After three preseason games there are a few intresting position battles shaping up. Here are my top three:
Right Guard- The main two fighting for this spot are rookie Cyril Richardson and returning starter Kraig Urbrik. It is hard to say how much of a chance Richardson has at taking Urbrik’s job considering that he hasn’t seen that much time at the position. What is becoming clear is that head coach Doug Marrone and GM Doug Whaley are determined to get Eric Pears and Urbrik out of our starting lineup. That said, it was veteran Doug Legursky who got the start in place of Williams against the Steelers last night. Richardson didn’t do anything to improve his stock but, don’t think the guard position is settled. I expect Cyril could get more practice next week as a starter.
Speaking of Pears:
Right Tackle- Eric Pears vs Sentral Henderson vs Cyrus Kouandjio, This is just my opinion…but, RT is the most important battle in camp because RT was our weakest offensive position last year. Eric Pears is an aging starter who hasn’t done much at keeping pass rushers out of the backfield. We really need one of the two rookies to step and take this job from Pears and put him as a reserve this season. So even though Pears is in the conversation to be the starter I really hope the competition comes down to Kouandijo and Henderson.
Yeah than I watched the game Saturday night and go ahead and take Kouandjio out of the conversation. He was horrible against the Steelers including in the 4th quarter against players who will be out of work in about 10 days. Amazing that the player we are seeing today started at mighty Alabama and was a 2nd round pick. So, if Marrone had to pick a starter today between Pears and Henderson I really believe the nod goes to Seantral Henderson. While he certainly looks like a rookie, Henderson has done a great job stepping in for Cordy Glenn while he was out with his mystery illness, blocking pro bowl tackles Jason Pierre-Paul and The Kraken AKA Greg Hardy. Our 7th round pick has shown great foot work and the ability to get to the second level and make blocks for the runners. With Cordy getting ready to come back and reclaim his job, it is pretty clear that once Glenn is back on the field that Henderson will take over at right tackle. Getting back to Kouandijo; he has done nothing to prove himself as a second round pick, but he has the rare size and athleticism to make a dominant tackle. Here is hoping that he improves but, he is not in the conversation as a starter…end of story.
Back up Quarterback- Jeff Tuel vs Thad Lewis, This is one of the surprise competitions in camp. I personally thought that the Bills would have already cut Jeff Tuel by now and it was going to be EJ and Thad as our QB’s. but something happened to Jeff Tuel over this offseason, I think he knew he had to make a statement early in order to keep a job and he has. Jeff has looked focus and determined through the summer and has really impressed me. He seems poised in the pocket during in the first two+ games and has delivered short accurate passes when needed. That mixed in with a strong run game “Tuel-time” has shown that he could come in and maybe win a game if (god forbid) EJ goes down.
Thad Lewis? Yeah he was 1-6 last night with a pick and a zero (zero!!) QBR. Thad seems uneasy in the pocket and two often has tried to throw the home run deep ball even when it is not there. Neither of these players will get cut but it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the next three games.
Strong Safety Duke Williams vs Da’Norris Searcy- Filling the shoes of pro bowl Jarius Byrd is going to be hard for the Bills but, it seems we have two players that might be able to do just that. In the first two games I personally couldn’t tell who has the edge on getting the job, both players had ups and downs during these games.
Searcy is the veteran so it is safe to assume he has the inside track to be the starter. He is solid in all aspects of the game yet, he took a horrible angle on the 76 yard TD throw and catch Saturday night in Pittsburg. Also, I have to say while he is solid, Searcy doesn’t have the game changing ability that Byrd had, and what it looks like Williams might have.
Williams has shown his youth at times, getting burned in practice by Watkins (granted that’s what we drafted Watkins to do) and making other mental mistakes during games and being slow to react. Where Williams has an edge on Searcy is his physicality. Williams has been an enforcer in the first two games, laying hits on guys that make the opposing teams fans cringe and the kind of hits that bring us to our feet. His “de-cleating” ability is something that could really help the Bills defense. Everyone saw what happened to the Broncos once Cam Chancellor started cracking heads in the super bowl – it turned the most proficient offense in NFL history into a division three college team that couldn’t complete a pass and had the receivers heads on a swivel. If Williams can bring that type of ability to our defensive backfield the Bills defense just became scary good. Either player is my opinion will fill the void nicely given that they have Aaron Williams back there to guide them. In my view, it just depends on if Duke can clean up his play and be more consistent, if not then we will still be in good hands with Searcy (bad angles aside).