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Players to Watch: Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions

It’s incredible, but we’re back to having live football games, and tonight against the Lions we get our first look at the 2021 Buffalo Bills. After an odd year in the NFL last season without preseason football, I am beyond excited for this preseason. As outsiders looking in last season, we just had to trust what beat reporters were seeing. With preseason back this year, we can now formulate our own opinions on various players. Below, I’ll share with you the players that I will have a close eye on in the Buffalo Bills’ first preseason game of the 2021 season.



It’s that time again. Tonight against the Lions we get our first look at the 2021 Buffalo Bills. With no preseason last year, us fans were outsiders looking in. We had to trust what beat reporters were seeing. With preseason back this year, we can now formulate our own opinions on various players. Below, I’ll share with you the players that I will have a close eye on in the Buffalo Bills’ first preseason game of 2021.

Buffalo Bills Backup QBs

With Josh Allen resting, we will get an extended look at the backups. I imagine Mitch Trubisky will play at least a decent chunk of the first quarter, maybe the entire quarter.

Beyond that, I’m very interested to see what Jake Fromm can do. Not necessarily to audition for a trade, but out of genuine curiosity for his talent at the NFL level. Fromm, Buffalo’s 2020 fifth round pick, hasn’t seen a snap in the NFL. Albeit, most of that is because of Covid. However, now Fromm can show Bills Mafia exactly how good he is, and if he deserves to be the backup of the future behind Josh Allen.

RBs – Can Antonio Williams Capitalize?

Zack Moss suffered a small injury to his hamstring within the last few days. Sean McDermott said Moss is day-to-day, but this will likely force him to miss this preseason game against the Lions.

Subsequently, this opens the door for Matt Breida and Antonio Williams to capitalize on extra snaps. Breida is a bit different because he’s more of a speed back with obvious receiving skills. But Williams’ game is very similar to Moss. This is a big opportunity for him to prove why he should be considered to make the final roster. I’ll be keeping my eye on how Breida and Williams perform on offense.

Also, if they contribute meaningful reps on special teams, it could force the Bills into a tough decision on what to do with Taiwan Jones. It’s an uphill battle for sure, but definitely one I will be keeping my attention on.

Buffalo Bills Wide Reciever Depth

I have absolutely zero interest in seeing Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, or Emannuel Sanders play in tonight’s game. The real question in regards to the receiver room is who and how many of the back-end guys will make the roster. Giving guys like Jake Kumerow, Isaiah Hodgins, and Marquez Stevenson snaps with Trubisky makes it easier to evaluate their play.

I’m not sold on the Jake Kumerow hype quite yet. I want to see it with my own eyes before I buy into it. However, based on all the reports out of camp, Kumerow is clearly ahead of Hodgins and Stevenson to make the roster. This is why I want to see what they look like with a starting-caliber Quarterback throwing them the ball (Trubisky) against the Lions’ defensive starters.

Furthermore, I will be interested to see if Hodgins provides any value on special teams and how Stevenson does in the return game.

Buffalo Bills Crowded Defensive Line

Much like the receiver position, the Buffalo Bills Defensive Line room is stacked with talent. It’s going to be very tough to narrow it down at the end of the month. For that reason, I don’t really want to see Jerry Hughes or Mario Addison. We already know what they are.

I want to see the young guys and the depth. I want to see how Groot, Boogie, and Epenesa look against the Lions starters, specifically Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. This is an excellent opportunity for us as fans to assess how much Epenesa has progressed from late last year and see where the rookies currently stand.

Darryl Johnson is a very interesting topic because we all know how great he is on special teams. However, if he can add value as an edge rusher, it will make his life much easier in regards to making the final roster. I will definitely have my eyes on him, specifically during his edge rusher reps. Additionally, a guy like Efe Obada could make it difficult for Johnson to secure a roster spot because of how well he has done so far this preseason. With that being said, no games have been played yet and both players have a lot left to prove before everything is said and done.

Furthermore, I do want to see Star Lotulelei get some snaps in this game simply to knock the rust off and get his feet back under him. I will have most of my focus on Harrison Phillips. Phillips is on the third string of the Buffalo Bills depth chart, which surprised me to some extent. I really want to see how he stacks up to Vernon Butler. I was not too thrilled with how Butler played last year and hope to see him improve. However, as of right now, I’m more confident in the play of Phillips and Justin Zimmer. Tonight’s game will be very useful for me to get a tab on how things are going on the interior of the Bills defensive line.

Backup Safeties

Similar to the other positions, I don’t need to see the starters play. I don’t want to risk injury with Poyer and Hyde. However, I am genuinely curious about the depth behind both of those guys. After letting Dean Marlowe walk in free agency, the Buffalo Bills drafted Damar Hamlin and signed UDFA Tariq Thompson.

I really like both Hamlin and Thompson as prospects. I’m super eager to see what they look like in the Buffalo Bills defense. With that being said, it will be interesting to see if they can perform better than Jaquan Johnson who has spent a couple years in the system. Furthermore, Johnson is a great special teams contributor, so I will be focused in to see if Hamlin and Thompson are performing well on special teams on top of their regular duties at Safety.

Air Raid Hour Recap

On the most recent episode of the Air Raid Hour, Judge comes through again with the pre-recorded segment transitions. Tilt and I then share our thoughts on our expectations for various position groups heading into the first preseason game of the season. If you enjoyed this article then you will definitely like this episode of the Air Raid Hour. We get into the nuanced details of what we want to see from the Buffalo Bills against the Detroit Lions.

If you missed us live, you can catch the replay to the Air Raid Hour linked and embedded above.

As always, go Bills!