Five Bills players to watch in Thursday's matchup vs. Browns
The Buffalo Bills enter their second preseason game on Thursday with a less-than-whole roster. The team's top-five running backs are currently sidelined with injuries, leaving the door open for a handful of young and inexperienced players to make an impact.
Aside from the mess at running back, the Bills also have a situation to sort out at quarterback with three players vying for the starting job. After Matt Cassel got the start in Week 1, Tyrod Taylor will get his shot to start in game two on Thursday night.
Here are five players to watch against the Browns in Thursday's primetime matchup.
Tyrod Taylor, QB
The first and most obvious player to watch on Thursday night is Tyrod Taylor. He'll be the starter against the Browns in what seems to be an audition for the starting job for the regular season. It's not exactly his job to lose, but general manager Doug Whaley has already said he has "everything you're looking for." Taylor was electric in the Bills' first preseason game, and if he's able to protect the football and remain consistent, it'll give him a leg up on the other quarterbacks. Given that he's starting the game, he could see more time than the other two quarterbacks, especially if he's playing well.
Ronald Darby, CB
Rookie cornerback Ronald Darby had a rough preseason debut against the Carolina Panthers last week, but he'll look to rebound against the Browns this week. He's expected to fill big shoes with Leodis McKelvin still sidelined, and a strong showing in the preseason is a must. The Bills can't afford to go into the regular season feeling wary of having Darby playing opposite Stephon Gilmore. The Browns' wide receiver group should be slightly less of a challenge compared to the big receivers in Carolina.
Marquise Goodwin, WR
Like the running backs, the wide receiver group is also depleted due to injuries. Percy Harvin, Robert Woods, and Sammy Watkins are all iffy for Thursday's game, giving way to lesser known receivers fighting for a roster spot. One of those players is Marquise Goodwin, who's fighting for the No. 4 receiver role. He hasn't panned out as the electric playmaker the Bills expected him to be when he was drafted, but it's still early in his career. Against the Browns, Goodwin will need to show that playmaking ability and game-breaking speed. The Bills' wide receiver group is already strong, but Goodwin can take it to another level.
A.J. Tarpley, LB
The Bills lost backup middle linebacker Ty Powell for the season with a torn ACL, which leaves the position especially thin. Behind Preston Brown, the Bills don't have much other than undrafted free agent A.J. Tarpley and sixth-round pick Tony Steward. Tarpley is the guy to watch of the two, given the way he's played in training camp thus far. Both players will get shots with the second-team defense, which should give them good game experience heading into the regular season. Tarpley has a good chance of making the roster given the recent rash of injuries, and Thursday night's showing can go a long way.
Duke Williams, S
Duke Williams hasn't solidified his role as a starting safety in two years with the Bills, and this season doesn't appear to be any different. He started four games last season, but he's been bumped by veteran Corey Graham, who's taken over as the starting free safety. Williams can still make an impact given the number of injuries to the Bills' corners, which could force Graham to play some cornerback, as well. In that case, Williams would be the next man up. He'll likely work with the second team defense Thursday night, and he could use a strong performance against a weak Browns offense.