The Buffalo Bills will officially begin their 2012 season on Thursday August 9th. The Bills will be taking on the Washington Redskins at Ralph Wilson Stadium and both teams are anxious to finally get out on the playing field. The preseason game will kickoff at 7:00 PM and from the second the game begins, Bills head coach Chan Gailey will keep a close eye on the performance of all players.
Gailey spoke to the media at training camp about what he is going to be looking for on Thursday stating, “I want to see if communication is good, if effort and tackling are good. Those are the things you’re looking at, the fundamentals much more than you are the scheme and how many plays are made or not made.” With deadlines for cutting down the team roster approaching, Gailey is going to be analyzing both newly acquired and veteran players to see if they can earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.
The Bills and Redskins will be facing off for the 14th time in the preseason Thursday and the pressure is on for both the rookies and the veterans. Fans have high expectations for the Bills this season and this will be their first sneak peek at how much progress the team has made following an unusually active offseason that included the the signing of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson on the defensive line. The Bills have a 3-3 record at home versus the Redskins in the preseason.
Chan Gailey told the media that the Bills starters should see about 15-18 plays, and one starter who is anxious to get on the field is quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He expressed his excitement about seeing the rookies get out onto an NFL field for the first time and how they perform under pressure. Fans are excited to see the new look defense, featuring Williams and Anderson in their first game action, along with last year’s top draft pick Marcell Dareus. Williams told the media he is looking forward to the preseason game on Thursday, stating, “Preseason is one of those things when you go out there and finally get real hits.”
The Bills first, second, and third 2012 NFL Draft picks, CB Stephon Gilmore, LT Cordy Glenn, and WR TJ Graham respectively, are rookies who will be looked at analytically on Thursday. The college game is much different than the NFL game, and Bills fans will be looking to gauge how quickly they can adjust to NFL speed.
Another rookie that everyone will be watching is Heisman Trophy winner and rookie Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan told the media RGIII would see about 12-20 snaps against the Bills. He has the talent to become one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and after the Redskins traded the farm to select him, Thursday will be the first opportunity to see him play in a Redskins uniform.
There are some injuries to be noted for both the Bills and the Redskins going into their first game of the preseason. The Bills will be without Eric Wood, David Nelson, Terrence McGee, Justin Rogers, and Torrell Troup and the Redskins will not have Kory Lchtensteinger, Jammal Brown, or Chris Chester on the field.
Although it is just the preseason, both teams will take this game seriously, at least from the standpoint of evaluating talent. It will allow the coaches of both teams to see just how much progress they have made, and to judge the players fighting for a roster spot. The game is blacked out in Western New York, but Redskins fans will be able to watch the game on local channels in the Washington, D.C. area. For many, it feels like it has been ages since the NFL season ended, so fans are looking forward to beginning of the preseason.