Bills ready for action

Bryan Sullivan

After two weeks of hitting just each other, the Buffalo Bills will finally get to face off against someone else on Saturday.

Buffalo travels to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins at 7 p.m. in the Bills’ preseason opener.

The Bills have not played in any joint practices against other teams while the Redskins have one game under their belts, having opened the preseason with a 30-16 victory over Indianapolis last Sunday.

“I’m getting pretty excited,” said Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. “We’re going against the same defense over and over these days, and they’re kind of ready to hit someone new, and I think that’s the way the rest of the offense feels.”

Saturday’s game gives Buffalo coaches and fans the chance to see how the new parts of the offense are coming together, even if it is just for a series or two.

Edwards begins his first full season as starter. Rookie wide receiver James Hardy, who has been battling an ankle injury the first part of training camp, is expected to play.

The offense will get a taste of life without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, whose holdout continues. Kirk Chambers will start in his place.

“I just really want to see how these young guys react in a game situation, picking up things and executing,” said wide receiver Lee Evans. “Hopefully, they will have a lot of poise about themselves and conduct themselves well. I am excited to see them play.”

Hardy isn’t the only one battling injury heading into the preseason opener.

Wide receiver Josh Reed and safety Donte Whitner are not expected to play. Of course, that will allow some other players the chance to impress coaches and possibly earn a roster spot.

The undrafted rookie free agents don’t have to look far to be inspired. Third-year linebacker John DiGiorgio and second-year running back Fred Jackson are among those to come to camp undrafted and leave with spot on the team in recent years.

“We will get to see guys we haven’t seen at this level, in an NFL exhibition game, which is different than a regular season game,” said head coach Dick Jauron. “It’s probably as fast as any game they will ever play so we get to see the young guys in that situation.”

Saturday will be the first time Buffalo’s new-look defense also will play together. Linebacker Kawika Mitchell, defensive tackle Marcus Stroud and cornerback Leodis McKelvin were brought in during the offseason to shore up that unit.

“It’s a full contact scrimmage in every area,” Jauron said. “We have a long preseason, and we have time to get our guys ready and we try to use it all, so that is one thing and then we will get to see the guys under the big lights.”

The preseason games will help to settle some of the team’s positional battles.

McKelvin was selected 11th in April’s draft, but he will have to leap frog Jabari Greer into the starting spot. Greer went from a backup his first three seasons to starting 13 games last year.

The starting tight end spot also will come down to preseason performance. Robert Royal, who started 15 of 16 games last year, is trying to hold off second-year player Derek Schouman.

“We will know a little bit more after this game,” Jauron said about the tight ends. “I really like those guys and I am confident in them, but they have to produce. We have to see it on the field. We will learn a good deal more on Saturday and then we will go from there.”

Bryan Sullivan is covering Bills training camp for Messenger Post Newspapers. He can be reached at (585) 394-0770 ext. 273 or