Sean McDermott Has Long History With New Bills RB: ‘I Had A Front Row Seat’

Sean McDermott

Getty Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott looks out over the field during Buffalo’s matchup with the Bills.

When the Buffalo Bills signed former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman to their practice squad earlier this week, head coach Sean McDermott knew exactly what they were getting.

During his time with the Carolina Panthers as a defensive coordinator from 2011-2016, McDermott got to see Freeman go to work as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. During his final three years in Carolina, McDermott had to find a way to stop him and, at the time, it was a problem that most teams in the league were having.

In 2015 and 2016, McDermott’s final two years in Carolina, Freeman was named to the Pro Bowl both years after running for a combined 2,135 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2015 with 11, but McDermott always found a way to stop the talented back.

In four games between those two years, Freeman only rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns on 60 carries. Although he was able to stop him, McDermott was still happy to bring him in for Buffalo’s stretch run.

“I had the unfortunate opportunity to go against him in the NFC South for a number of years so I had a front-row seat to witness what he’s capable of doing,” McDermott said during a video conference call on Wednesday. “Bringing him into the running back room I think was a good move by Brandon (Beane). He adds to what we have and we’ll try to get him up to speed as quickly as possible,”

One of the biggest advantages for Freeman is that he was able to start practicing with the Bills right away and there were photos of him already surfacing on social media on Tuesday.

But, if the Bills are going to be able to use him on Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, they’ll have to get him up to speed fairly quickly, which is exactly what they intend on doing.

“It’s a lot of information to digest in a short amount of time,” McDermott said in his video conference call. “That’s kind of the biggest challenge.”

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Freeman Played For Giants Before Suffering Injury

Before being signed by the Bills earlier this week, Freeman played in five games, and started in four of them, for the New York Giants. He only rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown on 54 carries but gave the Giants an experienced and veteran running back to work with after Saquon Barkley suffered a season-ending injury.

Freeman turned in his best game of the season with an 18 carry, 61-yard performance against the Washington Football Team on Oct. 18. His lone touchdown came a week earlier when he rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries against the Dallas Cowboys.

If Freeman can get up to speed in time for Saturday’s game, he could play a valuable role, but if not, the Bills have plenty of options to work with moving forward.

Look For Devin Singletary to Carry The Load

For the past two seasons, Singletary has been looking for an opportunity to prove his worth as he’s split the majority of carries with Frank Gore last year and then Zack Moss this season, but Saturday might be his chance to shine.

During the regular season, Singletary led the team in rushing with 687 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 42.9 yards per game. He also caught 38 passes for 269 yards. Earlier this week, McDermott said they’ll start with Singeltary and see how everything plays out over the course of the week.

“Well that’s where we’ll start,” McDermott said during a video conference call. “He’s very aware of that and more than capable of that and done that before.”

“I told (Singletary) it’s his time to step up, this team is one hundred percent confident in Devin Singletary,” McDermott said.

The Bills will also explore using undrafted rookie Antonio Williams and T.J. Yeldon.

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