By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on July 4, 2014
After a very interesting and eventful offseason, the Buffalo Bills are ready to get back to work. Expectations have been high for 2014, but the loss of star linebacker Kiko Alonso is the most recent in a string of sad stories in the Bills’ offseason. Here are five storylines to follow during Bills training camp.
With the additions of Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams, the Bills now have good talent and depth at the receiver position, which is something they’ve been sorely lacking in years past. Watkins is the assumed No, 1, but players like Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Chris Hogan figure to play key roles as well.
The Bills’ defense enjoyed a tremendous amount of success under former coordinator Mike Pettine. After Pettine left for Cleveland, the Bills made a great hire in bringing in former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, a very respected defensive mind. He will need to find the right fits for players like Jerry Hughes and Leodis McKelvin, who thrived in Pettine’s system.
E.J. Manuel enters his pivotal second season under a tremendous amount of pressure. The early successes that fellow young QBs Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have enjoyed has put more emphasis than ever on quarterbacks being expected to be very good right away. Manuel has plenty of weapons to work with. The rest is up to him.
Since the death of Ralph Wilson, the fate of the team has been a topic of much discussion. Numerous suitors have put their hat into the ring, including Terry Pegula. The current owner of the Buffalo Sabres recently hired noted investment banker Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. to look into the sale of the team. Pegula certainly has the necessary wallet and is already well liked by many in Western New York.
After a spectacular rookie campaign, the Bills were looking forward to what Alonso was capable of in 2014. However, those hopes were dashed when they found out that he tore his ACL while working out on his own. This is a devastating loss for a defense that looked like it had a chance to be one of the league’s best. Keith Rivers, Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown are possible replacements, but none of them are in Alonso’s class as a playmaker.
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