Football is officially back at Ralph Wilson Stadium as the Buffalo Bills hosted the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night in a rematch of 2015’s regular season opener. The atmosphere was electric in Orchard Park for the Bills-Colts preseason matchup in what could be one of the final games in the building under its current name.
The first-team offense, led by the freshly-extended Tyrod Taylor, only played for one possession on the night as it was the E.J. Manuel and Cardale Jones show the rest of the way. Still, with plenty of positional battles up for grabs there was a lot to watch on Greg Roman’s offense during the 19-18 loss.
From receiver Walter Powell showing off his versatility to Cardale Jones coming through in the clutch, here are four takeaways from the offense in Saturday’s Bills-Colts preseason game:
Cardale Jones: Overall, the rookie quarterback flashed some big plays and showed solid composure with the ability to keep his eyes down the field in his first NFL game. Despite fumbling the first snap he bounced back on the very next play by avoiding the rush and hitting tight end Blake Annen in stride for a 13-yard gain. He then hit Walter Powell out of the shotgun for a 14-yard gain along the sidelines followed up by a six yard scramble.
Jones took a tough blindside sack at the end of the third quarter but hit second-year tight end Nick O’Leary over the middle for a 14-yard pickup immediately after. He then converted a 3rd and short to Greg Little followed by an excellent 26-yard touch pass to Nick O’Leary over the linebackers but underneath the safety.
Most of his possessions stalled, but with just over a minute to go in the game #7 led the Bills offense on an 80-yard drive culminating in a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jarret Boykin with all zeros on the clock. Buffalo’s two-point conversion failed but Jones used both his legs and big arm to move the offense down the field on the impressive drive.
Cardale did overthrow a couple receivers but finished the night 11-21 passing for 162 yards and one touchdown to go with 34 rushing yards in what was a pleasant performance from the former Ohio-State standout.
Walter Powell: The third-year receiver has impressed during training camp while battling for a spot on Buffalo’s roster and he furthered his case on Saturday. Powell caught a 26-yard pass from Manuel in the first quarter as he ran a sharp route to get open. He also had a 14-yard reception on a sideline out to go with a nifty 16-yard punt return.
Powell’s biggest play came on a 41-yard catch and run over the middle in which he plucked the ball out of the air and took it up field. He finished with four receptions for 88 yards, three punt returns for a total of 25 yards and four kick returns for 78 yards, showing off his versatility.
Jonathan Williams: The rookie running back took advantage of his extra playing time with primary backup Karlos Williams not suiting up. After McCoy left the game with the first team offense, Williams was next in line for carries and showed a good burst in the hole along with some toughness.
On his very first run he picked up six yards and laid a big hit on the defender tackling him. Later, he busted off a 14-yard gain on a nice cutback move that was followed by an eight-yard run up the middle in which he did a good job of following his blockers. It’s clear the coaching staff is high on this kid and for good reason. Jonathan finished the night with a team-high eight carries for 44 yards.
Cyrus Kouandjio: Starting at left tackle in place of injured Cordy Glenn, the former second-round pick held his own and showed big improvement even from last season. On a couple passing plays he kicked out the defensive end and gave his QB plenty of time to scan the field. There was a miscommunication with another lineman that led to negative play on 3rd down but overall it was an encouraging performance from Kouandjio, who expects to serve as a swing/backup lineman this season.