Latest On Bills’ RB Situation

The Bills’ midseason switch to Joe Brady as offensive coordinator brought about a new emphasis on the running game. Considering the changes which have taken place in the teams’ receiving corps, Buffalo’s backfield is a group carrying considerable importance ahead of 2024.

Just like the receiver position, though, the Bills’ running back spot has seen notable turnover in recent months. Nyheim Hines – who missed the entire 2023 campaign with a torn ACL – departed in free agency. Veteran Latavius Murray is unsigned, while Damien Harris elected to retire. Buffalo’s top two backfield options (James Cook, Ty Johnson) are still in place, however.

To little surprise, both members of that pair are in line for a notable workload in 2024. Cook logged 237 carries last year, good for 10th in the NFL and a dramatic uptick in usage from his rookie campaign. Johnson, meanwhile, spent time on Buffalo’s practice squad before emerging as a depth contributor late in the year and in the postseason. The former sixth-rounder enters training camp as the favorite for the backup role, Ryan O’Halloran of the Buffalo News writes.

Johnson, 26, began his career with the Lions but most of his time prior to his Bills tenure came with the Jets. His most productive season came in 2021 with 610 scrimmage yards, though for the most part he has served in a complementary role. That will likely continue this season with Cook positioned to once again shoulder a heavy workload. Brady is aware, however, that the former second-rounder was not a workhorse back in college. As a result, consideration will be given to his usage rate in 2024.

“I think a lot of this is, ‘We’ll see,’” Brady said (via O’Halloran) when speaking about the Georgia product. “We feel confident in the room that we have and whoever is playing running back and carrying the football, they’re going to do a good job. With regard to a certain target number [for Cook], that is seeing how his body holds up and what he can do.”

The Bills’ other backfield options entering camp include fourth-round selection Ray Davis and undrafted rookie Frank Gore Jr. Their performances during the summer will be important in determining the running back pecking order behind Cook as well as – to an extent – the share of carries he will handle. Johnson will need a strong showing to lock down the RB2 role, but his experience and familiarity in Brady’s system should give him the edge to start the summer.

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