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Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions: Rookie Report

How each Bills rookie performed in Friday’s preseason win in Motown.

The Buffalo Bills advanced to a 3-0 preseason record this past Friday against the Detroit Lions, mostly thanks to a run-heavy game-plan and strong play from backup quarterback Matt Barkley. On offense, the conservative game plan ensured that players like Cody Ford and Dawson Knox could work on their run blocking, while the rookie defenders were forced into a situation where they had to protect a lead late in the game. Read on, to learn more about the performance of each rookie in last Friday’s preseason match-up.

DT Ed Oliver

Oliver largely continued his nondescript preseason against the Lions. The rookie looks much better defending the run than rushing the passer at this point, as whenever guards are able to get their hands on him, he’s been stopped in his tracks. Although Oliver is able to walk back guards into the quarterback, he desperately needs to develop some pass-rushing counter moves sooner, rather than later. His effort continues to be laudable, as he was often rushing to help make tackles ten yards down the field, in certain instances.

OT/OG Cody Ford

Buffalo’s early emphasis on the running game played right into Ford’s strength as a nasty, mauling run blocker. On the very first play, Ford, along with Spencer Long, drove Damon Harrison back on a well-executed double-team block before climbing up to the second level and meeting the linebacker. It was that type of night for the rookie, who also turned in a pancake block that helped spring a nine-yard Devin Singletary touchdown run late in the second quarter.

RB Devin Singletary

For whatever reason, the coaching staff only gave the rookie a single-tary carry (I’ll stop) for the whole game, although that play resulted in a nine-yard touchdown. Perhaps the coaches feel he has nothing more to prove.

TE Dawson Knox

In his first preseason action, the rookie tight end wasn’t targeted in the passing game, instead getting a chance to practice his run blocking against the Lions. It was a Knox block that sprung Isaiah McKenzie’s touchdown run. On the play, Knox essentially helped block out two defenders. During the last drive of the second quarter that resulted in a touchdown, Knox and Tommy Sweeney lined up on the same side for several plays, contributing to a few chunk runs by Frank Gore. Decent debut for the young man.

LB Vosean Joseph

Joseph didn’t see any snaps on defense against the Lions, however he was involved in the second-team punt coverage unit.

S Jaquan Johnson

Johnson got himself noticed late in the third quarter with a flashy pass break up against Lions backup tight end Jerome Cunningham. In the fourth quarter, the rookie had arguably the play of the game by stripping the football from Travis Fulgham and recovering the fumble. That play essentially sealed the win for Buffalo.

DE Darryl Johnson

Johnson first saw game action as a member for the second-wave defensive linemen in the first quarter, which represents a step-up for the young player. He immediately made his presence felt by blowing past a block by tight end Jesse James, forcing Kerryon Johnson to hesitate and get tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately that play was negated by a defensive holding. Then in the second quarter, he got quick pressure on Stafford, forcing an incompletion on third down in the red zone. The defensive end even made himself heard on special teams, with a clutch tackle on kickoff coverage in the third quarter. Another strong outing for the seventh rounder.

TE Tommy Sweeney

As with Knox, Sweeney’s run blocking was tested early and often against Detroit. He got blown up by Romeo Okwara early in the first quarter, but came back in the second quarter to immediately put 330-pound A’Shawn Robinson on his butt on a ‘wham’ block. That block was key in helping to spring Frank Gore’s 27-yard scamper.

UDFA Notes:

  • Ryan Bates was the team’s backup left tackle and acquitted himself extremely well in pass protection. If it seemed like Barkley had unlimited time to throw, that was partly thanks to Bates.
  • Despite having limited snaps towards the end of the fourth quarter, Tyree Jackson was able to throw some accurate passes, a couple of which were dropped by his receivers.