Here's what to watch for in Thursday night's preseason finale between the Buffalo Bills and Detroits Lions at New Era Field:
1. Are you ready for all this ‘Wenning’? Brace yourself for the Keith Wenning Experience.
With two quarterbacks sidelined by concussions, the Bills signed the 26-year-old earlier this week. Soon we'll see how much of the offense he was able to retain in a short week of preseason preparation. He has some familiarity with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison from their time together in Baltimore, so that’s a plus. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy transition for Wenning.
If I’m a Bills fan, I’m not too keen on the idea of seeing Nathan Peterman play much — especially after losing starter Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates to concussions last week. But Peterman needs as many NFL reps as he can get, especially this early in his young career.
Here’s the tricky part: With Taylor’s status for Week 1 yet unknown, the Bills may be forced to start the rookie against the division-rival Jets. That means, head coach Sean McDermott will have to monitor his backup quarterbacks on Thursday night with an eye on Sept. 10 too.
Peterman said this week that he isn’t sure how much playing time he’ll get, but he’s ready for whatever: “For me, it’s kind of the same thing as every week. I’m going to be ready to play whenever that comes and try to do the best I can.”
2. It’s the final dress rehearsal for roster-bubble guys. With Saturday’s 53-man roster cut looming, fringe players have one more chance to prove something to their coaches. The Bills cut bait with six players already this week: S Bacarri Rambo, WR Rashad Ross, G Karim Barton, DE Jake Metz, RB Cedric O’Neal and CB Jumal Rolle. Now, guys like WRs Brandon Reilly and Daikiel Shorts, DT Marquavius Lewis, CB Greg Mabin and TE Logan Thomas are hoping they aren’t shown the door too.
3. Guard spot still up for grabs. Vladimir Ducasse started at right guard last week against the Ravens, but before him it was John Miller. Now the questions is: Which one player will get the nod for the regular season? Though the final preseason game is typically reserved for non-starters, both Ducasse and Miller will play Thursday night, according to McDermott.
4. Who’s the other starting cornerback? The Bills still need to settle on who will play right corner opposite rookie Tre’Davious White. Right now, it’s a three-man race involving Shareece Wright, Kevon Seymour (who sat out vs. Baltimore because of a shoulder injury) and the newly-acquired E.J. Gaines.
5. It’s Preston Brown’s world. Brown’s emergence eventually made Reggie Ragland expendable. The Bills moved on from Ragland, an obvious scheme mis-fit in McDermott’s 4-3 defense, and are expressing nothing but confidence in Brown going forward. The former third-round pick impressed in training camp and, according to McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, has rightfully earned the starting middle linebacker job.