Bills still learning to walk

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:51 AM ET

Head coach Chan Gailey has been around football far too long to try to put the polish on a wormy apple.

The apple in question happens to be his Buffalo Bills, and Thursday night they get to present Act 2 of their pre-season schedule by taking on Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts at Rogers Centre. The hope, of course, is that the Bills show improvement in some aspect of the game following their hapless performance in a 42-17 loss last week to the Washington Redskins.

“We had some individual young players that showed they had a little something to them,” Gailey said Monday via a conference call when asked if there were any positives taken from the pounding. “There were some young players that showed some things individually.

“We’re still in the process of crawling before you walk, walking before you run. We’re still in the crawl ... It’s a process, it’s not going to happen (overnight). If you think that the first game, you’re going to go out there and look like a million bucks ... There were some positives to take out of it. If we can take the next step, that’s the goal.”

For a team that supposedly has nowhere to go but up, the Bills seek and find misfortune at every opportunity and against the Redskins they continued to mine more of the same. During the game, they lost their top two running backs from last season to injury — Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch.

It has been a depressing theme for a team so thin on talent. Losing games in the pre-season is of no account but losing players is something else.

But for the fans who go out and attend Thursday’s game, the loss of Jackson, out with a broken bone in his left hand, and Lynch, sidelined with a high ankle sprain, will be offset by the heightened presence of running back C.J. Spiller.

Spiller, the Bills

No. 1 pick this past winter, rhymes with thriller and the former University of Clemson phenom is said to have electric feet, which may be one of the few reasons to watch the Bills this season.

“C.J. will obviously get the majority of work with our ones (the first-team offensive unit which will see action in the first quarter) and he may have to go even longer than that,” Gailey said. “He missed quite a few days of training camp already so he needs as much work as he can get.”

When asked how Spiller has looked to date, Gailey brightened.

“So far, so good,” Gailey said. “He’s exactly what we thought we were getting. Of course we saw that in OTA’s and mini-camp. But once you put the pads on, you hope to see it still and he’s exactly what we thought he was.”

Spiller may be one of the few bright spots the Bills have going for them on offence but he will have to be at his elusive best behind an offensive line that is both inexperienced and on the post-injury rebound.

Taking the snaps once again is Trent Edwards, who has been mostly a disappointment in his three-year tenure with the team. Gailey said he should play about half the game.

The chief knock against Edwards — and the source of great frustration for Bills fans — is his reluctance to throw the ball down field and give his receivers a chance to make a play.

“I’d rather him make the right read,” Gailey said when asked if would prefer Edwards to gamble a little more. “If he checks it down, it’s not him, it’s me. If he throws it under four yards every time we’re not doing the right things to get people open down the field.”

Like all pre-season games, the final outcome is of little consequence.

“We’ve got to go get better each week,” Gailey said of the goal Thursday. “That’s what you’re looking for as a coach. Is your team getting better or are you still making the same mistakes?”

In Buffalo, the fans have been asking that question for years.


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