Preseason Week One - What to watch for in Bills vs. Panthers

August 08, 2018 - 5:28 pm
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The Buffalo Bills begin their preseason schedule on Thursday night at New Era Field against the Carolina Panthers. While the win and loss column is not as important and the games are less captivating in the preseason, that does not mean there is a lack of reasons to pay attention throughout the preseason games. 

1. WHOSDAQ

The major question throughout training camp: Who is the quarterback going to be? If it's based off of the rotation, AJ McCarron should be the first quarterback out on the field with the starters for the Bills, followed by Nathan Peterman with the second unit and then rookie Josh Allen should be expected to wrap up the game and get the most reps with the third team. 

In the Bills quarterback race, the fan base has sections that want each of the three quarterbacks to wind up as the starter in 2018. That is what makes this preseason so interesting, to find out how each of them does when there are defenders actively trying to hit them and the games simulate some sort of real football. McCarron and Peterman will be under a microscope, as both tend to not be too inspiring. McCarron seems to be the most cautious with the football, but also takes a lot of sacks in practice. Peterman tends to be very inconsistent and Allen is still deemed as a player who needs time before being put into a starting role. The stock of all three will take their first major shifts tomorrow night. 

Many eyes will be on Allen in particular, mostly since he is the one who can turn the competition upside down. If Allen impresses and dominates against lesser competition in the second half, the coaching staff will need to open Allen up to more reps with the first or second team. Allen could get more time with the first and second team if there are major struggles from McCarron or Peterman as well. With Allen likely to play out the second half, most fans will be ready to pick apart and analyze every pass by the seventh overall pick. 

2. WR Depth Chart 

With Zay Jones only just coming back in to the fold from injury and Corey Coleman just being acquired from the Cleveland Browns, it is not very likely either will see the field against Carolina. Head coach Sean McDermott is not one to rush players along, this would be more to that style if he keeps Jones and Coleman out for this game. 

Outside of Kelvin Benjamin and Jeremy Kerley, there are a lot of question marks at wide receiver. Undrafted rookie Robert Foster seems to have lost momentum from a good spring, while fellow undrafted rookie Cam Phillips is making a strong case to at least be considered for the practice squad while taking on fellow rookies Austin Proehl and Ray Ray McCloud. Andre Holmes, Brandon Reilly and Rod Streater are all going to be fighting for what may shape up to be 2 spots on the roster, so expect those three to bring the intensity and log plenty of snaps. The Bills have a lot of competition at wideout, they may be banking on the players making each other better through competition as the season is around the corner. 

3. New faces and hopeful improvement on defense

What can Bills fans expect to see from many new faces on a defense that looks to be improved defense? With the additions of Star Lotulelei, Trent Murphy, Vontae Davis, Tremaine Edmunds and many others, the Bills are looking to create a strength out of the defense. Those players are not expected to see too much time, with the possibility that only Edmunds would see two quarters from this group. 

Bills fans will also be hoping to see more from younger players like Shaq Lawson and Matt Milano to inspire confidence in their development. For Lawson, it's a fight to remain relevant on this Bills roster and take snaps away from Murphy. As for Milano, fans will want to see if he can handle a full season as a starter. 

We'll have full coverage of the Bills/Panthers preseason opener all day Thursday, with network coverage starting at 4pm, kickoff is at 7pm on WGR! 

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