Adolphus Washington’s contributions with the Buffalo Bills this season mirrors the rookie class as a whole.
Which, in a word, can best be summed up as average.
Washington, who has appeared in all 13 games this season, has 19 tackles, including three for loss, with 2.5 sacks and one pass defensed.
“It’s ok,” he said. “I have a lot of room for improvement. This offseason, I’ve got to go really, really hard. I’ve got to get my diet right, get my body right because next year, I hope the coaches are expecting a lot out of me, because I’m expecting a lot out of myself. My goal is to have a much bigger role on this defense next year.”
Washington has played 288 defensive snaps, 33 percent of the Bills’ total. Of the team’s five rookies on the roster, that’s easily the most.
“They always talk about hitting that rookie wall or whatever,” Washington said. “There have been times when I’ve thought I was hitting it, but I guess if I did hit it, I backed it up and kept it moving.
“It definitely does get tough. You need to have that mental toughness to keep it going for this long. You’ve played for a certain amount of time for the last four years, and then to make this jump is definitely a big jump. I think we’ve all done a good job at transitioning.”
Washington’s role in the defense does not put him in a position to put up big stats on a regular basis.
“When you get paid to play football, you still have to make plays at the end of the day if you want to stay in this league,” he said. “In my mind, I still want to make plays, because I want to be able to play in this league for as long as I can, and play with the Buffalo Bills as long as I can.”
Washington saw his playing time increase last week with Kyle Williams out of the lineup because of a back injury. With Williams’ status again in question this week, it could be the same thing against the Cleveland Browns for the Ohio State product.
ESPN recently assigned grades to the rookie class of all 32 NFL teams, with the Bills somehow managing a ‘B.’ That seems overly gracious given the minimal contributions of the five active rookies on the roster, but Washington sees that growing in seasons to come.
“We’ll play a big role in the next couple years for this organization,” he said. “They drafted us to come in and play early and I feel like we’ve done a good job, tried to do the best we can, you know, contribute while we’re in there. Hopefully in a couple years, all our roles will expand and we’ll be the guys.”
Here is a look at how each of the Bills’ draft picks have fared through 13 games:
• Outside linebacker Shaq Lawson, first round: The Clemson product missed the first six games of the season after having shoulder surgery. Since coming back, he’s played 184 snaps, 21 percent of the team’s season total. Lawson has 11 tackles and two sacks.
“When you miss all that time in practice, that obviously hurts your growth,” coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s probably not where he would be had he been through training camp, but I think the kid’s going to be a heck of a player for us.”
• Linebacker Reggie Ragland, second round: The Alabama linebacker has missed the entire season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in training camp.
Ragland has been rehabbing in Buffalo and is often in the locker room.
“He’s great. He’s up there more than any other player," Ryan recently said of the film room. "He’s so dialed in to game plans and everything else, he’s living in the coaches’ office. He’s everything you want him to be. He’s trying. He knows he can’t play, but he’s right there with them and he does all his rehab 100 miles an hour. He’s going to have a full recovery."
On Thursday, Ryan said he believes Ragland will be an “elite player.”
• Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, third round: “He’s played pretty good,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said recently. “You guys are asking me about rookie players, I’m going to give you the same answer. It’s league wide, with the exception of Dak Prescott down in Dallas, no rookie is going to come in and usually burn the league up. … Most rookies have growing pains. They’re going to have ups and downs. Our rookies are no different.”
• Quarterback Cardale Jones, fourth round: The Ohio State product has been inactive every game this season as the third-stringer.
“He’s picked up the offense well,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “He’s in meetings with all the other quarterbacks. He comes early. He leaves late. I’ve been very satisfied with his work ethic. It’s hard, you know, without seeing a guy in a game. But you watch him in practice. You watch him in individual drills. You watch his footwork and his arm strength. He’s what you want waiting on the runway.”
• Running back Jonathan Williams, fifth round: His playing time has been limited, with just 65 snaps, 8 percent of the offensive total. Williams has 20 carries for 73 yards and one touchdown.
• Wide receiver Kolby Listenbee, sixth round: He’s missed the entire season after having surgery for a double sports hernia in March.
On Tuesday, Listenbee posted on social media that he was having hip surgery, and will return in 2017.
• Cornerback Kevon Seymour, sixth round: Seymour is right behind Washington in terms of playing time among rookies, having taken 204 snaps, 23 percent of the team’s total. He’s made two starts in 12 games, with 17 tackles and two passes defensed.
“He’s confident. He can run," Ryan said earlier this season of Seymour. "Those are the two biggest things, if you have confidence and you can run, then you can play that spot."
The Bills do not have any undrafted rookie free agents on the 53-man roster.
“I think we’re going to get a lot more from that class as the years go on,” Ryan said. “In fact, I think it’s a tremendous rookie class. … We might not have had the production that we were hoping for due to all the injuries and stuff, but man, it’s going to be a good class. I truly believe it."