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Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers: Rookie Report

How each Bills rookie performed Friday in the team’s big preseason win

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills moved to 2-0 in the preseason this past Friday against the Carolina Panthers, in what can only be described as a complete team effort. But if the Bills are going to have any measure of success this season, their rookies will need to contribute. Luckily, several of the team’s eight draft picks performed well against the Panthers. Read on, to learn more about the performance of each rookie in last Friday’s preseason match-up.

DT Ed Oliver

Oliver’s quickness was evident, especially against the run on Friday. However, it’s clear that he needs a pass-rush counter as he was getting locked out by the Panthers’ interior linemen as soon as they were able to latch on with their long arms. The first-rounder got noticed by being able to knock a pass down at the line of scrimmage, but it was lucky that he didn’t get called for a hands-to-the-face on the same play.

OT/OG Cody Ford

Ty Nsekhe was out with a “knee tweak,” so Ford got the start at right tackle. Matched up against fellow rookie Brian Burns and second-year player Marquis Haynes, Ford struggled at times in keeping them off his chest and giving away the edge. Josh Allen was forced to get rid of the ball quickly or step up because of pressure coming from the right side. Ford was able to ride rushers past the pocket on occasion but, in general, it was another performance to forget for the young player.

RB Devin Singletary

Seeing significant first- and second-team snaps for the second straight game, Singletary proved he can be a weapon in the passing game. Running myriad variations of wheel-routes, Singletary was able to get behind linebackers in coverage and reel in some difficult receptions from quarterback Matt Barkley. The rookie finished the day with three catches for 25 yards and continues to demonstrate his great fit for the team’s offense.

TE Dawson Knox

Knox was again held out of the game as a result of his hamstring injury sustained in training camp. He appears to be on the tail-end of recovery however, so he may see action next week against the Detroit Lions.

LB Vosean Joseph

By the time Joseph entered the game in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were in full catch-up mode, which meant that the linebacker was destined for a quiet game. His only tackle came on one of the few run plays Carolina had in the second half.

S Jaquan Johnson

The safety almost had a pick-six in the second quarter on a short crossing route from Will Grier. The rookie passer from West Virginia stared down his target and Johnson was there to break up the pass and almost come down with an interception. While it’s always difficult to judge secondary play during the preseason, he looked to be handling his responsibilities with aplomb on the back end.

DE Darryl Johnson

The former seventh-round pick continued his stellar preseason play, finishing with a sack, forced fumble and a couple near misses. Watching the tape, he really knows how to use his hands and make himself a smaller target for offensive tackles. One blemish however, was his performance against the run. He was too quick to move upfield on a few snaps, which gave up contain and allowed the runner an easy path forward.

TE Tommy Sweeney

Johnson’s fellow seventh-rounder also got himself noticed against the Panthers. Once again running with the starters due to injuries, Sweeney found himself matched up against linebackers early and was able to take advantage on a couple routes that took advantage of the Panthers’ zone coverage. His two catches racked up 47 total yards and kept the offense moving down the field. He does need to be more careful with his hands, however, as his second catch popped out after he hit the ground.

UDFA Notes:

  • Former rugby player, and technical rookie, Christian Wade flashed again in his time on the field, turning a quick out into a 48-yard scamper. Had he followed his blockers, it might’ve been a touchdown. He could have followed that play up with a touchdown, but a tipped Tyree Jackson pass prevented it.
  • UDFA corner Cam Lewis led with his helmet on a tackle and was taken out of the game with concussion symptoms.
  • Tyree Jackson looked absolutely lost during his time on the field; his hail-Mary interception in the end zone was inexcusable.