1. This wide receiver is making the most of his opportunity in Buffalo
Andre Roberts is on his sixth NFL team after signing a two-year deal with Buffalo this offseason. Roberts earned a pro-bowl nod last season by leading the NFL in average yards per punt return, punt return touchdowns, kickoff return yards and kickoff return touchdowns.
Roberts knows he was signed by Buffalo to be used on special teams but wants to show himself as a receiver.
“I think the reason why Buffalo brought me in is the role for special teams that they want me to be a factor in the return game,” Roberts said on WGR 550 sports radio. “Of course I want to play as much receiver as I can. Our offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, receivers coach Chad Hall and everybody knows that. Sure I’ll have my opportunities here and there, but I do understand my role and that’s to be a big impact in special teams.”
Roberts received first-team reps throughout minicamp with a limited wide receiver group. On Tuesday, Roberts was able to pull in an incredible over the shoulder grab for a touchdown from Josh Allen during 11-on-11 scrimmages.
Roberts’ role has changed throughout the years with the NFL adopting new rules on kickoffs, limiting the amount of returns a player may get throughout a season. Roberts has successfully been able to deal and adapt with them.
“As a returner, even as a player you can’t be disappointed in the rules, you just have to deal with the changes because you can’t do anything about it,” Roberts said. “Obviously as a returner it does suck, but you can find ways to find value in return guys. Especially in colder weather places like Buffalo where the ball doesn’t go as far later in the season.”
Roberts has earned the majority of return opportunities throughout OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Roberts will be able to bring a spark to the Bills’ special teams come this fall.
2. Josh Allen’s speed coach: You’ve got somebody who I think is going to be elite
Josh Allen, who is the only quarterback ever with three games in a row of 95 plus yards rushing, used to be called “Tortuga” or “tortoise” in high school by his baseball coach.
In an interview with NBC Sports’ Chris Simms, Allen admits that his high school coaches had a less-than stellar description of his athleticism.
“I mean I was extremely slow … very slow,” Allen said. “I didn’t really lift weights. I went straight from football to baseball, baseball to basketball and never really had that time to lift weights, I was always doing some sort of competition.”
Now Allen has set the single-season franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback in 2018 with 631. Since Allen has started working with Nike’s senior director of performance Ryan Flaherty at the NFL Scouting Combine, the results for the 2018 No. 7 overall pick have been phenomenal.
“I wasn’t surprised by it,” Flaherty told The Buffalo News this week of Allen’s rushing. “He’s a really good athlete – much better than I think people are aware of.”
Flaherty currently works with 22 NFL quarterbacks and has worked with over 100 in his career.
“People don't think of quarterbacks as athletes who really train to get faster. The old thinking has always been, ‘you don't need to run, you're a pocket passer,’ but the game is changing,” Flaherty said. “The old regime of quarterbacks I used to train, speed wasn't their main focus. It was just, ‘how do I stay healthy?’ That’s still around, but these guys want to be able to move well.”
The key for Allen next season will be for Allen to use his speed more selectively. Flaherty wants Allen to follow the model of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who excels at rolling out of the pocket and then re-establishing himself to make a play down field.
Flaherty considers Allen to have the highest ceiling of any quarterback he’s worked with in the last 10 years.
“He’s got a major weapon in his legs, and then you think about another year in that offense, with the combination of that arm talent he has,” Flaherty said. “Josh is on another level. Put his lower-body speed together with his arm talent and his mental approach to the game and his understanding of that offense. With those three things together, you've got somebody who I think is going to be an elite, tier-one quarterback.”
3. What category does Matt Milano rank No. 1 among linebackers?
Matt Milano completed his second season in the NFL and according to Pro Football Focus was one of the best linebackers in coverage in 2018.
The 2017 fifth-round pick has already secured his starting role with the team and looks to excel in the future. The only difference for next season, is that opposing quarterbacks might be afraid to throw in his direction.
Milano allowed just a 67.0 opponent passer rating throughout the 2018 regular season. It is the lowest among off-ball linebackers with a minimum of 300 coverage snaps.
Last season, Milano had three interceptions and seven passes defensed across 13 games. Both numbers increased from his rookie year totals of one interception and two passes defended.