Thursday, July 31, 2014
Bills offensive players to watch Sunday
By Mike Rodak
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will open their preseason in Canton, Ohio against the New York Giants.
As the Bills wrap up their second full week of training camp practices, we'll begin to shift our focus to that game. While we don't expect to see EJ Manuel and the Bills first-team offense for much, if any, of Sunday's game, the playing time will be worthwhile for a number of other players.
Starting on offense, let's pinpoint which players have the most to gain from a quality performance Sunday:
T.J. Graham -- After starting 17 games over his first two seasons, Graham is squarely on the bubble this training camp. After missing all of OTAs following offseason surgery, Graham's performance in camp has been shaky. He's had more than a handful of drops. The Bills have used Graham mostly as a speed threat -- both in the screen and deep game -- but he'll need to prove himself as more than that to crack the roster. Expect Graham to get plenty of action with the backup quarterbacks Sunday. He's also expected to get some tries as a returner.
Jeff Tuel -- There is a battle for the backup quarterback spot behind Manuel. Since Thad Lewis is more of an established veteran than Tuel, we'd expect him to get the first nod after Manuel. The bulk of the playing time could go to Tuel and journeyman Dennis Dixon. Tuel has looked better in in training camp this season than he did last summer. Lewis remains the favorite to replace Manuel if he is injured again this season, but Tuel can make a strong push in the first few preseason games, starting Sunday.
Seantrel Henderson -- We wouldn't be surprised if Henderson starts the game at left tackle and plays for a large chunk of the game. He needs the experience. If Cordy Glenn can't return by the regular-season opener, then Henderson is the likely starter against Jared Allen and the Chicago Bears' defensive line.
Chris Gragg -- Another bubble player, Gragg returned to practice in full pads Wednesday and could be ready for live action by Sunday. He's fighting for a roster spot and should have plenty of opportunities with Scott Chandler (groin) and Tony Moeaki (hamstring) out this week and likely out for Sunday's game. Gragg can help his case by proving to be a downfield and red-zone threat. He may still have to beat out Moeaki to make the final roster.
Cyrus Kouandjio -- We would be shocked if Kouandjio isn't on the field for a large chunk of the snaps Sunday. He hasn't been able to push Erik Pears for the starting right tackle job and will need to pick up the pace if he has any plans of doing that by the regular-season opener. We wouldn't be surprised to see Kouandjio see time at both left and right tackle, either. If he can't start at right tackle, then he'll need to bring value on the 46-man game day roster as a swing tackle. He's practiced exclusively at right tackle to this point.
Cyril Richardson -- With Chris Hairston leaving Wednesday's practice with a back injury, Richardson got some cracks with the first team at right guard. That could indicate more confidence from the coaching staff in the fifth-round pick. We'd expect incumbent Kraig Urbik to see some time Sunday, but Richardson can start to make a push at that job with a quality performance Sunday.