The Buffalo Bills battled the New England Patriots for three quarters this past Sunday, before finally succumbing and being put away in the fourth quarter. The strong defensive effort on the day wasn’t exactly spearheaded by the rookie class, but they did find themselves as strong contributors to the effort. On the offensive side, the two rookie wide receivers recorded reception despite limited snap counts. More about the performance of each rookie below.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds was picked on a few times by Tom Brady and the Patriots in underneath coverage, as the team was able to get him matched up with elite slot receivers Julian Edelman and James White. While those instances were certainly glaring, he also had a fair number of positive plays, such as a tipped pass in coverage early in the first quarter or his tackle-for-loss of James White early in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Edmunds sustained a concussion on a tackle and was ruled out of the second half of the game.
DT Harrison Phillips
Phillips made his presence felt on a few run plays, particularly on stretch runs. The rookie defensive tackle is incredibly well-balanced when moving laterally, and solo tackled the running back on a few occasions. He does persists on being a no-show when rushing the passer, which continues to be something he needs to improve on in the following games.
CB Taron Johnson
The Patriots game plan was mostly predicated on attacking the linebackers in coverage so Johnson wasn’t targeted much as a result. One of the few times he was targeting in coverage, the receiver, Chris Hogan, committed offensive pass interference. His tackling was characteristically spot-on, although he only had two, one of which was for a loss.
S Siran Neal
Neal once again saw himself solely assigned to kick-return team duties and did have a decent block to spring Marcus Murphy for a 30-yard return. Unfortunately that return was negated by an unnecessary roughness call on Logan Thomas.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
Only targeted once, McCloud actually made the most of his 11 offensive snaps in snagging a 16-yard reception from Derek Anderson in fourth quarter garbage time on a dig route.
WR Cam Phillips
A week after making the Bills’ roster, Phillips recorded the first regular-season reception of his professional career against the Patriots. His nine-yard reception came on a crossing route. Also only seeing 11 snaps on offense, it was an efficient day for the receiver.
P Corey Bojorquez
The rookie punter was reportedly playing through a shoulder injury sustained against the Houston Texans, which partly explains his poor day punting the football against New England. Only two of his five punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and he had two needless touchbacks when he should’ve attempted to pin the Patriots deep. After the game he was placed on Injured Reserve so we won’t see Bojorquez on the field again until next year.
- Starting quarterback Josh Allen was inactive against the Patriots as he continued to recover from his elbow injury sustained against the Houston Texans.
- Rookie guards Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger were again inactive.