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Bills vs Dolphins Week 3 rookie review

One rookie suffers an injury while another bounces back late

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A banged-up Buffalo Bills team fell short against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon in South Beach in what was one of the more strange football spectacles you’ll ever see. The Bills, already one of the teams hit hardest by injuries in the league, saw players continue to go down left and right from a large number of heat exhaustion issues in addition to those who suffered a season-ending ACL tear, broken hand, and a high ankle sprain.

The Bills hurt themselves with costly penalties in key situations as the game was winding down. Additionally, there were multiple miscues on special teams and on the offensive side of the football. With all of the injuries, plenty of rookies saw run in what was a close game throughout. Let’s go over how each draft pick did in Week 3.

CB Kaiir Elam

Elam played every defensive snap (43 snaps) on Sunday; he was effective as a run stopper on the day and was barely targeted on the afternoon. The less a corner shows up in pass coverage, the better he’s likely playing. Elam’s snaps aren’t slowing down against the Baltimore Ravens next week with a new injury to fellow rookie cornerback Christian Benford. More on that later. But Elam is playing good football right now while facing a ton of tests in his coverage.

RB James Cook

Cook’s snaps aren’t increasing in a meaningful way through three weeks of the season. He only played 11 of the 92 plays the Bills ran on offense Sunday. That’s some cause for concern for a player with that much draft investment. However, Cook’s involvement came later in the game in passing situations when the Bills were down. He had four receptions for 37 yards on the afternoon. He also dropped a pass that was low on a swing route that surely got an audible reaction from Bills fans. Cook redeemed himself showing off his juice in the passing game late, but the snaps still appear limited and hard to come by for the rookie running back.

LB Terrel Bernard

Fellow linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds logged 100 % of the snaps while Bernard logged zero. The Bills didn’t run a single snap in a three-linebacker set. Bernard’s role is going to be very limited in 2022 even with the third-round investment into him. Ultimately, Buffalo’s Day 2 NFL Draft picks have been relatively underwhelming to begin their rookie seasons.

WR Khalil Shakir

Shakir was inactive once again despite wide receiver Gabe Davis coming into the game questionable with an ankle injury. Wide receiver Jake Kumerow has a high ankle sprain that could potentially make Shakir active for upcoming games. The rookie hasn’t received a single punt or made a reception yet this season and is an insurance player for the Bills at this point.

CB Christian Benford

One of the negative storylines coming out of Week 3 is the injury to Christian Benford. The rookie exited late in the first half with a hand injury. While he returned for the ensuing second-half kickoff, it was undrafted rookie cornerback Ja’Marcus Ingram who logged the second half outside corner snaps for the Bills opposite of Elam. Ingram was victimized a couple of times for chunk gains by the Dolphins. Head coach Sean McDermott confirmed Benford fractured his hand in the contest and will miss time.

LB Baylon Spector

Spector was active for this game with all of the injuries elsewhere, but he didn’t play any defensive snaps with Edmunds and Milano earning them all. The less Spector has to play in his rookie campaign, the better outcome for the Bills. Spector is a scout team player who will look for a role in 2023 (barring injury) at this point.