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'Resilient' Preseason Standout Isaiah Hodgins Fighting for Bills Roster Spot

Hodgins led the Bills in targets and receptions in the team's first preseason game.

While the Buffalo Bills' 27-24 win against the Indianapolis Colts could be viewed as just another preseason game, it meant much more than that to Bills receiver Isaiah Hodgins. 

For Hodgins, Saturday evening's contest was two years in the making. A 2020 sixth-round pick out of Oregon State, Hodgins missed much of his rookie season due to shoulder problems and spent his second campaign on Buffalo's practice squad.

Now playing on future/reserves contract, the third-year pro is entering something of a make-or-break season. If Hodgins' performance in the preseason opener is any indication for what's to come, he has a solid chance to "make" Buffalo's roster.

Leading the team in targets (11) and receptions (nine), Hodgins totaled 77 receiving yards with a long of 27. After the game, Hodgins reflected his journey, and all that it meant to be back on the field after a rough start to his professional career.

"It was surreal," Hodgins said. "It's just a blessing to be out there with my teammates and (I) got to get a good connection with (backup quarterback) Matt (Barkley). It was just great to get that feeling of catching the ball again. (I've) faced some injuries the past couple years so it just felt good to be out there."

Even before his strong effort against Indianapolis, Hodgins turned heads all off-season. According to Bills head coach Sean McDermott, the wideout has impressed both on and off the gridiron.

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"Two years of injury and fighting back, that resilient nature that he has," said McDermott. "He's just a great human being and his teammates love him. Great to see him work himself back into position to make those plays, and for him to make those plays and come through for us was outstanding."

Perhaps the biggest play Hodgins made was a diving catch right before the pylon to set up Buffalo's second touchdown, bringing them within one possession with eight minutes to go.

For Hodgins, it was one of many game-impacting moments that ultimately arose from years of preparation. Post-game, the 23-year-old sounded like a veteran breaking down the play.

"I knew it was a deep route and it was press coverage," Hodgins declared. "Me, Matt and Case, we've been throwing balls like that all camp, so I kind of had the feeling he was coming to me. I had to make sure I had a good release, and just dove for the ball. It was a great ball, and I just went out and did my job."

Though Hodgins has only spent four total regular season snaps "on the job," games like Saturday's will only help his odds of making the team out of camp. However, the 6-3, 201-pounder is simply focused on executing each day, rather than letting the competition for roster spots get in the way of his performance.

"I feel like I just try to take it day by day and just go out there and have fun with my teammates and just focus," Hodgins stated. "I don't try to look at camp battles and who's making the team and who's not, I just take it day by day and go out there and play my best."

While Buffalo is only three weeks into training camp, Hodgins has made a clear statement that he's deserving of a roster spot. And yet, after two years of battling adversity and fighting to keep himself in the building, Hodgins is locking in on becoming the best version of himself.