The Buffalo Bills are expected to play their starters for an extended amount of time in their third preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Sean McDermott is entering his third season with the Bills and is hoping to see some improvements from his roster this week.
Through their first two preseason games, Buffalo has won both of their exhibition games against the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately, McDermott can’t carry his wins in the preseason over to the regular season.
However, the third-year coach can carry the momentum his team builds in the third preseason game into the regular season. The third week of the preseason is typically considered to be the ‘dress rehearsal’ game for most teams.
Over the past two seasons, McDermott has a combined record of 15-17. In 2017 though, the first-year head coach was able to lead the Bills into the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
This year, Buffalo has reloaded and prepared themselves to return to being in a position to clinch another playoff berth in their franchise’s history. This time around, they want to advance further than the Wild Card game—for the first time since 1985.
As for their next preseason game, here are three players to watch when the Bills square off against the Lions.
3. Devin Singletary
Last week versus the Panthers, the Bills utilized rookie Devin Singletary sparingly with just five total touches in their second preseason contest. LeSean McCoy will likely begin the game in the backfield but Singletary should receive more reps with the starting offense this week.
The Bills selected Singletary with the 74th overall pick in this year’s draft out of Florida Atlantic. Buffalo chose to select the rookie running back in hopes he could provide them with some versatility in the offense.
Besides Singletary, the Bills are crowded at the running back position with McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon. Therefore, the rookie has to make the most of every snap that he receivers from the coaching staff.
On Friday night against the Lions, Singletary will go up against a new and improved defensive line in Detroit. The rookie will be tested this week and how he answers the call will have some merit on how he is used to begin the regular season.
2. Ed Oliver
The other rookie that fans have their eyes on is Ed Oliver. Of course, the Bills selected Oliver with their ninth overall pick in this year’s draft.
With Kyle Williams calling it quits this offseason, there is a decent-sized void left in the interior of the defense. The Bills are hoping that Oliver can provide them some productivity at the defensive tackle position.
The Bills’ first-round pick suited up in his preseason debut last week against the Panthers. Not much happened while Oliver was in the game at defensive tackle. Nonetheless, the rookie defensive tackle had a pass deflection and was constantly in the backfield.
During the draft process, Oliver was being compared to the likes of Aaron Donald—the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Those are lofty expectations for a rookie but Oliver can create his own path and become a disruptive force on the defensive line.
1. Josh Allen
The success of the Bills in 2019 will rely heavily upon the improvements that quarterback Josh Allen made over the offseason. The second-year quarterback has made some strides in training camp and the preseason to improve his game.
Considering the circumstances, Allen had a decent rookie campaign in 2018 with the Bills. The athletic quarterback threw for 2,074 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Along with his less-than-stellar passing stats, Allen rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. Not many people knew that the Wyoming product had wheels coming out of college.
Moving forward, Allen will need to learn how to balance the run and pass in his game. The mobile quarterback will also need to protect himself from taking any unnecessary hits during the season.
Compared to other starting signal-callers, Allen has actually received a fair amount of play in the preseason. The fans in Buffalo will likely see their hopeful franchise quarterback play further into the game against the Lions on Friday.