ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Isaiah McKenzie will make his preseason debut with the Indianapolis Colts on familiar turf Saturday. And in the receiver’s return to Highmark Stadium after more than four seasons playing for the Bills, he will appreciate the opportunity to witness Damar Hamlin’s return to the football field.

McKenzie told The Associated Press this week that he plans to exchange jerseys with Hamlin, who will play in his first game since his harrowing collapse on the field in Cincinnati seven months ago.

“Being part of that was scary, and I think it was scary for anyone who plays this gladiator sport,” McKenzie said. “At the same time, I was happy that he came through. Now he’s doing well. He’s progressing. He’s making plays on the football field. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.”

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie runs a pass route during practice at the NFL team’s football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Monday, July 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Bills quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs won’t be in uniform for the preseason opener, but the rest of the starters will play about a quarter. Free agent acquisition Deonte Harty and second-year player Khalil Shakir are competing for the slot receiver position that McKenzie manned last season. Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid also will assume some of that role.

Coach Sean McDermott joked at the close of training camp about McKenzie, who was a popular personality, if inconsistent performer in his time with Buffalo, being “public enemy number one” in the first preseason game.

“He reached out to me this summer and then at the start of camp and then since then he’s gone silent,” McDermott said. “So I told him I’ve never planned for a receiver in preseason before but we’ll have to find ways to double him and maybe triple-team him and make sure we take him out of the plan for the Colts. So yeah, the whole game plan is really focused on him, actually put his face up as public enemy number one.”


Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.