The initial depth chart for the Bills was released Monday night (via WGR):
The Bills have released their first depth chart of camp. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/9wKOSmGBQL
— WGR 550 (@WGR550) July 28, 2014
While many of the positions are no surprise based on what has been seen at camp, the running back position has a peculiar order. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are the 1-2 punch for Buffalo, but there has never been a great third option for the squad.
Bryce Brown has been very impressive in camp, showing surprising natural receiving ability for a player that only has 21 catches for 140 yards in his first two years in the NFL, along with being a great combination of power and speed in the rung game. The MMQB’s Peter King saw Brown live at camp as well, and sees him as a potential large contributor, expressed both in his tweets and fantasy advice.
RT @JoshuaRadecki: Which unsung player surprised you at Bills training camp? … RB Bryce Brown.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) July 25, 2014
“They (the Bills) acquired another running back in Bryce Brown via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. He looks great, and this coaching staff loves him. I’m saying he’s not going ahead of C.J. Spiller in any fantasy football draft, but I might be inclined to take him over Fred Jackson. You never know what a good coaching staff is going to do when presented with a good new charging fast young back.”
Brown being fourth on the depth chart would seem to put a damper on those hopes. However, Toby Motyka of 13 WHAM TV in Rochester believes that an injury to one of the two top backs for Buffalo would give Brown a big opportunity.
If Dixon and Brown can bring new dimensions to a running game that was second in the NFL, the Bills may be the best on the ground in the league in 2014. Who is the third dimension could be answered in preseason.
With an already deep and talented receiver core (Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews), it seemed very unlikely that the Dolphins would use an early draft pick on the position. It would seem even less likely that they would pick one in the second round that ran a 4.77 40 yard dash at the NFL combine.
However, Jarvis Landry from LSU was selected with the 63rd pick in the NFL draft after a second-team All-SEC Conference season in which he caught 77 passes for 1193 yards and 10 touchdowns. But despite that amount of success, Landry’s 40 time caused his draft stock to drop.
In camp, though, Landry has impressed coaches and even the Dolphins owner with his route-running, work ethic, and hands, according to Jacob Feldman of the Miami Herald:
Landry remained on the field Sunday as other Miami receivers bolted to the trainers after the practice. Day 3 of training camp had been the first practice in pads and the longest one yet, held under the same inescapable sun.
None of that stopped the second-round pick.
Landry excelled in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, catching passes from Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. He continued to work after practice ended.
Coming out of LSU, Landry drew praise as a polished route runner. Still, he ran extra routes after practice with a coach, working on getting out of cuts and looking back for the ball.
Then, Landry jogged to the JUGS machine so an assistant could fire passes at him. Landry’s big, reliable hands are also a strength, but he still works to improve them.
Suffering in the heat, Landry paused to take off his pads but did not stop practicing. Sixty times the machine slung a ball at Landry — high, low, left and right — and each time Landry corralled it. Sling, pop. Sling, pop. Sling, pop.
“If you want to be great at something, you have to work at it all the time, even if you’re good at it,” Landry said afterward. “That’s just one of my mentalities and part of my work ethic.”………..
During the draft process, the biggest knock on Landry was his average speed. But that has not stopped him from quickly getting noticed in Davie before Monday’s off day.
First, owner Stephen Ross raved about Landry after Day 1 of training camp Friday.
“Jarvis Landry is somebody I think everybody is really excited about, speaking to the coaches,” Ross said. “He’s really going to be somebody that’s going to surprise a lot of people and really bring some excitement to this team.”
While Jace Amaro and Calvin Pryor have struggled to get off the ground, rookie fourth-round receiver Jalen Saunders has been among the most impressive players in camp.
Saunders is not just impressing with his ability to catch the ball and make plays—his trademark physicality and toughness is coming to light as his 5’9″ frame trucks down anyone who dares to get in his way:
The unfortunate reality for Saunders is how it will be difficult to carve out a role for him in the Jets’ offense because of his smaller stature. Jeremy Kerley’s presence in the slot leaves Saunders with gadget plays and fill-in duty, at least in his rookie season.
Either way, Saunders has secured himself some type of role in the Jets’ offense this year with these types of showings at training camp.
Kenbrell Thompkins has already had a roller-coaster type of career, despite entering his sophomore season with the New England Patriots. He started off consistently making plays over the first half of the season—including the memorable game-winner against the New Orleans Saints.
However, his consistency and production faded as the season wore on and Aaron Dobson progressed. Dobson and Thompkins have seemed to flip their positions again as Dobson is sidelined with a recovering foot.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com has more on Thompkins’ development:
A big part of football is seizing opportunity and second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins is doing just that. He’s taking repetitions that likely would have been Aaron Dobson’s and making plays that catch the eye.
For the second day in a row, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Thompkins made a diving touchdown catch and he appears to be practicing with a lot of confidence. He runs precise routes, and most importantly, Brady has developed trust in him. That’s not easy to do.
They don’t give out gold stars after two days of training camp, but Thompkins would be close to the front of the line if they did.
That’s the positive from Day 2 of camp. However, Day 3 saw Thompkins continue his elevator-esque play, dropping an easy catch thrown his way.
Thompkins looks like a good choice to start at the “X”receiver position but don’t discount Dobson from having his say before Week 1 starts.
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