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Buffalo Bulletin: Isaiah Hodgins is Finally Getting His Shot

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Isaiah Hodgins never truly got a fair shot at making the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster. At first, it was under those dreaded “Unprecedented Times” that we’ve come to loathe, but it got worse. Now, he’s getting his chance, and making the most of it.

Isaiah Hodgins’ Tough Breaks

Isaiah Hodgins Oregon
via DraftSharks.com

He was drafted off his couch in the midst of a pandemic and joined offseason training programs that had to be entirely virtual. When he was finally able to participate in team activities, it was during the most difficult and restrictive period of recent NFL history.

Once teams were finally beginning to get in a groove, another bombshell was dropped. On July 27th, 2020, the NFL announced the cancellation of the entire preseason. As a late-round draft pick, Isaiah Hodgins was already facing an uphill battle, but that hill was being gradually transformed into a mountain. His opportunities dwindled. Factor in the addition of Stefon Diggs in that fabled March trade, and the breakout of fellow 2020 draftee Gabriel Davis, and things looked bleak. It seemed only natural that he would face an injury as well.

The 2020 Season

His pre-existing shoulder injury likely contributed to his fall down the draft boards earlier that offseason. When in-person practices finally occurred, he was largely unable to participate due to his non-contact jersey. However, he still put on enough of a show to convince the franchise he was worth keeping around. He wound up on the Injured Reserve to start the season.

Though Hodgins was designated to return in November, his rookie season ended with corrective surgery. As of December, he was ineligible to play a snap; derailed by a lack of opportunity and an injury that wouldn’t go away.

The Roster Bubble Battle

Isaiah Hodgins Buffalo Bills
AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

When 2021 rolled around, Hodgins was buried beneath a deep WR core, and the introduction of Emmanuel Sanders made snaps extremely rare. He had a single call-up to the main roster, and saw only four snaps with zero targets. In January of 2022, he signed a reserve/future contract to stay with the team once more.

Finally, given a normal opportunity, Isaiah Hodgins impressed in training camp this season. Per multiple sources, he’s earned high praise from his peers, quarterbacks, and coaches.

“He’s putting himself into position to make a real move.”

Mcdermott on Hodgins in Camp, Per Joe Buscaglia, June 15th 2022

This past Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts, Hodgins was the star of the second half. He led both teams with nine receptions for 77 yards. He showed versatility, running a range of routes from multiple positions; something the front office and coaching staff value highly.

Why Can Isaiah Hodgins Make It?

That aforementioned versatility, alongside his experience playing both inside and outside in college, give him some hope. Not only that, but with two years of organizational familiarity under his belt, he has a unique opportunity. The Buffalo Bills lost a lot of snaps this offseason to departed WRs, namely Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. The one thing Hodgins has over every bit of incoming competition is that he’s been part of this team all along.

His main struggle right now will be ousting Jake Kumerow, who stands in his way onto the main roster. Kumerow, aged 30, has less of a career ahead of him than Hodgins may. Still, his special teams contributions might give him the edge. Hodgins has plenty to offer though, and if he can prove his value over Kumerow he might just find himself rostered for 2022.

Of course, the hill still needs climbing. If he makes the team, he’ll be near the bottom of a powerful receiving core. If he doesn’t, he has enough quality tape out there that it may be difficult to stash him on the practice squad once again. The Buffalo Bills may find themselves faced with a difficult decision on cutdown day. Isaiah Hodgins has two preseason games left to make their decision that much harder.

Featured Image: Adrian Kraus/AP Photo

One of the owners The Sports Wave, and a Journalist at Buffalo Fanatics, I'm an English immigrant living in Canada. A huge Buffalo Bills fan, I also love my Boston Celtics, Toronto Blue Jays, and Queens Park Rangers.

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