Bills Playmaker Says He’s ‘out for the Season’ Before Surprise Scratch

Isaiah McKenzie

Getty Isaiah McKenzie reacts after a kick return touchdown is called back for a penalty in a game against the Tennessee Titans.

Buffalo Bills playmaker Isaiah McKenzie won’t play in the team’s Thanksgiving matchup against the New Orleans Saints after a surprise scratch. If McKenzie’s Twitter proclamation is true, Bills fans may not see him again this season.

The team’s wide receiver and kick returner, one of the most explosive players on an already talented offense, wrote on Twitter that he is “out for the season.” McKenzie did not offer any further details, and had not been listed on the team’s injury report at any point during the days leading up to Thursday’s game.

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McKenzie Out Against Saints

McKenzie has served as the team’s primary punt and kick returner this season, but that job appeared to be in jeopardy as the team activated speedy rookie Marquez Stevenson from injured reserve this week. McKenzie and Stevenson split the returning duties during the preseason, with Stevenson returning a punt for a touchdown in the team’s win over the Chicago Bears.

The Bills listed McKenzie on the inactive list for the Thanksgiving game, the first time he had been scratched this season. Some speculated that the benching was a “wake-up call” for McKenzie, who had struggled with ball security in the return game. He had made several miscues, including a costly fumble in the team’s November 21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

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After the loss to the Colts, Bills head coach Sean McDermott did not sound as if he planned to make a change in the return game.

“I’m confident in Isaiah as a returner,” McDermott said via video conference. “As a team we have to take better care of the football. Hard to win not taking care of the ball.”

Bills Looking for Boost on Offense

Some insiders see the move to Stevenson as an attempt by the Bills to jump-start a struggling offense. The team has not been able to mount a consistent attack, scoring 40 points or more three times but failing to move the ball other games, including the 9-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

McDermott said that turnovers have been one of the biggest problems, which could be a factor in the team’s decision to go away from McKenzie.

“I keep talking about it, you cannot turn the ball over, and we turn the ball over four times today that lead to 21 points so you just can’t do that,” McDermott said, via WIVB. “This team feasted on taking the ball away and we turn it over not only on offense but on special teams. You can’t do that and expect to win. You make it really hard on yourself.”

Quarterback Josh Allen echoed that sentiment, saying the team needs to cut back on the mistakes.

“We are a really good football team when we don’t bite ourselves in the butt,” Allen said after the loss to the Colts. “What we put on that field today is not who we are. I’ve got a lot of trust in a lot of faith in our team and there is no secret that we need to do a better job on all fronts.”

The Bills are making other changes on offense. Struggling running back Zack Moss was inactive against the Saints, with McDermott saying earlier in the week that Matt Breida had earned more carries after strong performances against the New York Jets and Colts.

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