Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 15th.
**1 - Jonathan Williams learned from last season
Taken in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Bills, Jonathan Williams entered training camp last year as a relatively unknown player. After suffering a season ending injury during his final year at Arkansas, the Bills gambled that Williams would be healthy and as effective as he was before his injury. On the Howard Simon Show, Williams said last year was tough.
"I definitely think there was a learning curve," said Williams. "I have a lot of confidence in myself, and it was a year where I didn't do as well as I wanted. I think I needed it to get ready for this year and my future career. It helped me get introduced to the NFL, and it helped learn what I needed to work on. It let me know it wasn't where I wanted to be last year, and I use it as motivation."
Williams' rookie season certainly didn't go as he hoped. Williams received limited reps behind LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee. In the few snaps he did take, he was productive – but, not to the level he wanted to be in the NFL.
Williams had 27 rushing attempts on the season for 94 yards. Those 27 carries were paramount in the second-year running back learning what he needed to work on. Most pressing were his fumbles. He turned the ball over twice last season, with a limited number of touches.
After an offseason of work, Williams has looked much more confident in training camp this year. Constantly working on ball protection, Williams said he's been able to run faster and hit the hole quicker, as he's become more assured in his abilities and that he can thrive in the NFL.
**2 - Jordan Matthews a good fit for Bills offense
According to Joe Marino, of FanRag Sports, Jordan Matthews is a great fit in the Bills offense. The fourth-year wide receiver will be one of the main receiving threats on the Bills offense this year. As Marino stated, it doesn't matter where Matthews plays, he's always been productive.
Matthews was the Eagles' most targeted weapon in each of the last two seasons and had the most receiving yards of any wide receiver on the team. The SEC's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, Matthews is used to being the focal point of the passing game.
Marino stated that there are three reasons why Matthews will be productive in the Bills offense. Matthews is a terrific teammate. As Sean McDermott has said many times throughout the offseason, he wants players with good character. Matthews is the picture of a model teammate, and will fit perfectly into the culture McDermott is trying to build.
Matthew's size and physicality will also fit well in the Bills offense. The 6-foot-3-inch wide receiver uses every bit on his strength when he runs routes. As Marino asserts, Matthews runs perfect routes and uses his physicality to create separation. In a timing based offense, these route running skills will pay large dividends in Matthew's production.
Lastly, Matthew's is versatile. As Brandon Beane stated, the lanky wide receiver can play on both the inside and outside. Although Matthews has been very productive in the slot, his strength and route running ability could make him a nice fit on the outside.
Above all, if Matthews can find his rhythm with Tyrod Taylor, he could be a serious weapon for the Bills this season. Of course Matthews has to get healthy first after sustaining a chip fracture in his sternum in his first practice with the team Sunday.
3 - Bills picked as a sleeper
Former-NFL executive Mike Lombardi picked the Bills as a possible sleeper to watch in the upcoming season. On the Ringer podcast, Lombardi stated that he's encouraged by the Bills' coaching staff and the culture that is being built in Buffalo. Here's what Lombardi had to say.
*I think Buffalo has a lot of things going for them. They have a legitimate guy running the program. They have a culture they're trying to build…They have some pieces. Defensively they're much better…I think Buffalo could surprise some people. *
Lombardi felt the offense was going to better frame Taylor's abilities. He specifically mentioned that he thinks Dennison's offense will get Taylor out of the pocket, and allow his to use his natural athleticism more.
He said he was also encouraged by the defense. Citing injuries last season, Lombardi said that he expects the Bills' defense to return to form. With McDermott and Leslie Frazier, the Bills defense has certainly looked different so far at training camp. The biggest difference is the aggressiveness of the unit. Not only are they creating more pressure on the quarterback, they have also emphasized creating turnovers.
Lombardi was most encouraged by the coaching staff of the Bills. He said that he likes McDermott, and thinks that his culture could truly bolster the franchise.