Bills at Panthers Preview
Charlotte, NC - Trent Edwards' status is in doubt following his second concussion in a little over a year. The Buffalo Bills may decide to be extra cautious with their starting quarterback after watching film on Julius Peppers.
Facing one of the NFL's most effective pass rushers, the Bills and their porous offensive line could be blocking for Ryan Fitzpatrick as they visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
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Buffalo (2-4) got a much-needed confidence boost last Sunday, beating the New York Jets 16-13 in overtime, but Edwards left the game after being sacked in the second quarter.
Edwards sustained the second concussion of his NFL career, leaving his status uncertain. He also suffered a concussion in a loss at Arizona on Oct. 5, 2008.
"We'll take that day to day and see how he comes out of this thing," coach Dick Jauron said.
If Edwards can't play, Fitzpatrick will start after going 10 of 25 for 116 yards and a touchdown to rally Buffalo last week.
Edwards has already been sacked 19 times this season, but the Jets never got to Fitzpatrick. The Bills, with a young offensive line, rank 29th in the NFL in sacks allowed.
Buffalo's inability to protect the passer may weigh heavily on any decision Jauron makes regarding Edwards. The Bills need to find a way to block Peppers, who is on perhaps the best two-game stretch of his career.
The veteran defensive end had four sacks, five tackles for a loss, four quarterback hurries and a forced fumble to help Carolina (2-3) win two straight. Peppers and the Panthers held Washington to 198 yards in a 28-17 win Oct. 11 and limited Tampa Bay to 245 in a 28-21 victory last Sunday.
Carolina also had a dominant running game against the Buccaneers, gaining 267 yards after failing to find much consistency on the ground in its previous four contests. DeAngelo Williams (152 yards, 2 TDs) and Jonathan Stewart (110 yards, 1 TD) had performances that were reminiscent of last season.
The Panthers continue to have trouble passing, though. Jake Delhomme went 9 of 17 for 65 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while leaving his star receiver unhappy.
Steve Smith was upset after being held to one catch for four yards.
"I'm no longer an asset to this team," said Smith, who has 21 receptions for 259 yards and has yet to score.
But the constant double-teams Smith faced helped open up holes for Williams and Stewart.
"I can't call the opponent up and ask them not to do that. They get to do what they want," coach John Fox said. "That opens up other things for our football team and gives us an opportunity to win."
Delhomme and Smith have yet to connect for a pass longer than 30 yards. Delhomme has thrown 10 INTs while finding the end zone four times.
Buffalo's passing game certainly has plenty to work on. The Bills are averaging 169.5 yards in the air, failing to take advantage of a strong duo at wide receiver in Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. Both players have fewer than 17 receptions and 230 yards.
Fitzpatrick was inconsistent after taking over last week for Edwards, but he was able to tie the game in the third quarter by hitting Evans on a slant for a 37-yard TD. It was the longest reception of 2009 for Evans, who has TD catches of 83 yards or more in each of his previous three seasons.
The Bills' defense has its own problems, struggling terribly against the run. Buffalo allowed 318 yards rushing against the Jets and has surrendered 961 in its last four games.
Neither the Bills nor the Panthers got much going on the ground in their last meeting, combining for 168 rushing yards in a 13-9 Carolina road win Nov. 27, 2005. Delhomme completed 20 of 27 passes for 191 yards and a TD.
Posted: 10/21/09 6:35PM ET