The fourth and final preseason game is typically a time for the lowest players on the roster to take one final shot at earning a spot on the 53-man roster. While the first-team starters may have an opportunity to play some in the game, Thursday's game between the Bills will likely highlight players looking to make the team as a special teams contributor or depth player.
Meet the Buffalo Bills
Good luck has been scarce when it comes to the Bills recently, as a slew of injuries has the team in a tight spot at the wrong time. While acquiring Matt Leinart and Thaddeus Lewis helped to quell the team's need at quarterback, the Bills will still have to rely on quarterback Jeff Tuel for the time being.
Through three preseason games, Tuel has completed 31-of-43 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Thursday's game will be the final tune-up for Tuel as a starter before he'll almost certainly be asked to lead the Bills into the first week of the regular season.
Meet the Detroit Lions
When the Bills ran out of quarterbacks, the Lions were willing to chip in some help by sending Thaddeus Lewis to Buffalo. In exchange, the Lions received veteran linebacker Chris White who will likely make his debut with the team on Thursday after spending the first two seasons of his career with the Bills.
With just one more exhibition game before the beginning of the regular season, the Lions are unlikely to rest their starters, though. On Monday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told the media that every player that is "100-percent healthy" will get a chance to play at least a few snaps.
Local Takes: Buffalo Bills
Brian Galliford from Buffalo Rumblings had this to say about the Bills' recent quarterback carousel.
Right now, Manuel and Tuel are mortal locks to make the Bills' final 53-man roster. If Kolb is out for an extended period of time, Leinart may make the most sense as a reserve, as he can play the role of veteran counterpoint to two rookies. How Lewis figures into the mix remains to be seen, but it does not seem particularly likely that the Bills will keep four quarterbacks - though that's certainly possible if Manuel is suddenly unavailable for Week 1.
Local Takes: Detroit Lions
Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit listed five storylines to watch in Thursday's game, including the Lions kick return game:
Nobody has really had much of a chance to emerge as the Lions' return specialist simply because opportunities have been so limited. As a result, Steven Miller, Micheal Spurlock and Patrick Edwards all appear to still be in the mix for this role. If Edwards makes the team as the Lions' fourth wide receiver, would the Lions really need to keep Miller or Spurlock when their main contributions would simply be on special teams? I say no, as I just don't think there's room for a return specialist with the current make-up of the roster.
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Time to re-iterate something on the Jeff Tuel front: if Manuel is healthy, he'll play. Manuel's not healthy yet. Ergo, Tuel's up next.— Buffalo Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) August 26, 2013
I do understand the sentiment of wanting to eliminate all obstacles in EJ Manuel's way, but it's a shortsighted way of getting there to me.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) August 25, 2013
Also, sorry to see Lawrence Jackson released by the Vikings today. Good guy, hopefully he lands somewhere soon.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) August 27, 2013
The Lions opened as 4.5-point favorites against the Bills and the line has held steady on most online sportsbooks, according to Oddsshark.