Buffalo Bills training camp 2023: 3 most important position battles

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Buffalo Bills training camp usually brings excitement that the new pro football season is nearing. However, for some players trying to find out their role, it comes with added pressure.

3. Slot receiver

The starting slot receiver position is between second year player Khalil Shakir and free agent addition Trent Sherfield. Both wideouts are still carving out their NFL journeys with minimal experience to bank on. And heading into training camp, neither seems to have an edge on the other.

For Sherfield, it’s about potentially building on a strong end to the 2022 season. His fifth NFL season was by far his best, finishing 7 receptions short of equaling how many he had through his first four seasons. Sherfield took his 30 receptions for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns in a high-powered Dolphins offense. He joins another high-powered offense and could be an underrated wrinkle in Ken Dorsey’s scheme.

The Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be quick to ignore Khalil Shakir. As a rookie, he caught 10 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. His trajectory is also headed up following an impressive playoffs performance. In just two games, Shakir had 5 receptions for 91 yards, proving his worth in the Bills offense as time went on.

This battle will be important, because when the Buffalo Bills offense was at its best, Cole Beasley was dominating in the slot. Whether or not Sherfield or Shakir can come close to Beasley’s star-status in Orchard Park is besides the point. The Bills have been lacking a productive slot guy for two years now, and need that to change.

2. Defensive end

Von Miller and Greg Rousseau have the starting DE spots on lock heading into Buffalo Bills training camp. Everyone behind them are fighting for backup roles, and there are a lot of talented players with few spots available.

Shaq Lawson, Boogie Basham, Leonard Floyd, and AJ Epenesa will be squaring off for two second-string and two third-string DE roles. Of course, Lawson, Basham, and Epenesa found a way to make it work in 2022. Now Floyd adds to the mix, arguably giving the Bills the best defensive end group in the NFL.

It will be interesting to watch how the veteran Floyd intertwines on a new team. Lawson and Epenesa both have over three years of experience in the Bills system, and Basham will be entering his third NFL season. Floyd is the new guy on the block, but was also one of Buffalo’s marquee free agent signings. Will that make a difference, or will Sean McDermott make him earn his time on the field?

I’m guessing the latter, and that should make for a fun position group battle at DE.

1. Middle linebacker

The Buffalo Bills have veteran playmakers all up and down their defense – expect at middle linebacker. Terrel Bernard, Tyrel Dodson, AJ Klein, and Baylon Spector are most fit for the role, and not one of them is a clear cut choice to be the first stringer.

In fact, Dodson led the group with three starts last year. Of course, that’s what happens when Tremaine Edmunds, who was a key cog in the Bills front seven, moves on to the Chicago Bears.

It’s also worth mentioning Dorian Williams, who was drafted in the third round in April out of Tulane. While he’s a rookie, he was a high draft pick and could be the surprise choice to start in week 1.

Speaking about Sean McDermott making his players earn their roles on the team, there may be no better example this summer than at MLB. One of these men is going to have to earn their first string role, and my guess is as good as yours.