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Bills vs. Browns: stock up/stock down

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Positive steps by rookies balanced out by poor offensive line play.

The Buffalo Bills continued their 2018 preseason slate Friday night against the Cleveland Browns, coming out with a 19-17 victory. It was largely a down performance for the Bills starters, though the second string was able to dominate on both sides of the ball. Here are some of the players that helped themselves and some that failed to impress.

Stock Up: QB Josh Allen

Thanks to both his positive play and the collarbone injury suffered by AJ McCarron, Allen has never been closer to being declared the team’s starting quarterback. Allen’s stat line, going 9-of-13 for 60 yards and a touchdown, belies how much his very presence seemed to re-energize the team. Before Allen entered the game, the offense had not earned a first down. The rookie marched the offense down the field and scored on his first possession. It’ll be hard for head coach Sean McDermott to keep Allen from starting after more performances like this.

Stock Down: C Russell Bodine

In a competition with Ryan Groy for the starting center job, Bodine’s effort on Friday won’t help his chances of winning. Bodine was absolutely dominated by Browns starter Larry Ogunjobi in both phases, leading to blown up runs and pressure on quarterback AJ McCarron. A miscommunication late in the first quarter between Bodine and Vlad Ducasse resulted in a McCarron sack. It may be time for the Bills to declare Groy as the starting center.

Stock Up: RB Marcus Murphy

Murphy continued against the Browns right where he left against the Panthers last week. The beneficiary of some good run blocking up front, he had four rushes for 39 yards. Important for his chances of making the team, Murphy demonstrated strong play on special teams. He had several positive punt returns, one of which went for 39 yards. At this point, it would be a huge surprise if Murphy doesn’t make the final roster.

Stock Down: OT Dion Dawkins

The Bills traded longtime left tackle Cordy Glenn because they had faith that Dawkins could lock down the blind side. While his rookie season was impressive, Dawkins uncharacteristically struggled last night against former number 1 draft pick Myles Garrett. Garrett’s speed and strength around the edge was just too much for the young player, who will quickly need to forget this poor performance and move on to next week.

Stock Up: Taron Johnson

A surprise starter at nickel corner, Johnson’s effort and speed in tackling against the run in the first quarter was admirable. His coverage was solid as well, as evidenced by a third down play late in the first quarter when he successfully dropped into zone coverage against Jarvis Landry, forcing a throwaway from Tyrod Taylor. If Johnson can continue to emerge in the coming weeks, the coaches may be forced to declare him the starting nickel over veteran Phillip Gaines.