The Buffalo Bills made it a little too easy for opposing players to shine against them Thursday night.
Detroit Lions rookies Jake Rudock and Dwayne Washington managed to stand out anyway. Washington had another long scoring play, while Rudock threw three touchdown passes in Detroitâ€™s 31-0 win.
It being the fourth preseason game, neither team used their starters, and even second-team players were scarce by halftime, but Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan took things to another level. Buffalo started the game running an offense that most fans hadnâ€™t seen since the glory days of Oklahoma in the 1980s - the wishbone.
The Bills ran the old-fashioned scheme once in a while during the regular season because they have three dangerous runners in quarterback Tyrod Taylor and tailbacks LeSean McCoy and Reggie Bush. Thursday, though, with backups in the game, the offense didnâ€™t accomplish anything other than providing a quick ending to Buffalo possessions.
The Bills didnâ€™t work much harder on defense, focusing more on avoiding injuries than making plays, but they still had most of their second-team defenders on the field when Washington blew around the left end and down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
The Lionsâ€™ seventh-round pick out of WashingtonÂ scored three touchdowns in the preseason, including a 96-yard kickoff return against Pittsburgh. Heâ€™s almost certainly locked up the No. 3 running-back spot behind Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
â€śHeâ€™s shown some ability, and that if he gets a crack, he can really do something,â€? Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. â€śHeâ€™s a big back, but heâ€™s also got great speed. He did extremely well in what is our last bit of evaluation before going to a 53-man roster.â€?
Rudock, taken in the sixth round out of nearby Michigan, has been the No. 3 quarterback throughout camp. For him, the challenge has been to prove that he deserves one of the roster spots instead of the Lions only keeping Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky.
Against Buffalo, he threw the ball well, hitting 14-of-23 passes for 171 yards and the three scores, but he also continued to impress with his instincts. As he did as a Wolverine, he was able to escape the pocket and make plays on the run.
He felt that playing the last three-quarters was a huge help.
â€śHaving that much time lets you get into a flow and find your groove,â€? he said. â€śYou start seeing things more than you do when you are only playing small amounts of time.â€?
Caldwell wonâ€™t even hint to the media whether he plans on keeping two or three quarterbacks, but heâ€™s been impressed by Rudockâ€™s progression.
â€śIt has been a good, steady growth,â€? he said. â€śHeâ€™s grasping the offense better and better. Heâ€™s a smart guy anyway, he works at it, he made some nice throws this evening and certainly did a nice job just in terms of operating the offense. We didnâ€™t do a whole lot of no-huddle out there, we huddled pretty much every time.
“But he still did a nice job getting us out of some bad plays and things of that nature. Heâ€™s developing, he obviously played well.”
Rudock and Washington have done enough to earn roster spots, but they know that nothing is official until they make it to the first Sunday of the regular season.
â€śThatâ€™s the goal, obviously,â€? Rudock said. â€śI hope Iâ€™m there. I think Iâ€™ve played well and shown some improvement while learning so much. It has been huge to get this playing time with guys who have been in the league for a couple years and know what it means to play here.
â€śAt the end, though, everything is up to Coach Caldwell.â€?