CAPACCIO: 3 things I'll be watching for in Vikings at Bills

Teams open preseason tonight in OP

Sal Capaccio
August 10, 2017 - 8:23 am

Three things I’ll be watching closely as the Bills open up the preseason tonight in Orchard Park against the Minnesota Vikings:

1. "Defense, let's talk"

Confusion reigned supreme for the last two seasons under Rex Ryan.  Players were often getting the defensive calls in too late, not in proper position when the ball was snapped, or unable to relay what they needed to to each other while the offense moved around and was ready to go. The final straw for Ryan was having ten men on the field for a key play during overtime against the Dolphins, which was also a result of poor communication between coaches, staff, and players on the sidelines. New head coach Sean McDermott is known to be a detail-oriented guy.  But this will be his first time overseeing the entire game day operation and making all the calls. We’ll see how he handles it all in his first crack at it.

2. Will someone please take charge of the backup QB job?

Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the starters will get about a quarter of action, according to McDermott. That leaves roughly 45-minutes to see plenty of TJ Yates and Nathan Peterman. Yates has been the primary No. 2 QB throughout training camp so far, but he’s left the door wide open for Peterman to push it over and grab the job. So far, the rookie hasn’t taken advantage of that. Both will get their first chances against a live opponent to show they deserve to be Taylor’s backup.

3. "Hey, rookie! Welcome to the NFL!"

It’s one thing for rookies to shine during camp in front of a few thousand people on a college campus in Rochester against your own teammates. It’s quite another to do it in front of 60,000 (or so) people against players who are fighting to maintain their livelihood.  So far, so good for the team's first and second round picks, CB Tre’Davious White and WR Zay Jones, respectively. White has been terrific since the day he stepped onto the field at OTAs in May. Jones has just been really steady and consistent running routes and catching the ball. But now it’s for real. Every move and decision is magnified. White, of course, routinely played in front of huge crowds in the SEC. And Jones was one of the most accomplished wideouts in the history of college football at East Carolina. His dad was also an NFL player, so he's not new to this scene. But until the lights really come on, you just don’t know how they’ll react and perform. Then there's Dion Dawkins. He was expected to compete for the starting right tackle job with Jordan Mills. So far, that hasn't really happened. But he'll now have a chance to step up with the lights and spotlight squarely on him. 

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