Every summer leading up to training camp buffalobills.com examines 25 of the more pertinent issues facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. This year we wanted to focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field in addition to what takes place on the field. From now until report day at training camp we’ll address these subjects one at a time. Here now is the latest daily installment as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 18 and the Sept. 7 opener at Chicago.
There is roster turnover every year in the NFL that averages between 25 and 30 percent per team. Buffalo may not have had as much turnover as it’s had in previous seasons, but there are still a host of new faces that dot the roster. Here are some of the more notable names to keep an eye on come training camp at St. John Fisher.
The thickly built running back may be seen by most as a short-yardage specialist, a role he previously held in San Francisco, but the back nicknamed ‘Booby’ has a little more wiggle to his game than some might expect for a 6-1 233-pound rusher. Make no mistake Dixon is mainly a one-cut and go back, but in the spring he was agile catching the ball out of the backfield and looked responsible in pass protection.
Graham impressed early in the spring with the opportunity to work with the first team defensive unit with starting LCB Leodis McKelvin limited due to offseason hip surgery. The veteran corner displayed sharp instincts and a veteran savvy in defending receivers taller and/or faster than him. Offering versatility to play on the boundary or inside it will bear watching to see just where the defensive staff believes Graham will fit best.
The new arrival at linebacker is also the new leader of the unit. Spikes isn’t shy about leading and he does it with his mouth as much as with his production. The middle linebacker is just the kind of passionate player who is going to inspire teammates to play at their best on every snap. Impressive in the spring practices, Spikes could be downright intimidating when the pads go on in camp.
Considering that attending training camp is free for fans, Watkins will be one of the treats of camp. Whether it was a diving catch fully extended one foot off the ground or out jumping a defensive back to high point the ball downfield, Watkins is sure to draw ‘oohs’ from fans in attendance at St. John Fisher and bring many out of their seats during team segments.
For the old school fans who still value line play the addition of Williams is a sizable upgrade in the literal sense. Head coach Doug Marrone had an edict to get bigger up front and that’s been done across the board on the offensive line in both free agency and the draft. However, Williams is the only lock to start among the newcomers. He won’t wow anyone with pancake blocks, but his consistency in walling off defenders and outsmarting linebackers at the second level is what will make him appealing to watch.