25 - 5 offensive playmakers to look for at camp

Posted Jul 3, 2017

Here's a rundown of the offensive playmakers to watch and why going into training camp this summer.

Camp Countdown presented by M&T Bank will examine some of the more pressing issues facing the team on the field as they make their final preparations for the regular season. We also focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field. We’ll address these subjects one at a time until training camp begins. Here now is the latest daily installment as we carefully probe for some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 27th and the Sept. 10th opener at New Era Field against the New York Jets.

With the Bills leading the league in rushing the past two seasons, there is a lot to look forward to as the team tries to take the next step. With training camp quickly approaching, here are five players to keep an eye on.

LeSean McCoy
Buffalo Bills running back, LeSean McCoy, is entering his age 29 season and has shown no signs of slowing down. Last season, McCoy rushed for 1,267 yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground. Not to mention, he added 50 catches for 356 yards and one touchdown.

The Bills also lost running back, Mike Gillislee, to the New England Patriots this offseason. Last season, Gillislee accounted for 101 carries that translated into 577 yards and eight touchdowns. Shady might be in line for more work this upcoming season and that isn’t a bad thing. 

“I still feel young and the guys here will tell you it’s been hard to cover me and catch me in the practices we’ve had,” McCoy said. “We’ll see that’s something the coaches will have to figure out. With technology today man they’ve got to find a way to make the workloads work.” 

Sammy Watkins
Last season, Watkins dealt with a nagging foot injury that only allowed him to play in eight games. Most of those games were on a pitch count as well due to the recovery process. He managed to catch 28 balls for 430 yards and two touchdowns.

What makes Watkins so intriguing is the fact that he was very talented the year before in 2015. That year, he managed to grab 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns in only 13 games. The wideout’s skill set is well documented. It’s only a matter of whether he can stay healthy.

He and quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, have developed a good rapport on the field. If Watkins can stay on the field, the sky is the limit for him.

Charles Clay
Bills tight end, Charles Clay, was a nice threat for them in 2016. He caught 57 passes for 552 yards and four touchdowns. Clay stands at 6-3 and goes 255 pounds. He has real size for an athletic tight end.

With a new offensive coordinator coming in, Rick Dennison may be able to utilize Clay’s skill sets more.

“I don’t have any problem at all with how Charles is working and he’s studying and trying to get – he actually ran some great routes (in OTAs). Just things that we’ve done over the years that some of the guys that we’ve had [have done].” Dennison said.

Patrick DiMarco
Fullback Patrick DiMarco was signed in free agency formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. While fullbacks don’t stand out on the stat sheet, they are vital for an offense. They provide essential blocking which helps give the quarterback more time and can open lanes for the running backs.

That’s not to say that fullbacks can’t put up offensive numbers because DiMarco can. In 2015 with the Falcons, the fullback caught 13 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick was regarded as one of the league’s best fullbacks last season and was a huge get for this Bills roster.

“Every running back would love to have two fullbacks who can play at a high level. Pat [DiMarco] had a lot of success in Atlanta and they ran the ball very well, won a lot of games. He does a lot better than Jerome in the passing game. We’re going to use him in different ways.” LeSean McCoy said.

Tyrod Taylor
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor posted some really efficient numbers last season where he threw 3,023 yards with 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Not to mention, he added 580 yards rushing for six touchdowns as well.

Tyrod has a prior working relationship with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.  He also has a prior working knowledge of the system. Dennison was the Ravens quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Taylor was Joe Flacco’s backup.

With that familiarity Taylor is confident his personal game can take the next step.

“I definitely think I can take it to the next level, it’s something that I’ve focused on throughout this offseason, which is to continue to keep digesting the offense and trying to be better at it each day,” Taylor said. “Like I said, this offense allows us to spread the ball around, allows me to get on the edge with the keepers, and matching up with the run game that we’re doing.”