Here’s the Bills news of note for Sept. 6th. * *
1 – E.J. Gaines named to All-Preseason team
As the preseason comes to an end, each team in the NFL certainly had players that were more valuable than others. However, some players weren’t only the best on their teams, but also the best in the NFL. According to ProFootball Focus, E.J. Gaines was one of the top graded cornerbacks in the NFL during the preseason.
In 38 coverage snaps,* Gaines was targeted just five times *this preseason, and it’s easy to see why when looking at the results. He surrendered just one catch for six yards, while notching a pick and two break-ups. *Quarterbacks had a rating of 0.0 when challenging his coverage *in August.
Gaines was given a cumulative grade of 87.4 for the entire preseason. Considering how topsy-turvy the offseason was for the fourth-year corner, the figures are very impressive. Gaines’ first game for the Bills came against the Eagles, and he had three tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception. His second game against the Ravens was equally notable. He ended with a tackle and a pass break-up, as he started to garner more starting time.
His preseason ended with a performance that catapulted him into staring consideration. He had one pass break-up against the Lions, and seemed to stake his claim for a starting outside corner spot. With the trade of Kevon Seymour, it has come down to Shareece Wright or Gaines for the last starting position.
In his press conference on Monday, Coach Sean McDermott said Gaines has “the upper hand” in the battle. Looking at how well the newcomer performed in the preseason, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Gaines has proven that he could be very effective in the Bills zone coverage scheme.
2 – New additions could be key role players
After trimming their team on Saturday, to reach the 53-man roster limit, the Bills added three players via waiver claims. Conor McDermott, Deon Lacey, and Khari Lee. They also added Kaelin Clay on Saturday, through a trade that sent Kevon Seymour to the Panthers. Coach Sean McDermott said each player will certainly have a role on the team.
Conor McDermott spent his collegiate career at UCLA. He was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth-round of the 2017 NFL draft. After being cut on Saturday, he was signed by the Bills on Sunday.
Sean McDermott said the young tackle will add nice depth to the position.
“He adds to that group nicely,” said the head coach. “Obviously, he’s a young player and position value is important in terms of that tackle position. Those positions are hard to find. That type of body type and what he brings to the table with the skills in that area.”
Linebacker Deon Lacey has had a rather interesting and winding career through two football leagues. After playing at West Alabama collegiately, he was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2013. After he was released, he moved to the CFL, where he dominated with the Edmonton Eskimos for three seasons. He was signed and cut by the Dolphins this offseason before landing in Buffalo. McDermott said he’ll contribute in several ways.
“Deon is a good football player, a young football player in terms of NFL experience,” said McDermott. “Again, the element of special teams. We know how important that is to winning football games. Our players know that. Our coaches know that, just philosophically. That was a big part of that move in terms of adding Deon.”
McDermott also spoke to the addition of wide receiver Kaelin Clay, who has had a tumultuous career in the NFL. The young receiver was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2014, but was released after a season. He was later signed by the Ravens and played with the team in 2015. But was later released after suffering an injury in 2016. He spent this past training camp with the Panthers before being traded. Now with the Bills, McDermott said Clay will fill an area of need.
Although none of the players the Bills claimed will have a starting position, they will certainly fill important roles this season.
3 – LeSean McCoy predicted to have career year
As the regular season approaches, LeSean McCoy has increasingly looked to be the focal point on the Bills offense. Although the run game was what carried the Bills offense last season, it looks as though it will only become more prominent this season. Mike Rodak, of ESPN.com, thinks McCoy could have a career year, as he carries the load on offense.
Who else will provide offense for the Bills? With* Sammy Watkins and former No. 2 running back Mike Gillislee *gone, McCoy will be the focal point both of the Bills' backfield and their offense as a whole.
McCoy’s most productive season came in 2013, when he totaled 1,607 rushing yards on the season. Although an astronomical number, he could top it this season. In his limited playing time during the preseason, McCoy looked as elusive as ever. Last season, he rushed for 1,267 yards, and will have the same offensive line this season.
With even more carries, McCoy could be the most productive running back in the NFL this year.