1. What's been your impression so far of Jim Schwartz and his defense in Buffalo?
With the "it's still preseason" caveat in mind, there are encouraging signs. The run defense has looked excellent; that's been a problem in Buffalo for years. Their linebackers are playing quite well, which is especially encouraging after this summer's Kiko Alonso injury. We'll see what the regular season brings; I'm not expecting nearly as much in the way of formational disguise, but the defense looks like it'll be capable of replicating the top 10 finish it put up last season.
2. What's the latest on the Bills' ownership situation?
We're in a lull period right now. There are reports out there that final, binding bids are due to Morgan Stanley by the end of this week, giving the trust enough time to pick a winning bid by the owners' meetings in early October. Things could change on a whim -- especially if reports that initial bids were quite low, or if the league steps into the process to try to drive up interest -- but for now, that's the timeline. It also appears that a strict non-relocation agreement will ensure that the Bills stay in Buffalo for the foreseeable future, which in part explains the very low number of bidders.
3. Before the draft, Sammy Watkins was really the fan favorite here in Detroit. How has he performed since joining the Bills?
He's been absolutely outstanding on the practice field, routinely making defensive backs look silly and reeling in insane catches. The problem has been getting him onto the field in preseason games; he's missed the bulk of the last two contests with a minor rib injury, and while he's back to full strength now, he's also only played 34 snaps of live game action this summer. You can expect to see him on the field on Thursday for a little while at least, simply because he needs a bit more work before the games start to count.
4. What are the most notable remaining position battles for the Bills as the preseason comes to a close?
Wide receiver is wide open; Marcus Easley and T.J. Graham are the guys to watch there. Defensive tackle is also interesting, with Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles and Landon Cohen fighting for at least two, but perhaps three spots. Tight end spots are also up for grabs, mostly due to another Tony Moeaki injury. And, while it's surely not interesting to anyone outside of Buffalo, we're certainly interested to see if newly signed quarterback Jordan Palmer can quickly claim the backup quarterback job from second-year pro Jeff Tuel.
5. What are expectations like in Buffalo for the 2014 Bills?
Well, they're low. The optimistic view acknowledges a large amount of individual talent; they have enough of it to make a playoff push, particularly in an AFC that is not really full of postseason locks. But they're only going to go as far as EJ Manuel can take them, and Manuel is still a bottom-tier player at his position in this league. 8-8 might be the peak of where Manuel can take them this year, but he's physically talented enough to exceed those expectations; it's just that not many people are actually counting on that happening.
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