After having the best running game in football last season, the Bills are working hard to build on the momentum of their first year under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. This year's offense is almost identical to what it was last year, stacked with stars that can't wait for another chance after injuries robbed all of them of time on the field in 2015. Here are five key offensive playmakers that fans should watch during training camp:
Running back LeSean McCoy was limited during Bills OTA practices and mandatory minicamp. Head coach Rex Ryan stated that they were being extra careful with McCoy because of an ankle injury.
Going into his eighth year in the NFL, it's important for McCoy to stay healthy, and to focus on being in pristine shape during the regular season.
With that in mind it's expected that McCoy's workload will be limited in training camp as well after seeing how a hamstring injury limited the feature back and the offense through the first half of last season.
Fans who will be watching for Shady at training camp may not see a lot of action, but be patient. Although his reps and drives will be few to none, playing it safe doesn't take away from his incredible skill set and established role as the top back on the roster.
No. 1 wide receiver Sammy Watkins has not been able to participate in any of the team's OTAs or mandatory minicamp during this preseason. Back in May, the Bills announced that Watkins suffered a broken foot and needed to undergo surgery to have a screw inserted to stabilize the bone.
No definitive timetable for Watkins return was provided by the club, but he expressed hope that he'd be able to participate in at least some of training camp. The Bills' plan with Watkins is expected to be similar to their approach with McCoy.
"This is an injury where you've got to be very careful," said Watkins. "The only thing I can do is listen to the staff and take it slow. Just really protect myself and they're going to protect me also. We're going to take that course with the injury."
Regardless of his preseason fate, Watkins is confident he will be ready for the first game of the regular season. Poised to be an elite receiver in 2016, even if Bills fans have to wait until the regular season for an extended look at Watkins, the worth figures to be worth the wait.
After completing his first season last year with the Bills, TE Charles Clay had 528 receiving yards on 51 receptions and three touchdowns. A back injury forced him to miss the last three games of the season and curtailed his production in Buffalo's offense.
But he had some big games including against his former team Miami when he had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown followed by a season-high nine-catch performance for 111 yards against the Giants.
Clay worked to re-establish his on field rapport with QB Tyrod Taylor this past spring in OTAs and minicamp. He should be full go at training camp and looks forward to picking up where they left off.
"That complete offseason to be able to study film so you know what guys do well and we can come in this offseason that much further ahead," Clay said. "That's a good thing."
Clay's playmaking ability figures to be more consistent as a result.
Robert Woods has been putting in work to maintain his spot as the number two wide receiver behind Watkins.
Woods is going into his third year as a Bill, and is hoping to produce big time numbers in a contract year. For the duration of last season, he was battling a groin injury and still caught 47 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns.
But Woods, now healthy, was the most consistent and dominant player on the offensive side of the ball in the spring practices.
"I'm feeling very explosive. I felt like I lacked that last year with the injury and I didn't want it impact me again this year," Woods said. "I wanted to try to open back up and be an explosive receiver."
With Watkins unlikely to be a frequent participant in training camp Woods will have ample opportunity to shine at St. John Fisher.
Tyrod TaylorTyrod Taylor came to Buffalo following a four-year career in Baltimore as the backup quarterback for Joe Flacco. After his premiere as the Bills new quarterback last season, Taylor finished the year with impressive numbers.
One of the most accurate deep ball passers in the league, Taylor's arm is every bit as electrifying as his legs when forced to improvise. Now with a full year in the system his execution is expected to be even more consistent.
"Definitely different having a year under your belt in this system," Taylor said. "Getting a chance to learn your teammates for a full year. I like where we're at. We've made a lot of progress this offseason."
Fully expected to execute even more effectively in his second year with Buffalo, fans should be excited to see what Taylor puts on the field this season.