--The Bills' remodeled defense made an acceptable debut in a 7-6 preseason loss to the Redskins. Mario Williams and Co., stuffed Washington and its prized rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III on its first two possessions, but did allow an 80-yard touchdown drive on the Redskins' third turn with the ball. Griffin ran a very bland scheme and attempted only safe passes. He did have completions of 20 and 18 yards to Pierre Garcon to spark the drive, then hit Garcon on a short screen that the receiver ran for a touchdown.
"We have a long way to go," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "Tonight was more about seeing if we could come out, play base defense, have some stops and make some plays."
--Defensive end Mario Williams didn't show up on the stat sheet against the Redskins, who may have given a glimpse at what opponents will try and do this season against Buffalo's $100 million man: run right at him. Doing that negates Williams if opponents can kick him out of the play, putting the onus on linebackers and defensive backs to make the tackle. Of course, Williams' forte is rushing the passer. But Buffalo has to stop the run first to set up those pass-rushing situations.
--One area the Bills need obvious work on is execution. They racked up 14 penalties against the Redskins, including eight for false starts, at home in a half-filled stadium. Buffalo had the fifth fewest penalties in the NFL last year. "You can't say because it's the first preseason game so we're going to have however many penalties," wide receiver Stevie Johnson said. "We're professionals and you still have to be professional. Some of it was questionable but we've got to get better at it."
--Well-traveled veteran receiver Derek Hagan, 27, is hoping to make Buffalo his last NFL stop. The former standout at Arizona State played for Miami, the New York Giants and Oakland before signing with the Bills late last season. Buffalo is in need of a productive No. 2 receiver to step forward. Hagan (6-1, 205) has the physical size and speed to land the job; it's just a matter of making the most of what opportunities he's afforded. In Buffalo's preseason loss to the Redskins, he did not catch a pass and was targeted only once.
"Four teams is enough," Hagan said. "Some of them were unfortunate situations, but I can't control that, and now I'm here with Buffalo. I had a great time when I was with the Giants and the Raiders and Miami, but now I'm here with the Bills and I know there's an opportunity, so I want to be here for a long time. I hope I can keep it going."
--Punter Brian Moorman, in his 12th year with the Bills, isn't afraid to try new tricks. Buffalo's career punting leader showed off what's called an "Aussie punt" in the team's preseason game against Washington, using the technique to pin the Redskins deep twice. The Aussie punt calls for the punter to position the ball almost with the nose straight down. The effect created is end-over-end rather than a spiral that bounced backward when it hits the ground. Moorman used the technique twice on punts downed at the 4-yard line and fair-caught at the 13. Moorman said he changed the grip he uses on the Aussie punt, "and it was fun to get the opportunity to do it in the game situation. I think the work has paid off."
--Rookie cornerback Ron Brooks had a night to remember against the Redskins, intercepting a pass and breaking up three others. The fourth-round pick out of LSU was overshadowed by bigger-name players in college and the same thing has happened in Buffalo where South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore was Buffalo's first-round pick. But Brooks has shown the NFL isn't too big for him.
"It felt good to come out in my first game and get a pick, even though I should have had two more. I dropped them," Brooks said. "But I plan to go out there and work even harder in practice and try to make up for those in the other games."
--Tight end Scott Chandler made a terrific catch over the middle in traffic on a high pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Redskins, taking a huge hit and hanging on to the ball. You can't simulate that kind of stuff in practice.
"It is great when your quarterback has that kind of faith in you, that he is going to throw it when the guy did not really bite on my double move," Chandler said. "But you know, if he throws it up high I am going to try to go get it for him." And pay any price."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"It looked ugly. It felt ugly. It was ugly." - Coach Chan Gailey after watching his club commit 14 penalties, including eight false starts, in a 7-6 preseason loss to the Redskins.
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