Buffalo Bills Position Previews – RB

by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page

Likely Starter: LeSean McCoy
Potential Backups: Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Patrick DeMarco, Joe Banyard, Cedric O’Neal, Jordan Johnson

At 28 years old, and almost 1900 career carries, there is some worry that time could be running out on McCoy. While it can happen fast, there is no indication that he is slowing down. He’s had over 1200 yards in three of the last four seasons. Injuries are always an issue for running backs, and McCoy has had a few. But he was great in 2016, and the offensive line knows how to open up the right kind of holes for McCoy’s style. He remains one of the most creative and electric backs in the NFL. If that continues, the Bills will once again be one of the best running teams in the league.

When they use a fullback, the Bills swapped Jerome Felton for Patrick DiMarco. Fullbacks are fullbacks in my eyes. Maybe DiMarco can catch a few more balls or run a bit on short yardage. Don’t count on it. He’s there to block when the Bills decide to use a two-back set. Tolbert is more interesting. He’s a much more accomplished runner and receiver. While listed as a fullback, I would not expect Tolbert to do too much lead blocking. Short yardage, goal line, short passes, special teams and leadership are the reasons why Sean McDermott brought him here.

The backup tailback spot belongs to Williams right now. Highly touted after a big career in the SEC, Williams missed 2015 in college and barely played last year as a rookie. Fumbling is an issue, both in games and practice. If he solves that, Williams will get the chance to win the #2 job. If not, look for the Bills to bring in a veteran back like a Rashad Jennings or a James Starks to be a reliable option if anything happens to McCoy. As we saw with Mike Gillislee last year, the offense and line are good enough to make any backup successful.

The group of other backs: Banyard, O’Neal and Johnson may have a shot at the #3 spot with a big camp and preseason. More likely, one will wind up on the practice squad. I would not be surprised if the Bills only keep four, with Tolbert taking the role of #2 fullback and #3 tailback.

Overall, this is a position of strength if McCoy stays healthy and continues to play like he did last year. In my mind, this one of the few positions that are safe and sold and without worry.

Paul Peck

Paul Peck is sports broadcaster with over 25 years experience in TV and Radio. He served as sports anchor, reporter, and producer at WIVB for 24 years. In that role, he covered all four Buffalo Bills Super Bowls, the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup Finals, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Daytona 500. He has been the Voice of the UB Bulls Football for 17 seasons, in addition to host of Bulls Athletics TV & Radio shows. Peck also served as the sideline reporter for the Buffalo Bills Football Network, host of the bowling show "Beat The Champ" and announces college basketball for ESPN 3 and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel. He has also been the Master of Ceremonies for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, one of the largest sports banquets in WNY.

Paul is also involved in the local business community, having been a financial advisor at AXA Advisors, and is currently the Vice President of Sports Development at VSP Graphics Group.

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