For diehard Bills fans, the time has almost come: Training camp is less than two weeks away. Beginning on Sunday, July 20 in Pittsford, New York, the Buffalo Bills will begin preparing for the 2014 season, a season that breeds more optimism for the downtrodden Bills than in recent seasons.
With a revamped offense that will feature running backs Bryce Brown, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams, the Bills should be able to put some points on the board. Brown, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, could push the Bills to the top of the league rushing charts after finishing in second – to Philadelphia – in 2013.
In the draft, the Bills took tackles Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson and guard Cyril Richardson, three studs to help bolster a shaky offensive line. It will be interesting to see if any of the three can crack the starting lineup. The aforementioned offensive line will be blocking for second-year quarterback, EJ Manuel. Manuel posted some good late-game numbers (see my analysis of his future in a previous article, linked below), but needs to find more consistency and needs to stay healthy to keep his progression going after missing six games last season.
On the defensive side, the recent season-ending ACL injury to starting middle linebacker Kiko Alonso is devastating. Alonso, who was primed to follow up an outstanding rookie season, will be on the shelf until 2015. In my next post, I will take a look at who could step up for Buffalo in the wake of Alonso’s injury.
In terms of new pieces on defense, the Bills acquired middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, a former New England Patriot. Spikes has already said the Bills’ defense will turn some heads. If Buffalo is to be successful, look for him to step up at linebacker in the absence of Alonso. Ross Cockrell, a cornerback from Duke taken in the fourth round could be the only draftee to make the 54-man roster. He likely will be stuck on the second-team, but could get some regular season snaps if he performs well in camp.
More training camp information can be found here: http://www.buffalobills.com/team/training-camp/practice-schedule.html