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Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Rookie review

Davis and Moss productive; signs of life for Epenesa

The Buffalo Bills successfully defended their home turf against the Los Angeles Chargers this past Sunday. It was a mistake-filled performance by the offense that was nonetheless able to put up 27 points, and a rare-in-2020 strong performance by the defense that forced turnovers and came away with timely sacks and tackles-for-loss. Importantly, more so than perhaps any game this season, it was a win powered by the team’s rookie class. More about how each rookie performed against the Chargers below.

DE A.J. Epenesa

One of the bye-week lineup changes seems to be de-activating Trent Murphy and having Epenesa on the field more. The rookie rewarded the coaches’ faith in him with a strong day holding the edge against the run and even rushing the passer. Two tackles, one tackle-for-loss and a lone quarterback pressure may not seem like much, but the tape shows a player making smart decisions and winning his battles more often than not. On the Chargers’ second drive he sensed Hunter Henry crossing his face to catch and pass, successfully stayed with him and helped break it up. On two separate occasions, he was the unblocked player on a zone read and blew them up for a loss or no gain. The second-round pick seems to be rounding into form.

RB Zack Moss

The running game saw some added emphasis against Los Angeles, a game that also saw the return of Mitch Morse to the lineup. All of this contributed to a good day for Moss, with 59 yards on nine carries, as well as two catches in the passing game. Although the offensive line didn’t burst open big holes on every run, Moss’s physical running style ensures that those plays result in at least somewhat positive gains. Most importantly, he took care of the football, unlike his running mate Devin Singletary.

WR Gabriel Davis

With John Brown on Injured Reserve, Davis needed to contribute in a big way against the Chargers. Luckily for Buffalo, the rookie pulled through to pace the team with three catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Although the rookie doesn’t have the speed and separation ability of Brown, one advantage he does have over the veteran is in contested situations. That was clearly evidenced on his 44-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He made an amazing hands catch over the cornerback, but what was amazing was that he landed cleanly and was set to run. Unfortunately, the corner had the presence of mind to make a shoestring tackle, saving a touchdown. Also, special shoutout to his acting job on his touchdown catch trick play, which is at least deserving of a BAFTA.

QB Jake Fromm

As with the previous games, Fromm was again a healthy scratch. This should remain the case throughout the season.

K Tyler Bass

Quickly putting his early season struggles behind him, it was another perfect day for the rookie kicker, who converted on two field goals, from 45- and 43-yards. He is now ranked eighth among kickers in points, and improved his overall conversion rate on field goals to 77 percent.

WR Isaiah Hodgins

Hodgins remains on Injured Reserve due to a shoulder injury sustained late in training camp.

CB Dane Jackson

Despite being active for the game, Jackson did not see the field against the Chargers with both Josh Norman and Levi Wallace now healthy.

TE/FB Reggie Gilliam

Continuing to only see snaps in certain goal line situations, Gilliam was not targeted on offense. He did continue his regular role on special teams.