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Third-quarter analysis: AJ Tarpley states his case; Nick O'Leary makes first catch

Injuries have opened the door for AJ Tarpley with the Buffalo Bills.

The undrafted free agent linebacker out of Stanford has seen both Ty Powell and Tony Steward go down with injuries this preseason, meaning there is a big opportunity for Tarpley to make the Bills' 53-man roster as the backup to starting middle linebacker Preston Brown.

Tarpley made six tackles, including one for a loss, and defended one pass through the first three quarters Thursday night in the Bills' preseason finale against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Tarpley started the second half with a pass breakup.

Rookie tight end Nick O'Leary had gone the entire preseason without a catch, until the final minute of the third quarter. O'Leary caught a fastball from Matt Simms on a fourth-and-3 play, converting the first down.

Stepping up: Bills seventh-round draft choice Dez Lewis has fallen behind some other receivers on the depth chart, but turned in his best performance of the preseason Thursday night. Lewis had five catches for 73 yards on eight targets through the first three quarters. 

Cause for concern: After a clean first half, Bills kicker Dan Carpenter banged a 40-yard field-goal try off the right upright during the third quarter. Carpenter is 3 for 6 on field goals in the preseason. Given Rex Ryan's disappointment in his earlier misses, he's firmly on the hot seat.

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