Devin Singletary entered the Bills’ first preseason game listed as the team’s top running back, but his spot atop the Buffalo depth chart was far from secure. Second-year running back Zack Moss was breathing down his neck after a solid rookie campaign.
Singletary, though, got an opportunity to stake his claim for the starting job Friday. Moss was out for the Bills’ first preseason game because of a hamstring injury. That gave Singletary a chance to pull ahead in the position battle.
Singletary did not miss his chance. He started the game with a slippery 15-yard run and continued to rip off chunks of yardage — including a 16-yard gain that was wiped out by a holding penalty — in the first half. He also caught his only target of the night and turned it into an easy touchdown.
Singletary finished with 42 rushing yards on eight carries and the 6-yard TD reception. He was smooth and dynamic as he demonstrated a form that was closer to that of his 2019 rookie season, when he racked up 775 rushing yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. It was just the performance he needed to take advantage of Moss’ absence.
Moss came into this season looking for a bigger role, and he had a case for one. He had similar production to Singletary in 2020 but played just 37 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps compared to Singletary’s 57 percent.
Moss missed three games with ankle and toe injuries, so that was part of why he saw fewer snaps than Singletary. That’s also why it was expected that a healthy Moss could split carries with Singletary in 2021.
Moss was feeling healthy entering camp as he moved farther away from the injuries that troubled him as a rookie. He felt he was ready to take a step forward.
“I just want to get better overall,” Moss told Bills.com at the beginning of training camp. “I think I did a lot of good things last year and I did things that I wasn’t so happy about last year. I definitely want to take all those things and just kind of just mash them together and just overall try to help this team get over that hump.”
But after missing the preseason opener, the pressure will be on Moss to return to the field and match Singletary. While the end result may be a backfield-by-committee approach, Singletary looks like a feature back with the first third of the preseason in the books.