Reilly wants to prove fans right

Rookie gets first shot on Bills active roster this week

Orchard Park, NY - Tuesday was a good day off for Brandon Reilly. 

The rookie got the call from Bills staff that was he being promoted to the active roster for the first time. 

He never takes for granted being in the NFL, even when he was on the practice squad. 

That won't change now, just like it didn't change when he became the darling of Bills fans this preseason. 

"It meant a lot, but it’s something I couldn’t get a big head about," Reilly said. "I’ve got to prove them right now."

The Bills haven't given Reilly specifics about what his role might be. He's been told to know all three receiver positions (which he confidently says he does). He even caught some punts on Wednesday. 

Reilly was an undrafted free agent who was a longshot to even make the practice squad at the start of training camp. It's a role he's knows well. 

He had no scholarship offers (he's called himself a "zero star" recruit) before enrolling at Nebraska, where he walked on and became a start on the football team.  

Now, history is repeating itself.

"Just a phenomenal story," Sean McDermott said. "Just a great example of when you do things right, you work hard [and] you bust your tail every day. I think not only myself, but the rest of the team is excited about having Brandon up because he’s worked so hard. He’s earned it."

"I think he embodies so much of what this team is about. He embodies so much of what coach McDermott is about," Richie Incognito said. "To come in here and make the team as an undrafted free agent and then stick it out and get rewarded with a roster spot, it's really cool for Brandon. He sets a good example for everybody on the team."

"That wasn't a surprise to a lot of us," Eric Wood said. "He's been making plays all year. It's just we have a lot of depth at the position and there wasn't an opportunity. I'm excited for him. He definitely earned it."

He wasn't supposed to be the only one from his Nebraska football team with that story. 

Sam Foltz walked on the same season as Reilly. Both were part of what's considered the best walk-on class in Nebraska history. Both had legitimate NFL hopes. 

Foltz was killed in a car accident in July of 2016. When asked if he'll be thinking of Foltz in his first NFL game Sunday, Reilly said, "Big time."

"I remember sitting at the dinner table with him and everyone was talking about our walk on class and how good we were. We were just talking that one of us has to make it big. He left me no option."

Foltz's number 27 is always written someplace where Reilly can remember him. 

Reilly caught 11 passes and a touchdown in preseason, but didn't make the 53-man roster before the season. He had a chance to sign with a practice squad elsewhere, but Bills teammates wanted to make sure that didn't happen. 

For the first time in his football career, he was being recruited. 

"When I was cut, guys like Eric Wood and Richie [Incognito] reached out to me hoping I was staying here on the practice squad," Reilly said. "Yesterday, a lot of the guys reached out and texted me. It means a lot coming from a lot of veteran guys like that. They see the work being put in, so it really hits home."

Reilly has great chemistry with Nate Peterman. In the rookie development period, there's a running joke: If Peterman is throwing, it's going to Reilly.

It's quite a road for a guy who always seems to be fighting from the bottom.

Reilly said, "I wouldn't have it any other way."
 


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