Bills ‘Speedy’ Rookie WR Returns to Practice After Missing 11 Games

Marquez Stevenson

Getty Marquez Stevenson #5 of the Buffalo Bills on the field during training camp at the Adpro Sports Training Center on July 28, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.

Marquez “Speedy” Stevenson was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft, however, the wide receiver/kick returner was placed on injured reserve before the regular season even started.

Stevenson, who was placed on IR on September 1, finally returned to practice on Tuesday, November 23, and could be activated for the Bills marquee matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving Day.

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The timing of the Bills announcement that Stevenson was designated to return to practice is interesting as the team now has 21 days to activate him or keep in on IR for the rest of the season. Head coach Sean McDermott did not rule out activating Stevenson before Thursday’s tilt, per Bills Wire.

As luck would have it, the Bills are traveling to New Orleans to take on the Saints during the holiday primetime game, and if Stevenson is elevated to the active roster, the Shreveport, Louisiana native will get the chance to make his NFL debut in his home state.

Losing Stevenson before the season even started was a tough blow for the Bills. During preseason, in addition to suffering a head injury, he was also dealing with a lingering ankle/foot injury.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said back in September, “His foot has still been nagging him. He actually had re-hurt it before that punt return against the Bears, and believe it or not still took that thing back. And that’s why he got shut down then. It’s still nagging him. The best thing is to let it calm down, so we’ll put him down.”

Will Stevenson Replace Isaiah McKenzie on Thursday?

Another reason the timing of the Stevenson’s return is notable is because the move comes just two days after the team’s starting kick returner, Isaiah McKenzie, dropped a costly fumble during the team’s embarrassing loss to the Indianapolis Colts 41-15 at Orchard Park on Sunday.

His fumble gave the Colts the ball at 2-yard line and star running back Jonathan Taylor scored his third touchdown of the day with a quick leap over the line.

Bringing Stevenson back into the mix could merely be a move to motivate McKenzie to get his act together, or McDermott could seriously be thinking about switching things up at the position. It should be noted that Stevenson could’ve return for weeks now, but without any roster spots available, they’ve kept him focused on conditioning and not attending practice, per SB Nation.

During his time at Houston, Stevenson proved himself to be a true double threat. He caught 22 touchdown passes and returned 34 kickoffs with three touchdowns.

McDermott said of McKenzie’s fumble against the Colts, “I’m confident in Isaiah, but he knows we can’t turn the ball over

Stevenson Put On an Impressive Performance During the Bills’ Preseason

It’s safe to assume this isn’t how the Houston alum saw his rookie NFL year starting. The 23-year-old wide receiver was already proving to be a huge threat on the Bills’ offense. During the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, he caught a 42-yard pass from quarterback Jake Fromm, which set up the game-winning kick by Tyler Bass.

During Buffalo’s second preseason game against the Chicago Bears, he returned a punt in the third quarter, taking the ball 73 yards to the end zone. It was during that play Stevenson appeared to injure his foot/ankle.

Hopefully, “Speedy” is able to return to full health soon. At Houston, Stevenson ran three touchdowns as a return man. The 6-foot receiver’s best shot of nailing down a position on the Bills’ 53-man roster will likely be via special teams.

During his Pro Day, Stevenson clocked a 6.76 three-cone drill and claimed his 4.45-second 40-yard dash was lackluster due to the heavy winds that day, according to the Bills Wire reporter Nick Wojton.

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