By Adam Pfeifer on June 1, 2014
That was the last time the Buffalo Bills found themselves in the postseason. However, the Bills' faithful fans continue to stand by them, and with a top-10 defense and playmakers on offense, this could be the year that drought ends. And there have been some things to monitor early on during their OTAs, too. Players progressing, rookies shining, you name it. Let's take a peak.
Chris Hogan was given the nickname "7-11" during his time with the Miami Dolphins during their stint on HBO's Hard Knocks. It meant that the wide receiver was always open. A few years later in Buffalo, and the name still holds true. With Sammy Watkins out in LA for the Rookie Premiere, Hogan has benefited, seeing a ton of snaps. He stated he is getting a good knack and feel for quarterback, EJ Manuel. The chemistry is building. Keep an eye out.
With star linebacker Kiko Alonso being limited after undergoing an offseason procedure, old faces in new places have been taking on a bigger role in the huddle. Both Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers have been taking on a leadership position on defense, making pre-snap adjustments and helping out a younger defensive unit. Rivers has been in the league for seven years, playing for his third team.
After losing Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, many Bills fans were heartbroken. And while Byrd is an incredible player, it could have been worse. They could have lost a part of that elite defensive line. Buffalo is confident in second-year safety Nickell Robey, who had a nice rookie year, posting three sacks, an interception and a touchdown. He's a playmaker, and he continues to impress early on in year two. He could be a secret star this year.
There have been rumblings out of Buffalo surrounding a potential decreased workload for veteran Fred Jackson. The guy turns 34 in February and has endured some nagging injuries. The team also brought in younger back, Bryce Brown. It's possible, but at the end of the day, this is the captain of the team that has done so much for them. Buffalo was also 29th in goal-to-go touchdown efficiency in 2013, so I'd pump the brakes for now.
He's been the talk of the town-- EJ Manuel needs to take that next step if Buffalo wants to make the playoffs. The team invested a ton to get him an elite playmaker in Sammy Watkins, and if he can improve his game, this is a playoff caliber team. So far, so good, as Manuel is making good reads and progressions, developing chemistry with some of the younger, newer wideouts. His reps continue to dominate other passers, so Buffalo wants him ready.
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