Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 12th.
1 - Buffalo has NFL's most productive slot WRThe Bills made a pair of blockbuster trades on Friday. Included in the haul of players and picks was WR Jordan Matthews, who has made his money lined up in the slot the last three seasons. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Matthews has been the most productive slot receiver in the league over the last three years.
PFF has Matthews with a total of 2,389 receiving yards out of the slot the last three seasons to lead the league. Behind him are names like Randall Cobb, Jarvis Landry, Doug Baldwin and Larry Fitzgerald.
It's likely that the Bills will also make use of him in the slot, which could move Anquan Boldin outside and make Zay Jones an exclusive outside receiver. Jones is now the fastest among the top wideouts with 4.45 speed.
2 – Jonathan Williams working to get better
With the departure of Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Williams has been pushed to the number two role in the Bills backfield. The second-year running back showed flashes of his potential last season. Although Williams has started camp well, he stated that there are still many areas that he and Rick Dennison are trying to improve.
"Just seeing those lanes," said Williams. "It takes time, a little bit of time. Ball security is definitely big for everybody. Definitely when you have that ball in your hand it affects everybody, it affects both sides of the ball…So all those things are things that I think about mentally before I step out on the field and I apply them on the field."
In a zone blocking scheme, Williams will be asked to find seams in the defense, as they're stretched laterally. This isn't particularly easy for running backs, but can be very effective if executed correctly. So far in camp, Williams has done a nice job finding the holes and getting up field quickly.
Williams has looked faster this year, as he assumes the role of back-up to LeSean McCoy. He said that this is because he feels he can play faster due to his increasing confidence. He said the game has slowed down for him, making him feel more assured in where he's cutting.
With an impressive performance in the first preseason game, where he rushed for 39 yards on just four attempts, Williams looks to be more than simply a passable back-up.
If Williams can continue to use blocking effectively, and protect the ball, he could be a force in the number two role for the Bills this season.
3 – Eric Wood happy with offensive line
In an interview on the John Murphy Show, Eric Wood said that he's excited to have the same offensive line as last season. The Bills were able to keep their starting line intact over the offseason, and have even added depth.
"I think we picked up where we left off in the spring," said Wood. "We have all five starters returning from last year. I think we've performed well so far in training camp. Obviously, we have a ways to go, and we're not settled with where we are. But, I think we've started faster than we have in previous years."
The Bills offensive line ushered one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL last year. To add to the talented line, the Bills added Vlad Ducasse, and Dion Dawkins. Combined with the depth of Ryan Groy, the offensive line looks to have improved from last season.
As Wood stated, the unit feels they've started well this year. By keeping the same personnel, the Bills eliminated the period of adjustment, where new offensive lines learn how to play with new teammates. This was very evident during the first preseason game, as Jonathan Williams found huge rushing lanes against the Vikings.
Already comfortable playing together, the Bills offensive line has started camp ahead of where they were in previous years. This could certainly pay huge dividends if this Bills hope to have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL again.