In what’s often dubbed the “final dress rehearsal,” the Buffalo Bills will meet the Ravens for their third preseason contest, later tonight. As Sean McDermott pointed out on Thursday this game will be valuable in helping shape the final 53-man roster. There remains plenty of players still fighting for a starting job, some who have more to prove and others who have shown more than enough to make the roster already.
Let’s take a look at three from each category who you’ll want to watch tonight, in our three of a kind piece:
Three players still in heated position battles:
1) G John Miller – It was somewhat surprising to see Vlad Ducasse working in at right guard with the ones during individual work this week. John Miller has been pretty steady at the position over the last two seasons and hasn’t necessarily looked terrible this preseason. Still, the right side of the line has had some give, so McDermott is letting it sort itself out.
2) CB Kevon Seymour – McDermott confirmed that Seymour is still in open competitions both inside at nickel corner and outside at the right cornerback spot. Currently, Leonard Johnson and Shareece Wright appear to have the edge at each position, but Seymour can help his case at either with a strong performance tonight.
3) WRs Daikiel Shorts/Brandon Reilly – Following the abrupt departure of Anquan Boldin, there’s an opportunity for some of these less known receivers to earn a spot on the roster. Really there’s a whole handful of players in the mix here, but McDermott specifically mentioned Shorts and Reilly earlier in the week as two guys he’s been impressed with. They obviously remain in a tight competition with several others at the back end of the receiving depth chart.
Three players with more to prove:
1) QB Tyrod Taylor – How can we not put the Bills starting quarterback on here? In two preseason games he’s left much to be desired, completing just 13 of his 26 passes for 99 yards, tossing two interceptions and failing to lead a touchdown drive thus far. After finishing with a miserable 12.0 rating against the Eagles last week, the calls for rookie Nathan Peterman are getting louder. Taylor is a safe bet to make the roster, but he can’t afford to end his preseason with another lackluster outing.
2) LB Reggie Ragland – On Thursday, McDermott said he believes Ragland’s “best football is in front of him.” Maybe so, but it’s hard to ignore how long his demotion from the second to the third-team defense has lasted. Whether it’s Ragland’s recovery from a torn ACL that’s holding him back, or that he’s simply not a good fit for this scheme, remains to be seen.
3) WR Andre Holmes – What was once viewed as a real possibility, cutting Holmes is now out of the question after Boldin’s retirement. While he’s probably safe, he still serves to benefit from a strong performance against Baltimore to prove he can be a reliable target for Taylor.
Three players who have shown enough:
1) RB LeSean McCoy – What else is there to say other than that? He’s looked as good as advertised. There’s nothing else to see from McCoy other than him getting through tonight without an injury.
2) LB Lorenzo Alexander – Alexander played like a mad man against the Eagles last week, racking up five tackles a pass deflection and a forced fumble. At the age of 34 he looks as agile as ever. Whether it be tackling, dropping into coverage or rushing the passer, Alexander is ready to thrive in McDermott’s 4-3 defense.
3) DE Eddie Yarbrough – After a tremendous training camp and two solid preseason performances, the only thing left for Yarbrough to prove is that his effectiveness is sustainable. Either way, barring an absolute meltdown these last two weeks he’ll be on the 53-man roster.
Follow me on Twitter: @Spencito_