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By Joe Buscaglia
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5 things to watch for during Bills - Lions

It’s the tradition unlike any other. Well, that’s not totally true.

But, the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions once again have a date in the preseason, and just like last year, it will serve as an audition for a newly acquired member of the franchise. Jobs will be on the line and finality will be served to all training camp battles at the conclusion of 60 minutes of football.

So what should you be on the lookout for? Here are five different Bills related topics for Thursday:

1) EJ will play, but how much is smart?
- With the way things unraveled in the first half for the starting offense on Saturday, there isn’t much mystery as to why head coach Doug Marrone wants to get his top unit more work in a game. Quarterback EJ Manuel struggled to establish himself against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting defense and failed to convert any of their seven drives into points. The Bills, according to Marrone, will play Manuel and some of the other offensive starters for an undisclosed period of time on Thursday. How much is enough, and, when does it become disadvantageous for Manuel? The answer will likely revert back to how they approached the first preseason game: the quarterback and most of the starting offense will get a series, two or at most, three. However, if Manuel is going up against the second and third-string defense from Detroit, is he really accomplishing anything that will help him in Chicago for the regular season opener? It might be the best approach to just get his feet wet and then get him out of the game.

2) Jordan Palmer joins a Bills trend
- For the past three preseason finales, the Buffalo Bills have been unhappy with the state of their backup quarterbacks in the week leading up to it. In 2012, the Bills acquired Tarvaris Jackson via trade. Last year, once Kevin Kolb went down with an injury the team both traded for Thad Lewis and signed Matt Leinart just ahead of the preseason finale. In 2014, Jordan Palmer enters the mix as the late entrant ahead of the Bills’ final exhibition contest. He’ll likely get a lot of time on the field just for the coaching staff to see what they have in him, and if he is someone they would like to carry to the 53-man roster. Palmer was among the one, or two best options of veteran quarterbacks that were cut early this week that weren’t named Trent Edwards. There will be a bigger pool to choose from following Saturday’s final cutdown day, so Palmer needs to prove he belongs before the Bills extend an invite to their regular season active roster.

3) T.J. Graham’s last stand?
- The days could be numbered for former third-round pick and wide receiver T.J. Graham. Squarely on the roster bubble, Graham might just need a big performance to convince the coaches to unseat Marcus Easley for the sixth wide receiver position. However, the case can be made that Graham would have to show well enough to convince the Bills to keep seven receivers rather than the expected six. Easley is getting close to lock territory for his contributions on special teams and Chris Hogan has shown to be a valuable piece on both offense and special teams. The Bills would essentially have to remove from one position to keep Graham, and he needs to earn it. Right now, he’s probably on the outside looking in.

4) Urbik vs. Legursky
- At the beginning of training camp this really wasn’t a battle due mostly to Kraig Urbik’s role in the starting right guard competition, but now it is. Urbik has since lost his job in the top five and has taken snaps at second-team center over each of the past two weeks. If Urbik shows well at center, he and Doug Legursky are two players the Bills will likely only be able to choose one from. Both players can be the backup center to Eric Wood, and each can swing to either guard position. It’s mostly about who shows the best in the upcoming game and how they’ve done at practice. At this point, it’s likely Urbik’s to lose. However, a poor performance from him or a strong one from Legursky can change things quite quickly.

5) Moorman faces another test
- With one challenger swatted aside, Brian Moorman has another opponent to worry about for the final preseason game. The Bills released Jake Dombrowski on Monday morning, which left Moorman as the only punter on the team’s 75-man roster. Buffalo cleared out a roster spot and successfully claimed punter Jordan Gay off the waiver wire from the Carolina Panthers. Moorman should at least be a little bit concerned with the new addition. While Gay doesn’t have long to show coaches what he can do, he is a versatile player that could help out on special teams in another way than just punting. While with the Panthers they attempted to use him for some kickoff duties, but he could never consistently master both those roles and that ultimately led to his release. Gay would have to show quite a lot in just one night of work to garner a roster spot and the release of Moorman, but it would be fair to expect him to get work on both punts and kickoffs against the Lions.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloChicagoDetroit
People : Brian MoormanChris HoganDoug LegurskyDoug MarroneEric WoodJordan GayJordan PalmerKevin KolbKraig UrbikMarcus EasleyMatt LeinartT.J. GrahamThad LewisTrent Edwards

08/27/2014 4:58PM
5 things to watch for during Bills - Lions
Please enter your comments below.
08/27/2014 5:31PM
Couple of things to look for
Train wreck quarterbacking and more booing. The most important position got ignored again and thats starting quarterback. Bills lose. Enough said.
08/27/2014 6:20PM
The Dougs wouldnt know a good quarterback if they saw one. They are clueless. Everybody else can tell that EJ Manuel doesnt have it, but they keep praising him.
08/27/2014 6:42PM
One thing to watch for in brief
Moe'r of the same wreck.
08/27/2014 7:35PM
well would you?
if Tebow could get the Bills 8 wins and some positive attention would that be worth signing him? if Princess EJ gets his tiara knocked off in a game Tebow could possibly take over temporarily and maybe bring some respectability back to Buffalo- he might not be the prototypical QB but he is tough and plays to win
08/27/2014 7:59PM
No Other Place To Lodge A Complaint
So I will do it here. That one morning show guy with the initials jw is absolutely horrible to listen to. He is a legend in his own mind. He is never wrong about anything, ever. If you don't think that is true, just ask him and he'll tell you. It must be awesome being the smartest person in Buffalo, or the universe even. I make a point of listening to Sal whenever possible. In my humble opinion, he is the best talk show host that wgr has to offer. But not even he can make me sit through the morning show with jw.
08/27/2014 8:05PM
Listening to see how Sal develops as a side line reporter.
08/27/2014 10:12PM
Although Palmer needs to Play....
EJ should see 3 quarters of action, he has too, the only thing he proved in the preseason so far is he doesn't belong in this league. He needs more reps, we shouldn't necessarily be so concerned with our 3rd stringer.....we really need to concentrate on our starter.
08/27/2014 11:24PM
Schopp was Hilarious today
The only thing interesting about this is how Schopp, and others, have been proved WRONG. Let us remember, it was Schopp and almost everyone else at WGR (you hearing me, Jeremy White?) who LOVED the idea of Marrone and Manuel. THEY LOVED IT. Why? Well, because Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick were the WORST. The most HORRIBLE Coach and QB ever to play in the NFL. There was no way the Bills could do worse then them, according to Schopp and Jeremy, and others. And they were wrong. The Bills could do worse, and they did. Change for change sake is NOT the right move. Lets' be clear, Chan and Fitz were NOT GREAT. And they never would be. But, they were good. They were average. They could design and run a decent NFL offense. Did we want better than Chan/Fitz? Of course we did. And, according to Schopp and Jeremy and others, getting ANYBODY would be better. Well, they were wrong. You just can't get ANYBODY. Witness, EJ Manuel. The Bill had a decent QB and offense, and threw it away for a pipe dream. They should have kept their offense in tact, waited for the RIGHT franchise QB to come, and improved their defense. Keep Fitz, keep looking for his replacement, and make the defense better. Well, they DID make the defense better, but they set the offense back years on a joke of a QB, OC, and Head Coach. Schopp got EXACTLY what he wanted. Change! A new QB! Any QB! Just get a new QB! And what he got is WORSE. The Bills did what he wanted them to do, and it's WORSE. They got worse. And now he's complaining. Lol. Hilarious.
08/28/2014 1:14AM
TJ Graham????
It's sad cause we could have had Russell Wilson in the third round but the bad part would be Hank Hill would still be our coach... Another wasted pick
08/28/2014 1:28AM
john murphy
eating cheese and flying about like Mary Poppins
08/28/2014 1:43AM
Marrone wants more first team o work after bad game???
After last season the first team o needed work. The first 3 pre games seem like 180 mins worth. But i guess first team o work is less important than Marrone bowing down to outdated nfl preseason folkways which dictate starters will work 45 mins in those games. Seems like now he needs the work but wasted the reps. ummm and Hacket is calling plays w/o a nfl/ncaa resume. Ty Dad
08/28/2014 5:05AM
Can't wait
Lot's of great stuff to look forward to...
08/28/2014 7:31AM
Not going to watch or listen
Rather watch paint dry.
08/28/2014 7:42AM
russell wilson
sure we coulda had russel wilson - but with our coaches he probably would have ended up looking like trent edwards or jp losman - our coaches would have tried to make him a pocket passer - our coaches arent very good at designing a game plan to utilize the skills of our best players - they seem to be hell bent on getting that square peg into that round hole
08/28/2014 8:30AM
What a mess this offense is not in sync and after a longer pre season you would have hoped for much more. Opposing defenses are going to make what happened in the first 4 pre season games much worse. If the Bills offense was vanilla remember so were opposing defenses. After listening to the 3rd quarter on the radio last week you would have thought the K gun returned. I have a feeling all is going to unravel quickly against the Bears defense in the 1st game. I wonder what kind of cover up the media will come up with to protect EJ if the Bears stuff this offense .
08/28/2014 8:31AM
Tebow time!!!! and just for clarification, I am not a Tebow guy, however he is way better than what we have starting now, even though his arm strength isn't great, he has won in this league. Ask yourself this.....are you ready for another season of watching EJ? or worse if he goes down with an injury, one of his backups?
08/28/2014 8:46AM
Most above, stupid.
We have not even played a regular season game. EJ has played in 9 and a half of those. The mentality and mental preparation going into a REAL game is completely different. So let's wait till at least one of those before declaring the entire offense sucks, the QB is worst than fitz and the season is a lost.
08/28/2014 8:56AM
Re: No Other Place To Lodge A Complaint
I don't listen to any of the hosts on the radio anymore. They all suck. The hockey show, I don't bother anymore either. Shills Sylvester and Peters are enough to make you want to drive off a cliff. This town has to find away to bring back WNSA 107.7 and The Empire Sports Network. The Bills should have never left 97 Rock also. What we have now for coverage of the Bills and Sabres is a total Joke. All of them have self egos and a dose of arrogance to go with it. Unlistenable and pathetic.
08/28/2014 9:29AM
5 Things To Watch For During Bills - Lions (rewrite)
1) Can EJ accurately put a football on his receivers? 2) Can EJ find an open receiver quickly enough to not get sacked? 3) Can EJ throw the ball down the field farther than 5 yards? 4) Can EJ drive the team down the field for a touchdown against a starting defense? 5) Can EJ stay healthy if he takes a hit? I'm very concerned that we may see that the answer to all five of these is "NO!" And there is no plan B.
08/28/2014 9:53AM
Jim Kelly
If I remember correctly, number 12 is not an active number this year. Let's ask Jim if he would like to play for one more season. He may not have the arm he used to, but I'm pretty sure he can still hit 5 - 10 yard slant patterns and dump offs. At this point, would it really be any worse than EJ? At the very least Buffalo would make headlines...and it would not be headlines about having the worst starting QB in the NFL anymore (EJ). Just think about it for a moment, just sit back and consider it.
08/28/2014 10:42AM
Buffalo people complain about everything; all the time. For whatever reason the world evolves around them. Well if they accepted that it doesn't they would live a better live.
08/28/2014 11:30AM
to the one who brought up the name TIM can't throw tebow
Tim Tebow can't throw a ball on target if he tried all he can do is run and we have already 4 guys that can do that.
08/28/2014 11:35AM
What a bunch of embarrassing whiners.
On this thread. While you amateurs wet your diapers showing your utter lack of any kind of real football knowledge; I'll defer to our Hall of Fame offensive guard Joe D (DeLamielleure) who this morning on WGR said about E.J. Manuel, "Give this kid some time. He has all the tools." He mentioned about Joe Ferguson was only allowed to throw 15 passes for the entire season, and how three years later he was a great quarterback. And he was. Shut your pie holes and get with the program. This isn't Tom Donohoe's Bills. You're all going to feel so foolish when things come together soon. For now, I'll trust the judgment of a hall of famer.
08/28/2014 12:21PM
Another game goeing by on the way to FIRING MARRONE BALONEY!!!
08/28/2014 12:38PM
08/28/2014 1:24PM
This will be about as exciting as watching paint dry! The QB position is horrible at best. The first sting can not punch it in if thier lives depended on it. The defense is the only thing that is exciting. However, they can not do it all. The offenseneeds to help and we have yet to see that this year. We will once agin see the defense on the field more then the offensive. This will bring out the Boo Birds once again. Look for a 5-11 season and another top 10 pick!
08/28/2014 1:26PM
Moorman,carpenter,jordan gay
Moorman should be the punter hands down and from what ive seen from carpenter he can kick the ball out or to the back of the endzone. no need for some other teams castoffs.
08/28/2014 2:03PM
There is plenty of talent on this team............but the coaching isn't even average! A lot of talent is wasted here because of bad coaching the last 15 years. Put your players in the best situation to win and they will shine. No more punting from the opponents 40 yrd line.Hey Doug good news for you is that you can do anything and no one will criticize you. Throw out the conservative play book and just go for it..if we have another 6-10 season youre getting fired anyways!
08/28/2014 2:06PM
We could just forfeit this coming season,circle the wagons,re-organize with new ownership and management,and Give it hell next year??? Jus; wondering.....
08/28/2014 2:48PM
Jeremy White is one of my favorites. He is logical and comes up with fresh ideas. He defends them well and holds people accountable for what they say in a polite but firm way. I am a long-time fan of Murph and Howard and include Joe B and Paul H. I don't listen to the afternoon show at all.
08/28/2014 4:12PM
Pre-Season Coming to a Close
Its really too bad that this isn't televised. I know its only pre-season but its an opportunity to get a good look at the depth on the team and get behind some of the lesser known players. I get its a business first and foremost, but whenever I hear"blackout" it reminds me how its all about dollars and cents, not the game, fans, or players. Leave EJ in, he needs the practice. I still have faith in him, but pulling him after one series or two isn't of value. He needs playing time!!!
08/28/2014 5:08PM
10 regular season games
...and that's it, we've given up on EJ. Buffalo fans are starting to sound more like Yankee fans these days...
08/28/2014 5:24PM
My 5 things to watch during Bills-Lions
(1) paint dry (2) the clouds go by (3) the sun set (4) internet porrn (5) Texas A&M vs South Carolina, followed by Boise St vs Ole Miss. Watch the Bills???? This franchise needs an enemma. The Toronto Bills is just fine with me.
08/28/2014 6:59PM
5 things to watch?
Where is the list of 5 movies to pick from?
08/28/2014 8:29PM
Season Over Before it Starts
1. EJ Manuel is joke if it isn't clearly apparent to everyone by now. By the end of the season everyone who doesn't think so will see. 2. Doug Moron is a pathetic coach and he will be gone half way through next season if not by the end of this season. 3. Hackett is the worst Offensive coordinator of all time he runs repeat plays and calls 1 yard passes on 3 and long. 4. Thank you for getting Watkins injured on garbage plays. 5. I hate this coaching staff and everything they stand for period...I will say Jim Swartz is proving he knows what he is doing. 6. Welcome to another 5 or 6 win season, with tons of wasted talent by the way. We are a solid team and have more talent then everyone in the AFC east, yet we continue to be the worst team. Its because we have awful and I mean pitiful coaches.
08/28/2014 9:44PM
Wow does this team suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
this is just unbelieveable, how can a team suck for so many yrs? I'M LOSING IT!!!
08/28/2014 10:01PM
Conspiracy Theory
...the Bill's must have decided on a new owner, they informed the HC and OC they will be let go at the end of the season. Hence, why even try to win. Game plan to get canned by week 2.
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