NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 1 BUF at NYG W2W4

W2W4: Buffalo Bills

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3
CANTON, Ohio -- The Buffalo Bills and New York Giants open the preseason Sunday night (8, NBC) at Fawcett Stadium.

1. How much Manuel and Watkins? On Friday, coach Doug Marrone gave no indication of how much his starters -- including quarterback EJ Manuel -- would play in Sunday's game. The expectation is that it will be minimal, perhaps as little as one series. While Manuel is in the midst of a critical training camp and preseason as he tries to take a step forward in his second season, an injury in this opening game would be a major setback. The same holds true for Sammy Watkins, the Bills' top pick who has impressed in two weeks of training camp. The two will have plenty of time to build chemistry as the preseason progresses. No need to push it Sunday night.

2. Backup quarterbacks in focus: This is the time of the year when backup quarterbacks receive more attention than starters. The Bills have a battle for their backup job between incumbent Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel (the third quarterback last season). Lewis has looked erratic in training camp practices, showing questionable accuracy after he arguably played better than Manuel in some games last season. Tuel's performances in practice have been up and down, but he still stands a chance at leapfrogging Lewis on the depth chart. Manuel's three knee injuries last season put his durability in question, so who wins the Bills' backup job could be called upon to start at some point again this season.

3. Offensive line carousel spins: The Bills have tinkered with their offensive line personnel more than any other position group this summer. Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn remains on the non-football illness list, while right guard Kraig Urbik's starting job is up for grabs. The team drafted three linemen this spring -- Cyrus Kouandjio (second round), Cyril Richardson (fifth round) and Seantrel Henderson (seventh round) -- and all of them should see extended action Sunday. Henderson will likely start in Glenn's place, while Richardson should replace Urbik at some point early in the game. Kouandjio has been slower to come along but can begin to challenge right tackle Erik Pears with a strong performance.

W2W4: New York Giants

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3
The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills open the preseason Sunday night (8 ET, NBC) at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Here are three things to watch for from the Giants' end:

1. The structure of the new offense: Without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and running back David Wilson (neck), the offense lacks two of its speedier pieces. And Eli Manning and the starters won't play more than about 15 or 20 plays. But you will get your first look at the drastically different scheme the Giants are installing under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. It will be up-tempo. It will likely involve some no-huddle. The passing game will rely on shorter stuff close to the line of scrimmage to help the pace. The running game will be more complex, with added emphasis on stretch and zone runs. The Giants won't show their whole playbook, or anything close to it, in this or any other preseason game, but if you've been looking for a taste of how this year's offense will operate differently from the Giants' offenses of years past, Sunday night should help you out.

2. The cornerbacks: Newcomers Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond have been two of the standout stars of Giants training camp practices. It will be interesting to see whether they assign Rodgers-Cromartie to Bills star rookie receiver Sammy Watkins and how he does against him if they do. Rodgers-Cromartie seems extremely cool and confident this summer, and the Giants believe they can put him on the opposing team's top receiver every game and expect him to shut the guy down.

3. The offensive line: No issue is more important to the possibility of a Giants 2014 rebound than the ability of the line to protect Manning. This will be the first time all summer that anyone will be allowed to hit Manning if he gets near him, and the Giants' rebuilt line must show it can keep Manning upright if it's to earn the trust last year's line never did. J.D. Walton is likely to start at center, with Geoff Schwartz at left guard and Brandon Mosley at right guard. Expect Charles Brown to start at left tackle in place of Will Beatty, who's working his way back from a serious leg injury and missed some practices last week with an illness. And second-year man Justin Pugh is back (and bigger) at right tackle. How the line comes together is a big story of this preseason, but when there's an opposing team on the field, it's vital that it keeps the quarterback clean.


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