By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on July 14, 2014
Because they are playing the New York Giants in this year’s Hall of Fame Game, the Buffalo Bills will be starting their training camp a week before the rest of the league. Hopes remain high in Buffalo despite the devastating loss of Kiko Alonso. These are some of the biggest talking points surrounding the team as they prepare for training camp.
With Aaron Williams stepping in at free safety for the departed Jairus Byrd, the strong safety spot is up for grabs. Right now it looks as if Searcy is the front-runner for the job. Searcy acted as a sort of linebacker/safety tweener in 2013. While not the ball-hawk Byrd was, Searcy is familiar with Buffalo’s defense and should find good chemistry with Williams.
Right tackle has been an area of concern for the Bills for a while now. Erik Pears and Chris Hairston have both seen action the past few seasons with neither finding much success. While Kouandjio, the Bills’ second-round pick this year, is very young (21), he is by far the most talented option. Whether he started this year or not, the job was going to be Kouandjio’s eventually, so the team sees no point in delaying him if he’s ready.
The Bills possess one of the deepest backfields in the NFL. An already impressive group that featured Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller was bolstered by the additions of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. Jackson has been extremely reliable, but he is getting up there in age, and the team is hoping Spiller makes the leap to elite status. That, coupled with the desire to get Brown touches, means Jackson’s role in the offense may not be as large this year.
Last season the Bills attempted to wear down defenses with a no-huddle offense that worked at a frantic pace. Injuries to several key players ruined any chances of the team finding chemistry. However, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will not be slowing down this year. The offense has both more depth and more experience with his system, meaning that Hackett’s vision for a high-speed attack may come to fruition in 2014.
2014 is shaping up to be one of the most important seasons in Bills history. The inevitable sale of the team has cast everyone in the organization’s future in doubt, perhaps none more so than the head coach. Marrone is extremely respected by players and well-liked by fans, but the feeling is that anything short of a playoff appearance this year could lead the Bills’ next owner to start over with a new coaching staff.
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