruvell Martin, Chris White, and Corey McIntyre may have a reason to be worried.
Other quick notes:
- Undrafted rookie safety Delano Howell from Stanford is the new favorite to be the Bills’ fourth safety on the roster. Howell, who did not participate in all of the Bills’ offseason activities, has performed well in both preseason games thus far. The pre-preseason (I just made that a word) favorite for this position was Josh Nesbitt, partially because he was on the team for part of last season, partially because it’s fun to project the careers of athletic college quarterbacks in other positions.
- I’m not worried about linebacker yet, but I don’t think we know exactly how it will shake out. Kelvin Sheppard has been shaky at times, and Scott McKillop has had an up-and-down preseason. However, Bryan Scott has been impressive in his sort-of-new role, and may see a lot of time at linebacker on passing downs.