Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
Bills-Vikings Preseason Preview
The Buffalo Bills are taking on the Minnesota Vikings Friday night, just six days after an impressive 44-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Vikings were defeated by the Houston Texans 27-13 in their first preseason contest of 2013. For a relatively young Bills squad learning new systems on both sides of the ball, these preseason games are extremely valuable. So what should you look for during the game? Here at BuddyNixon, we’ll give you five things to keep an eye on throughout each preseason contest.
Can the Bills stop the Vikings’ rushing attack?
The Vikings are led by Adrian Peterson, who is coming off of a 2,000 yard campaign, but it’s not likely that he sees significant playing time during the preseason. However, the Vikings have a talented and powerful running back in Toby Gerhart, along with two talented players in Bradley Randle and Zach Line, who are battling for the No. 3 job.
Last week, the Bills held the Colts to just 72 rushing yards, but at a 4.5 yards per carry average. The team definitely looked much better than they did against the run last year, but the unit as a whole needs to make stopping the run an emphasis if they look to compete in 2013.
Can the Bills stop the Vikings’ upgraded receiving corps?
The Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason, but acquired Greg Jennings via free agency and used one of their three first round draft picks on Cordarrelle Patterson, an explosive, play-making wideout out of Tennessee. Patterson was impressive in his preseason debut, hauling in four passes for 54 yards and returned a kickoff 50 yards.
Stephon Gilmore is likely to be lined up with Patterson, but backups Jerome Simpson and Stephen Burton will be nice tests for the Bills’ nickel cornerbacks, where there is a competition.
How will the quarterback snaps be distributed?
With Kevin Kolb making his Bills’ debut as the team’s starter, it will be interesting to see how Head Coach Doug Marrone divvies out the quarterback snaps. After E.J. Manuel looked solid with the first team and Jeff Tuel shredded the Colts’ secondary, it makes sense for each quarterback to see a similar amount of time on the field.
Will the Bills be able to attack a solid secondary?
Last week the Bills passed for 315 yards with only nine incompletions, but did so against a lackluster secondary that was without starting safety Laron Landry. This week, they will look to test a Vikings secondary featuring first-round pick Xavier Rhodes, Chris Cook, and second-year cornerback Josh Robinson, the fastest cornerback in the 2012 NFL draft, that is replacing Antoine Winfield at nickel.
Rhodes is a big, physical and athletic cornerback that should be able to present some challenges for guys like Robert Woods, Da’Rick Rogers and Marcus Easley. Rhodes is definitely a player to keep an eye on during the game.
Will a running back separate themselves for the No. 3 job?
It’s no question that C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are the Bills’ No. 1 and No. 2 running backs, but Tashard Choice is at risk of losing his job to either Zach Brown or undrafted rookie Kendall Gaskins. Brown received the most carries of any Bills’ running back last week, with 12, but only managed to gain 26 yards. Gaskins only ran the ball nine times, but picked up 30 yards. At this point, Gaskins may be the better option to keep on the roster, as he’s a bigger back that’s a true one-cut runner.