Josh Allen, Robert Foster among top storylines for Buffalo Bills OTAs


The Buffalo Bills will take the field for their first OTA (Offseason Training Activity) Monday. While pads and contact aren’t allowed, per the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, coaches get their first opportunity to explore different personnel packages and player groupings with their 2019 rosters. Buffalo underwent dramatic change during the offseason, signing a plethora of talented players in free agency and the NFL Draft, so the 10 OTAs will give the coaching staff their first crack at a roster that doesn’t look very similar to what they had just a season ago.

Here are the top five Bills storylines to follow throughout the next several weeks of Offseason Training Activities.

Is Josh Allen ready to make a leap in year two?

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On the surface, Josh Allen’s production left a lot to be desired in his rookie season. The No. 7 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft completed just 52.8-percent of his passes for 2,074 passing yards (6.5 yards per attempt), throwing 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and adding 631 rushing yards and eight scores on the ground. But there is no denying Allen’s steady, game-by-game improvement. He capped off the 2018 season with a dominant 42-17 victory over the rival Miami Dolphins, in which he threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another 95 yards and two scores.

Last year, Allen was forced to make do with an uninspiring group of wide receivers, but after an offseason dedicated to improving the offense, expectations are high for the 22-year-old signal caller. It will be interesting to see which of the new pass-catchers Allen takes a liking to during the OTAs, after his connection with Robert Foster last year carried over into the second half of the season.

Is Tremaine Edmunds ready to lead the defense?

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Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a stellar season of his own, though the Bills’ second first-rounder from last year didn’t receive the hype of his draftmate, Josh Allen. Edmunds stepped up in a big way, sliding into the “MIKE” linebacker spot as a 20-year-old and excelled. The former Virginia Tech star tallied 121 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, 12 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 15 games. Edmunds is a reserved, no-nonsense individual who earned respect from his defensive teammates through his actions. But following Kyle Williams’s retirement after the 2018 season, Buffalo expects the 21-year-old to emerge as the leader.

Edmunds discussed his new role with the media prior to voluntary workouts, explaining that he leaned on Williams and fellow linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during his rookie campaign.

“You know it means a lot to me for these guys to trust me. I’m going to take the leadership they showed last year and try to do it my own way,” Edmunds said. “I’m young, I’m ready for the challenge. I’m ready for the next step.”

How will revamped OL look?

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It’s rare to see a position group undergo as many changes as Buffalo’s offensive line did during the 2019 offseason, and OTAs will give fans a glimpse into how the coaching staff expects to use the seven new additions to the unit. Left tackle Dion Dawkins struggled last season, but entering year three he’s expected to make a significant leap. Aside from his left tackle spot and free agent addition Mitch Morse at center, the Bills’ offensive line will look drastically different.

Jon Feliciano, Quinton Spain, and Spencer Long, all of whom were signed as free agents, figure to compete for the starting offensive guard roles with Wyatt Teller, who made seven starts as a rookie last season. Rookie second-round draft pick Cody Ford, along with free agent signees Ty Nsekhe and LaAdrian Waddle, will likely compete for the starting right tackle gig.

The influx of talent is impressive, but now the real work begins, as the Buffalo Bills will need to find out which combination can help improve an offense that surrendered 41 sacks and rushed for just 1984 yards and 15 touchdowns (1,353 yards and seven touchdowns without Josh Allen).

Will Robert Foster or Zay Jones secure “No.1” WR role?

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The Buffalo Bills added speed and finesse to their wide receiver group with the free agent signings of John Brown and Cole Beasley but the team hopes to get more out of their homegrown talent in 2019, most notably from 2017 second-rounder Zay Jones and their star undrafted free agent, Robert Foster. Jones took a significant step forward in his progression last year after a rocky rookie campaign, hauling in 56 passes for 652 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound 24-year-old is a solid all-around receiver that has real promise but is heading into his third season, which many see as a “make or break” year.

Foster, on the other hand, exploded during the second half of the 2018 season, catching 25 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns over the final seven games of the year, and posting 100 yards in three separate games. Nine of his 27 receptions last year resulted in 25-plus yards. Foster, who is already 25-years old, possesses great size and speed and showed the ability to dominate opposing secondaries. However, he’ll need to prove that his big finish to 2018 wasn’t a fluke and that he can replicate that success for a sustained period of time with more competition.

Who starts opposite Tre’Davious White?

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Buffalo’s secondary was outstanding in 2018, allowing just 3,084 passing yards (192.8 yards per game), intercepting 16 passes, and allowing just 6.3 yards per attempt. Tre’Davious White is locked into his role as the No. 1 cornerback, but there will be a heated competition for the starting job opposite him. Last season, undrafted rookie Levi Wallace was outstanding, grading out as PFF’s top-ranked rookie cornerback and the No. 4 overall cornerback in the NFL. He finished the year with 37 tackles and three pass breakups in seven games.

The Buffalo Bills signed former first-round draft pick Kevin Johnson as a free agent, in addition to bringing back E.J. Gaines, who enjoyed a superb season with the Bills in 2017. Gaines knows the scheme well and could push for the starting gig.

Regardless of who starts opposite White, Buffalo has significantly better depth than they did at this point in the offseason last year.

Stay tuned to for updates throughout OTAs!