Camp Countdown: 5 offensive players to watch

Posted Jun 27, 2014

The attention paid to Buffalo's top-tier playmakers may create opportunities for others.

Every summer leading up to training camp 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.

CJ Spiller and Sammy Watkins are sure to get plenty of attention once training camp starts, with good reason. The two playmakers are likely to garner most of the attention of opposing defenses once the season begins. All of that attention might open up room for some other players to break out. Here are five players to keep an eye on during training camp that might fill that role.

Robert Woods

The second year receiver had to take some time off during OTAs due to offseason ankle surgery. But when he was finally able to fully participate in both OTAs and minicamp, he shined. Woods scored touchdowns on back-to-back plays on the last day of minicamp, the first on a diving catch just at the goal line and the next on a crossing pattern from a scrambling EJ Manuel.

It will help that the QB-WR duo has worked on the chemistry between each other since last season.

“I try to get Woody the ball as much as possible,” Manuel said. “I want to give him opportunities to get the ball in his hands because he is great after the catch. Once he catches the ball, he can make something happen just like Sammy can.”

Marquise Goodwin

As a former Olympian in track & field, Goodwin is first and foremost known as a speed receiver, and for good reason. All three of his touchdowns last season went for 40 yards or more. After a full NFL season under his belt, however, Goodwin is more focused on becoming a more complete receiver.

“I did a lot of footwork drills, I did a lot of route running, and I got stronger during the offseason,” Goodwin said on the John Murphy Show.

Goodwin worked more in the slot during preseason practices, which requires the knowledge of a wider array of routes than the Texas product was used to last season. With perhaps even more competition at the position than last year, Goodwin should be one of the more intriguing players to watch at training camp.

Tony Moeaki

After a full offseason to get healthy, Tony Moeaki proved why the Bills traded for him back in December during OTAs and minicamp. The fifth year tight end has looked like a smooth route runner and seems versatile enough to line up in a variety of positions and formations.

“I feel like I’ve been productive when healthy, and I’m back to being healthy,” Moeaki said. “I just need to take it one practice at a time and focus on the details and show what I can do.”

Considering the commitment the Bills have to the running game, they will likely be using a lot of two tight end formations, where Moeaki can team up with Scott Chandler to form a formidable dual-threat tight end pairing.

Moeaki appeared in just one game for the Bills in 2013, so this training camp could be the first time many fans will see him catching passes in a Buffalo uniform.

Anthony Dixon

We already know what the Bills will be getting from Spiller and Fred Jackson once the season starts. Dixon is somewhat of an unknown entity - he has only had 148 carries in his four-year career. As such, he (along with Bryce Brown) has gotten and will continue to get plenty of opportunities to show what unique abilities he can bring to the Bills in practice settings.

Dixon has proven to be a versatile player, lining up at fullback in 2013 with San Francisco and also showing good hands and instincts catching the ball out of the backfield so far during OTAs and minicamp. He is confident that given the opportunity, he could be more than just a short-yardage role player.

“I’m just out to prove that I’m one of the best players in this league,” Dixon said. “I really do feel like that. I haven’t got the opportunity to show that, but I really do feel like I’m one of the best players in this league, and that’s why I came here, to get some more opportunities and show that.”

Chris Hogan

Another standout playmaker in OTAs and minicamp, Chris Hogan, seems to be in more of a defined role this season. He will likely be taking the majority of his snaps in the slot receiver position and has crafted his game to excel in that role with the Bills.

“There’s a lot more involved in being a slot receiver. You’ve got to be able to read the coverage because your routes can change depending on what coverage they give you. There’s a little more thinking involved,” Hogan said.

The key for Hogan will be making sure to keep up the high level of play he has already proven capable of this offseason once the pads come on and the physicality of practice ramps up even more.