After trouncing the Indianapolis Colts 44-20 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone said he was very proud of his team with the way they came out and played, he then went on and cautioned:
“Obviously there is still a lot of work to do for us.”
Spoken like a first year head coach who inherited a 6-10 team. It is indeed only the preseason and with it comes cuts, lineup changes and players moving up, down and out. To that end, here are five players whose stock went down along with five players whose stock is on the rise after the Bills win over the Colts this past weekend.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb — Sitting on the bench as the emergency back-up quarterback, the former Arizona Cardinal and Philadelphia Eagle watched the coming out party of first rounder EJ Manuel and the emergence of free agent Jeff Tuel as a legitimate candidate for the number two spot.
Plus, it appeared on the sideline that Manuel and Tuel were supporting one another, as each congratulated the other after touchdown throws. As the only NFL veteran in the group, Kolb was not seen mentoring or encouraging either one. This current Bills coaching staff puts a premium on team, and if Kolb is viewed solely as a “me first” guy he may find himself looking for a job.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins — He did not have a good game and did nothing Sunday to dislodge veteran Rian Lindell from the Bills kicking job.
Hopkins was drafted out of Florida State because of his strong leg and his first kickoff on Sunday was great — traveling into the end zone for a touchback. He followed that up with two mishaps, including a kick that sailed out of bounds for a penalty. He did hit two short field goals, and I think he still has a “leg” up on the 13-year veteran Lindell but, the competition just got a little tighter between the two placekickers.
Running Back Fred Jackson — I don’t think Jackson is on the bubble but the one-time 1000-yard rusher looked every bit the 32-year old. The veteran running back is coming back from knee problems and it showed on Sunday as he had trouble moving laterally, and looks like he’s lost a step.
Safety Da’Norris Searcy — looked absolutely lost in coverage as Colt receivers were running open across the middle during the entire first half. His missed open field tackle against the Colts’ Coby Fleener would have been more glaring had he not recovered the fumble caused downfield by fellow DB Ron Brooks. Searcy certainly didn’t have anybody forgetting about pro-bowl Safety and current franchise holdout Jairus Byrd.
Cornerback Ron Brooks — looked equally lost in coverage and let WR T.Y. Hilton fly past him for a 45-yard scoring catch from Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. To his credit, Brooks did have a nice downfield hit on Colts tight end Coby Fleener that created a turnover.
Safety Jairus Byrd — Buffalo placed the franchise tag on the pro-bowl safety and he is still a camp hold-out. The Bills secondary (aside from second year cornerback Stephon Gilmore) did nothing to ease concerns about Bryd’s absence. Colt receivers were running free through the Bills secondary and Buffalo’s defensive backs, at times throughout the first half, looked lost and out of place. All of which should increase Bryd’s stock, and showed that Buffalo’s defense needs his Pro-Bowl services more than the front office would probably like to admit.
Wide Receiver Marcus Easley — While Tuel to Easley is not going to make anyone in Buffalo forget about Jim Kelly to Andre Reed, the fourth-year receiver from Connecticut was targeted seven times and had seven receptions for 94 yards. His route running was crisp and it looks like he played himself back into Buffalo’s deep wide receiver race.
Defensive Tackle Marcell Darues — The third-year defensive tackle only played a handful of snaps but from my view point he looked fit and quick. It appeared his first step was giving the Colts interior line fits and he looked like he got penetration on both pass and running plays. He performed like a player who wanted to put last year behind him and is poised to have a break out year.
Tight End Dorin Dickerson — Dickerson had a nice game. He looked good blocking in the running game and ran a great route on the touchdown reception from Manuel to end the first half. He did however, miss yesterday’s practice with an ankle injury. Depth at tight end is at a premium in Buffalo as starter Scott Chandler was inactive for the Bills’ preseason opener and is still battling back from last year’s knee injury.
Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin — Goodwin’s 107-yard kickoff return was spectacular. If Sunday’s game is any indication, then Goodwin combined with veteran punt returner Leodis McKelvin could give Buffalo the most dangerous and dynamic return game in the NFL