1 – New punter discusses transition from New England to Buffalo
After being claimed by the Bills on Sunday, undrafted rookie punter Corey Bojorquez is looking to hit the ground running in Buffalo. He played two years of college football at New Mexico before going undrafted and signing with the Patriots after the draft, but Bojorquez did not always have plans to punt at the NFL level. In fact, he noted that he had not participated in organized team football until his junior year in high school.
“My junior year of high school was my first season of football and I started punting the summer before that season,” said Bojorquez. “It was my first year, I had never played football before that.”
Bojorquez says that his focus was originally on soccer and that a friend of his encouraged him to give punting a try.
“I was playing soccer at the time and my friend was the punter there before me,” he said. “He was finishing up and the team didn’t have a punter and he told me to try it out just for fun. I started to leave soccer practice early to work on it.”
His path to Buffalo through New England is one that not many players take, and Bojorquez noted that it was a sort of whirlwind for him to be claimed by the Bills after the release of former Buffalo starter Colton Schmidt. However, he says that the transition from soccer to football was the more difficult move.
“You have to kind of reinvent yourself,” Bojorquez said. “For me at first, the biggest challenge was just learning to swing straight because soccer had taught me to kick across my body.”
Although everything has moved quickly for the 21-year-old punter, he says that he has enjoyed his NFL journey thoroughly to this point.
“It’s cool, I definitely wasn’t expecting it [Being claimed by Buffalo],” he said. “An opportunity was given to me here, and I plan on taking full advantage of it.”
2 – McDermott comfortable with tight end group
Throughout the preseason, one of the positions that Bills fans had their eyes on was the tight end group. Eighth-year man Charles Clay headlined the group, followed by names familiar to Bills fans such as Logan Thomas, Nick O’Leary and Jason Croom. Also in the mix were blocking specialist Khari Lee and former Louisville Cardinal Keith Towbridge. As the Bills trimmed the roster to 53 players they decided to part ways with Nick O’Leary and Keith Towbridge. O’Leary had been with the Bills since being selected in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Prior to yesterday’s practice, Bills head coach Sean McDermott offered some insight into the decisions made at the position.
“What more could I say about Nick [O’Leary]? His play stood out and spoke for itself,” said McDermott. “He was very consistent and a dependable and tough football player, I have a lot of respect for Nick and his family.”
Although the team has proceeded in a direction unfamiliar to those around the organization and the fanbase, McDermott says that he is comfortable with the four men on the roster.
“We’ve taken a step in a different direction here and feel confident with the guys that we kept,” he said. “Charles [Clay], and then Jason [Croom] and Khari [Lee] and Logan [Thomas], they all bring a little bit of a different skillset to the table.”
Perhaps the most impressive story of the four tight ends who cracked the roster is that of Jason Croom. Croom spent the 2017 season on the practice squad after signing with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee. After playing his first three collegiate seasons as a wide receiver, Croom finished his NCAA career at tight end, and his athleticism has been on display throughout the 2018 offseason and training camp.
“It’s been nice to watch a guy like Jason develop,” said McDermott. “He is a man that’s busted his tail, being injured a little bit last year, then being on our practice squad and in a developmental role for the most part of last season, or the better part of the end of last season.”
3 – Rookie WR Robert Foster still working to improve
As an undrafted free agent in the NFL, nothing comes easily. You won’t be afforded extra opportunities or handed extra reps on the practice; you must earn everything that is given to you. That is precisely what Bills wide receiver Robert Foster has done in his limited time with the Bills. Foster signed with the team after not being drafted this year, even after playing for one of the nation’s best college programs at Alabama. Although he has a level of familiarity with former Alabama and now Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Foster says that he doesn’t believe that impacted the team’s final decision.
“I think that the team and the coaching staff believe that I worked hard for this opportunity,” Foster said. “At the end of the day, I knew that I was going to have to come in here and put in work to get better.”
Foster’s athleticism was certainly on display early in the preseason as he attempted to track down a few of Josh Allen’s deep attempts downfield, and then in the fourth preseason game where he hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron in the midst of a valiant comeback. Although he has cracked the 53-man roster, head coach Sean McDermott says that there is still work to be done on Foster’s end.
“Is he where he needs to be? No. Is our team where we need to be? No,” said McDermott. “We all have a lot of work to do, including Robert. You know, it’s just about taking it one day at a time.”
Foster echoed McDermott’s sentiments, acknowledging that the work at the NFL level never stops and that he will continue to improve as the season wears on.
“There’s always room for improvement,” said Foster. “You are going to have your ups and downs, but as long as you stay the course and keep working hard everything will fall into place.”