The running backs have been so fascinating.
The Buffalo Bills running back room has been so interesting this offseason. After losing out on a potential pass-catching option in free agency, the Bills instead filled that role in the NFL Draft, adding James Cook to Devin Singletary and Zack Moss as runners drafted in the first three rounds over the last few years. Now that we’re fully into training camp, here’s an update on how it all is shaking out.
At Friday night’s Return of the Blue and Red scrimmage, the rushing attack was a bit wimpy after opening with a really nice 24-yard gain by Singletary off the hip of center Mitch Morse. According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, the Bills gained 47 yards on 19 rushing attempts after that initial run. Singletary didn’t appear during the rest of the scrimmage after that play, leading Buascaglia to speculate he was held out for a potential injury. As in the scrimmage, Singletary has been the first back through in most of the sessions, and stands at the top of the pecking order.
That doesn’t mean Moss hasn’t received snaps with the starters, especially in short-yardage situations. The biggest thing for Moss this camp is he’s looked explosive and healthy, something that couldn’t be said a year ago. A late-2020 ankle injury hindered him last offseason and potentially into the season, which could be part of the reason he fell off so much in his sophomore year. The way Moss has been playing, they won’t hesitate to sub him in if Singletary struggles. For some folks who thought he might be a roster cut candidate, that’s not a concern anymore.
Cook has been the most interesting just because of his newness and swiss-army capabilities. On Thursday, he worked with the wide receivers in positional drills, not the running backs. He’s still getting carries out of the backfield, but they clearly want him to develop more in the passing game. That’s what head coach Sean McDermott described of the rookie on Thursday.
“A young player that’s opened some eyes here a little bit in the run and pass game,” McDermott said.
McDermott said he thinks Cook is up for the challenge of pass protection, as well, but it’s not something that the former Georgia Bulldog had to do much of at his previous stop, so he’s still a work in progress. That could be the key to unlocking Cook’s full potential and get him on the field more. He wasn’t drafted for that, but as QB Josh Allen is at the line setting the play before the snap, if he has to change from a receiving route to add more protection, Cook needs to be ready.