Bills begin preparations for the Jets
ORCHARD PARK, NY - As the Bills got set to hit the field on a sunny afternoon, continuing preparations for the season opener, Chan Gailey was clear about the team's expectations.
"I think we're a better football team than we've been in any of the three years we've been here," the Bills head coach said.
As the expectations have risen in Buffalo, the distractions have multiplied in New York. In March, the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, raising immediate questions about incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez. There's an outspoken head coach some think is on the hot seat, and of course that well publicized skirmish during training camp.
"It's probably all overblown," observed Ryan Fitzpatrick. "I think they obviously get more attention than anybody else, being in the media market they're in. And so, small things that happen for them happen for every team in the NFL."
Yet the Jets have managed to maintain some secrecy this preseason. With the wildcat expected to be one of their strengths, not one play has been run in an exhibition game. The team even banned camera crews from taping it during practices.
"It's a little bit of a disadvantage," said Gailey. "You like to know some of the things that they've got. But, it makes you prepare for a lot of different things because you don't know what's coming."
"Everybody knows how the wildcat's going to be," added Marcell Dareus. "We're just worried about stoping the run, because they just want to come out here and pound. They want to show that they still can run on us, and still run on anybody."
After a preseason of ups and downs, all eyes will be on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense in Sunday's opener. Will we see the unit that struggled against Washington and Pittsburgh, or the one that dominated in Detroit? We'll find out as they face last year's fifth ranked defense.
"I think every year you go into you have to prove who you are and what kind of player you are," said Fitzpatrick. "Every season is new. For me, I probably have more to prove than the other guys. That is it as a quarterback. You have to be able to go out there and do it. I am looking forward to that challenge."
On the injury front, Stevie Johnson was limited with his continued groin recovery. The same goes for Brad Smith. Craig Urbik was held out with a lower back issue, and spent some of the session riding a bike on the sideline.
Chan Gailey announced that Tyler Thigpen will serve as the Bills backup quarterback on Sunday.