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Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots: Rookie review

Knox continues his strong play

It’s been quite a while since the Buffalo Bills have had a talented prospect at the tight end position, but rookies Tommy Sweeney—and especially Dawson Knox—look like solid starters already. This past week against the New England Patriots, Knox managed to remain productive against a top defense including coming down with another phenomenal third-down catch that eventually led to a touchdown for the team.

More about the performance of each rookie below.

DT Ed Oliver

Oliver was a contributing factor in limiting the Patriots’ offense, which struggled to get moving on the ground and through the air. His movement skills and hustle allowed him to string out a couple stretch runs to the outside, freeing up linebackers or safeties to tackle the running back. The rookie didn’t earn his first sack against Tom Brady, but he did have a key hit on the quarterback that forced an incompletion. Oliver, or possibly the coaching staff, have realized that the his best asset is his speed and so have worked in plenty pass-rushing twists and stunts for the rookie. These games should result in greater production for Oliver soon.

OT/OG Cody Ford

Despite initial assumptions, it actually wasn’t a bad day at the office for the rookie right tackle, with one huge exception. New England’s group of pass rushers aren’t exactly speed demons, so Ford was able to hold his own against their power moves and straight-ahead bull rushes. The rookie also had the key block that sprung Frank Gore’s 41-yard run in the first half. Ford’s biggest mistake, however, ended up being the most egregious. Shilique Calhoun beat him easily on a delayed rush, flushing Allen, which resulted in a concussion for the quarterback.

RB Devin Singletary

Singletary was close to being active against the Patriots, but was still nursing his previous hamstring injury.

TE Dawson Knox

The Patriots chose to stick safety Patrick Chung on Knox for most of the game, and while Chung was able to cover the rookie for a while, Knox was simply too physical at the catch point once Matt Barkley or Josh Allen actually decided to deliver the ball. Knox also was arguably held back by some early play calls that had him running shorter routes, ostensibly to aid the quick passing attack. It’s clear through four weeks that Knox is the team’s best “jump ball” receiving threat.

LB Vosean Joseph

The former fifth-round linebacker remains on injured reserve following shoulder surgery.

S Jaquan Johnson

The safety was once again listed as a healthy scratch against the Patriots.

DE Darryl Johnson

Despite his 21 snaps, Johnson continues to be impactful, if not overly noticeable and was inches away from a huge play. On the Patriots’ first drive of the second quarter, Johnson held the edge on a stretch run, resulting in no gained yardage. Then, on the very next play, he used an underarm move to pressure Brady and force an incompletion. In that instance he was inches from potentially forcing the quarterback to fumble. As with his classmate Oliver, production will come for the rookie.

TE Tommy Sweeney

Sweeney was only on the field for nine snaps against the Pats, and did not see any targets in the passing game. He blocked the backside of one particular Frank Gore run, but the coaches mostly used Lee Smith as their blocking tight end.