The Bills have a brand-new attack hitting the field this season with Brian Daboll as the newly hired offensive coordinator. With the new system, it’s good to know which players to watch to see how they’ve adapted to the new scheme.
Here are five playmakers to watch in Buffalo’s new offense:
1. Kelvin Benjamin
He’s the tallest man in the wide receiver group, and he’s just as big as the tight ends. Perhaps even bigger than Benjamin’s size is the fact that he’s feeling healthy for the first time in a long time.
Entering his fifth year in the NFL, Benjamin has been asked by McDermott to become a leader. A new challenge for Benjamin, he has been a vocal member of the locker room.
He’s also looked quicker and leaner on the field as he’s in the best shape of his career. Benjamin showed off his vertical prowess several times during OTAs elevating and extending for passes only he can reach.
And when it comes to who will be throwing to Benjamin at the beginning of the season, he knows he’ll be ready for whoever it is.
“I’ve got so much long range to the point where I don’t really need accuracy,” said Benjamin. “I mean, there are definitely different timings with the quarterbacks that I’ll learn. Some come out a little later, some come out a little earlier, but I’ll just try to be there for them. I’ll just try to build that trust, because at the end of the day that’s all it is. Your quarterback needs to trust that you’re going to catch that ball.”
2. Charles Clay
He had the most receiving yards for the Buffalo Bills last season, and much like Benjamin is another offensive weapon who used the offseason to get healthier.
Clay will be entering his eighth season in the NFL, and his fourth with the Bills when the 2018 campaign begins. In the past three seasons, though he has hauled nine touchdowns in that span, Clay has also dealt with injuries sidelining him for a total of seven games. Heading into training camp however, it’s the least of his concerns.
“I feel real good,” said Clay. “There was time when it was hard to deal with it ... as far as me, I feel great. I definitely don’t feel like it’s like a thing where I’m like, ‘Ah, I don’t know how many more years I have left.’ I feel better now than I have in a long time.”
Clay sees himself as a leader in the offense, and a threat when it comes time to use Daboll’s new scheme.
“A lot of it is matchup driven,” said Clay. “I don’t really want to give too much away ... just in the way that the coordinator thinks, he thinks matchups first. We still have to see how it is game-planning wise but as far as installing the offense now it’s a lot of moving around and things like that. ... I think it will be a lot of fun.”
I like what Daboll is putting in on offense. It’s fun and it gives guys opportunities to play different positions and do things that they’re not used to and I think it’s perfect. Bills wide receiver Jeremy Kerley
3. Jeremy Kerley
Signed this offseason, the wide receiver room is the land of opportunity and Kerley is happy to indulge. Taking to the competition, the vet entering his ninth year in the NFL is looking to help the Bills wherever possible on the offense.
“Whether it’s slot or outside, wherever it is, this is our opportunity in this offense to do something,” said Kerley. “Being that they were a playoff team last year they’re trying to get somewhere. To be part of that would be cool.”
Kerley is noticing a focus in Daboll’s offense that excites him, and it’s something he wants to have the opportunity to execute.
“I like what Daboll is putting in on offense,” said Kerley. “I love it. It’s fun and it gives guys opportunities to play different positions and do things that they’re not used to and I think it’s perfect.”
No matter what, Kerley will be a welcome dose of speed and elusiveness inside for Buffalo’s passing game.
4. Chris Ivory
He’s the kind of player that can run you over.
Ivory joined the Bills this offseason and will do so as the primary backup to LeSean McCoy.
The Bills are his fourth team in his soon to be ninth NFL season, and he will be playing a role somewhat similar to what Mike Tolbert played last season. Ivory however, offers far more versatility.
It’s a lot more fun to watch a guy like Ivory with his pads on because that’s when his full game is on display.
Knowing the coaching staff was pulling back on reps for vets all through the spring, Ivory kept his approach simple with his new club.
“I haven’t really got out much,” he said. “In the spring it was, come to practice, get my lift in, and put in the work and go home. And learning the playbook.”
Ivory said that once he learns the playbook, he can play freely. And playing freely means bulldozing opposing linebackers.
5. A.J. McCarron
If you’re a QB in Buffalo this offseason, you’re going to be under the microscope with the local media.
For McCarron, this is a time to shine moment, and it’s one he has waited patiently for. After being a backup for the Andy Dalton since coming into the league in 2014, McCarron finally has the opportunity to be a full-time starting quarterback. McCarron is approaching the chance with confidence.
“I’m confident in myself. I’ve never been boastful. If people want to say cocky that’s fine,” McCarron said. “Tom Brady or Big Ben when they step inside those white lines, all the great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, they bring a different side of them out. It’s allowed. I’ve always had self-confidence. I don’t see that as a knock. As people we should believe in what we do and believe in yourself. That’s what pushes you to be great and to not put people down. That’s what I’m about.”