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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Watkins injured, Bills struggle in third preseason game

The first-team offense of the Buffalo Bills had one of their best days since training camp started during a joint practice on Thursday night. That success didn’t translate into their next time on the field, as EJ Manuel and company struggled all the way through their five drives allotted by the Bills’ coaching staff.

EJ Manuel and the first unit, for the third straight outing, failed to perform a function that is essential to the survival of most offenses in the NFL. After a total of 10 drives in the preseason, the Manuel-led Bills have yet to score a touchdown.

“There wasn’t any looks that we didn’t see throughout the week in practice,” said tight end Scott Chandler. “We just have to finish drives. We have to get in the end zone.”

It wasn’t for a lack of effort. On two separate drives the Bills had the ball deep into the territory of the Pittsburgh Steelers and were set up with a fourth-and-short opportunity they elected to go for. Both attempts followed through with the same result: a pass that fell incomplete and a turnover on downs.

On their nearest attempt, which also happened to be their fifth and final drive on the field, the Bills had two straight shots at the end zone to end the drive, but each fell incomplete and kept the first-team without their coveted touchdown.

"Man, coming off the field, it was frustrating, I'm not gonna lie. We got down there and I even pleaded to Coach Marrone to let us go for it on the fourth down. Went to the right place with the ball, the defense just made a good play on it. Just gotta go back to the drawing board," quarterback EJ Manuel remarked. "We've just gotta capitalize truly because, we need that get fixed obviously before we play Chicago."

Manuel finished the evening completing 17-of-27 passes for 148 yards, but also chucked an interception right into the midsection of Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier. The pass was intended for Chandler down the seam before the rookie Shazier undercut the route and forced the turnover.

The performance of the first-team offense isn’t the only worry of the team following the contest. First-round pick and starting wide receiver Sammy Watkins injured his ribs during the team’s first drive of the game. He walked slowly to the locker room for examination and did not return to action.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported during the game that the injury to Watkins is not considered serious.

The Bills came back to tie up the game in the second half, but the team couldn’t overcome their poor start and fell to the Steelers 19-16 at Heinz Field.

The two teams had previously faced off against one another on Wednesday and Thursday for a joint practice session on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

The first-team defense for the Bills struggled as well, allowing both a 76 and 16-yard touchdown pass from the arm of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The longer of the two occurred when Steelers receiver Antonio Brown ran a simple slant pattern and made cornerback Corey Graham and safety Duke Williams collide into one another. Markus Wheaton was the other touchdown recipient.

The Bills continued their prowess against the run in the preseason, however. The first unit allowed just 11 yards on five carries, bringing up their preseason total to just 29 yards on 15 total carries for designed run plays.

The second-team defensive line stood out for the Bills, with a strip-sack by defensive tackle Stefan Charles being the highlight. Defensive tackle Landon Cohen picked up the ball and scampered down into Pittsburgh territory before being brought down. Buffalo was able to take the ball and punch it into the end zone in the third quarter on a Boobie Dixon one-yard touchdown run.

The Bills were without left tackle Cordy Glenn (illness), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hip), left guard Chris Williams (lower back), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hamstring), tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring), kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin), safety Jonathan Meeks (neck) and linebacker Ty Powell due to injury. Doug Legursky started the game at left guard, Corey Graham made his third straight start at cornerback.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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Locations : BuffaloLatrobePennsylvaniaPittsburgh
People : Antonio BrownBen RoethlisbergerChris WilliamsCordy GlennCorey GrahamDoug LegurskyDuke WilliamsDustin HopkinsIan RapoportJonathan MeeksLandon CohenLeodis McKelvinMarkus WheatonMarquise GoodwinRyan ShazierScott ChandlerStefan CharlesTony MoeakiTy Powell

08/16/2014 10:38PM
Watkins injured, Bills struggle in third preseason game
Please enter your comments below.
08/16/2014 10:51PM
The Steelers are just simply veteran lead. Bills are the rookie in the league.
This is what would happen in a regular season game. It happened last year vs the Steelers. The Steelers are just simply better, The Bills will just have to try and beat teams in their own league which is garbage teams.
08/16/2014 11:01PM
E J....
.... still looked rough. On first drive that ended in FG, overthew Woods - wide open on sidline for 1st down. Ugh - Accuracy just isnt there consistantly...and maybe wont be.
08/16/2014 11:20PM
Accuracy and precision are obviously two attributes he does not have. Sadly, the aforementioned attributes cannot be taught. The Chandler break up was not thrown to the right spot. Another throw to Chandler that he caught, was misplaced. There was another noticeable one that I cannot remember who it was thrown too. Get ready for a Chicago blowout. Moreover a 4-12, 5-11 type season is my prediction. The Kool-Aid and hopium is on full display by one and all. This season will go down as being Marrone's last and an epic fan revolt because we traded away our no 1 pick that we could have used for a QB.
08/16/2014 11:20PM
Right in the mid-section?
Did you actually see the Interception EJ threw?
08/16/2014 11:22PM
I Think It Is Time....
To start to worry a bit, EJ hasn't looked good for 99% of the camp, 1st team offense hasn't scored a touchdown, Watkins is hurt......oh boy, what a long season
08/16/2014 11:24PM
Trent Edwards redux anyone?
Seems like Trent Edwards all over again, instead of getting a quarterback who makes everyone else better, the Bills need to a team to make their quarterback better.
08/16/2014 11:38PM
We suck
See title
08/16/2014 11:42PM
Watch when other teams start cuts and grab a veteran right tackle kouandijo is no good he needs to be cut
08/16/2014 11:45PM
...Manuel is a hump. Either he really sucks in practice and the reporters are providing updates with lies, or he simply can't handle the pressure when being watched by a wide viewing audience. In any case, this season is going to be painful.
08/17/2014 12:27AM
what a joke!
More of the same pathetic football for 2014. God! They will never improve.
08/17/2014 7:59AM
Trade for QB!!! A decent backup Got to be better then Manuel for this season
08/17/2014 8:22AM
It Cannot be?
Is this team turning into operating like the one we have at the First Niagara Center?.........WALMART? When is the GMing gonna wake up and trade for a quarterback for opening day? The ones we have here are a complete Joke.
08/17/2014 9:24AM
get so excited this time of year because of all the hype about how good the Bills are gonna be , but guess what we we actually may be worse than last year because all the other teams in our division have much improved. I know the Jets are better and so is Miami and the Patriots will destroy us as usual. Our defense is ok but our offense will sink this team again unless we bring in an experienced QB and thats not gonna happen so enjoy another mediocre year fans.
08/17/2014 9:43AM
If OBD is "ALL IN WITH EJ",I'm out!This guy is NOT a starting QB period!They had plenty of chances to grab a QB as late as the 5th round and they #@#@ up!
08/17/2014 10:23AM
My observations
Manual continues to be very inconsistent. He has some good throws but also some really bad throws. We can win with that inconstancy as long as he does not turn the ball over. That is assuming the defense is strong. Unfortunately, the Defense literally were running into each other. (Williams literally took out his own player on the Brown TD). Gilmore is burnt for another TD. When do you guys agree that he is not a shut down or even top line DB. For the second week in a row, our second and third team was better than the opponent in my opinion. I believe Whaley has done a good job with getting more depth but EJ may be his undoing. I hope the lightbulb goes on but I am afraid we are looking at another 6 & 10 season.
08/17/2014 10:26AM
Giving EJ the Starting job to lose? well nice idea but if he sucks? demote him- it's not fair to the team to change rules as he plays to keep him number one-let Lewis or Tuel compete fairly for the starting job- waiver wire pickups will be showing up maybe a good backup qb would be a safe bet? Management rebuilt the Team like a "fast" car - it 's gonna be fast and a winner BUT they need a driver or it all goes for nothing
08/17/2014 10:29AM
Another year of no depth
Get ready for plenty of "On the Cheap" replacements again as the Humpty Dumpty's keep falling. It is amazing how the Bills management find all these fragile players every season and replace them with cheap undrafted free agents and expect to win. New England and other playoff performing teams don't run it that way. Important players go own, they manage to find another important one to fill the role. It's a Joke witnessing this every season and the same teams making the playoffs every year.
08/17/2014 10:52AM
I saw enough
I turned the TV off after the first quarter. This style of play looks the same as last year. It hasn't changed one bit. Another wasted season ahead. Bon Jovi...get this train wreck out of here ASAP. This team stinks!
08/17/2014 12:13PM
Are we playing street football or pro.
Because if we are playing street football than they had a good game. but if we are playing pro football than they failed. You can't get to the red zone and settle for a field goal. we want win to many games like that, and how long dose it takes a team to get this corrected. And you can bet the coaches are not happy with this or the front office. We can be strong on defense all day, but if the offense can't put points on the board. than we are going nowhere against Elite teams. I pray they have a answer for this. because the season is comming up fast lets get this mess worked out boys.
08/17/2014 12:25PM
What Level of NFL Foot ball Are The Bills?
Just about every player and Coach on this team play or coach like 3rd or 4th stringers. We just watched out 3rd pre-season game and they (STUNK) why? Are they ever going to show progress? I know what the problem is, they don't want to show the rest of the NFL how really good they are? That's why E.J. Manual looks so terrible, right? Forget about those other 2 QBs, are they really QBS?
08/17/2014 12:43PM
Another long crappy season
This is quite possibly the worst trio of QBS ever assembled on a NFL roster. I mean EVER!!! Another swing and miss for the Bills management.Can we trade for Fitpatrick? Hackett needs to be sent packing also.
08/17/2014 1:58PM
Yes I have made up my mind. GET OUTTA TOWN!
08/17/2014 4:25PM
Just as I figured
Bills Lose. Enough said.
08/17/2014 6:57PM
Whaley and Marrone better wake up. EJ and Hackett can't hack it.
08/17/2014 10:41PM
It's Time
To either trade for or pick up a QB who is currently not rostered, will not be the overall answer for the future, but sure would help our immediate situtation....
08/18/2014 6:43AM
This is not fair to the fans.
We need Tim Tebow now! Please, don't waste the whole season again. SAVE THE SEASON. PLEASE!
08/18/2014 9:52AM
People ! Check Out USA Today Sports 08/18/14
Very good article on drafting QBs for the modern NFL. Not having to wait 3 to 4 years for development or BUST.
08/18/2014 11:34AM
I Bill-ieve
I still don't see what everyone else sees. I like the way we've played so far, EJ will be fine, it's preseason so I don't take much stock in the starters performances right now, defense looks good, I cannot wait til the season officially starts!!!!! 10-6 and a wildcard this year, count on it.
08/19/2014 10:55AM
You so called fans are so funny
It is only preseason so chill out. I know EJ needs to still develop a little and get more accurate but he only has played 10 games. Let him get a full season under his belt and actually a QB should not be judge until his 3rd full season in my opinion. I think EJ is going through his reads pretty well and he is more confident in running this offense. Also I think the WR's have to take some of the blame because they need to run better routes and they need to be on time where the ball is going to be thrown at because this is how the offense is designed. Everything is on timing and is the Wr's timing is thrown off then EJ pass will be thrown off, because it depend on a certain timing for each WR position. Our team will win with great defense, a great running game, and the offense passing game not making turnovers but getting more third downs and scoring in the red zone. I think we need to continue to work on red zone scoring but I think the rest of the stuff we will be good in. EJ and the WR's have to keep on trying to get on the same page for the passing game to improve. it is just not EJ himself it is the WR's as well that have to do their part.
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