On the surface, it might seem crazy that, for a team struggling to get production from the wide receiver position, Deonte Thompson could step in after only one week of practice and turn into the Buffalo Bills’ leading receiver.
Thompson, who was released by the Chicago Bears on Oct. 17, produced the biggest effort by a Bills receiver this year during Sunday’s 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He hauled in all four passes thrown his way by Tyrod Taylor for 107 yards, becoming the first Bill receiver to post a 100-yard game since Sammy Watkins against the Miami Dolphis on Dec. 24, 2016.
The biggest reason why Thompson was able to step in and contribute immediately? Thompson and Taylor have a strong history together on the football field.
Taylor, who hails from Hampton, Va., and Thompson, a native of Belle Glade, Fla., played on the same team in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American game, a showcase featuring the top high school football players in the country.
“Me and Deonte we go back to high school...we were in Baltimore together for a little bit of time, and was actually here for a training camp together,” Taylor said. “I’m comfortable with his ability, I know his strengths, and I’m excited to have him on board. Anytime you have a friend that you know, that you can play with, it’s definitely exciting what he can bring to this offense.”
After playing together in the U.S. Army All-American game, Taylor and Thompson were teammates on the Baltimore Ravens, with Taylor serving as Joe Flacco’s backup from 2011-2014, and Thompson on the roster from 2012-2013.
Following Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers, Buffalo’s third win in three home games, Thompson said the time the QB/WR duo spent as backups in Baltimore really helped them re-establish their strong chemistry on the football field.
“Yep, most definitely. We picked [up] where we left off. [We] were together three years in Baltimore, so we played a lot of ball together,” Thompson said. “We were on scout teams… all through preseason, all through different camps, and it showed today.”
“Just the confidence level. Like I said we’ve had plenty of reps together in Baltimore, not necessarily game reps, but of course preseason reps,” Taylor added. “We work servicing our defense as well to throughout the season. Like I said just the chemistry. I trust him.”
The Bills took a leap of faith when they signed Thompson, who had amassed 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown in five games with the Bears this year. Buffalo’s receiving corps needed a shot in the arm, and through one game, Thompson has rewarded the Bills with an impressive performance.
“Last week was just all about me catching up and that’s what we did. I can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough for spending that extra time with me,” Thompson told Nick Wojton of Batavia’s The Daily News.
With the history and obvious friendship between Taylor and Thompson paying dividends on the field, Thompson was asked how his old friend Taylor has changed in the 10 years since the U.S. Army All-American game.
“(Taylor) thought he was Mike Vick, he always thought he was Mike Vick back then,” Thompson joked to Wojton. “He’s not as quiet as he was like back in high school, he’s got a little sauce to him now.”
[Editor’s note: This article originally failed to credit The Daily News for the quotes from Thompson. We regret the omission and have corrected the error.]