Friday, August 16, 2013
What to watch for: Bills-Vikings
By Mike Rodak
The Buffalo Bills continue their preseason on Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings. After opening on the road, the Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Here's what to watch for:
- How does Kolb bounce back? After missing a week of practice due to an injury and a death in the family, Kevin Kolb worked his way back into the competition at quarterback this week, and will start on Friday evening. Head coach Doug Marrone said not to read too much into Kolb starting, as the team's original plan was to start him in the opener and Manuel in tonight's game. With less than three weeks until the Bills begin their preparations for the New England Patriots in the season opener, the feeling on this end is that the job is Manuel's to lose. Still, all eyes will be on Kolb and if he shows any ill effects from his knee injury earlier in camp.
- Do the Bills open things up for Manuel? Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett appeared to keep quarterback EJ Manuel's reads simple in the preseason opener, as there was an obvious emphasis on shorter passes, sometimes to tight ends and running backs. Manuel passed that test, and it may be time for the Bills to take the next step with their rookie signal-caller. Manuel will come in after Kolb on Friday, and when he does, look for Hackett to mix in some deeper passes, which would be the latest challenge for Manuel and the team's rookie receivers.
- Can Tuel continue to creep onto radar? The intrigue at quarterback for the Bills trickles down to the third quarterback in camp, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel. The Washington State product had an impressive showing in the preseason opener, completing 19 of 23 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He figures to see extended time in the second half Friday, and with another positive outing could put himself in position to secure a 53-man roster spot. It's too early to debate if Tuel should earn the nod over Kolb as the No. 2 quarterback, but that idea could gain traction depending on how each player performs Friday.
- Another chance to catch Goodwin. Fans saw very little of Marquise Goodwin on Sunday's preseason opener, but when they did, he was explosive. Goodwin returned kickoffs for 53 and 107 yards, but played just 17 snaps on offense and wasn't targeted on any passes. While it will be worth watching each time Goodwin returns a kick, he also has the potential to use his speed to his advantage in the passing game. After a quiet opener on offense for Goodwin, maybe things will be different on Friday night.