Coming into this offseason, running back Zack Moss was seen as a question mark on the Buffalo Bills roster.
But after a season where he struggled with injury and inconsistency, Moss is now seen as a lock to make the 53-man roster and take on a more significant role than last year. Moss has looked impressive through training camp and the team’s first preseason game, earning praise from Bills coaches.
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After a strong rookie campaign, Moss had difficulty following it up in his sophomore campaign. He suffered a broken ankle during the previous playoffs that lingered into the start of the 2021 season, leading to Moss being inactive in Week 1. He ended the season with 345 yards on a 3.6-yard-per-carry average, leaving uncertainty over whether he would make the roster this season. That uncertainty grew more when the Bills drafted multi-talented James Cook, who is expected to be the best pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Moss has responded well to the pressure. He put together a series of strong performances in training camp, earning plenty of time with the first-team offense. In Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, he had three carries for 37 yards including a 27-yard scamper that the Democrat & Chronicle’s Sal Maiorana said was a good sign of how far he’s come since last season.
As Maiorana noted, Moss’s vision was seen as one of his biggest weakness through his first two seasons, but on this play he demonstrated great vision. Moss quickly saw there was nothing available between right guard and right tackle, so he split off from his lead blocker and bounced out left, where he was able to find space for the 27-yard gain.
Moss’s performance earned some praise from new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who said he showed the physicality that made him a standout in his rookie season.
“I think you kind of saw a little bit of the old Zack in terms of, one, the physicality,” Dorsey said after practice on August 16. “Like the first play of the game, he’s hitting that thing downhill, lowering his shoulder, getting tough yards (five) on a physical run.”
Moss Expected to Play Big Role
Moss is now seen as a lock to make the final roster, with The Athletic’s Joe Busaglia predicting he could find a larger role than he saw last season. After Devin Singletary became the team’s lead running back in the final stretch of last season, Moss could once again vie for more carries, especially in short-yardage and goalline situations, Buscaglia wrote.
“Singletary will have to contend with Zack Moss and rookie James Cook for playing time in 2022,” he wrote. “Moss was written off by many this offseason, but it’s notable that the Bills continue to believe in him, evidenced by using him on reps with Allen. Moss was the first runner to take a snap against the Colts and also the first to leave the game. In those snaps, he showed explosiveness and cutting ability that was missing last season because of a lingering ankle injury suffered in the 2020 postseason. It helped prove that what the Bills have seen in practice hasn’t been a fluke and that the injury hampered him quite a bit in 2021.”