Several Rookies Impress In the Bills First Preseason Game
The Buffalo Bills have now completed their first preseason game of the 2022 season. The Bills defeat the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 27-24.
The win continues the Bills streak of preseason wins. The Bills have not lost a preseason game since 2018.
While the score ultimately doesn't matter in the preseason, it allows coaches and fans alike to get feedback on players who are battling for starting spots or battling to make the team at all.
There was a lot to dislike and like in the Bills loss to the Colts.
Bad news first, since I think most fans would want that first anyway.
The Bills quarterback play was very bad. Case Keenum played the entire first half and was responsible for three of the Bills four turnovers. He completed 11 of 18 passes and threw two interceptions, one of which was an abysmal throw down the sideline to Isaiah Hodgins.
Matt Barkley played the entire second half and while he had some nice throws (mainly to the one late in the game to Hodgins down the sideline), Barkley also threw an INT and had some shaky moments.
Barkley's best moments came on the final two drives, which led the Bills to tie the game with a TD, then to win the game, completing passes to Isaiah Hodgins and Tanner Gentry to set up the game-winning field goal by Tyler Bass.
The Bills second and third string offensive line was not very good as well. Jake Kumerow was responsible for a fumble, while Jamison Crowder dropped a Keenum pass that was intercepted.
Now for the good news.
The Bills rookies had a tremendous game, all things considered.
The most notable was 5th round pick, Khalil Shakir, who caught 5 passes for 92 yards. He also was asked to be a punt returner early on in the game and was extremely impressive in routes against Colts starters.
The Bills secondary had a great first half, which included safety Jaquan Johnson, who made a key tackle on Colts running back Nyheim Hines near the end zone and an interception.
Both Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford had good games and both had pass breakups that stopped Colts drives.
As for the second half, rookie linebacker Baylon Spector was flying around the field and made some great plays. With the numbers the way they are, it will be hard for Spector to make the 53-man roster but he looks like a practice squad player this season.
Then there's rookie punter Matt Araiza, who had perfect holds for kicker Tyler Bass and an 82-yard punt that went viral on social media.
Undrafted rookie free agent Raheem Blackshear looked VERY good at both running back and kick returner, scoring two rushing touchdowns, but leaving with an apparent leg injury after his second TD.
The Bills have a lot to build on and some rookies will make it hard on the coaching staff when the roster is cut down to 53 before the start of the regular season.
The Bill will host the Denver Broncos next Saturday at 1 pm for the second preseason game of the month.