The Eagles are set to host the Bills for this year’s first preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field. New Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby gets to face his old team for the first time. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is also likely to make his debut.
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We caught up with our colleague Rob Quinn from Bills Wire and asked him five burning questions headed into the game on Thursday.
There was no indication at all that Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby weren’t part of the Bills’ long-term plans. New GM Brandon Beane told the media that he didn’t even let Sean McDermott know of his plans before the first preseason game. Cornerback was — and still is — viewed as a thin position group, and Darby was expected to take on a big role in his third year with Buffalo.
Some fans are jaded from the playoff drought and immediately pointed to Watkins’ recent injuries as a reason to get rid of him. Darby’s case is a bit murkier, as the fan base was well aware of the former second-round pick’s talent and ability, along with the fact that there currently isn’t a proven player at the position on the roster.
Jordan Matthews is week to week after being injured in 1st practice with Bills
That’s a good question. Early signs point to Boldin being the primary slot receiver, where both Jones and Matthews have thrived. But in Rick Dennison’s West Coast offense, I don’t think there will be a true “No. 1” or “No. 2” receiver.
Boldin is the veteran and brings a big target for QB Tyrod Taylor to use over the middle, while Matthews and Jones are similar in that they’re savvy route runners against zone coverage and also bring larger bodies to the position. Taylor will undoubtedly find a rhythm with one of the three over the others, and the targets should shake out from there.
Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough has been the surprise standout of Bills training camp. Undrafted out of Wyoming, he spent the 2016 training camp with the Broncos but didn’t make the final roster.
This year, he’s shown great technique, play speed and strength, and has risen up Buffalo’s depth chart. He started in place of Shaq Lawson last week and recorded three tackles and one sack. Yarbrough is all but a lock to make the final roster, and he’s a fun player to watch.
Under Rex Ryan, the Bills really could do no wrong. Now, McDermott is bringing his no-nonsense attitude and an organizational philosophy centered around disciplined, high-character individuals. He’s brought players in that he expects to buy in and help develop a winning culture (Micah Hyde, Mike Tolbert, Zay Jones, Tre’Davious White) while pushing veterans like Lorenzo Alexander, Richie Incognito and Kyle Williams to embrace leadership roles.
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Hughes has always been a fiery player on the field and had gotten into altercations with former GM Doug Marrone and Ryan previously. Hughes should be counted on to accept a leadership role, given that he’s 29 years old and a veteran on the defensive line.
But, as Frazier yelled at him during practice, “It’s always about Jerry!” and that’s been the status quo since the team traded for him. McDermott did say that he likes Hughes’ playing style but noted that he wasn’t going to tolerate any post-whistle penalties — something that’s been an issue for Hughes in recent seasons.