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Who Will Be Bills’ Starting Slot Receiver?

  • Ryan Fowler
  • July 25, 2022
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The Buffalo Bills’ offense is on the heels of two of its most productive campaigns in team history, and 2022 is expected to be no different. Although the entirety of Buffalo’s receiving corps fails to match up with the league’s elite from strictly a names perspective, a dropoff in talent is something head coach Sean McDermott won’t have to deal with behind Stefon Diggs this fall.

Thanks to the arm of Josh Allen, each talent will get theirs, and plenty more. With Diggs expected to join potential breakout pass-catcher Gabriel Davis on the outside, the battle for the slot, however, has become a storyline to follow. Here are three names to watch on the inside as Bills training camp gets underway.

Isaiah McKenzie

Now in his fourth season with the Bills, at some point you’d expect McKenzie’s workload to increase. Used equally both on special teams (24% of snaps) and on offense (23% of snaps) last year, when the ball is in his hands, he’s proven he can produce, and in bunches. While a minimal target share limited his numbers last fall, a flash-in-the-pan performance against New England (125 yards) showcased McKenzie’s potential when peppered with footballs. He’s received all the work with the ones early on in camp and looks to have the early track to a healthy workload this year.

Jamison Crowder

Entering his eighth season, Crowder has been one of the more consistent slot threats in the NFL during his pro tenure. After initially making his name in Washington as a target hog within the burgundy and gold’s aerial attack, Crowder spent the last three campaigns with the New York Jets where he amassed 1,979 yards via 188 receptions (10.5 YPC) highlighted by 14 touchdowns. After recording just one season in Washington with more than three trips to paydirt, Crowder recorded six scores both in 2019 and 2020 before suffering a down year last season in which nagging injuries to his right leg forced him to miss time. 

Still just 29 years old, Crowder has proven to be productive when healthy, but if he proves he’s unable to stay 100% for a full 17-game slate once again, he could lose snaps quickly.

Khalil Shakir

A fun player out of Boise State, in due time Shakir will work into snaps, but right now he’s looked at as a depth piece that could earn snaps on special teams to flip the field. He was dominant during his time in college and was a standout at the Senior Bowl in February, but with the aforementioned names in front of him on the Bills’ depth chart, a hefty target share looks out of the question right now.

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Ryan Fowler