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Two Players Have Golden Opportunity at Fredonia
Riemersma and Linton have a chance to shine.
by Bob Wensley
August 3, 1999

With starting running back Antowain Smith sidelined with a nagging groin injury and The Bills desire to save 33 year old Thurman Thomas for passing downs, second year running back Jonathan Linton will get a chance to shine in training camp. Though drafted primarily to back up Sam Gash at fullback, Linton last year proved he could carry the ball as well, if not better, then his blocking abilities. Since The Bills have a lack of depth at running back anyway, as proven by their offer to sign troubled running back Lawrence Phillips, Linton should get plenty of reps at Fredonia and during the preseason. If he can prove his worth he may just win the starting job when The Bills open the season.

The many Bills fans that have been have been hoping for Lonnie Johnson's replacement since he started dropping passes back in the Todd Collins era (if you can call that an era) will get their wish this season. With Johnson exiled, The Bills will start Jay Riemersma at Tight End for the '99 campaign. Though Riemersma proved last season to be able to handle the receiving duties of the position his blocking and durability are still a question. Riemersma started his college career as a quarterback and has only had a few years of experience at the tight end position. With Lonnie Johnson starting last year Riemersma played mostly in passing situations with limited blocking responsibilities. Now that he has a clear path to the starting job Riemersma will have to play on nearly every down, greatly increasing his blocking assignments and testing his durability.

At 26 years of age his 6' 5" 254 LB body should be in peak condition but will it be able to handle four preseason, sixteen regular season, and hopefully a few playoff games at the NFL level? The Bills are hoping he can carry that kind of load but it will mean more plays down in the trenches then Jay has ever played in a year before.

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