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Buffalo Bills 2014 Training Camp Preview
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
REPORT DATES: July 16 (rookies), July 19 (veterans)
SITE: St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, NY
CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The passing of legendary owner Ralph Wilson put the Bills' long-term future in western New York in play and that will remain the biggest story surrounding the franchise.
That said, when you talk about Buffalo on the field, continuity is desperately needed. With Mike Pettine moving on to be the head coach in Cleveland, the Bills brought in their fourth defensive coordinator in as many seasons, Jim Schwartz. The former Lions head man will be shifting the team from an attacking 3-4 to a wide-nine 4-3 front, a questionable tactic because Buffalo actually led the AFC in both sacks (57) and interceptions (23) under Pettine.
Making things more difficult is the fact that star second-year linebacker Kiko Alonso suffered a torn ACL while working out in Oregon in the offseason and will likely miss the entire 2014 campaign.
"Unfortunately (Kiko) suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will most likely miss the 2014 season," GM Doug Whaley said. "We feel badly for Kiko because he has worked very hard this offseason in preparation for the upcoming season, but we look forward to his return with his style of play that made him one of the league's outstanding rookies in 2013."
Offensively, it's all about growing with second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel, who will certainly enjoy his new toy, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the fourth overall pick in May's draft.
KEY OFFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Whaley proved to be bold, trading up five spots to get one of the four real blue-chip players in the draft, Watkins.
"You have a young quarterback in EJ Manuel; a talented kid. Now they want to surround him with a weapon, and they went and the premier wide receiver in this draft," NFL Network Draft analyst Mike Mayock said.
KEY DEFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Alonso's injury means there should be plenty of playing time for Preston Brown, the team's third-round pick out of Louisville.
Before the injury, Brown, a natural inside linebacker, was expected to learn at the feet of veteran Brandon Spikes, who was signed as a free agent from New England. Now, he'll be given every opportunity to win the weak-side job.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):
Aug 3 - vs. NY Giants, 8:00 PM Aug 8 - at Carolina, 7:30 PM Aug 16 - at Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM Aug 23 - vs. Tampa Bay, 4:30 PM Aug 28 - vs. Detroit, 7:00 PM
07/17 14:16:44 ET