ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills opened their preseason with a 17-10 loss Thursday night to the Minnesota Vikings at New Era Field. The Bills emerged from the contest relatively unscathed by injuries, although their starting offense managed only three points in about one quarter of action.
Bills dodge injury to Tyrod Taylor: On a second-and-20 play during the Bills' first possession, Taylor was sacked by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen and stood up slowly after the hit. Taylor, who showed a slight limp, stayed in the game for the third-down play before coming off the field for the punt. He was examined by the medical staff under a privacy tent on the sideline that the NFL has implemented this season. Coach Sean McDermott said after the game Taylor's knee was the subject of the examination. Taylor returned for the Bills' second series and remained on the field for the third possession as well.
LeSean McCoy does not play: Perhaps the Bills' most indispensable player this season, McCoy dressed for Thursday's game but did not play. "I've been around LeSean for a long time and I like where he is in this point of training camp, in terms of getting himself ready to play for the season," McDermott said. "I wanted to get a good look at the other backs. I was impressed with the way some of those running backs performed." In McCoy's place, Jonathan Williams and Mike Tolbert received snaps with the first-team offense. Williams, who was announced after the game as having a hamstring injury, ran four times for 39 yards and caught one pass for 7 yards. In first-team action, Tolbert rushed twice for 13 yards. Both figure to have roles in the Bills' backfield this season behind McCoy.
QB depth chart: Taylor completed three passes to Sammy Watkins on the Bills' first three plays of the game, all short curl routes, for a total of 30 yards. Taylor's production dipped after that, in part because of shoddy blocking from his offensive line. He finished 5-of-8 passing for 46 yards. Taylor was replaced by T.J. Yates on the fourth drive. Projected to be the Bills' top backup this season, Yates struggled with his accuracy, completing 6 of 11 passes for 48 yards. He was replaced by rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman late in the third quarter. Peterman led the Bills on a 13-play, 79-yard touchdown drive and finished with 13-of-25 passing for 112 yards.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Bills looked ... Better on defense than offense. The defense allowed one first down and 18 total yards on two Vikings possessions before that group was pulled late in the first quarter. After two punts to begin the game, McDermott kept his first-team offense on the field for a third drive, which ended in a 42-yard field goal.
One reason to be concerned: The sample size is tiny, but the Bills' passing offense left something to be desired. Taylor had a mostly full cast of pass-catchers around him, including Watkins. Outside of the offense's first three plays, the passing game did not appear in sync. With starting left tackle Cordy Glenn out because of foot soreness, the Bills started Seantrel Henderson his place, and the results were subpar. If Glenn's foot causes problems down the road, Buffalo could have a problem at left tackle. Henderson must serve the remaining five games of a suspension to begin the regular season.
That guy could start: Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. The Bills signed the Wyoming product in April when they needed more players on their roster for a minicamp. Yarbrough, who was in training camp last season with the Denver Broncos, impressed early in camp and was afforded an opportunity to start in Thursday's game because of injuries to Shaq Lawson (groin) and Ryan Davis (concussion). Yarbrough capitalized, recording the starting defense's only sack of the night. If his upward trend continues, Yarbrough could find a situational pass-rushing role for the Bills this season.
Rookie watch: Linebacker Tanner Vallejo left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and was later downgraded to out. Vallejo had been running with the second-team defense during training camp and Thursday's game. A sixth-round pick from Boise State, Vallejo is projected to make the roster as a reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor if healthy.