The Buffalo Bills’ 2023 season is quickly approaching. Within a week, players will be on the field at St.John Fisher University in Rochester, NY for their first day of training camp. There will of course be some new faces and some very welcome familiar ones. The goal for the Bills remains the same: Take care of your division, punch your ticket, and win a Super Bowl.
There are important questions to ponder if the Bills are to make it that far, and training camp should serve as the proving grounds for the necessary answers. Let’s take a look at the biggest questions headed into the team’s 2023 edition of training camp.
Where is Von Miller in his recovery from ACL surgery?
The health of edge rusher Von Miller is going to remain an oft-discussed, hot-button topic the remainder of summer. Recall, Miller tore his ACL against the Detroit Lions during the team’s Week 9 Thanksgiving Day game. Miller has said all offseason that he wants to be ready by Week 1, and he wants to try getting some reps in during training camp. The Bills added DE Leonard Floyd to a one-year, $7 million deal in early June. In large part, the move allowed the team to add a productive insurance policy in the event Miller isn’t ready to open the season. Miller and Floyd won a Super Bowl together with the Los Angeles Rams, and will be teammates once again this season.
One Bills Drive shouldn’t rush Miller back, but time will tell if he gets out there during training camp and back in game shape for Week 1. This Bills defensive line could be dominant once Miller is added back into the equation.
Which Bills defender wins the MLB competition?
Buffalo lost linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to the Chicago Bears in free agency. Edmunds was an important piece of the team’s defense for five seasons. Some thought the Bills would dive into free agency for his replacement, but that never materialized.
Instead, they chose the NFL Draft. Linebacker Dorian Williams from Tulane was the team’s third-round draft pick. Williams has a long wingspan, and has a knack for processing plays pre-snap. The rookie joins a linebacker room that has some veterans and some youth. A.J. Klein, Tyrel Dodson, Baylon Spector, and Terrel Bernard are the four other names who’ll have a chance to win the job.
Dodson and Klein have familiarity with head coach Sean McDermott’s scheme, while Bernard, Spector, and Williams are the young guys who could take big steps at training camp and win the job.
Whoever wins the job will be surrounded by superstars at every level of the defense, and will get to play with All-Pro LB Matt Milano.
Who can be the trusted slot wide receiver for the Bills in 2023?
Let’s face it: Current Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie wasn’t the team’s answer out of the slot last season. McKenzie was never able to carve out a consistent role in Ken Dorsey’s offense, and he had trouble replacing wide receiver Cole Beasley, who was one of the best slot wide receivers in today's game.
The Bills went ahead and added some talent in free agency. Receivers Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty are two new names who have a chance at winning primary snaps out of the slot.
Sherfield is a great run blocker who played behind wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill last year with the Miami Dolphins. According to Pro Football Focus, Sherfield had run-blocking grades of 80.1, 71.1, and 81.0. In 2022, Sherfield had 30 receptions for 417 yards and two touchdowns.
Harty came to Orchard Park, NY via the New Orleans Saints. One word comes to mind when you hear his name: Speed. Harty ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at his pro day back in 2019, and he has used that to his advantage in the NFL. A nuanced route runner who can get yards after catch, Harty will look to do that for the Bills in 2023.
Harty over the last 3 seasons (among all WRs with 75 total targets)— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 15, 2023
Stats vs. Man Coverage
EPA/Target - 1.18 (#1)
Yard's per route run - 2.47(8th)
Yards after catch per reception - 8.29 (1st)
Yards after catch percentage (% yards come after catch) - 56% (2nd)
Wide receiver Khalil Shakir is the third player with an opportunity to win the job. Shakir was a fifth-round pick for the Bills in 2022, and offers position versatility (meaning he can play on the boundary or slot). Last season, Shakir had 10 receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown. Shakir will be looking to take a step forward and find a role in a crowded receiver room.
Who will be Buffalo’s starting right guard in 2023?
In 2022, right guard Ryan Bates played and started in 15 games for the Bills. In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bills drafted Florida offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence — a player some draft experts had going in the first round.
Torrence and Bates should be in a battle over the duration of training camp. Bates offers more positional versatility, and can play almost every position on the offensive line. If Torrence is able to win the competition, Bates will serve as important depth for the offensive line.
With training camp one week away, these questions should begin to find answers. Rejoice, Bills Mafia, meaningful football is almost back!