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The Time is Now for Buffalo Bills’ Marquise Goodwin

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COMMENTARY | At 5-foot-9, Marquise Goodwin faces an uphill battle if he has hopes of becoming a No. 1 wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills.

That's not to say, however, that Goodwin -- the fastest player in the 2013 NFL Draft (4.27 in the 40-yard dash) -- doesn't have the potential to evolve into a top-flight starter.

As such, fellow speedster T.J. Graham, who sees a fair amount of time as the team's No. 3 receiver, should be on guard. Although Graham had a career day Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals -- four catches for 74 yards, including a 47-yarder -- one of Goodwin's two catches gave Bills fans a sneak preview of the man they call "Flash." Goodwin raced under a Thaddeus Lewis deep ball, hauling in the game-tying touchdown with 1:14 remaining in regulation.

"He was off coverage, and I knew he was going to jump outside, because that's what he had been doing the whole game. [I] squeezed it inside of him and just ran for the ball and it was a perfect ball by Thad," Goodwin said of his first NFL touchdown.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone had little hesitation putting the rookie out there in a critical stage of the game.

"When they went cover one, we thought we had a good matchup with Marquise," Marrone said of the moments leading up to Goodwin's touchdown. "As soon as we saw they went cover one, we were hoping that he [Lewis] would throw it to him, and he did for the touchdown."

Goodwin logged a 107-yard touchdown on a kickoff return against the Indianapolis Colts during the preseason. His presence on the field Sunday was enough of a threat that the Bengals opted to squib their first kickoff, rather than put it in Goodwin's hands -- despite the fact that he hadn't played since Week 1, due to an injury.

With the strong-armed Lewis likely under center for the next four to six weeks in rookie EJ Manuel's absence, the time is now to make the most of Goodwin's ability. Manuel, who also boasts a strong arm, struggled with accuracy at times this season -- particularly on long balls. Lewis, however, had no such issue on Sunday.

"We go over those things in practice all the time," Graham said of stretching the field. "Thad's got a very strong arm, so this was a chance to showcase it, and he loves it. He was licking his chops the same way that me and Marquise were, too."

Graham might be licking his chops. But he should be on the lookout, because Goodwin -- a collegiate track star who also represented the United States in long jump during the recent London Olympics -- looks like he has an appetite for a starting role.

Charles Roberts covers the NFL's Buffalo Bills and the University at Buffalo's football program. His work has appeared in several local and national publications. Follow him on Twitter: @cHartleyRoberts

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