Backup QBs Mitchell Trubisky, Davis Webb and Jake Fromm will share time against Lions
ORCHARD PARK – Now that the Buffalo Bills have signed Josh Allen to a contract extension that will eventually be worth more than a quarter billion dollars, they plan on protecting that massive investment Friday night.
When the Bills open their three-game preseason schedule at Ford Field in Detroit, Allen will watch from the sidelines while Mitchell Trubisky, Jake Fromm and Davis Webb play against the Lions.
Coach Sean McDermott confirmed on Wednesday that Allen will not play, and many of the other starters will also sit out the game. “It’s gonna be kind of on an individual basis, so a number of the starters won’t play,” McDermott said. “There will be some starters that do play, and then it’ll go from there.”
McDermott and the other NFL coaches are adapting to a new preseason schedule that features one less game than what was the norm prior to the COVID-19 cancellation of all games last summer. Also, there is a roster cut after each of the games, another new wrinkle.
Those changes will alter how teams use their front-line players, and while McDermott wouldn’t get into what the Bills will do, you can expect something like this.
The first two games, at Detroit and then at Chicago on Aug. 21, will feature heavy doses of the young players who are trying to make the back end of the roster. And then in final game at home against Green Bay on Aug. 28, you’ll probably see the starters play longer, perhaps as much as a half or three quarters.
Under the old schedule, starters usually played a little in the first two games, saw their most extensive action in the third game, and then in the fourth game most of them didn’t even dress in order to protect against injury. That game was always devoted to the young players for one last chance to show something.
Now, the third game is still the tuneup game, but there will be nothing after that. And because there’s a 15-day break before the regular season opener on Sept. 12 (which used to be 9 or 10 days), McDermott will want his starters to play longer in the last game to lessen the possibility of rust forming.
“It’s kind of hard to project right now,” McDermott said when he was asked how he’ll ferret out playing time in the games to come. “We’ve got a plan but we really want to see, because of the uniqueness of this preseason ... we’ll just take it one week at a time and see where we’re at as a team and what we need.”
The Bills’ roster is largely set which is a great spot to be in for McDermott as the first two games are played. Realistically, there may only be about 7-8 roster spots available, and then everyone else will be fighting for practice squad jobs.
“We felt like it was important to take a good look at these young players in particular to give them their due,” he said. “And this is the first time that, with the cuts each week basically after the games, we want to make sure we’ve got a good handle on who we have and what we need to do going forward.”
On Tuesday, the Bills will need to cut down from 91 players in camp to the NFL-mandated 85. And then on Aug. 24 they must cut to 80 players. Finally, on Aug. 31, they will pare the roster to the final 53, and then the next day can begin compiling their practice squad.
Sal Maiorana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.