CANTON, Ohio -- Who said a preseason game couldn't have a little intrigue?
The Buffalo Bills raised eyebrows early in their 17-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night when Robert Woods, a presumptive starter at receiver, remained on the sideline at the start of the game.
In his place, the Bills used Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams as their top duo with Chris Hogan subbing into the slot. Those were the only three receivers who worked with quarterback EJ Manuel in his only two series of the game.
"A little bit [surprised] for Woody not to be in with us with the one's. A bit surprising," Manuel said of Woods' absence with the first-team unit. "But he did great. He did great. Woody's going to be Woody with whatever he's given. So I was still glad to see him go out there and do a great job."
Asked about the decision to use Hogan as the third receiver with the first-team offense instead of Woods, coach Doug Marrone was brief.
"[Hogan] came in only in the slot," Marrone said.
The Bills have used Hogan in the slot with their first-team offense at times during training camp, so his presence with that unit wasn't surprising. What was unusual, though, was Woods playing into the third quarter, while teammates Watkins and Williams were out of the game by late in the first quarter.
Woods, a second-round pick last season who started 14 games as a rookie, was asked following Sunday's loss if he told why he didn't start.
"No," Woods said, smiling.
"It is what it is. I just come out here and make plays whenever I'm in on the field."