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Starters will get more snaps

The Buffalo Bills' starting units might play into the second quarter of tonight's preseason game in Denver.

"We'll play the starters this week a little bit more than we played them last week," said Bills coach Chan Gailey. "We'll play the second group a little bit more than we played them last week, just trying to start to build a little bit with conditioning, trying to get some continuity with plays and series out there.

"The starting offense got two series last week, and I'm hoping they get three this week."

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback and be followed by Tyler Thigpen and Levi Brown. Brad Smith will be worked into the QB rotation during the first half, as he was in the opener in Chicago last week.

Denver also is expected to play its starting units into the second quarter.

Kyle Orton will start at quarterback for Denver. Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow have split snaps as the No. 2 quarterback the past week. They will follow Orton.

Sitting out for the Bills will be linebacker Shawne Merriman and receiver Roscoe Parrish. Several players missed practice Thursday due to minor injuries and are not expected to suit up: receiver Craig Davis, linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Chris White, tackle Chris Hairston, cornerback Justin Rogers and tight end Shawn Nelson.

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It will be interesting to see how the Bills' passing game looks after a ragged week of practice. The defense was well ahead of the offense the past four days at St. John Fisher College.

"I think offensively the last few days we didn't practice like we wanted to," Fitzpatrick said. "That being said, we still have the three games to get ready before the season and I think we got a lot done here. I think we really grew as a team and we're excited to get back to Orchard Park and start practicing there."

Fitzpatrick said he thinks the offense is in a far better state than it was last year.

"I feel light years ahead," he said. "I think we're really ahead as an offense. I've been saying this over and over, but we're a year older, more comfortable in this system, a year more comfortable with each other and that's going to put us that much further ahead. We'll be able to get off to a faster start because of the comfort level that we have."

On what Fitzpatrick hopes to see tonight:

"Put together a couple of drives and put some points on the board and make sure everybody gets out of the game without being injured," he said. "We still have a lot of stuff we need to work on, and the best way to get down the timing and those types of things is to get out there in game situations and do it."

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com