The Buffalo Bills will get their first chance to gauge where they stand when they open the NFL's exhibition schedule against the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Bills coach Doug Marrone hopes a much more lasting impression was made on Saturday, however.
A team tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame provided a great look at what the Bills have meant to the NFL: The Hall of Famers, the contributions of late owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., and the memorable games the team has played.
Marrone believes having the entire team visit the Hall will give them perspective. And added incentive.
"Hopefully it will hit that, 'Hey, we haven't done anything for a long time,' " Marrone said.
A very long time. The Bills have gone an NFL-worst 14 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance. They have cracked the .500 barrier just once in that stretch, when they managed to go 9-7 in 2004.
The mediocrity is getting really old.
"I remember when we went up there (to Canton) with New Orleans (in 2007) and it wasn't a lot," Marrone said, recalling his days there as an assistant coach and the Saints display in the Hall of Fame. "We were saying to ourselves, 'We're going to change this' and obviously they have."
The Bills aren't talking Super Bowl yet. They're just starting an elongated preseason schedule. The Bills were the first team to open training camp (two weeks ago) and they'll play five preseason games instead of the usual four because of the invitation to the Hall of Fame game.The Saints won the Super Bowl following the 2009 season.
Marrone says that's just fine.
"For a team that is like ours, a team that hasn't won, a team that has to work hard, we need the work," he said. "If you're a veteran team and you've won a lot and everything's set, maybe you might look at it in a different light.
"I think it's better for about 98 percent of our roster."
Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins is eager to see what NFL competition is like. More importantly, he wants to know how the Bills stack up.
"I'm excited to see where the team's at," he said, admitting there will be some nervous anxiety until "I get tackled or catch one ball."
The game will be televised by NBC as the kickoff to Sunday Night Football. No one in the spotlight wants to be embarrassed.
"Obviously we want to go out there and put out a great product," quarterback EJ Manuel said. "It's national TV. It's the kickoff of the NFL season, so obviously we want to start off with a bang."
What would be the ideal showing for Manuel:
"A productive night, a bunch of drives and we move the ball," he said. "Whether we score a lot of points, which would be awesome, but the main thing is that we want to see guys get in and out of the huddle, go through plays and just execute.
"This is our first game, so we just need to go out there and practice what we've been doing out here every day."
Showing themselves and their fans there's reason to believe the future is bright wouldn't hurt either.