For a team filled with older players, the Buffalo Bills still have a few rookies in big situations each week. Against the Carolina Panthers, all three of the team’s first- and second-round draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft played a significant amount of time. While that was the plan for two out of the three players, it wasn’t for one of them. Here’s how the team’s rookies fared in Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers
WR Zay Jones
Jones was the most visible of the rookies, as he was front and center to what turned out to be the game’s final offensive play. On a 4th and 11 from Carolina’s 33-yard line, Jones ran what appeared to be a post-corner route and came open around the 5. While he broke to the sideline, the throw was closer to the middle of the field, where Jones had nothing but end zone in front of him. Unable to make the adjustment on the ball, it glanced off his hands before falling to the turf, ending Buffalo’s hopes at stealing a huge road victory. Overall, it was a quiet day for Jones, who caught 2 passes for 18 yards; he was targeted 6 times. On the season, he has only hauled in 3 passes on 10 targets, gaining 39 yards.
OT Dion Dawkins
This one was unexpected. Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn did not return from the locker room after halftime, and he missed the entire second half with an ankle injury. Dawkins stepped in a performed admirably, as the team’s moribund offensive output in the first half (16 plays, 39 yards) was nearly matched on the team’s first drive of the second half (6 plays, 30 yards). The rookie did not look at all out of place on the left side of the offensive line. Glenn’s progress will be worth monitoring throughout the week, as it has been since word of his ankle injury lingering came to light.
CB Tre’Davious White
Buffalo’s first round pick continued his solid, albeit unspectacular play. He had six tackles on the day, two of which went for a loss, and notched a pass defensed, as well. While he has not had many opportunities to make plays on the ball so far, he seems to be a perfect fit for what head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier want to do on defense—he’s a smart player who is active in run support, and he does not give up big plays or take huge risks in coverage. He’s definitely a big part of the team’s defensive renaissance through two games, and if the early part of his career is any indication, he’ll be a positive contributor on this defense for quite some time.