Since being signed and subsequently activated off the Bills practice squad on December 27th of last year, Marcus Murphy has been attempting to establish himself as a reliable option in the Bills' backfield. Murphy's career may be close to reaching critical mass despite being a former seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2015. In a crowded Buffalo backfield that includes LeSean McCoy, Travaris Cadet, Chris Ivory, and Taiwan Jones; Murphy stuck out in the team's first preseason game.
The third-year running back realizes that this year may be his best chance at sticking in the NFL, and he seems ready to take the reins.
"I just have tunnel vision right now," said Murphy. "I am taking it one day at a time and improving in a lot of different areas in order to improve my overall game. I am fully embracing the process in Buffalo."
Murphy carried the ball seven times for 35 yards in his first game action of 2018, including a seven-yard touchdown run at the end of the second quarter. Adding to his arsenal, Murphy also assumed punt return duties, and kickoff return work in relief of fellow running back Taiwan Jones in the second half. Additionally, Murphy caught four passes out of the backfield for 30 yards, forcing the Carolina defense to respect his ability to catch the ball in space.
Murphy believes that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's scheme complements his skill set admirably.
"I think we have a great offensive scheme," he said. "We have a lot of misdirection plays just to keep the defense on their toes."
When asked about his touchdown run in the second quarter, Murphy selflessly credited his teammates for the score.
"They did a great job executing their blocks and they just allowed me to walk right in," he said.
Anybody who saw the touchdown run will tell you that Murphy did not simply "walk" right into the end zone, but his team-first mentality has been a theme throughout training camp and now into the preseason.
Although Murphy may not be a marquee name to the casual NFL fan, the Bills coaching staff has taken notice to his consistent effort and versatile style of play.
"He's a competitive guy. He's fun to watch every day at practice," he said. "What you saw out here is what we see every day at practice."
In a crowded backfield, Murphy is separating himself with his ability to contribute on special teams, and McDermott noticed that and echoed the selfless narrative Murphy has created.
"Whether it's playing special teams or playing the running back position, he's selfless," said McDermott. "He's a team guy. I really appreciate that."
Receiving high praise from your head coach is an impressive feat in the NFL, and earning the respect of your teammates and/or your peers can sometimes prove to be just as difficult. However, Murphy seems to have captivated his teammates, even in limited action.
"He runs big. He's not going to be the biggest guy out there," said Josh Allen. "I saw him lower his shoulder into a middle linebacker and get three or four more yards. That's all you can ask for out of a back."
Like his head coach, Allen also noticed Murphy's versatile approach to the game.
"He's dynamic outside and he can catch the ball. He's someone to look out for for sure," said Allen.
As a running back, earning the trust of the big men in front of you is imperative, and Murphy has endeared himself to the Bills' offensive line group. Veteran offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse spoke about Murphy following his impressive showing in the team's first preseason contest.
"He is doing really well," said Newhouse. "I hadn't really seen him play before camp, and he has shown a lot of versatility. He has the ability to inside and outside and he has great vision and balance."
NFL executives always have a shortlist of qualities that they look for in potential additions, and Murphy has shown that he possesses many of those important qualities early in his tenure with the Buffalo Bills.
He has been described by the coaching staff and teammates as selfless, versatile, and meticulous; which will almost certainly help him stick around in Buffalo.
Photos from Buffalo's first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.