With one preseason game in the books, it is still too early to make any declarative judgements on where the Bills are at heading into the regular season, but after two weeks of camp and a Hall of Fame Game matchup versus the Giants, there is beginning to be enough evidence to sift through some developments that have happened with a team looking to make a jump. That jump may not be to make the playoffs (for the first time in 14 years) quite yet, but to perhaps at least make some noise in a division, the AFC East, held in a stronghold by the Patriots.
In this article, I will take a look at some guys in camp that have made a name for themselves in one way or another.
Henderson is a guy I have examined quite a bit in my short time writing about the Bills for isportsweb. Perhaps it is because he is a fellow Minnesotan. Perhaps his high ascension to be the top-rated high school prospect, and his descent at the University of Miami due to marijuana suspensions and a troubled work ethic, intrigue me. Either way, Henderson has become a polarizing figure and he continues to make news, albeit in a positive way recently. Due to incumbent starter Cordy Glenn sidelined due to injury, Henderson has been summoned to take first-team reps in camp and even got the start against the Giants on Sunday.
Henderson, who the Bills themselves have said he is on his last chance, held his own against acclaimed defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul, but appeared to not be in superb condition and got a bit of a negative review from head coach Doug Marrone.
Henderson left the game early and Marrone, in an article on Syracuse.com, said Henderson was “sweating a lot”.
Regarding Henderson, as well as fellow rookie offensive tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio, Marrone also said: “I think they have a lot of work ahead of them. I think both of those guys have a lot of work ahead of them, I really do. It’s tough to play tackle in the National Football League.”
Despite a bit of pessimism from Marrone, if Glenn is unable to return to form after injury, I believe Henderson has the talent to stay in the starting lineup if his conditioning improves.
Anyone who has followed the Bills already knows Kyle Williams is a stud and has been one of few sources of consistent play in Buffalo in recent years. The three-time Pro-Bowler (most recently in 2013) is one third of a trio of defensive linemen that is likely the most dominant in the league. Joining Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams was recently rated as a top-five defensive tackle and a top-100 player in the new Madden NFL ’15.
In the game versus the Giants, Williams picked up where he left off. Early on, he sacked Eli Manning, forcing a fumble. Though his job security has not been in doubt for years, it is worth it to mention the kind of impact Williams has had in Buffalo for years and how he continues to be a difference maker for Buffalo.
After rising star, Kiko Alonso, suffered a season-ending ACL injury, an opening at the weak-side linebacker spot opened up. Partly by default, and partly by skill, Brown could be poised to start in his rookie year. Fresh out of the University of Louisville, Brown picked off Eli Manning in the first half (though it was vacated due to a defensive penalty) and played a part in holding the Giants to 17 points in a 17-13 loss on Sunday in Canton.
Brown did not do a whole lot to wow anyone, but he held his own in his first in-game action. At 6-1, 251 pounds, Brown can play middle and outside linebacker, but is likely more suited to be a run-stopping middle linebacker and will likely back up starting linebacker and new acquisition, Brandon Spikes, after this season. For now, he has shown signs of being able to hold his own while the defensive line looks to carry the defense that is a bit weak in the secondary and in the middle. It should be interesting to check up on his development in weeks to come and he is certainly a guy to keep your eyes on.