The Buffalo Bills will come to training camp next month with a deep and talented group of wide receivers and some tough decisions — which could leave a 9-year veteran on the outside looking in.
ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg made an early guess at the team’s 53-man roster, predicting that a late offseason addition may not make the cut at wide receiver, though could have a chance to make an impression on special teams.
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Veteran Could Miss Roster
Getzenberg predicted that the Bills would keep just six wide receivers this season, one less than the number that the team has kept in years past. She predicted that two return specialists would not get roster spots, including free-agent addition Tavon Austin and second-year speedster Marquez Stevenson.
“Marquez Stevenson, a 2021 sixth-round pick, doesn’t make the cut here, but both he and veteran Tavon Austin have chances to earn spots in camp as returners,” she wrote.
The Bills signed former 2013 first-round pick Austin in June, with general manager Brandon Beane sharing some praise for his speed.
“Tavon is 32 and you’re going, ‘I know he ran 4.2-something when he came out which is why he was drafted so high. You’re going, ‘What’s he look like now?’ I tell you what, in his workout he showed good speed and burst. He’s still got it,” Beane said via video conference..
After a 2021 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in which he returned just two punts for a total of three yards, Austin said he wants to prove that he’s still the explosive playmaker drafted he was when the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the first round in 2013.
“I feel like a lot of people forgot about Tavon Austin,” he said. “It wasn’t my time and that’s OK though. That’s one of the things I realized about this situation and my own journey.”
“I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m back,” Austin added.
Bills Deep at Receiver
The Bills once again field a deep and talented groups of wide receivers. Though the team lost a pair of veterans in Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders — who combined for 184 total targets, close to 30 percent of the team’s total targets for the season — they offset it by signing slot receiver Jamison Crowder and drafting Khalil Shakir.
NFL.com’s Adam Schein also predicted a huge season from Gabriel Davis, naming him one of the league’s top breakout candidates for 2022. After a slow start last season, Davis became one of quarterback Josh Allens’ favorite targets down the final stretch and in the playoffs, culminating with a record-breaking performance against the Kansas City Chiefs where he caught eight passes for 201 yards and an NFL-record four touchdowns.
“This guy’s the truth, with 18 touchdowns in 37 career games (including the playoffs),” Schein wrote. “He’s a big-bodied deep threat with stellar hands. No wonder his quarterback loves him.”
Davis also earned some big praise from Sanders, who predicted big things for his future.
“I’ve been around a lot of good receivers. He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber player,” Sanders said during an appearance on Good Morning Football. “This guy, the way he attacks the football, you give him the opportunity to start? Think about what he did in the Kansas City Chiefs game. … I feel like he’s going to have a breakout year. He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber player. I’ve been around a lot of good receivers — Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Michael Thomas. This guy is different, and he’s going to be a difference-maker for them.”