Thursday, February 27, 2014
Thoughts on Bills in Hall of Fame game
By Mike Rodak
Sharing some thoughts on the NFL's announcement Thursday that the Buffalo Bills will play the New York Giants in the annual Hall of Fame game:
Not a shocker: The Hall of Fame game, held annually in Canton, Ohio, the day after induction ceremonies, is typically played between an AFC and NFC team who have former players being inducted. Of the five modern-era enshrinees -- Andre Reed, Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Walter Jones, and Derrick Brooks -- Reed was the only player who spent most of his career with an AFC team.
Earlier start in July: The Bills were one of the last teams to start training camp last season, as they began their preseason on a Sunday instead of a typical Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night game. That won't be the case this year. The Hall of Fame game is held a week ahead of the first full preseason weekend, meaning the Bills might also start training camp a week early. It's not a requirement that they do, but expect coach Doug Marrone to take advantage of the extra time to get his team prepared. That means a shorter July vacation for players and the coaching staff.
Longer haul in camp: With training camp starting early and five preseason games on the slate, this will be a longer summer than usual for players. The Bills were hit with a rash of injuries last preseason, with several key players -- EJ Manuel (knee), Kevin Kolb (concussion), Stevie Johnson (hamstring), and Stephon Gilmore (wrist) -- sidelined. For Manuel in particular, the longer camp could be beneficial from a development standpoint, but it also presents more risk for injury, especially with Manuel's knees already under the microscope. It wouldn't be surprising if Marrone works more rest days and walk-throughs into the camp schedule to keep players fresh.
Ideal road trip: From a fan standpoint, the combination of Reed's induction (on Aug. 2) and the Bills-Giants game (on Aug. 3) make for an ideal summer road trip. With Buffalo-to-Canton less than a four-hour drive, expect plenty of Bills fans in the stands. The Bills last played in Canton in 2009, falling to the Tennessee Titans, 21-18.