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Which Buffalo Bills players are ready to emerge on offense in 2024?

Curtis Samuel (1) poses for a photo during Buffalo Bills Veteran Media Day, June 10, 2024 at 1 Bills Drive.
Curtis Samuel (1) poses for a photo during Buffalo Bills Veteran Media Day, June 10, 2024 at 1 Bills Drive.

Welcome to Part II of our Bills Training Camp preview.

Today we're taking a look at players we think could emerge on offense or take on bigger roles this season. With so many new faces, there are a few names on this list that have yet to even play in a Bills uniform.

WR Khalil Shakir

You can't make this list without putting wide receiver Khalil Shakir on it. The third-year wide receiver had a memorable finish to his sophomore season and will have even bigger opportunities in 2024 with the departure of wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.

Shakir ended his second season as a Bill with the highest catch percentage (86.7%) in the league among wide receivers. He also had two touchdowns in the playoffs. As it relates to the opportunity at hand this upcoming season, Shakir said he's ready for an uptick in his production if that's what's asked of him.

"If I've got to go in there and block 50 times, (I'll) go in there and block 50 times," Shakir said. "If I've got to go in there and run a route, (I'll) run a go route and run off 50 times. I'm going to do it. I'm huge in what goes around comes around."

The former Boise State product had 39 catches for 611 yards and two touchdowns in his second NFL season. Shakir quickly became a reliable weapon for his quarterback Josh Allen at the end of the 2023 campaign. With that gained trust, Allen will look to Shakir this season as he's the only returning wide receiver who caught a pass from Allen last season.

His offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, is looking forward to seeing how he grows in year three.

"Seeing his evolution last year was huge," Brady said of Shakir. "He's an extremely bright player. The intelligence that I talk about, that is Khalil Shakir when he's out there, and his feel of the zones and understanding the man, can play outside, play inside. He's everything you look for in a wide receiver. So, from the evolution of what's next, I think there's a lot on Khalil, and fortunately his work ethic and his approach, there's no reason he can't grow."

TE Dalton Kincaid

Tight end Dalton Kincaid broke Bills records last season as a rookie tight end. This year, Kincaid wants to do more for Buffalo.

The TE took advantage of everything the offseason training program had to offer this season because last season he was recovering from an injury. His goal this offseason was to get stronger, faster and learn how to win against more coverages.

"Press (coverage) was a big one for me, press and man, getting better in those facets of the game," Kincaid said of where he wanted to improve. "Especially with guys coming up and trying to press you, slow you off and kind of throw off your rhythm and routes. So that was the biggest emphasis for me besides lifting weights and getting stronger."

Kincaid's 73 catches last season were the most ever by a Bills rookie and a Bills tight end in a single season. His teammates are eager to watch his role grow within the offense this year.

"He's amazing," wide receiver Khalil Shakir said of his teammate. "Just his feel for the game. And, even in the run game, just him making blocks. Sometimes the transition can be a little tricky from college to the NFL. And he stepped right into the fire and was going crazy and dealt with it like a professional."

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady said their usage of 12 personnel (two tight ends) will depend upon their own strengths and the team they are facing that week but are looking forward to expanding the package this year.

"When you have guys like Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox, it gives you a lot," Brady said. "It opens up a lot of doors because they can play outside, block in line…we'd love to grow that package and just get them comfortable and putting them in different situations, different spots that they haven't been in and see how they kind of respond to it."

Kincaid finished his rookie season with 73 catches, 673 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With one year of NFL experience under his belt and a better understanding of Buffalo's offense, this playmaker might play a pretty important role this season.

WR Keon Coleman

It's hard to leave Buffalo's newest wide receiver Keon Coleman off this list. While the coaching staff understandably doesn't want expectations to be too high for Coleman during his rookie season, the WR will surely have some sort of role within the offense during his first season.

The Florida State product impressed players and coaches early on during OTAs with his work ethic.

"He's a very smart player," quarterback Josh Allen said of his newest receiver. "He's been getting in his playbook. He knows it very well already as a rookie. (He's) constantly studying, constantly asking questions. He loves football. I think that's a first and foremost thing that you learn about him. He loves this game."

Coleman had 50 catches for 658 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for Florida State last season. The WR finished his collegiate career with 19 total touchdowns and only five drops.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady said the vision for how Coleman is used within the offense will be on Coleman, just like it is for the rest of the wide receiver room. Brady explained the Bills wanted him on the roster because of the skillset that he has.

"We were sold on the type of person he is," Brady said of why they drafted Coleman. "His work ethic, his play style, and he has a skillset we feel we didn't have in the room and will continue to evolve. He has traits that you look for and skills that you think you can develop."

The rookie will add some size to the offense as he stands tall at 6'3 and weighs 213 pounds. This size transfers to the field with toughness as Coleman is someone who can grab the 50/50 balls and push through for extra yards. It'll be fun to see how quickly the rookie starts to pick up the offense and feels at home.

WR Curtis Samuel

With several former Bills receivers no longer a part of this year's roster, general manager Brandon Beane and his scouting department knew they needed to add more weapons for quarterback Josh Allen. The staff signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel back in the middle of March.

Samuel is going to be an exciting piece to this year's offense. He was an attractive addition to the Bills due to his versatility and familiarity with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The two overlapped in Carolina for one season when Brady was their OC.

Brady is looking forward to using Samuel in creative ways just like he did in Carolina.

"He's extremely bright and he can play any of the positions," Brady said. "He can play inside, he can play outside, he can play in the backfield, whatever he needs to do…(he's) one of the best blockers I've been around. So, the more Curtis Samuels on your football team the better."

Samuel saw career high numbers with Brady as his coordinator in 2020. The WR had 77 receptions (career high), 851 receiving yards (career high) and three touchdowns that season.

Since coming into the NFL in 2017, Samuel has played in 91 games and totaled 317 catches, 3,383 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. As training camp gets underway, I know we'll be eager to observe the ways in which Brady utilizes this chess piece within the offense.

RBs Ray Davis & Ty Johnson

For the final nine weeks of the 2023 season, Buffalo averaged the most rushing yards per game (154.9) in the league. Running back James Cook finished with the fourth-most rushing yards (1,122) in the NFL during his second season.

While it will be exciting to see what Cook does in year three, it'll be just as intriguing to see how running backs Ray Davis and Ty Johnson are used to complement Cook. Davis was drafted by Buffalo in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and Johnson played in 10 games with Buffalo last season.

Johnson finished 2023 averaging 4.4 yards per rush. The RB is entering his second season as a Bill.

Davis comes to the Bills after having a prolific final season with Kentucky in 2023. The RB had 199 carries for 1,129 rushing yards (11th on UK's single-season list) and 14 rushing touchdowns. He finished with 21 total touchdowns thanks to seven touchdown receptions, which is a single-season record at Kentucky.

"He's a dog, he's a tough kid," Bills general manager Brandon Beane said of Davis. "You watch his film, he plays the game violent…he's tough. He'll add just an edge to the group."

"You see him in protection, you see him with just the ball in his hands, and he's a football player," offensive coordinator Joe Brady said of his newest RB. "You can't have enough of those. And, he brings a little different elements both in the pass game and in the run game that we felt like was a great addition."

When it comes to stacking wins, Brady knows the Bills need to be as two dimensional as possible. With the OC's belief in the run and the stats that backed that up from last season, it'll be interesting to see what their plan is for this season.

"We feel confident in the room that we have that whoever is playing running back and carrying the football, they're going to do a good job," Brady explained.

I think we are all expecting Cook to have another strong season, but Davis and Johnson could have some sneaky roles depending on what the offense looks like under Brady.

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