The Buffalo Bills need wins desperately, and if they have any hope of sneaking into the playoffs n 2016, a win in Cincinnati is likely needed. On Friday, the Bills got done with their final practice of the week, and there were some interesting developments that will change some things up for the Bills on Sunday.
Five roster notes heading into their game with the Bengals:
1) Dareus ready to roll
- The Buffalo Bills will be getting one of the best players on the roster back in time for the Cincinnati showdown. Marcell Dareus, who has appeared in only one game out of nine after dealing with a suspension, a hamstring injury, and now a groin injury, will be making start number two for the Bills on Sunday. Listed as questionable for the contest, Dareus successfully made it through all three practice sessions during the week, leading head coach Rex Ryan to cautiously exclaim that the nose tackle would be back:
“I don’t want to cat myself, but I’m feeling pretty good about the big man.”
I’m not entirely sure what it means to ‘cat’ oneself, but it certainly sounds like Dareus will be ready to go for a big workload against the Bengals. Having him in the lineup shifts Kyle Williams back over to end, and more importantly, takes the sole attention of the offensive line off of him. Now the Bengals will have to deal with both Williams and Dareus, while Jerel Worthy, Leger Douzable, and Adolphus Washington mix in for work as well. Even in his first game back from an injury, I expect Dareus to have a big impact against Cincinnati. Worthy, following a great performance, will likely get more time — much like how much he played against Seattle. Reserve defensive lineman Corbin Bryant has been ruled out.
2) Bills Defensive Backs : Snaps :: Oprah’s Audience : Cars
- All your SAT prep paid off! Really, based off the hints that Rex Ryan gave in his meeting with the media on Friday, it’s entirely likely that the ‘starters’ at cornerback and safety will be by name only. Much like some teams like to do with the running back position, the Bills will likely ‘ride the hot hand’ at those positions considering how critical Ryan has been of their efforts against the vertical passing attack. So, expect to see both Corey White and Ronald Darby get some time at left cornerback. The same goes for both rookie Kevon Seymour and Nickell Robey-Coleman at nickel corner. And Robert Blanton and Jonathan Meeks at safety, too. The Bills will be searching for the right formula, or the magical elixir, that helps solve the woes of the secondary.
3) Three days is enough: Ihedigbo to see time on defense
- On Wednesday, Rex Ryan boasted both about how physical a player James Ihedigbo is, as well as how he’s a real “pro,” cut from the same cloth as positive free agent additions Lorenzo Alexander and Leger Douzable. Even only on three days of practice and from coming “off the couch” as the head coach put it, the Bills have been impressed with him in just three days. So much so, in fact, that he’s definitely earned playing time on defense in just his first week back to NFL action since the 2015 season. I would expect Ihedigbo to come in as the strong safety, which would then allow Corey Graham to shift over to free safety and play the deep middle when they are in that type of coverage. If it works well enough on a trial basis, that may be a more permanent look the Bills employ from here on out. The Bills are hurting without Aaron Williams in the lineup at safety, and every possible solution at the position needs to be considered following a severe lack of results the last two weeks.
4) Harvin heading to a start
- At one point this season, the Bills really struggled with the depth at wide receiver. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Greg Salas all suffered injuries, which left the Bills to give prominent roles to players like Walt Powell and Justin Hunter at certain points of the season. While they’re still without Watkins, and Salas has since been released off the injured reserve list, the Bills finally have some depth to speak of at the position. Woods seems to be much healthier these days, and the addition of Percy Harvin has made things a lot better for the team in that respect. After three full weeks of work, Harvin will be making his first start for the Bills since October 11, 2015. An extremely talented player, Harvin can make an impact from either the slot, the backfield, or as an outside receiver. Even still, I would limit expectations on Harvin for this week. He’ll get more snaps than he did against Seattle, but it’s likely too early to expect him to play the full amount that a starter would normally receive.
5) Right tackle rotation on the way
- The Buffalo Bills haven’t been happy with the play at right tackle over the last few weeks, and the bye week brought on the thinking that maybe it’s time to give someone else a chance. On Thursday, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn made it known that all three of Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, and Cyrus Kouandjio will get some time on the field at right tackle on Sunday against Cincinnati. While the Bills haven’t named a starter at this point in time at the position, Rex Ryan said on Friday that the team is contemplating dressing all eight active offensive linemen for the contest. Just from what I’ve seen at practice, Mills has been lining up with the first-team offense quite a bit. Since he has been there all year, Mills may make the start, while other drives are given to Henderson and Kounadjio, and then the Bills can do the same thing they’re likely going to do with the defensive backs: to ride the hot hand. Just from watching them at practice, Henderson looks quicker and more fluid in his movements than Mills, but after being away from game action for as long as he has, no one really has any idea as to how Henderson will perform in the game. We’ll likely see for ourselves on Sunday.
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