The Buffalo Bills traded Stevie Johnson in the offseason with the idea that his replacement was already on the roster.
Second-year receiver Robert Woods put up solid numbers as a rookie -- 40 catches, 587 yards and three touchdowns -- and seemed like a perfect fit as the slot receiver.
So it was surprising last Sunday when Chris Hogan was instead the slot receiver with the starting offense against the New York Giants in the Hall of Fame game.
Prior to the Bills' last practice Wednesday, coach Doug Marrone had a one-on-one chat with Woods about his role.
"I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page," Marrone said. "We know Robert can play three positions for us. We’re just trying to figure out what’s the best combination that we have out there. When Robert first came to camp, he didn’t do that. Not to say he was complacent, but I told him today that when he plays with that little chip on his shoulder, he’s a darn good football player. I said, ‘We need to see you play more with a chip on your shoulder every single day.’ And I think you’ll see that same result that you were able to see from the game and today."
Woods was the best receiver on the practice field -- by a lot. He made a terrific one-handed catch for a touchdown from Jeff Tuel, and twice beat top cornerback Stephon Gilmore for completions.
In that sense, Marrone's coaching tactic seemed to have worked. There's nothing wrong with getting a look at what Hogan -- who's had an excellent camp -- can do with the first team.
And if that lights a fire under Woods, even better.
"It brings out the best in everybody. You just have to accept the challenge, challenge each other to be better and more consistent. The more competition the better the team is," Woods said this week. "Every time I’m on the field, I’ve got to enjoy it and make plays whether it’s the whole game or one drive."