Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Buffalo Bills to watch: Preseason Week 3

In the NFL, the third week of the preseason is when starters usually receive their longest in-game action until the regular season begins. With less than two weeks until the final roster cut-down day, here are five Buffalo Bills players to keep an eye on in their preseason tilt against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday:

1) Da'Rick Rogers
Rogers has been underwhelming in both practices and games to this point of the preseason. He has the physical tools to be an asset to the team, but has struggled to make plays while some of his competition (namely Marcus Easley and Chris Hogan) has stood out on tape. How much playing time Rogers receives this week will likely give people a good idea as to whether head coach Doug Marrone believes Rogers is a better fit on the practice squad or the 53-man roster.

2) Kevin Kolb
The "boo-birds" were out in force in the his debut at Ralph Wilson Stadium, as Kolb struggled in the early-going. With first round pick E.J. Manuel sidelined the rest of the preseason, Kolb will have an opportunity to regain some confidence by getting some extended run against Washington. With Stevie Johnson expected to play this week, there is no reason people shouldn't expect a better performance from him this week.

3) Justin Rogers
Rogers missed a good portion of training camp due to an ankle injury, and has seen players like Crezdon Butler play well in his absence. With three cornerback spots already locked up (Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks and Butler), Rogers will need to make up his lost ground to hold off players like T.J. Heath and Nickell Robey for a spot on the final roster.

4) Da'Norris Searcy
Searcy is solid defending the run, but has struggled mightily in coverage throughout the preseason. Converted cornerback Aaron Williams seemingly has the starting strong safety spot locked up with a very strong camp, and with two mid-round draft picks at safety on the roster (Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks), Searcy needs to perform better in coverage to avoid being placed on the chopping block.

5) Alan Branch
The team signed Branch away from the Seahawks to add depth to the defensive line rotation. Throughout training camp, he has struggled to make plays, and appears to have been passed up on the depth chart by Jay Ross. While it's unlikely Branch gets cut due to his positional versatility, he'll need to make more of an impact if he wants to see the field regularly.

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