Shaw a serious PR upgrade

Bobby Shaw should upgrade Buffalo's punt returning, and might capably handle Peerless Price's role as the slot receiver in multi-receiver sets. But Buffalo might not have needed Shaw, a fifth-year player, if it held on to a draft pick from two years ago. First, let's take a look at Shaw.

There's no doubt that he is a dangerous punt returner, averaging 12.4 yards last year on 25 returns – the NFL's sixth-best for players with 20 or more returns. He returned one punt for a touchdown. But one area he has to improve is decreasing his fair catches. He had 17, fifth-highest among returners in that 20-or-more returns group.

As for being a slot receiver, Shaw, 27, is a consistently precise and disciplined route runner, which should come in handy when Drew Bledsoe has little time to drop back and fire the ball in obvious passing situations. If he and Shaw can work out their timing, the sixth-year wide receiver should develop into a viable weapon.

In comparing him to Charlie Rogers in the return game, there is no comparison. Rogers had 26 returns last year for a pitiful 5.3 yards average.

Granted, Rogers returned punts and kickoffs exclusively, and the Bills now have to hire two guys to fill his role, but Rogers didn't do anything else, and Shaw and possibly MarTay Jenkins can catch passes. Their versatility outweighs Rogers' exclusivity.

But had Buffalo held onto Jimmy Williams in 2001, a cornerback whom it drafted in the sixth round from Vanderbilt, it would have had the NFL's top punt returner with 20 or more returns. Williams plays for San Francisco and averaged 16.8 yards on 20 returns. He had one touchdown. Former Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven coached him. Now DeHaven coaches special teams in Dallas. The Niners fired him along with Steve Mariucci this off-season.

The Bills cut Williams in September 2001. There was speculation they'd sign him to the practice squad, but he chose to sign with the 49ers' practice squad instead.


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories