Here are my three thoughts three days before the Buffalo Bills face the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Sun Life Stadium:
1. The timing is perfect for Richie Incognito's emergence as the standard-setter for the offensive line. He no doubt will have plenty on his mind as he returns to the place of the lowest point of his NFL career. But the narrative on Incognito is less about the bullying scandal of 2013 that resulted in a suspension and his banishment from the game until the Bills signed him earlier this year. It's about a rebirth, about a left guard who is performing better than all of his linemates and who has drawn heaping praise this week from coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman for his performance through the first two games of the season. The Bills need Incognito to come up big in their efforts to have much-needed improvement in their running game and to help provide the pass protection that is particularly vital with quarterback Tyrod Taylor making his first NFL start on the road.
2. EJ Manuel should be getting many more practice reps. After two weeks as a third-stringer who saw no work with the starters or the game plan, he suddenly finds himself a heartbeat away from taking over at quarterback. Granted, Taylor, as a first-time starter, had to be getting the bulk of the action in practice the past two weeks while Matt Cassel, who was traded to Dallas earlier in the week, filled the No. 2 spot. But Cassel is an 11th-year veteran and the learning curve isn't nearly as steep for him as it is for Manuel, who is only in his third season and has 14 career starts. With Ndamukong Suh -- notorious for pushing the envelope with his contact with offensive players (and especially quarterbacks) -- on the other side of the line, it wouldn't be shocking to see an injury force the Bills to go to Manuel, even temporarily. Making sure he's as ready as possible should be a priority.
3. Penalties should be getting a thorough cleaning. After committing 25 penalties in two weeks, the Bills had better have spent large portions of practice concentrating on playing smarter and cleaner. Yet, you get the feeling that they see themselves more as victims than violators, that they think officials are being overzealous with their calls. After watching a flurry of yellow flags in Thursday night's Giants-Redskins game from the crew whose referee, Ronald Torbert, worked Sunday's game against New England (in which the Bills were penalized 14 times and the Patriots were flagged 11 times), one might be inclined to agree. Nevertheless, teams can't control who is making the calls or the closeness of their officiating. So the best way to deal with it is to make it your responsibility to clean up.
>The Bills will practice today and then depart tomorrow for South Florida for their first road game of the season.