Play of the game: Marcus Easley desperately needed to show some big-play ability in his fight to make the roster at receiver. He was able to do so with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Easley followed that up with a two-point conversion catch, fighting in with a Lion draped all over him. It was a great sequence for the third-year pro.
Best bubble player performance: H-back Dorin Dickerson had three catches for 23 yards, including one for a touchdown, and was open deep against a safety, but Tyler Thigpen missed the throw. Dickerson showed his potential.
Trouble spot: The starting defense allowed the Lions to drive 80 yards in seven plays over 3:19 for a tying touchdown. Included in that drive was a 15-yard facemask call against rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The touchdown came on a 24-yard pass from Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson. Second-year cornerback Aaron Williams was beat on the play, which will happen against Megatron, but does illustrate some of the struggles the young Buffalo secondary is likely to face from time to time.
Stat line of the night: Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 5 of 5 for 39 yards and a touchdown in his only series of the night, for a passer rating of 138.8. "We wanted to start fast tonight and put some points on the board. It was good to get into the end zone tonight and spread the ball around a little bit and let everyone touch it," Fitzpatrick said.
Coming up: The Bills open the regular season at 1 p.m. Sept. 9 when they visit the New York Jets.
With that in mind, here are a few battles worth watching tonight:
The No. 5 (and 6?) receiver:Marcus Easley likely needs the best game of his professional career to make it.Naaman Roosevelt has had a great camp, but he's limited in his special teams ability. Derek Hagan and Ruvell Martin are both veterans hoping to hang on. They could all be chasing just one job.
The No. 2 quarterback: The job is Tarvaris Jackson's, the question is how quickly can he get up to speed in the offense. Watching how comfortable Jackson looks in his snaps gives the second half some appeal.
Kirk Morrison v. Scott McKillop: The loser of this battle for middle linebacker is likely out of a job. Can McKillop's special teams prowess win him a job? Morrison's versatility as a backup might be his ticket to a roster spot.
Can John Potter stay perfect?The Bills' kickoff specialist gets the advantage of playing in his second dome of the preseason. He'll have to keep intact that streak of touchbacks.
Wilson was hospitalized in May 2011 after taking a fall in his home and breaking his hip. He has been bothered by balance issues the past several years. He recovered from that accident, but attended only one Bills game last season, an October home game against the New York Jets.
I joined Mitch Levy for his "Mitch in the Morning" show on Seattle's Sports Radio KJR on Tuesday morning to talk about the Bills' acquistion of former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, as well as how the team might fare this year in the AFC East.
The following is a 15-minute clip of the show, featuring some Patriots talk before our chat. Fast forward to about 10 minutes if you want to skip through the chatter about the Hoodie's team.
Marcus Easley was frank this week when discussing his future with the Buffalo Bills.
“We’re all good receivers here. There’s plenty of competition around. Guys stepped up, guys made plays. I did the same when my number was called, but being that I was so far behind with the way things transpired the last few years, that definitely put me behind,” he said. “So I have to do what’s required -- and extra –- to catch up with everybody.
Is he worried that window of opportunity is closing?
“Who wouldn’t be?” he asks. “Everybody knows how this business works and how things go.”
If Easley were to make the 53-man roster, it would likely be based on potential – and the fear the team wouldn’t be able to sneak him onto the practice squad. Easley hasn’t struggled with drops for the most part in camp (although he did have one against the Steelers), it’s just that he hasn’t had as many opportunities as the receivers ahead of him, like Derek Hagan and Naaman Roosevelt. Easley also hasn’t looked as explosive as you’d like for a player with his size and speed.
He insists he’s healthy, though, saying “I’m still staying optimistic. I’m not really worried about things I can’t control. Just trying to come out here and compete and get better.”
When classic-rock disc jockeys need to take a smoke break or
use the restroom, they have a few go-to songs to spin: "Green Grass and
High Tides," "Stairway to Heaven," and "American Pie,"
to name a few.
When "Pro Football Talk Live" host Mike Florio wants
to check out during his daily webcast, he invites me on the show.
For a tad over 17 minutes Tuesday afternoon, Florio pulled
the long string on the back of my neck a couple times and let me blather on
about the Buffalo Bills.
Subjects included quarterback anxiety, the decision to acquire
Tarvaris Jackson and cut Vince Young, whether Tyler Thigpen can save his job
Thursday night, Jackson
as a potential Wildcat weapon, how running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller
will split touches, Stevie Johnson's nagging groin injury and how impressive
the defensive line looks.
Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey outlined his plan for Thursday's preseason finale in Detroit following practice Tuesday.
"We are thinking in that 10-play area," he said, referring to how much time his starters can be expected to get. "If you are going to put them out there for four plays, why even put them out there? You want to be able to go out there and play enough to get a feel for the game. Hit a little bit because it will be a little while before they do it again."
Gailey said about 80 to 85 percent of the roster decisions have been made, but that still leaves a significant opportunity for players on the roster bubble.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows how well the final few auditions can be.
"The fourth game is one that for me has been big in my career when I was young, just in terms of getting out there, getting the time, being able to perform, show what you have learned and your handle of the offense or defense," Fitzpatrick said. "This is for those guys that are kind of on the edge and the young guys to get out there and kind of showcase what they can do. As a guy who has been in that situation, and was in that situation a lot early in my career, I understand how important it is for them."
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.
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.
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.