ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Bills coaching staff and front office value special teams. They also value a player who can contribute to that unit.
“We tell them, ‘hey if you don’t get that starting job, you better be in [special teams coordinator] Heath Farwell’s pocket and you need him telling us how much he needs you in the two or three phases’,” Beane said before Training Camp began back in late July. “That’s how you’re going to get a jersey on game day.”
Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed a one-year deal back in March, is one of the latest guys to prove his worth in one of the most important phases of the game. He's primarily played wide receiver since joining the Bills in 2018, but this season is hoping to add no. 1 punt and kick returner to his name.
"He's a guy that I have to drag off the field everyday after practice with jugs," special teams coordinator Heath Farwell said. "He works his butt off, he cares, and his mindset is there."
McKenzie showed a glimpse of his returning capability last season when he returned a punt for a touchdown in the team's regular season finale against Miami. With the departure of Pro-Bowler Andre Roberts, McKenzie is ready to step into that role and take over. Coach Farwell told reporters Thursday, he is currently the team's number one guy at that position.
"It means the coaching staff upstairs, they got a lot of faith in me and I don't want to let them down," McKenzie said. "Each and every day I try to get faster. I'm pretty confident in my return ability and I want to get better each and every day. So I just want to capitalize off that, keep making plays back there when I can, show the coaches what I can do, show my teammates what I can do, and just keep going from there."
The fourth-year Bill has earned praise from his coaches for his work ethic and willingness to get better every day. It's translating to the field as he fights to make the 53-man roster not just as a returner, but as a wide receiver.
"I think he's evolved a great deal," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "He seems to get better every year."
"I like to go out there and show them I'm a receiver," McKenzie added. "When I get my chance, I take advantage of opportunities I'm given."