The Buffalo Bills kicked off the 2019 preseason with a 24-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. While the results of an exhibition game certainly don’t matter, the individual performances of players are always worth noting. Regardless of those players’ numbers, whether or not they seemed to operate well within their given role is one of the more important things coaches will evaluate.
After one game, there were quite a few players who stood out. Some of them did so in a positive way, while others really put themselves in a bad position moving forward. Here is our stock up/stock down for the first week of the preseason.
Stock Up: RB Devin Singletary
Man, did the first of Buffalo’s two third-round draft choices look like a man ready to step into a big role at the NFL level. Singletary did everything that he was advertised as doing well, and he also did some things well that were question marks. He was tough in traffic, making players miss through great moves, excellent vision, and decisive cuts. He carried the ball nine times for 27 yards while playing mostly with the second unit. He did see some quality time with the starters, however.
Perhaps most importantly, he looked good in the passing game, both as a receiver and as a blocker. There were a few instances where I saw him execute as a help blocker to the quarterback’s blind side, but he also hauled in all three of his targets for a total of 21 yards. Singletary led the Bills in receptions on the evening, and after only catching six passes last season as a junior at FAU, his performance Thursday showed that he can make plays in the passing game when asked to do so. He’s a complete back who won’t be third on the depth chart for long.
Stock Down: C Russell Bodine
A late snap that caused a false start. Poor pass protection that led to Matt Barkley taking a big shot. A terrible snap that led to a turnover. Woof. It was not a good night for the man who started the majority of the games at center for the Bills in 2018. While Bodine threw away one snap, it wasn’t his only bad one on the evening, and he was outplayed by Ike Boettger on the evening. Bodine’s chances of making the roster were already slim given his poor performance last season and the talent general manager Brandon Beane added along the offensive line, but after a performance like this one, it’s hard to justify keeping him.
Stock Up: CB Lafayette Pitts
Known primarily as a special-teams gunner, Pitts saw plenty of time on defense at corner, and he was very good overall. He had the coverage on a fourth-down play in the second quarter to kill one Indianapolis drive, and then he made a great play to break up what would have been a touchdown catch on a 3rd-and-goal during the third quarter. The defense held the Colts out of the end zone on the next play, so Pitts was an integral part of killing two drives on downs. His two pass breakups led the team, and he also added one solo tackle on the night.
Stock Down: QB Tyree Jackson
For the record, I thought Jackson flashed some of the things that make him such an intriguing prospect. His arm strength is ridiculous, and he is an incredible athlete. For those who thought he would absolutely make the 53-man roster, though, his performance last night left plenty to be desired. Jackson was inaccurate, at one point sailing three consecutive throws nowhere near his intended receiver. He appeared confused by the defense, with color commentator Steve Tasker noting that Jackson didn’t seem to know what he should be looking at in his first taste of NFL action. Sure, it’s only the preseason, and it’s only the first preseason game, but a 2-for-10 outing doesn’t inspire much confidence that Jackson belongs anywhere but the practice squad when the real games begin in September.
Stock Up: WR Isaiah McKenzie
The midseason acquisition from 2018 has had a quiet camp thus far, and he had seemingly been overtaken by players like Ray-Ray McCloud III in the early goings this season. Last night, he reminded fans exactly what he can do when given the chance. McKenzie led the team in receiving, with the big blow being a 38-yard grab on a beautifully thrown ball by Matt Barkley. His second catch was a 27-yard grab on what was Tyree Jackson’s best throw of the night. McKenzie also looked good returning punts, totaling 25 yards on three returns, including a nifty 12-yard return where he showcased his speed, agility, and vision all in one. If McKenzie doesn’t make the final roster, it won’t be without a fight. The man can play.
Stock Down: P Corey Bojorquez
The lefty did not have a banner night. His first punt was a good one, a booming 51-yard boot, but it was returned for 14 yards. His next two punts were not good, including a 35-yard shank (that admittedly should have been downed before it bounced backwards as far as it did, but the punt was so bad that the coverage team couldn’t adjust) and a 34-yard shank that went out of bounds way early. When Bojorquez’s performance was held up to Cory Carter’s, it really looks worse. Carter’s two punts went for 36 yards, a high-hanger that was fair caught at the 9-yard line, and a 51-yarder that also forced a fair catch. In the punting battle, Cory beat Corey last night.
Stock Up: DE Darryl Johnson
The small-school seventh-round choice fit right in Thursday night, causing havoc in the backfield thanks to his great length and burst. Johnson had three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, and one quarterback hit in what was a really solid performance. As a situational pass rusher, Johnson is the kind of guy who could make a big impact right away, and he played like his hair was on fire last night. Teams will have to account for him if he continues, which could add a downright scary element to an already solid Bills defense.
Stock Down: T Conor McDermott
The Bills lined him up at left tackle, and he looked overmatched from the jump. At one point, Tasker assumed that there was a breakdown in protection that could have been the fault of the quarterback. When the replay came through, Tasker said, “That isn’t a protection issue; that’s a Conor McDermott issue.” Ouch, Steve—tell us how you really feel.