Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- The Buffalo Bills wrapped up practice for the week by getting in some work in front of fans in attendance under the lights inside Growney Stadium at St. John Fisher College. The next stop? A date with the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Friday night.
Head Coach Doug Marrone made a fairly large decision and informed the media of that very choice on Wednesday after practice. Combine that with some on the field efforts and new injuries, and Wednesday was full of things to take away.
Kolb gets the nod
- It wouldn't necessarily have been a damning move for Kevin Kolb's bid to start at quarterback for the team this season, but Doug Marrone's decision to go with the veteran at the start of Friday's game is big. Kolb missed some valuable time in both practice and the first preseason game with the combination of his injury and the death in his family, and now he gets a chance to make up for lost time. It doesn't necessarily mean rookie EJ Manuel has taken a step back in the race because he'll still get his share of time in the contest. However, to uphold the sanctity of the competition Marrone made the call to give Kolb the start. The head coach wouldn't reveal how much time on the field each player would get however. As for Wednesday's practice, there wasn't much throwing done during team drills. Kevin Kolb hit Marquise Goodwin on a quick slant that he turned up the field for a touchdown, but then he also threw a pass behind Chris Hogan that was deflected and intercepted by reserve safety Jordan Dangerfield. It just seemed like the goal of practice was to keep everyone healthy heading in to Friday.
Vet WRs working their way back
- A positive step forward for the two olders wide receivers on the Bills roster, both Stevie Johnson and Brad Smith took part in some portion of practice on Wednesday. Johnson could only go through positional drills at the beginning of practice, but Smith did both those and even got some time during 7-on-7s. Although Johnson won't play against the Vikings, Marrone said Smith has a chance. With the younger wideouts on the roster playing so well as of late, Smith needs to get back on the field to help secure a spot on the 53-man roster for his play on both offense and special teams.
Careful with Kiko
- Seemingly out of nowhere, rookie inside linebacker Kiko Alonso sat out of Tuesday's team drills and it raised some eyebrows. Head Coach Doug Marrone said after that session that they were just resting players that had some soreness. When the Bills came out to practice Wednesday, this time Alonso wasn't even in his helmet or shoulder pads. Although Marrone didn't sound overly concerned about the shoulder injury that's keeping Alonso out, the coach also announced that his inside linebacker would not be playing in Friday's contest. At this point it seems like just a precautionary step.
Put up your dukes!
- In one of the oddest, funniest and most heated moments of training camp thus far, an end to a play during team drills started an exchange between linebacker Marcus Dowtin and right tackle Erik Pears. The two got into a bit of a shoving match and Dowtin's helmet somehow came off his head. The linebacker's next reaction? He put up his fists at the 6-foot-8 Pears as though he wanted to engage in a fist fight. Pears, who still had his helmet on mind you, started to approach at first until his fellow offensive linemen stepped in front to stop the ordeal. Not often do you see a player put up his fists in a practice setting, so today was a first.
Goodwin flies once again
- Rookie Marquise Goodwin is carving out a permanent section in the practice notes section because not many defensive backs on the roster can handle his speed. On Wednesday, he turned a simple quick slant from Kevin Kolb (in which he completely victimized cornerback Jumal Rolle) into a 50-plus yard touchdown. Dominique Ellis was the safety on the play and took what he thought was the proper angle on Goodwin. That's when the receiver's speed took over and got to the spot before Ellis did, turned it up the field and got into the end zone for six.
- The count for players that have taken reps with the first team opposite Stephon Gilmore is now up to seven in 14 practices. With Crezdon Butler suffering an unknown injury early on in the practice, he was limited the rest of the time and didn't take part during team drills. As a result, the Bills used a combination of Nickell Robey and Don Unamba. It was the first time the latter got a look like that, but it might have been a case of him needing more reps with the second preseason game coming up. He's likely going to be on the field in bunches, so the late camp arrival needed to be brought up to speed. He made one nice play on the throw behind Chris Hogan that resulted in an interception, but he was getting routinely beat by his man off the line of scrimmage.
Lindell wins Wednesday
- The way the kicking competition was going during the practice, it looked as though it would end in a draw for the day. Going into their last kick, both Dustin Hopkins and Rian Lindell had connected on 10-of-11 attempts. Hopkins' lone miss was from 35, while Lindell missed one from 45. Then, the Bills went to a pressure kick where the whole unit had to rush on the field and get ready while special teams coordinator Danny Crossman counted down from 10. Hopkins somehow topped the ball, and had the ugliest attempt of a field goal throughout this year's camp. Lindell's unit rushed out after the miss and calmly hit his from 48 yards. Advantage: Lindell.
- One of the stars of training camp this year has been outside linebacker Jamie Blatnick, and he had another strong showing on Wednesday. Whether it be on designed blitz calls or just being a natural rusher, Blatnick is routinely giving offensive linemen problems and gets into the backfield. Another two-sack day has helped Blatnick earn the trust of his coaches and his strong camp overall has provided a likely spot on the 53-man roster.
Day 14 MVP: ILB Arthur Moats
- With Kiko Alonso out for the second straight day, Arthur Moats stepped up his game. Whether it was in the run game, in coverage or if he was on a blitz, Moats made quick and instinctive decisions that put him in the right places throughout the entire practice. After playing so many positions (and this certainly has been written before) it seems like he finally has found a home on the Bills defense. You can tell the coaching staff has grown fond of him since the new regime has taken over.
Day 14 LVP: QB Jeff Tuel
- It was a rather frustrating day for the undrafted free agent. Tuel just could never get into the flow of his reps, getting sacked a few times and then getting intercepted twice -- once by an eye-reading Aaron Williams and then again by Stephon Gilmore. The play after the interception, Tuel followed it up with a one-hopped attempt to Terrell Sinkfield on a comeback and then whiffed on a screen attempt. At one point during 7-on-7s, Tuel reared back to get it to his target, and the ball slipped clean out of his hands for a fumble. All in all, it's a practice Tuel will want to leave behind.
The Bills will travel back to Buffalo on Thursday and prepare for their next preseason game. They take on the Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium at 7 pm on Friday night.