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2023 Bills Rookie Report: Week 3 vs. Commanders

Week 3 was quiet for most of the Bills’ 2023 rookie class

NFL: SEP 24 Bills at Commanders Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have now stacked back-to-back dominant wins after a 37-3 drubbing of the Washington Commanders on the road. After dropping the season opener to the division rival New York Jets, the Bills quickly fine-tuned their game, looking like one of the best teams in the league the past two weeks.

The defense was dominant in every way — making splash plays and constantly forcing second-year quarterback Sam Howell into situations of duress. It’s fantastic to see second-year linebacker Terrel Bernard thriving in his new role as the Mike linebacker.

With another week of Bills football comes another opportunity for the rookie draft selections to perform on Sunday. While it was relatively quiet along the rookie front in FedExField, let’s review how this year’s draft picks did during Week 3 against the Commanders.

TE Dalton Kincaid

It was a quiet week for the rookie first-rounder. He’s had a more hushed beginning than many anticipated for Kincaid, who only has 11 catches for 72 yards through his first three NFL games. His usage has been a bit surprising — Kincaid has yet to be fully unleashed as a downfield player in offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s system. Though important to note: He’s still been utilized a lot in tight as a check-and-release player. As for production in Week 3, Kincaid caught a bubble screen from the slot. He was also penalized twice in the game — one of those penalties being a 15-yard tripping foul. At one point or another, Kincaid is likely to be uncorked, since it feels like he’s being capped some by his utilization during the regular season. A rookie tight end will naturally have up-and-down weeks. Kincaid’s preseason usage — with the ability to get vertical or work option routes from the slot — was exciting. We’ve yet to see that during the real games, but trust the process. We all know what’s coming for Kincaid.

IOL O’Cyrus Torrence

With no prior NFL experience, Torrence has been tasked with two monumental tasks in blocking the interior defensive lines of both the New York Jets and Washington Commanders — two of the very best interior lines in the league. Torrence has been fantastic so far in 2023, exceeding any and all expectations heading into the year. He’s a natural difference maker in the run game with his ability to displace bodies in the middle, and he’s meshing well with his counterparts. As a pass protector, Torrence has hardly been noticeable — a very good thing when playing the position.

Torrence will of course continue to grow in all facets as an O-lineman in the NFL. He’s a player who naturally understands leverage and angles, with football maturity beyond his years. Watch below as Torrence dictated terms and steered Commanders star defensive tackle Daron Payne up field to free running back James Cook for a nice gain.

LB Dorian Williams

The hope for Williams is that he ends up on the Terrel Bernard plan heading into 2024. The problem that remains is that Matt Milano isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, barring some sort of surprising trade at some point. Bernard also looks great so far and could be cementing himself as the MIKE linebacker of the future. It’s difficult to see a path for Williams to get the field other than special teams or in a rotational role. Things can change quickly in roster building, but it’s more difficult to see this path than what Bernard’s second-year outlook runway was. Williams continues to be active on game days, used primarily as a special teams player.

WR Justin Shorter

Shorter just served his third of at least four games on the Injured Reserve list after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason. After this week, we’ll see if Shorter’s ready to return and get taken off the list. We’ll see if he can be an active member of the team on Sundays or if he misses out on a spot on and begins ramping back up in practice.