Preseason Game #3: Bills Look to End their Losing Streak as the Jags Come to Town

Preseason Game #3: Bills Look to End their Losing Streak as the Jags Come to Town
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Brad Smith might have to line up more at wide receiver against the Jaguars since the Bills’ receiving corps took a huge hit last week.
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Running back Fred Jackson is ready to show the Bills that he deserves to the feature back for the 2011 season.

The Buffalo Bills will finally be able to showcase their brand new home jerseys and hopefully end their losing streak in their home preseason opener after dropping their last two contests on the road against the Chicago Bears (10-3) and the Denver Broncos (24-10).

The Bills will wear their new uniforms on Saturday night when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars who will be without their Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew has yet to play a game yet in preseason due to his recovery from offseason knee surgery and his replacement Rashad Jennings has filled in capably with 28 yards on six carries, while the rest of the team has struggled, averaging a league second-worst 76.5 yards on the ground.

The Bills’ run defense should greatly benefit from Jones-Drew not playing in this game since they rank 24th in the NFL after allowing 132.5 average yards per game in their two preseason games thus far.

The Bills’ defense lost veteran backup linebacker Reggie Torbor for the rest of the season since he was placed on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury after a poor performance against the Broncos last week.

Also guaranteed to miss the game for the Bills will be linebackers Chris Kelsay, Arthur Moats, Kelvin Sheppard, and Chris White, wide receivers Donald Jones, Roscoe Parrish, and Naaman Roosevelt, tight end Shawn Nelson, tackle Ed Wang, and running back Johnny White.

The Bills also might be without their two best pass rushers in Marcell Dareus and Shawn Merriman, rookies Chris Hairston and Justin Rogers, wide receiver Craig Davis, and nose tackle Kellen Heard as all of these players have been listed as questionable.

The Bills might sit Dareus and Merriman since they know what both players are capable of and they want to make sure that both are healthy and ready to play on September 11 in the Bills’ regular season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

If both players sit out, the Bills will be forced to start two unproven outside linebackers in Danny Batten and Antonio Coleman and veteran backup defensive lineman Spencer Johnson.

The Bills probably won’t be able to generate much of a pass rush, but they should be able to evaluate their cornerbacks better, since Jaguars’ quarterbacks David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert have failed to impress this preseason and should be given more opportunities to pass the ball.

For the Bills offensively, they will split starter reps between Andy Levitre and Demetrius Bell at left tackle, and the player that performs better will likely be the starter on opening day.

The Bills offensive line has been reshuffling throughout the preseason, so if another player, say Kraig Urbik were to struggle, his job likely would be in “jeopardy” heading into the next game.

The Bills also need to decide on which running back will be the starter come opening day. In two preseason games Fred Jackson has 52 yards on seven carries while C.J. Spiller has 13 yards on eight carries.

Jackson has clearly been the better back, averaging 7.4 yards per carry, but the Bills have given each player a start so far in preseason.

Wide receiver will be another wait-and-see position for the Bills this year as Donald Jones will miss the rest of the preseason with a head injury.

Marcus Easley will likely get the start opposite Steve Johnson, but Brad Smith, Felton Huggins and Craig Davis could possibly see time as the No. 2 receiver since Easley doesn’t have much experience as an NFL wide receiver.

The Bills special teams will get a huge test on Saturday when Deji Karim returns kicks for the Jaguars. Through two games, he has averaged 41.5 yards per kick return.

The Bills didn’t have to cover kicks last game since kicker Rian Lindell was able to land all of his kickoffs as touchbacks, but that was most likely due to the thin air of Denver and he likely won’t have the same success in Buffalo.