Veteran Bills WR set for bigger role: Insider


Isaiah McKenzie catches a pass during warmup before a Buffalo Bills game.

Isaiah McKenzie was something of a specialist for the Buffalo Bills the past four seasons, but now looks set to take on a much larger role on the team’s offense.

As the Bills opened training camp this week, insider Nate Geary noted that McKenzie appears to have moved up to the starting position that Cole Beasley has held for the past three seasons, edging out the big free agent acquisition. of the team. McKenzie, who had been primarily used as a kick and kick return and throw sweep specialist in recent years, showed his potential in the slot last season in Beasley’s absence, and could now assume this role on a permanent basis.

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McKenzie on top in training camp

As Geary noted, McKenzie took reps with fellow Bills starting receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. That puts him ahead of acquiring free agent Jamison Crowder.

“I think Jamison Crowder is going to have to take the #3 WR role away from Isaiah McKenzie,” Geary said. tweeted. “It’s early so there’s plenty of time to do it, but I imagine McKenzie is going to be tough to beat.”

Geary, the team’s official radio pre-game and halftime show on WGR 550, said he was surprised at the order in training camp given the history of Crowder.

“I sort of thought Crowder came off the bus as the de facto starter. I’m not sure that’s true,” he said. tweeted.

Crowder has been much more productive over the past three seasons, rushing for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns as the New York Jets’ leading receiver. McKenzie had 714 yards and seven touchdowns in the same span but had a breakthrough game last season starting in place of Beasley. In a critical Week 16 game against the New England Patriots, McKenzie made 11 catches for 125 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Bills pledge for McKenzie

The depth chart in training camp could be a reflection of the commitment the Bills have made to McKenzie this offseason. He signed a two-year contract with the team in March and later spoke about his commitment to the franchise.

“For me, I would say that I love being here” McKenzie said. “For me and my life, it has always been about loyalty. I’ve had the same coach since ninth grade, I’ve had the same friends since I was five. For me, it’s a question of loyalty. And the Buffalo Bills have been loyal to me, and I want to stay loyal to them.

McKenzie added that he was happy to have the stability of a two-year contract.

“It feels good,” McKenzie said. “I worked on it, I worked on it, and now I’m here. I’m getting some security, some stability and I’m excited. I just want it to continue. Take it one day at a time, one practice at a time, one match at a time, and just win a few football matches.

In addition to his rise in the wide receiver depth chart, McKenzie also appears to be playing a bigger leadership role with offense. In practice on July 25, he and quarterback Josh Allen stepped in to help rookie receiver Khalil Shakir when he was struggling with a run.

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