The Buffalo Bills traveled to Cleveland and gave the Browns their first preseason loss since 2016. With a final score of 19-17, the Bills move on to a 1-1 record for the preseason. Again, there were some guys on the second and third team who are solidifying their roster spot.
Here are our game balls for the week.
QB Josh Allen
After a good showing against the Panthers, Allen worked a lot with the second-team offense throughout practice leading up to this game. He showed his ability to manipulate the pocket under pressure and confidently deliver the football. Allen finished the game 9-of-13 for 60 yards, adding 1 touchdown to Rod Streater. We’ve only had a small taste of what could be, but it will be hard for the Bills’ coaching staff to keep Allen off the field for long, especially with the injury to AJ McCarron. Maybe Allen isn't the most “pro-ready” of the rookie quarterbacks, but throughout this process he has done a damn good job, making his case to be the week one starter over Nathan Peterman, who had another nice showing—this time with the third team.
RB Marcus Murphy
Last week, Murphy opened the eyes of Bills fans as a possible third-string running back. This week, he is making a case to be the backup to LeSean McCoy. Murphy had just 4 rushes, but they went for 39 yards. He shows a lot a patience in his running style, waiting for blocks to develop and holes to open. Even as a punt returner, he showed some potential with a 39-yard return late in the game. Let’s face it, McCoy and Ivory are on the wrong side of 30, and they are at the point in their career where guys start losing a step. Murphy’s fresh legs off the bench could be beneficial to the overall performance of the offense.
TE Nick O’Leary
Jack Nicklaus’ grandson has been the number two option at tight end for the Bills for the past couple of seasons. Over the last week of practice, he was been working with the second- and third-team offenses behind Logan Thomas and Khari Lee, with Jason Croom seeing time on the first team. Working with the third-team offense in yesterday’s game, he caught 4 passes from Peterman for 70 yards, including what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. O’Leary isn't going to flat-out burn a defender, but he has good hands and has been a reliable target for quarterbacks. Thomas, Croom, and Lee have more athleticism than O’Leary, and right now he is fighting for his job. Next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals could be a good indication if he will make the final 53-man roster.