ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – We’ve been watching a few key position battles throughout Bills training camp and got a better look at the competition during their first preseason game against the Colts.
Dane Jackson started opposite of Tre’Davious White and made an impact right out the gate, intercepting Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson on Indy’s opening drive, setting up the Bills with great field position, at the Colts 13-yard line. Jackson is trying to solidify a starting job once again, competing with last year’s first-round pick, Kaiir Elam and 2022 sixth-round pick, Christian Benford. Elam and Benford haven’t done anything to pull ahead of Jackson so far this summer and both had defensive pass interference called against them.
The Bills are still searching for their replacement for Tremaine Edmunds as the quarterback of their defense and haven’t found it yet. Saturday’s game did not give them any clarity either as last year’s third-round pick, Terrel Bernard is dealing with a hamstring injury in Thursday’s practice and did not play against the Colts. This was a big disappointment as these live game reps are very valuable for players, especially ones in a position battle. The competition at middle linebacker seems to now be a two-man race between Bernard and Tyrel Dodson. Dodson has the most experience in the group but didn’t do much to stand out in his opportunity against the Colts, ending with just two tackles. You never want to see someone win a job by default so Bernard’s injury is something to keep a close eye on. After the game Sean McDermott said there’s still no timetable for Bernard’s return but added these injuries usually take some time to recover and that’s what they’re expecting.
For the most part, the Bills starting offensive line seems set except at right guard. It’s been a competition between the veteran Ryan Bates and rookie O’Cyrus Torrence who the Bills drafted in the second round out of Florida. Torrence got the start at right guard and played there into the second half. For his first NFL game action, the rookie didn’t look out of place whatsoever, in fact at times I didn’t even notice him which is a great thing for an offensive lineman. Torrence held his own in both pass and run protection, making a strong case for that starting job come week one. Bates came in for Mitch Morse at center, showing off his versatility as we’ve seen not only in the past, but at training camp as well. We always talk about position flexibility as a good thing, but when it comes to competing for this starting job, it might actually hurt him just because the Bills might want to save him as that sixth offensive lineman, a backup to multiple guys instead of a starter at one spot.
Latest Buffalo Bills Stories
- Tampa police investigating death of Mike Williams, NFL player from Buffalo
- Bills have little time to enjoy rout with high-scoring Dolphins up next
- Bills TE Dawson Knox supports children fighting cancer with every touchdown, reception
- How to watch, stream and listen to Bills vs. Dolphins Week 4 game
- Familiar Bills domination may include hidden big-picture improvement
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.