Merely a week ago, the depth chart at halfback for the Buffalo Bills appeared to be entirely settled. Now, with the explosive allegations surrounding top rusher LeSean McCoy casting some doubt on the hierarchy, a greater focus on the “other” players in the offensive backfield is necessary.
In our latest installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we examine a back whose primary role was as a special-teamer last season.
Name: Taiwan Jones
Height/Weight: 6’ 195 lbs.
College: Eastern Washington
Financial situation (per Over the Cap): Jones signed a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum ($790,000) this offseason. Due to salary cap exceptions, he will only count $720,000 towards the team’s cap if he makes the 2018 roster.
2017 Recap: Jones’s season ended prematurely, as he was placed on injured reserve due to a fractured arm that he suffered while covering a punt in Buffalo’s Week 9 loss to the New York Jets. Jones averaged 16 special teams snaps per game, however, during his eight-game stretch on the active roster. for comparison’s sake, linebacker Deon Lacey led the team in special teams snaps at an average of 17.8 snaps per game in that phase. On the offensive end, Jones did not have a carry on the year, but was targeted twice in the passing game. He caught one pass for an eleven-yard gain, converting a third down that made Stephen Hauschka’s game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a much closer kick than it otherwise would have been.
Positional outlook: Jones is in a battle for the third spot on the running back depth chart, with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory set to top the position. With the allegations against McCoy that surfaced last week, Jones may be battling for more playing time than initially anticipated. Marcus Murphy, Travaris Cadet, and Keith Ford are the other backs in camp.
2018 Offseason: Jones is fully recovered from his arm injury, and he has attended all offseason activities to date.
2018 season outlook: Unless Buffalo decides to keep four halfbacks on the final roster, it will come down to a three-way battle between Murphy, Cadet, and Jones for the third spot on the depth chart. Jones offers special teams ability as a kick-coverage specialist, while Cadet offers better ability as a receiver and rusher on offense. Murphy gives the Bills a far better name, as well as some youth at the position. Of course, if McCoy is suspended or placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while a legal investigation takes place, the Bills will need to keep more than just one runner. Jones may find himself on the outside looking in come September, but the position is far less settled than it was only one week ago.