Bills: Three key training camp goals, top battle
Here is a breakdown of the key three goals the Bills must address in training camp:
--Determine who the starting quarterback will be. The Bills will conduct a legitimate three-man competition for the job, and at this point, it's anyone's guess who will win. Josh Allen was picked No. 7 overall in the draft and the Bills hope he's their future, but he isn't likely to be ready to start this season. Free agent AJ McCarron was signed to essentially be the placeholder for Allen, but he was pushed in the offseason program by last year's fifth-round pick, Nathan Peterman, so that should be an interesting battle in camp.
--Figure out the defensive backfield sub-packages. The Bills' starting secondary is set with corners Tre'Davious White and Vontae Davis and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, but they have a mostly new depth chart behind them. Rookie fourth-round pick Taron Johnson and free agent Phillip Gaines are in line to be the nickel corner, and rookie Siran Neal could work his way into the dime package, while a couple other players to watch are cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Lafayette Pitts.
--Have a plan in place in case LeSean McCoy is suspended. The Bills' best player may be in some legal hot water pending an investigation into an incident involving his ex-girlfriend. If the league determines he was involved in some capacity, the Bills have big problems on an offense that is already expected to be weak. Chris Ivory is McCoy's 30-year-old backup, and career backups Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet are both better suited as third-down pass receivers than ball-carriers.
TOP SUMMER BATTLE
Wide receiver. The Bills don't really have a true No. 1-type player at this position, let alone a No. 2 and beyond. Kelvin Benjamin is the best they have, but he's more of a possession receiver and red-zone target than he is a defense stretcher.
The Bills hope that second-year player Zay Jones, coming off a disappointing rookie season, can emerge as the starter opposite Benjamin, while they are banking on veteran Jeremy Kerley to be effective in the slot. There are several young candidates vying for backup roles including two late draft picks, Ray-Ray McCloud III and Austin Proehl, and free agents Malachi Dupre, Robert Foster and Quan Bray.