1. AJ McCarron’s turn with the starters. We’re assuming this, but it would make sense given the rotation the team has used throughout training camp. All of the quarterbacks played well in the preseason opener, meaning the competition to be the starter remains wide open. McCarron can make his case with a strong showing against a Cleveland team that has a pair of good pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, as well as the No. 4 overall draft pick in cornerback Denzel Ward.
2. Tyrod Taylor against his former team. Even if it’s just a preseason game, Taylor has to be extra motivated to go up against the team that traded him away. He’ll give the Bills’ starting defense a good test against a mobile quarterback who generally takes good care of the football. The members of Buffalo’s secondary have lofty goals this season, including 20 interceptions among them. Getting one off of Taylor would perhaps be a good sign of things to come.
3. Corey Coleman’s Bills debut. Another player with plenty to prove Friday is Coleman, the former first-round draft pick of the Browns who was given away for a bag of doughnuts (2020 seventh-round draft pick) earlier this summer. Coleman joined the Bills right before their first preseason game, so the coaching staff held him out against the Panthers to give him time to learn the playbook. Coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday that it’s time for Coleman to show he’s done that. The competition for wide receiver has sorted itself out some, with Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Jeremy Kerley and Andre Holmes looking like the established top four. That leaves Coleman in a group with Rod Streater, Brandon Reilly and Ray-Ray McCloud for one or two spots. Coleman will get every opportunity to prove he deserves a spot after the Bills gave up an asset for him, but he’s not a lock for the roster. A good showing against his former team could push him in that direction.
4. Matt Milano’s role. It’s been a surprise to see Keenan Robinson and Ramon Humber mix in with the first team on occasion in place of Milano. Perhaps that’s the coaching staff trying to send a message. Milano’s role has been assumed to be that of an every-down linebacker. If he continues to sub out with the starters, it could be a sign of more than just the coaching staff sending a wake-up call.
5. The tight end rotation. Jason Croom has made a strong push this summer for a spot on the 53-man roster. If that continues, who will he push off? The answer could be Nick O'Leary, who was penciled into the No. 2 spot at the start of training camp. Charles Clay's job as the starter is safe, but after that the competition comes down to Logan Thomas, Khari Lee, O'Leary and Croom for two or three spots. Of that group, Lee is the best blocker, so if the Bills want a tight end primarily focused on that role, he would have an advantage. That leaves Thomas, Croom and O'Leary for one or two spots.
Story topics: AJ McCarron/ Andre Holmes/ Brandon Reilly/ Charles Clay/ Corey Coleman/ Jason Croom/ Jeremy Kerley/ Keenan Robinson/ Kelvin Benjamin/ Khari Lee/ Logan Thomas/ Matt Milano/ Nick O'Leary/ Ramon Humber/ Ray-Ray McCloud/ Rod Streater/ Sean McDermott/ Tyrod Taylor/ Zay Jones