AFC East: 2013 preseason reaction Week 4 lions-bills

Observation deck: Bills-Lions

August, 29, 2013

Observations from the Buffalo Bills' 35-13 loss to the Detroit Lions in their preseason finale Thursday:

Tuel sits, now waits: The Bills chose to rest virtually all of their starters for this game. Among them? Rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel, who has been named the starter in Week 1 if EJ Manuel is unable to play. The Bills chose to pass up the opportunity to get Tuel more reps and more experience, and instead went the safe route, protecting him from injury. It's now a waiting game for Tuel and the Bills, who will need Manuel to return by next Wednesday if he is to play in the Sept. 8 opener.

Lewis tops Leinart in QB battle: When Kevin Kolb's future in the NFL became murky following a concussion in last Saturday's loss, the Bills immediately moved to sign veteran Matt Leinart and acquire another quarterback, Thad Lewis, in a trade. Leinart started tonight and, as one might imagine, looked rusty. He went 3-for-10 passing for 11 yards, throwing two interceptions. Leinart's struggles may have caused coach Doug Marrone to make the switch to Lewis earlier than anticipated. Lewis came in early in the second quarter and, in relative terms, had a better outing. Lewis finished 7-for-16 for 132 yards, but was not intercepted and added a 79-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Easley in the fourth quarter. The Bills might wind up keeping just one of this pair, and after Thursday night, it looks like Lewis has the edge.

Curious case of Nigel Bradham: Among the defensive starters, one name stood out: second-year linebacker Bradham. He started alongside rookie Kiko Alonso at linebacker in the first three preseason games, and it would be a surprise if he wasn't in that spot in Week 1. So, with the Bills resting all of their other presumptive starters (outside of cornerback Crezdon Butler, who should start in place of an injured Stephon Gilmore), it was worth noting Bradham's presence, which continued through the first half. Unclear if it's related to his Aug. 19 traffic stop, when he was ticketed for marijuana possession.

Legursky carted off: The past two weeks have been a rough stretch for Buffalo on the injury front, and the Bills took another hit Thursday. Veteran offensive lineman Doug Legursky was carted off in the third quarter with an apparent left-leg injury. Legursky was set to become the Bills' top interior reserve, and if healthy, likely would have been part of the 46-man game-day roster. Now, his status is uncertain, which could force the Bills to turn to Antoine Caldwell (fifth season) or David Snow (second season) at the inside swing position.

What's next: The Bills will have to trim their roster to 53 players by Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. After that, it's time for the real thing. They'll be back on the practice field Sunday and Monday as they prepare for their opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 8.
The Buffalo Bills trail the Detroit Lions 35-3 at halftime of tonight's preseason finale.

Scatter-shooting some notes and thoughts on the first half:
  1. Ouch. After getting trounced in Washington on Saturday, the Bills have put up another clunker tonight at home. Keep in perspective that the Bills are resting their starters and playing with two quarterbacks who have only been with the team since Sunday, but still, not an encouraging performance by any means.
  2. Head coach Doug Marrone to the team's broadcast at halftime: "We should be playing much better than this, and that's a concern."
  3. The Bills chose to rest Jeff Tuel, protecting what will likely be their opening-day quarterback from injury.
  4. Matt Leinart's stat line: 3-for-10, 11 yards, no touchdowns, 2 interceptions. QB rating of 0.0.
  5. Thad Lewis' stat line: 2-for-5, 11 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions.
  6. Bills' offense: 44 net yards on 30 plays (1.5-yard per play average), 8 net passing yards, two first downs, 1-for-9 on third down. Yikes.
  7. Lions' offense: 221 net yards on 40 plays (5.5-yard per play average), 17 first downs, 4-for-4 in red zone.
  8. The biggest non-quarterback story of the game? Nigel Bradham starting on defense and playing the entire first half. The second-year linebacker is the only presumptive defensive starter to see playing time tonight. It's unclear why Bradham is in the game, and if it's at related to him being cited for marijuana possession on Aug. 19. Don't think his roster spot is in danger, but it's something to watch.
  9. Also notable: Da'Norris Searcy playing the entire first half. He started the first three preseason games at safety in place of Jairus Byrd, who could return for Week 1. The Bills started their pair of rookies -- Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks -- at safety tonight, with Searcy playing extensively in sub packages. Unlike Bradham, his roster spot could be in danger, but it also could be a case of the Bills wanting to get him comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage in sub packages, something he may do when Byrd returns.
  10. Draft picks not playing tonight: EJ Manuel (injured), Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods.
  11. One draft pick playing tonight: Marquise Goodwin, who was poked in the eye late in the first quarter and won't return.
  12. Another injury: Brad Smith, who took a hit to the ribs on the final kickoff of the first half. He's questionable to return.