As the Bills kickoff their pre-season at Lucas Oil Stadium at in about an hour, all eyes will be on E.J Manuel as he makes his bid to be Buffalo's first franchise QB since Jim Kelly. With Kolb missing some practice time these past couple days, this could be a moment whereby E.J. solidifies himself as our starter. Besides EJ's performance, there are a few other things I will be keeping an eye on.
Does Jairus Byrd's stock go up or down? How will the secondary perform and will Byrd's absence from the lineup be glaring? If so, stock up. If not…he might want to sign that franchise tender and get into camp.
How does the offensive line perform and who will get the edge to replace Levitre at Guard? So far in training camp the Bills have been tinkering with the O-line (including having OT Cordy Glenn take some snaps at Guard). Legursky and Brown have switched up at LG with both taking snaps with the first team. Thomas Welch and Sam Young are also still in the discussion for playing time on Buffalo's re-vamped line. Overall, we don't have a clue on who will be opening the season. We should know a little more later this afternoon.
Does Jeff Tuel have any shot of making the team? He has also showed some upside in practice and with Kolb's troubles is there a crack emerging that allows Teul a legitimate shot of making the club? If he plays well in Indy, he might make the decision for Marrone, Hackett and Co a little tougher.
Are we really as deep at Wide Receiver as we think we are? Graham, Woods, Rodgers and Goodwin have all showed flashes at camp. How do they perform against somebody else's secondary and who gets the edge as the #2 receiver?
Has Marcell Dareus put last year behind him? By his own admission, Dareus did not have a good year last season. Really who could blame him? Dareus has said that he has been able to get past the tragedy of his brother's fatal shooting and is now focused on becoming a dominant football player. This afternoon I will be looking for glimpses of that player who so dominated opposing offensive lineman at the University of Alabama.
Is Alonso really going to be a stud in the middle? The rookie from Oregon has had a good camp. It would be nice to see a couple 3rd down hits that get the Bills defense off the field.
Besides these nuggets to keep my interest, I will remind myself that it's just a pre-season game (and the first one at that). So, while I hope a couple questions get answered, I really just want us to get out of the game healthy, and look like a team ready to take the next step toward a winning season.
Kickoff is in 45 minutes. The beer is cold, the wings are hot. Go Bills!!