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2023 Buffalo Bills rookie report: Week 16 vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Rookie class has their quietest week to date

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills were back to some of their early season antics struggling in a game they should have won easily with a multitude of turnovers to keep the opposing team scratching and clawing until the end. Still, unlike those prior shenanigans, the Bills were able to close this one up against a reeling Los Angeles Chargers team with the narrow 24-22 victory.

It was a quiet night for all of the Bills’ rookies from top to bottom. Let’s discuss the few 2023 draft selections and what their output was in this one.

TE Dalton Kincaid

It’s been a steady decline of pass-catching production over the past month for first-round selection Kincaid who has seemingly found himself at the rookie wall. The return of tight end Dawson Knox has seemingly eaten into some of his production while he’s also been greeted with a declined snap count (less than 50% of snaps in Week 16). There’s no doubt that Kincaid is a future big-time asset for this team. The drops have proven costly in recent weeks, and that could be a piece of the snap decline.

He’s had his fair share of important moments in year one, but he’s not a feature piece of this offense on a regular basis as a rookie. That’s especially the case with the more recent commitment to running the ball under the direction of interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

OG O’Cyrus Torrence

It was a fine performance from Torrence who had a favorable matchup against one of the weaker interior defensive line units in the NFL. And yet, the Bills struggled on their designed run game against a middling Chargers run defense — a sizable change from what they did to the Cowboys the week prior.

Torrence is a solid piece on the Buffalo’s offensive line. There have been plenty of peaks and valleys for Torrence, but the lowest valleys seem to be behind him as we approach the end of the season. The dominant losses are starting to dissipate to a degree.

LB Dorian Williams

Another week of extremely low opportunity on defense for Williams who posted four total snaps. Those came when starting linebacker Terrel Bernard left the game briefly to injury. Williams posted one tackle on the evening. It’s difficult to get a good read on Williams’ season. He was always considered a see-ball, get-ball player out of college. The reading of keys and football IQ blemishes showed up too much for the team to continue relying on him to start as a rookie. Originally getting the first crack at being the Will linebacker after star linebacker Matt Milano was lost for the season seems like ages ago at this point with veteran linebacker Tyrel Dodson playing awesome football despite athletic limitations.

Williams has a much higher ceiling than Dodson as a player due to his more natural fit at Will linebacker, but the football IQ and ability to finish impact plays one-on-one in space must improve for him to see more playing time entering his sophomore year.

WR Justin Shorter

The Bills have less than a week to make a decision about activating fifth-round selection Justin Shorter. He’s spent the entire regular season on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury that was never reported on in detail to its extent, nor when it occurred. If the Bills don’t activate him in the next week, Shorter won’t play this season and he’ll have the offseason to work on improving his game and continuing to work his way in as a special teams asset to remain on the roster in 2024.