Bills training camp: 5 new players to keep an eye on

07/23/2022
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Josh Allen has a famous friendship with Formula 1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo, but the driver most important to him is the man driving the Buffalo Bills to the top of the Super Bowl odds, Brandon Beane. The Bills’ general manager has made several impact moves this offseason, improving every level of the offense and defense. You could argue the two most important vets he’s added during this offseason are defensive end Von Miller (coming off of a Super Bowl with the Rams) and wide receiver Jamison Crowder (expected to fill the void left in the slot). The Cover 1 Crew has done extensive work on those two. You can uncover some of that material by clicking the links below.

Bills Training Camp: WR Jamison Crowder a sleeper to breakout in 2022 NFL Season

After Miller and Crowder, let’s peel back a few layers on some other new additions I want to keep an eye on when the Bills arrive at St. John Fisher University for training camp next week.

James Cook

The Bills’ biggest weakness on offense the last couple of seasons has been the lack of a dynamic pass-catching weapon out of the backfield. In that description, I basically just explained the game of former Georgia running back James Cook and why the Bills used a second-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft on him. He joins what is now a crowded RB room with Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and Duke Johnson as the main competition for touches. Cook should get plenty of opportunities early to show off his speed (4.42 40), hands (40 catches over his last 23 games), and explosiveness (509 receiving yards and six touchdowns in those 23 games) when the Bills take Growney Stadium.

How James Cook Fits into the Buffalo Bills Offense

Kaiir Elam

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The Bills have yearned for a No. 2 corner opposite Tre’Davious White since they drafted the standout defensive back 27th overall in 2017. That answer comes in Elam. The 21-year-old has draft bragging rights over White going four spots ahead of him at 23rd in this year’s draft. Not only does Elam have to come in right away to replace Levi Wallace (signed with the Steelers), he could be thrust into the #1 spot with White still recovering from an ACL tear. Elam has the size (6’1″, 191lbs, 30 7/8″ arms) and speed (4.39 40) to profile as an elite corner. We should see plenty of snaps from the former Gator early and often at St. John Fisher.

Top Buffalo Bills Training Camp Storylines to Watch For

OJ Howard

The Bills have a true No. 1 tight end in Dawson Knox; however, I believe we will see more 12-personnel under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey (this may be a given, as Buffalo ran just 100 snaps in 12-personnel last season, per Sharp Football Analysis, the lowest number out of any team in the NFL). That is why they signed OJ Howard. The former Crimson Tide TE never quite lived up to his first-round billing with the Bucs, but he has shown he’s a legit blocker and still possesses freak athleticism to be a vital part of the Buffalo offense. How McDermott + Dorsey + Allen utilize Howard early in camp could be a glimpse into how much we see him on the field in 2022.

Buffalo Bills Training Camp Preview – Offense | The Air Raid Hour

Roger Safford

The top three reasons this was a huge move this offseason and why I will be keeping an eye on Safford are 1) Protect Josh Allen. 2) Protect Josh Allen. 3) Protect Josh Allen. You get the point!

The former second-team All-Pro guard is not only awesome at his job but could be a conduit for new (again) line coach Aaron Kromer, who worked with Safford for a pair of seasons with the Rams. It’s expected Safford slides into left guard for Buffalo and is the final piece to what should be a fantastic line in front of the franchise.

Have I mentioned this signing is good for Allen? I kid! We know the injury bug has bitten the line some over Allen’s career, but that shouldn’t be a worry with Safford. The 12-year vet has played in at least 15 games since 2016 including starting all 16 in 2018 and 2019. How Kromer deploys Safford and how much he is a voice for the rest of the line in a new scheme is something to keep an eye on.

Tim Settle

By the end of 2022, Settle could be the steal of free agency. The defensive tackle has been buried on Washington’s depth chart as it continuously drafted first-round lineman to jump him in the Commanders’ rotation. The 25-year-old’s stats won’t blow you away with 54 tackles, 12 of those for a loss, and seven sacks. Just know he did that while never going over 33% of his team’s snaps.

It could be that Settle just needs an opportunity. We know he should get that in Buffalo, who needs an anchor in the middle. Where, how often, and with whom the Bills pair the 6’3″, 308lb Settle could be obvious from the first snap over in Pittsford.

If you’d like a deeper look at how I believe the Bills have upgraded in 2022, here’s a look at their improvements at every level.

Buffalo Bills roster preview: Stronger at every position entering 2022 NFL season

 

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