The Bills offense reached new heights and set many team records in 2020. As the offense continues to evolve and grow in 2021, here are three Bills that are potential breakout players for this upcoming season.
Devin Singletary came back for OTAs and minicamp with a lot more muscle added to his frame. The Bills running back said that he has been able to get back to regular training and feels more explosive. This will be Singletary's first 'normal' offseason as he was just a rookie two years ago and last offseason was mostly virtual due to the pandemic.
Singletary took time this offseason to watch the tape of how he played last season. He's been working on everything from his reads to pass-catching to pass-blocking. He knows that last season wasn't his best, but he is coming into this season with something to prove.
"My first year was decent," Singletary said on the Bills Pod Squad. "My second year I felt like, I call them growing pains, they helped me grow. So, this year is just about putting it all together. Ultimately just basically having my best year yet that I had in the NFL, that's my main goal. Just putting it all together and all the way around the board just having my best year … This is definitely as strong as I've been and the biggest I've ever been. So, I think I'm heading in the right direction going into year three."
Singletary has been leaning on new teammate Matt Breida for advice this offseason and the two have been training together down in Florida. Breida brings four years of NFL experience to the running back group and has been to a Super Bowl, so he knows what it takes for a team to get there. Singletary had Frank Gore as a mentor during his rookie season in Buffalo. With Breida being that veteran presence in the running back room this season, it should set up Singletary for his best year yet.
Dawson Knox has been a solid tight end for the Bills, but he knows that he needs to do better – and knows that he can. After suffering setbacks last year due to injuries and COVID, Knox came back with a different mindset and was more reliable down the stretch. During the last nine games of the season, including playoffs, Knox had 26 receptions for 260 yards and five touchdowns.
Knox spent some this offseason working with Josh Allen in California. The two worked on route running, timing and eye placement as both Allen and Knox continue to build on-field chemistry with each other. Knox told the media in June some of the other areas he's been addressing before training camp.
"I really want to keep focusing on the hands thing," Knox stated. "I don't want to be dropping any balls. I know that's an obvious thing but at the same time I know my abilities and my athleticism, I want to be able to run routes against whoever is covering me. I feel like I can create that separation that's needed."
While in California, Knox also worked with a hand-eye trainer to strengthen his hand-eye coordination to help with his catching. After that, Knox attended a three-day tight end retreat in Nashville put on by 49ers tight end George Kittle. Over 40 NFL tight ends were in attendance and Knox got to learn from everyone's different style of play. Knox has put in the work this offseason to be the best player he can when the season starts, and he is ready to be the leader in the tight end room.
"I want to be the full tight end, Knox added. "I don't ever want to come off the field. So, if it's pass protecting, if it's run blocking, if it's running routes against corners and safeties - I want to be able to do it all. I don't think there's any part of my game that's reached its full potential. So, I'm just gonna keep working on everything and try to be that perfect, well-rounded tight end."
Isaiah Hodgins' rookie season did not go as he planned. After coming off of a career-high collegiate season in 2019 where he had 86 receptions for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns, Hodgins spent his first year as a pro sidelined with a shoulder injury. While he couldn't play at all in 2020, the season wasn't a lost cause for Hodgins. He learned valuable information and was able to tackle the mental side of the wide receiver position while recovering.
"Just learning the offense more to where now I have the confidence that I know every position," Hodgins said on One Bills Live. "I have some tools that I didn't have last year that I learned from just watching and sitting back last year. So, I feel like taking that step back, I didn't want to do it but it kind of helped me in the long run."
Now getting a taste for a true NFL offseason program, Hodgins has been medically cleared and will start training camp without the red non-contact jersey. He has impressed his teammates so far with some of the plays he has made during mandatory minicamp. The Bills might have a secret weapon on their hands if the 6-3 wide receiver can lineup at any position for the offense.
Since he has been in the league, he has had a number of talented veteran wide receivers that he could lean on for advice. Having Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders in one room will continue to help Hodgins learn the steps it takes to be a pro. Hodgins' father, a former NFL fullback and Super Bowl champion, has also been there to guide his son through his early NFL career. If Hodgins can put it all together and stay healthy this season, he will thrive in this pass-heavy Bills offense.