A familiar face is returning to the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad after running back Raheem Blackshear was poached by the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, September 21, per the NFL’s transaction report. While the Bills’ preseason breakout rookie will be missed, it opened up a spot for wide receiver Tanner Gentry to return.
Gentry, 27, was initially cut from the practice squad on September 14 in order to add defensive tackle Prince Emili after starter Ed Oliver suffered an ankle injury during their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Though Gentry has yet to play a snap on the Bills’ active roster since first joining the practice squad in January 2021, he’s been a major figure of support to quarterback Josh Allen. Gentry has been best friends with Allen since they were teammates at Wyoming, and Allen’s longtime girlfriend, Brittany Williams, is close friends with Gentry’s wife, Kaytlyn.
Even though her husband was not officially part of the team when the Bills steamrolled the Tennessee Titans 41-7 in Week 2, Kaytlyn joined Brittany to cheer on Allen and the team at Highmark Stadium for Monday Night Football. On Wednesday, Kaytlyn Gentry shared a photo of the duo on Instagram and wrote, “We won big on Monday night, but we are winning bigger because we get to live this crazy life together! I love you sm babe 🏼.”
Tanner Gentry was also in attendance to watch the Bills win their first Monday Night Football game at home since November 2014. Though some players would feel slighted after getting cut, Gentry appears to be a ride-or-die Bills Mafia member whether he’s on the active roster or not. In photos shared by Kaytlyn on Instagram, Gentry can be seen tailgating after arriving at Highmark in a Bills-themed tour bus.
Next up, the Bills will take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, September 25.
Gentry Credits Allen for Him Getting an Opportunity in Buffalo
It’s unlikely Gentry makes it onto the 53-man roster this season given the Bills’ depth at receiver, but he seems at peace with his role on the team. In March 2021, the 6-foot-2 receiver acknowledged to Buffalo Fanatics’ Mitch Broder that Allen was a huge part of him even getting a chance to play in Buffalo.
“I know Josh had a little bit to do with it,” Gentry said. “The fact that they brought me on and gave me a chance to even get me in the door and show what I can do, it means the world to me and I’m ready to make the most of it.”
In July 2022, Gentry shared a similar sentiment on Instagram. He captioned a photo from training camp, “Thankful to play this game and for everyone who has helped me get here. Year 5.”
Gentry and his wife also put down permanent roots in Buffalo, purchasing a $235,000 house near the stadium in Orchard Park in April 2022.
Gentry & Allen Became Close While They Were Both Injured at Wyoming
Gentry earned a D-1 scholarship to Wyoming, and by his junior year, was set to become the Cowboys’ top receiver. After seven games, where he recorded 37 receptions for 678 yards and four touchdowns, he suffered an AC joint separation stemming from the impact of a cornerback falling on top of him.
When Gentry hit IR, another player — Allen — was also recovering from an injury. “That’s when we started to get the closest,” Gentry told Broder. “We were both down … We just tried to stick together. … That offseason we got real close and started to put the work in together.”
The 2016 season turned out phenomenal for both players. During Gentry’s senior year, he caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns while Allen threw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 209 of his 373 pass attempts.
Gentry initially signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and despite showing a serious spark during the preseason, recording 70 yards and a touchdown, he landed on the practice squad. After appearing in four NFL games, during which he recorded a total of three catches for 35 yards, the Bears waived him in 2019.
The Mountain West second-team all-conference receiver then tried his luck with the XFL, getting selected by the New York Guardians. However, Gentry was placed on injured reserve before the start of the season and then COVID-19 shut down all league operations in April 2020.