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2023 Bills Rookie Report: Week 4 vs. Dolphins

Two rookies continue to carry the load amongst the draft selections

Las Vegas Raiders v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the early NFL season came and went this past Sunday as the Buffalo Bills ended up knocking off the red-hot Miami Dolphins 48-20 in a game that was never close past the first quarter. It was a dominant effort on both sides of the ball for the Bills who crucially needed to avoid an 0-2 start within the division.

There were a couple of rookies fulfilling their usual large roles for Sunday afternoon’s drubbing of the Dolphins. We’ll talk those two contributors and an update on a player who is now eligible to return off of Injured Reserve (IR).

TE Dalton Kincaid

We’re still awaiting a true breakout performance from Dalton Kincaid, who doesn’t have a catch beyond 14 yards this season. He’s only had one performance with a catch of 10 or more yards (a 14-yard reception against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2). On Sunday, Kincaid went for four receptions and 27 yards. It still doesn’t feel quite like the team has unleashed Kincaid’s full potential in the NFL. His usage largely stems from being a safety-blanket option, keeping himself available within soft spots in short zone coverage.

The next time we see Kincaid opened up in the offense — running a plethora of downfield routes — will be the first time we’ve seen it in the 2023 regular season. Of course, tight end has been notorious as an exceptionally difficult position for rookies to adapt to in the NFL due to the duality of the position as a blocker and pass catcher. It’s just a more nuanced position in the NFL that requires a lot of mental capacity to learn. Kincaid seems to be on his way, but there’s still a “wait and see” approach from the team concerning his performance at the moment.

OG O’Cyrus Torrence

Torrence hasn’t been a perfect player and he has certain athletic limitations that limit his ability to reach blockers at times. But he’s been exactly as advertised and his strengths are certainly carrying over to NFL Sundays. He’s one of three Bills linemen who’ve given up zero sacks to this point in the 2023 NFL season. General manager Brandon Beane seems to have done will in selecting Torrence late in Round 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Christian Wilkins is one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL. Torrence has routinely had to go against the cream of the crop at the position the first four weeks with the interior units of the New York Jets and Washington Commanders. Wilkins was next up and Torrence performed admirably against him and the rest of a Dolphins unit that has strong interior run defenders.

The best of Torrence has always been his anchor and core strength. His ability to combine that core strength with working himself into positive angles to hold off defenders is one of his most underrated strengths. Yes — he’s an athletically limited football player. But he’s a smart offensive lineman who often puts players where he wants them to go. That’s exemplified in the video clip below.

LB Dorian Williams

The Bills’ third round draft selection didn’t play a single snap on defense once again in Week 4. Williams, however, did make a special teams tackle. That’s where Williams is going to find himself this season and the only chance of impact for him will be on the special teams units unless there’s an injury to linebacker Matt Milano. It seems likely that Williams would step in if Milano was ever forced to miss time.

WR Justin Shorter

Shorter is eligible to return off of IR (hamstring injury) after serving the designated four games on the list following a preseason injury. Head coach Sean McDermott was asked about the status of Shorter and a possible return on Monday to which he had “no updates” according to multiple media outlets.

With no imminent return for Shorter, the injury is either worse than originally thought or the Bills are choosing to stash him on the list for the time being until there is a clear runway for an active roster spot. We’ll see in the coming days/weeks where Shorter ends up. But with no current updates to his status, it’s hard to tell when he may make his return to the practice field.