The 2020 NFL season was a successful ride for the Buffalo Bills as they officially emerged as contenders in the AFC. While they may have lost the AFC Championship Game to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills proved that they can hang with the best of them and will look to carry that success into 2021.
The Bills will take the first step towards their 2021 aspirations on Friday when they take on the Detroit Lions in their first game of the preseason. Not only that, but the game will serve as an opportunity for fringe players to prove why they deserve one of Buffalo's coveted roster spots.
Here's a look at three Bills players to watch in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason.
Buffalo Bills Players to Watch
1. Isaiah Hodgins, Wide Receiver
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, wideout Isaiah Hodgins is hoping to prove that he deserves a roster spot this year. He missed the entirety of the 2020 season due to a shoulder injury, so Friday's clash with the Lions should help showcase just how well he's recovered. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 210 pounds, Hodgins certainly has the size to be a valuable pass-catching option for the Bills. He also showcased what he can do with it in his last season at Oregon State University, catching 86 balls for 1,171 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. If he can show glimpses of being that player again, he'll certainly find a spot in Buffalo's offense.
2. Dane Jackson, Cornerback
While cornerback Levi Wallace has been with the Bills since 2018, his starting cornerback position is far from safe. He was given a 60.1 overall grade on ProFootballFocus in 2020, which shows that he is replaceable, which means there could be an opportunity for Dane Jackson to steal his job. Jackson was slightly more effective last year, as proven by his 68.4 PFF grade. The 24-year-old may have only played five games, but he still looked good in them, tallying 15 total tackles, five passes defended and an interception. Jackson has been having a strong training camp as well, so a solid showing against the Lions could go a long way for him.
3. Tommy Sweeney, Tight End
After a modest showing in his rookie campaign, tight end Tommy Sweeney missed the entirety of the 2020 NFL season due to a serious foot injury and a bout with COVID-19. In fact, Sweeney was unsure if he'd ever play football again due to the aftereffects of the virus, so you can bet that he's going to do what he can to solidify himself as Buffalo's No. 3 TE this year. Sweeney looked impressive in his lone NFL campaign, hauling in 61.5% of his targets (8-for-13) for 114 yards without a touchdown. Nevertheless, he was clutch with his catches as four of them were for a first down. Sweeney also had an 89.9 passer rating when targeted, which bodes well for any future chemistry with QB Josh Allen. While he might not pass Dawson Knox or Jacob Hollister on the depth chart, Sweeney has the potential to be a tight end worth rostering.
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