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Bills Today: Robert Foster represents the Bills on PFF’s All-Rookie team

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1 - Robert Foster represents the Bills on PFF’s All-Rookie team

It wasn’t until after he found himself off an NFL roster that he realized the magnitude of the opportunity he had been afforded.

Robert Foster had grown complacent. After making Buffalo’s 53-man roster out of training camp, the undrafted wideout was simply happy to be in the NFL. Being a rookie, he didn’t realize that opportunities are not guaranteed, and he was released after a six-game stretch in which he reeled in just two passes for 30 yards.

It was a demotion to the practice squad that helped Foster get a better grasp on the professional game. After being promoted to the active roster again in Week 10, the former Alabama receiver admitted that he took his opportunity for granted, that he “needed to be cut” in order to realize that he was no longer on scholarship.

Once Foster returned to Buffalo’s lineup, he was eager to make the stay permanent. He became an instrumental piece in a Bills’ offense that emerged late in the season, catching 25 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns over the final seven games of the campaign.

According to Pro Football Focus, no rookie wideout was better than Foster from Weeks 10-17. Foster’s late-season breakout has earned him a spot on the outlet’s All-Rookie team.

“Prior to Week 10, Foster had caught just two passes, been released, signed to the practice squad in Buffalo and had been held without a catch in five of his career six games,” PFF analyst Cam Mellor wrote. “However, his perseverance paid off as he more than earned his spot on the team for his efforts over the final seven games – a stretch that saw him grade out as the best rookie receiver in football from Week 10 to Week 17.

Foster finished his rookie campaign with an overall grade of 72.1.

2 - What fueled Josh Allen’s late-season emergence

Perceptible progress is what most Buffalo fans wanted to see from quarterback Josh Allen in his rookie season.

Throughout the final seven weeks of the campaign, Allen made obvious strides, growing before the eyes of a fanbase that has longed for a franchise quarterback for decades.

Though Allen had shown signs of promise before going down with an elbow injury in Week 6, his game lacked consistency. He wasn’t necessarily lighting up the stat sheet, as he completed just 75 passes for 832 yards through his first six appearances.

It wasn’t until after Allen returned from his injury that the game started to slow down for him. Throughout the final seven games of the season, Allen showcased his improved decision-making and pocket presence, completing 94 passes for 1,242 yards. He also rushed for 476 yards, finishing the season as Buffalo’s leading rusher.

Being able to watch the professional game from afar helped Allen once he ultimately returned to the field.

“It was a little blessing in disguise, getting to step back and see the game from a different perspective,” Allen said during a recent appearance on WGR 550’s The Howard and Jeremy Show. “The game was moving pretty fast before I got hurt. Then after I got hurt, seemed like it slowed down a little bit, I was seeing things a little better. That’s when I was making better decisions and just feeling better playing the game of football.”

Allen credits his progress to Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley, two veteran quarterbacks who served as a great support system for the rookie late in the season.

“I think it was when Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley got to our quarterback room,” Allen said. “They’ve helped me out so much, being able to see how they handle things, how they progress through their reads, how they handled the team in a leadership role. They really showed me a different side of football.”

3 - Kyle Williams proud to retire on his own terms

If you simply watched Kyle Williams play football, his graying beard would be the only indication of his age.

Williams played like a stout defensive tackle in his prime in the 2018 season, not like a 35-year-old who was on his farewell tour. He totaled 35 tackles and five sacks in his final campaign, serving as a key cog in a Buffalo defense that finished second in total yardage.

Though still able to play at a high level, never being a liability to the team and walking away on his own terms is something that Williams takes pride in.

“I think the main thing, I’ve been asked the question a lot over the last handful of days and really the last week, is ‘You’re still playing so well, you’re still good physically. That’s got to make the decision hard, that’s got to keep you up at night,’” Williams told host Jim Rome during a recent appearance on his podcast. “I think when I first started going through this process of what do I want to do, who do I want to be, where do I want to go, at first, it was. As I stand here today, that really, for me, is the cherry on top.

“To know that I never held my teammates and my team back, to know that I went out giving them as good an effort and as solid a say as I had at any point in my career. And walking out relatively young, obviously I’ve got 13 years of wear and tear on me, so I’ve got some things here and there, but nothing that ended my career, what we’ve seen happen so often. All of those things equal cherry on top.”

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