The Buffalo Bills began their 2018 preseason slate by putting up a good fight against the Carolina Panthers but ultimately losing 28-23. Here are some of the players that helped themselves and some that failed to impress.
Stock Up: QB Nathan Peterman/QB AJ McCarron
Both Bills quarterbacks competing for the starting job had largely flawless performances against the Panthers. Peterman began the day going 9-of-10 for 119 yards, a touchdown and an interception on a tipped pass. Peterman’s connection with number 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was particularly noteworthy. McCarron then took the reins in the second quarter and demonstrated veteran poise and command of the offense, taking what the defense gave him to the tune of 116 yards on only seven completions. The competition to be the Bills 2018 starting quarterback may end up being more competitive than most thought.
Stock Down: CB Taron Johnson
Two of Taron Johnson’s mistakes lead directly to touchdowns by the Panthers. After lining up in the slot, Johnson failed to get his head around on a short Panthers touchdown pass. Then, in the fourth quarter, a missed tackle against Panthers rookie DJ Moore led to a first-and-goal for Carolina. Coming from a small school, it was always clear that the rookie fifth round pick is going to have some early growing pains.
Stock Up: RB Marcus Murphy
There’s a bevy of candidates for the Bills third string running spot and after tonight Murphy may deserve a jump up the depth chart. Showing off his pass catching ability as well as his shiftiness when running in-between the tackles, the 27-year-old tailback finished with a balanced 35 rushing yards and 29 yards receiving. Murphy looks like a solid fit in Brian Daboll’s offense.
Stock Down: RB Keith Ford
Despite some hard-nosed running for 20 yards, Ford has two false starts that backed up the Bills offense on key drives. Head coach Sean McDermott likes to preach the fundamentals and mistakes like that will not endear Ford to the coaching staff.
Stock Up: WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
McCloud showed off some strong hands in catching a few lasers from fellow rookie Josh Allen. The rookie finished with 3 completions for 30 yards and added 8 rushing yards on reverse. His obvious rapport will Allen will be worth tracking in the coming preseason games.
Stock Down: WR Robert Foster
Foster has been struggling at training camp recently and he carried those struggles into the game. Although he was earning some good separation, his hands failed him more than once. His biggest mistake may have been on an accurate deep pass from Allen, when Foster tracked the ball in the air for too long, wasn’t able to maintain his speed, and missed it. This is a performance Foster will want to forget.