Just before the start of last season, the Buffalo Bills converted fullback Reggie Gilliam to tight end, giving him a new number to go along with the new position.
Now, as the team opens training camp to prepare for the 2021 season, the Bills have converted Gilliam back. The move could signal an increased focus on the running game in the coming season, along with the greater competition at the tight end spot as the team has tried to bring in new targets for Josh Allen.
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Gilliam Reverts to Original Position
As Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com noted, Gilliam was not with the tight end group this week as the team opened training camp in Buffalo. After playing on the end of the line last season, Gilliam will return to the backfield where he can clear the way for the tandem of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.
The move could help Gilliam in making the final roster again this season. As The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia noted, he is currently the only fullback listed on the team’s roster, leaving him no competition should the Bills decide to keep the position on the final roster. Buffalo, like a number of other teams that have emphasized the pass, has gone without a fullback in recent years.
Before the team started training camp, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said the goal was to have a more effective rushing attack in 2021, though that did not necessarily mean rushing it more often.
“There’s a lot of different ways to win a game,” Daboll said, via SI.com. “You’d like to be first in the league in pass, first in the league in run, first in the league in total offense, first in the league in points. But that rarely happens. You know, the team [Tampa Bay] that won the Super Bowl was second in the league in pass and 28th in rush.”
Tight End Position Has Competition
Even with Gilliam out of the running for snaps at tight end, the team appears to have some competition at the position. Even though Allen led one of the league’s most effective passing attacks, tight ends contributed little comparatively — the trio of Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith and Dawson Knox combined for just 442 yards and eight touchdowns. Though Knox is seen as the best of the bunch, he has been inconsistent through his first two seasons and there will be others competing for catches.
Though Smith and Kroft left this offseason, the Bills added Jacob Hollister, a former teammate of Allen on the University of Wyoming. The team will also get Tommy Sweeney back after he missed all of last season due to complications of COVID-19.
There had been rumors that the Bills could look for a big-name target, with a number of reports linking them to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, though that looks increasingly less likely. After some tensions with the team’s front office and reports that Ertz had asked for a trade, he reported to training camp this week and appears to be off the trade block