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Do the Bills have an open competition at RB1?

Three contenders vying for starters reps

The Buffalo Bills are set to begin their 2022 slate of preseason games this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. While there are plenty of roster spots up for grabs, one of the more interesting things to keep an eye on will be how the running back position shakes out heading into Week 1 of the regular season. As an organization, Buffalo has invested heavily at the position in recent drafts. The Bills appear to be in great shape at running back but the team’s RB1 decision may still be up in the air, and it’s possible the role may look vastly different than it did in prior seasons.

Devin Singletary was the team’s starter last season, but he found tough sledding to begin his third year in the league. Through Week 14, Singletary only had two touchdowns on the ground and eclipsed 80 yards rushing just once. After that point, Singletary really found his rhythm. He had at least one touchdown in each game the rest of the way, including the playoffs. Motor also rushed for over 100 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. Late in the season, Singletary also improved as a receiving threat. He rushed for a team high and career high 870 yards last season but has yet to break that 1000 yard mark.

In 2021, Zack Moss saw his stock plummet despite decent expectations for his sophomore season. Moss was inactive a total of four games throughout the season and he didn’t play in the AFC Divisional game. When he did get on the field, it was usually after the game’s outcome had been decided. Moss still has plenty of potential, given his combination of size and speed. It will be paramount for Moss to make a positive impact during the preseason. Failing to do so could leave his roster spot in serious jeopardy. It’s interesting to note that Moss has barely been mentioned in any post-practice reports from media members at training camp. August will be a key month for Moss.

In his first NFL training camp, James Cook enters the fray as another of the Bills’ early NFL Draft selections at the position. Selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Georgia, Cook has great agility and brings fantastic pass-catching ability out of the backfield. The Bills lacked Cook’s blend of dynamism and versatility during much of the past couple of seasons. In camp, Cook has even been given practice reps with the wide receivers, so there’s no telling how many ways the Bills could try to use him this season.

But, is there really an open competition at RB1 and, if no, should there be one? Was Devin Singletary’s vastly improved play during December and January a sign of things to come with him, or just a result of key matchups and luck? Does Singletary have the inside track to the job, as he did last season? Will Zack Moss ascend in his third season—one a full year removed from injury, that may have contributed to his decline in 2021? Are both Singletary and Moss simply on borrowed time, with James Cook now in Buffalo, or is Cook perhaps not suited to a traditional every-down featured back role? Lastly, will featured back mean something completely different with first-time offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey?