By John Wawrow
The Associated Press
ORCHARD PARK —
Two completions — one deep and another a check-down — went a long way in providing quarterback Vince Young the edge in the fight to be the Buffalo Bills’ backup.
Without making any guarantees, coach Chan Gailey announced after practice Monday that Young has performed well enough in two preseason games to earn more playing time with the second team offense heading into this weekend’s preseason game against Pittsburgh.
“Oh yeah, he’s got the edge or I wouldn’t have given him more reps,” Gailey said. “He’s made more things happen, so you’ve got to give him credit for that.”
Gailey’s announcement came after the Bills returned from a two-day break following a 36-14 preseason loss at Minnesota on Friday. Despite the lopsided score, it was a game in which Young showed how quickly he’s become comfortable with Gailey’s offense since signing a one-year contract with the Bills in mid-May.
Young has spent the offseason and training camp competing with returning backup Tyler Thipgen for the No. 2 job. The loser of the competition is expected to be cut because the third-string job is going to receiver/wildcat specialist Brad Smith.
Young took a big step forward after going 8-for-14 for a team-leading 123 yards passing and engineering a touchdown drive against Minnesota.
The seventh-year player and two-time Pro Bowl selection opened the second half by hitting T.J. Graham in stride for a 64-yard completion. On the next play, Young was credited for changing the call at the line, and dumping a short pass to halfback Dorin Dickerson for a 14-yard gain that put Buffalo on the Vikings’ 2-yard line.
Tashard Choice scored on a 1-yard run two plays later.
Thigpen, by comparison, hurt his chances by going 8 of 15 for 56 yards, and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown with 3:18 left that put the game out of reach.
Gailey said the test now for Young is to see how he can handle more responsibility and an expanded game plan.
“It’s definitely good news,” said Young, who has gone from being the NFL’s 2006 offensive rookie of the year with Tennessee to being on his third team in three years. “It’s opportunity, man. That’s all you can ask for.”
Gailey had even more to announce on an eventful day that began with the Bills releasing veteran defensive end Shawne Merriman. The coach said rookie second-round pick Cordy Glenn had won the starting left tackle job.
Gailey made the decision in part because Chris Hairston will continue starting at right tackle in place of Erik Pears, who continues to be sidelined by a nagging groin/hernia injury. Hairston was expected to compete with Glenn to start on the left side.
Starting right defensive end Mark Anderson was held out of practice Monday due to a groin injury that Gailey said has nagged the player for the past three weeks. Gailey didn’t say how much time Anderson is expected to miss.
Dickerson missed practice due to a thigh/hip injury, and it’s uncertain whether the halfback will play against Pittsburgh on Saturday.