Bills running back Christian Wade hopes to hinge hype to roster spot

Converted rugby player calls 65-yard TD on first NFL touch 'best feeling in the world'

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Christian Wade certainly knows how to make an entrance, but building on his surprising first impression could prove to be a tougher task.

The Bills running back and former rugby star scored on a 65-yard run on his first-ever touch in the NFL last Thursday as Buffalo opened preseason play against the Colts, taking off like a rocket after he found a hole and maneuvered through Indianapolis defenders.

Five days later — in much warmer climate than he’s used to in both Buffalo and his native London as the Bills visit the Carolinas this week — Wade is still savoring the moment that inspires him to continue down the new path he’s on.

“I’m feeling really good right now. Scoring on my first touch in my first game just for me kind of gives me extra motivation to just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Wade told Stats Perform. “There’s been times where I’ve woken up and been ‘this is really a struggle’ and I guess doubting myself a little bit. Maybe sometimes not getting enough reps, which I guess is usual for a new guy.

“For me, I know I learn best by being on the field and playing … definitely have to work on the psychological side of things.”

That was evident as Wade continued to work out with several teammates and coaches in the scorching heat even after Tuesday’s joint practice here with the Panthers had been called for the day.

Wade made the switch to football in October after a decade-long rugby career and was assigned to the Bills in April as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. But he noted his speed, footwork and vision as the most transferable skills he brings with him from one sport to the other, all of which were evident as he scored last week.

With star backs like Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and LeSean McCoy already on the Bills roster, Wade faces an uphill battle to break camp with Buffalo, but he won’t let the challenge discourage him.

“I’m still young in this game,” Wade said. “In my infancy I’m just trying to learn every day, trying to get better every day, and doing everything I can to contribute to the team. We’ll see where that leads me when it comes to the day when they pick the teams.

As an International Player Pathway Program participant, Wade can stay on the Bills’ roster until the end of training camp. At that time, he’ll be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption, granting Buffalo an eleventh practice squad member who is ineligible to be activated during the 2019 season.

However, if he does make the regular 53-man roster, Wade is most excited about the prospect of playing one team in particular.

“The Patriots,” Wade said with a smile. “I think that would be just an amazing contest.”