1. WR Isaiah McKenzie flashes in first preseason game
Isaiah McKenzie led the team in receiving yards against the Colts, pulling down two catches for 62 yards. McKenzie caught a 38-yard pass from Matt Barkley which put the Bills on the Colts 24-yard line. The receiver also caught a 24-yard pass from Tyree Jackson, which resulted in a 38-yard field goal. Mckenzie said a performance like this helps him stand out in a group of talented wide receivers.
“I can make the big catch and I can show that I can make the big catch you know no matter what down it is,” McKenzie said. “They can depend on me and that’s what I want. That’s how I want them to feel about me. They can depend on me and call my number anytime they want and I’m available and I can help the team win.”
McKenzie has been taking notes from new additions to the wide receiver room to help his game grow.
“From John Brown, he’s teaching us how to run routes and things like that, how to get more separation than we are already getting,” McKenzie said. “You know with Cole we are learning about how he runs routes. It’s just different from everybody else. You know I’m fast, he’s quick. I’ve got to learn how to just slow my game down and he’s teaching me how to slow my game down each and every day.”
The receiver said he was able to create separation and make big plays on Thursday due to understanding the defense.
“I guess it starts with practice and when it comes to the game it’s easier,” said McKenzie. “So, I mean I knew the way that they were lined up on defense that I knew I had a chance to get the ball and so I just ran as fast as I could to the middle of the field and he threw it and I made the catch. I’m glad I could make the catch for him.”
With a deep group of receivers, McKenzie knows preseason play is important to solidify a role on the team.
2. Rookie Darryl Johnson earns first sack
Seventh round pick Darryl Johnson out of North Carolina A&T made some noise on defense in the first preseason game . Johnson had a sack for a loss of eight yards and batted down one pass.
“It’s awesome,” Johnson said. “It’s a great feeling you know, but I have to keep building off of that and I’m just here to try and help my team.”
Johnson said Jordan Phillips helped him earn his first sack.
“My boy Jordan Phillips man, we had great communication on that play,” Johnson said. “He called it high and then he went high and I just came underneath him and made the play.”
The rookie graded his performance with the word okay and said he needs to continue to work on his technique. He has plenty of talented teammates lining up next to him to learn from.
“Jerry Hughes teaches me a lot,” Johnson added. “Every time I was coming to the sidelines he was telling me things that I need to do you know when I go back out there. Jerry Hughes, Trent, Shaq Lawson, all the defensive ends, those guys teach me a lot every single day.”
3. Bills play first game on new turf field
Thursday night’s preseason game against the Colts marked the first game on Buffalo’s new turf field. The field was installed by A-Turf, a locally based company in Williamsville. A-Turf started in 2002 and has installed, built and managed more than 500 fields since opening. A-Turf’s president and founder Jim Dobmeier views New Era Field as one of their top clients.
“It’s a showcase field for us,” Dobmeier said. “We have the luxury of being locally based and being able to show clients whether they’re from the western New York area who have been very good to us or all over the country. We’ll fly people in, have them go to a game. The Bills people have been very kind to us in allowing us to walk the field and we try to close the deal and we do pretty well when we can show them this field.”
Dobmeier said the most important thing to look for in game is the surface footing. Several players expressed their love for how the new field felt under their feet.
Buffalo’s old field was eight years. Currently, 12 NFL teams have synthetic fields. In total, it took 20 days to remove the old field and lay the new one.