Christian Wade entered training camp as the ultimate long shot to make the Buffalo Bills roster at running back. However, these odds are starting to turn in his favor. Wade, a former English Rugby star signed by the Bills this offseason, had just one carry for the Bills in their 24-16 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts. It was a 65-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that showed off he could be a viable asset to the Buffalo backfield.
Wade earned an opportunity to compete in the NFL through the league's international pathway program. This program offers elite international athletes the opportunity to improve their skills and hopefully earn a spot on an NFL roster. Wade represented the English National Rugby Team at the U16, U18, and U20 levels and was selected to the British and Irish Lions squad, the highest honor as a rugby player. His 82 Premiership Rugby tries (touchdowns) ranks third on the league's all-time list. He left rugby in October 2018 to pursue a career in the NFL.
Thanks to this two-year-old pathway program, Wade could make his NFL dreams come true.
"It's a whole team effort so if the guys, if the O-line didn't block the way they needed to block and hold the guys where they were at then that hole wouldn't have opened up, so I'm just thankful for the guys," Wade said, via the Bills website. "When they gave me the game ball I just said thanks to everyone for their patience and it's like I've been messing up in training and crazy stuff."
Wade is still considered a long shot to make the Bills roster, based on all the veteran players the franchise added in to revamp the running back position. The Bills added Frank Gore this offseason, creating some competition for LeSean McCoy. Gore, heading into his 15th NFL season at age 36, finished with 156 carries for 722 yards and no touchdowns last season, but his 4.6 yards per carry average was his highest since 2012, the fourth of five Pro Bowl appearances.
The Bills also drafted Devin Singletary in the third round this year, with him likely being the heir apparent to McCoy down the line. Buffalo also signed T.J. Yeldon during the offseason, but Singletary appears to have passed him on the depth chart. Buffalo could still go with a running back-by-committee approach with McCoy, Gore, and Singletary, but that's yet to be determined.
Through the first night of preseason action, Wade is second in the NFL in rushing yards. Only New England Patriots running back Nick Brosette had more rushing yards (66) than Wade, and he needed 23 carries.
Wade certainly gave the Bills something to think about heading into their next preseason game. More carries and an opportunity to move up the depth chart should be coming for the 28-year old Wade.