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Bills starters will play a handful of series Thursday

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey intends to play his starters just under 20 plays in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.

"Somewhere around 15, 18 plays, something like that," Gailey said after this afternoon's practice at St. John Fisher College. "That's what the plan is going in.

"If they're in the middle of a drive we might keep our [starters] out there. If it's 13 [snaps] and they've played well, we might get them out at the end of a series."

That means each team will turn to their second-stringers at roughly the same time. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan -- the man the Bills wanted to hire but got turned down before they hired Gailey -- said last week the Redskins would use their starters between 12 and 20 plays.

The most intriguing matchup will be the Bills' rebuilt defensive line against a patchwork offensive line and Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

But Gailey pointed out defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt won't be drawing up tactics to get after RG3.

"You don't game plan for this game," Gailey said. "That guy is going to make his plays just because he's a great athlete and a great player.

"I want to see if the communication is good, the effort, if our tackling is good. Those are the things you're looking at, the fundamentals much moreso the scheme and how many plays are made or not made."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |