Bills: Travaris Cadet receiving praise of coaches, teammates (video)
ORCHARD PARK – Make no mistake, LeSean McCoy is the go-to for the Buffalo Bills, but the second-string running back is a pivotal role and heading into the season, veteran Mike Tolbert won that job.
Tolbert took the job of Mike Gillislee, who departed Buffalo in free agency for the Bills’ upcoming opponent, the New England Patriots (9-2). However, Gillislee has been a healthy scratch the past three games for the Pats, so that hasn’t gone to plan for the former Bill.
In terms of Tolbert, the Bills (6-5) have gotten mixed results in his first season with the team. Tolbert, 32, is averaging 3.6 yards-per-carry on nearly nine carries per game. The cherry-on-top for anti-Tolbert fans was his last appearance against New Orleans three weeks ago. Two carries for -2 yards.
No one wishes injury, but a combination of running back injuries has put the spotlight on Travaris Cadet.
On Nov.4, Buffalo signed Cadet to replace Taiwan Jones who suffered a broken arm Week 9 against the New York Jets. A week later, Tolbert suffered a hamstring injury and has been sidelined since. Cadet was inserted into the lineup the past two games and has taken advantage of his playing time.
“Well obviously he’s done a good job the last couple of weeks running the ball. He understands what we’re trying to do running the ball and throwing it, he’s got good ball skills. I think he’s done a really good job fitting in and doing what we’ve asked him to do,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said.
In his Bills’ debut against Los Angeles, Cadet rushed three times for 17 yards, including a 12-yard run to the outside and grabbed six passes for 39 yards. During Buffalo’s 16-10 win over Kansas City this week, Cadet’s role increased with six carries for 28 yards and three grabs for 21 yards.
If not for a Dion Dawkins holding penalty, Cadet would have added another rush for 20-plus yards. On that run, like his 12-yard run against LA, Cadet displayed a burst of speed which lacks in Tolbert’s game. Buffalo has attempted to run outside with Tolbert and results have not been good as of late.
On the year, Tolbert averages five yards-per-carry on runs behind an offensive tackle or stretch runs on the edge. However in the past two games, Tolbert, listed at 5-9 and 250 pounds, has gained one yard on six carries under those parameters.
In his place, Cadet only has four rushes outside the tackles but has averaged 6.25 yards-per-carry. Those numbers don’t include the Dawkins’ hold, either. In addition, the 6-1 and 210-pound Cadet can still run between the tackles, averaging four yards-per-carry there.
Earlier in the season Tolbert’s runs outside could have surprised teams and no longer are. Perhaps that could happen with Cadet. But throwing out the numbers and going by the eye test, Cadet possesses a quickness Tolbert does not. Even teammate Eric Wood thinks so.
“Cadet’s) a good player,” Wood told WGR 550. “He caught my eye the day he got here. He was on our scout team and I was like ‘man, that guy can really run.’ He does a good job. He’s fast, he can lower his shoulder and get a few extra yards, I’ve been really impressed with him.”
Dennison also added that Cadet has grown on him.
“Well when he’s in there, we’re not uncomfortable. We trust him. We’ll just see how it plans out. We’re just taking a look at what the challenge is with the Patriots and see how much each of our players fit in,” Dennison said.
But as we’ve learned with Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman, the depth chart comes down to one man, head coach Sean McDermott, who was non-committal to his primary backup running back position but did spin some positive press Cadet’s way.
“I like both (Cadet & Tolbert),” McDermott said. “Travaris has done some really good things in the short amount of time here. I like how physical he was with the ball for the second week in a row. There’s a good thing going on there with some good football players. For us, that’s good problem to have.”
Cadet’s touches in Buffalo’s 1 p.m. game this Sunday at New Era Field against the Pats will be a situation to monitor.
For more from McDermott and Dennison, see the attached videos below for full highlights from their Monday press conferences.