When looking for strengths on the Buffalo Bills‘ roster, the first position you’ll probably wind up at is running back. The Bills have more talent and depth in their backfield than perhaps at any other position. Even before 2014, the Bills had a pair of studs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but they bolstered the position by adding Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon this offseason. Those four make up a backfield that is as deep and talented as any in the NFL.
The problem the Bills face going into this season is how to split up their touches. While the team is hoping that E.J. Manuel makes strides as a passer in his second year, they will once again rely heavily upon their running game. It is generally assumed that Jackson, Spiller and Brown will be the top three on the depth chart. That being said, it will be Jackson and Spiller who will get the lion’s share of the touches, as Brown may find himself relegated to spot duty.
Brown is not without talent. He came out of high school as one of the most sought-after recruits in the country. However, he never lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him in college, and barely squeaked into the 2012 draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round. Despite being such a late draft pick, Brown was quietly able to make himself in the NFL as a backup to LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia. He has played in every game in his first two seasons, averaging a very respectable 4.6 yards per carry and scoring six touchdowns.
Brown has had his share of issues though. He struggled to hold onto the ball as a rookie, fumbling four times in only 128 touches. He is also not the best receiver out of the backfield, averaging just 6.7 yards per catch in his career.
The biggest reason Brown was brought in was not just to add depth at running back, but to serve as an insurance policy should Jackson and/or Spiller fall to injury. Both have missed time in recent years, and Jackson in particular is not getting any younger. With an offense that has a number of young faces, finding continuity will be important for Buffalo, something which they know they have in Jackson and Spiller. At just 23 years old, Brown should have a long, productive career ahead of him. It just might not happen for him this season.