The Buffalo Bills managed to keep their playoff hopes alive while frolicking in the snow on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. A few of the team’s rookies made major contributions towards that result, including a certain fifth-round linebacker who’s now locked in to a starting role as the team’s weak-side linebacker. Below are summaries of how each Bills rookie performed, but first, a note of caution: evaluating players in snowy conditions can be difficult. The snow can put players in an advantageous situation on one snap and in a disadvantaged situation on the next.
CB Tre’Davious White
Snowy conditions can wreak havoc on cornerbacks because their entire role is predicated on being able to react quickly to receivers, but Tre White’s coverage was decent for most of the day. He adapted to the snow by resorting to bail technique on most coverage snaps. He did give up a couple completions, once on a play when he slipped and another on a rub concept, but overall he held up surprisingly well.
WR Zay Jones
The Bills only dialed up 16 passing plays the entire game and Jones was not targeted on any of them. He found himself open on a couple plays, including the touchdown pass play that went to Kelvin Benjamin, but was just not delivered the ball.
LT Dion Dawkins
Dawkins continues to be a monster in the run game. It was his block that led to Shady’s walk-off touchdown run, as well as other decent gains from both Shady and Joe Webb. Defenders put him on skates a few times in pass protection, but that was probably a result of the snow not allowing for much traction.
LB Matt Milano
This was Milano’s first game as a starter and he rewarded the coaching staff by leading the team in solo tackles with 10. He had a hand in several run stops, blew up a screen play, and was an all-around menace throughout the game. His worst moments came on a couple of coverage mix-ups with regard to the tight end or running back, but that can be chalked up to his inexperience and/or the conditions.
QB Nathan Peterman
Peterman only had 10 pass attempts before he was injured. On those 10 passes, it was obvious that Rick Dennison wanted to make it easy on his rookie quarterback by getting the ball out of his hands quickly to pre-determined reads. For his part, Peterman was off the mark on a couple of slant passes but his receiver Kelvin Benjamin also dropped a few well-placed back shoulder throws that would have resulted in decent gains. Peterman also demonstrated some athleticism in running for a first down, although his concussion came on a play in which he scrambled. A much-improved performance for the rookie fifth-rounder.