The Buffalo Bills are on a two-game winning streak and in need of many more victories if they want to keep their postseason dreams alive in 2016. The Bills have their final trip out west on the docket, where they’ll take on the AFC-best Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
After a week that it looked like they were getting back to relatively full health, the Bills seem to be right back where they were earlier in the season. With the practice week all wrapped up, there are some intriguing little pieces of information that arose through the three days of work.
Five roster notes ahead of the Bills game against the Raiders:
1) Sammy Watkins back to work, should play
- Even though Sammy Watkins had to sit out of Wednesday’s practice due to soreness — which he said he expected to feel some degree of soreness at some point — Watkins will more than likely suit up against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The wide receiver was able to practice on a limited basis on both Thursday and Friday, which led to Rex Ryan’s belief that Watkins will be able to play — barring any setbacks between now and the start of the game, that is. Last week against Jacksonville, Watkins was only able to play in 45-percent of the team’s offensive snaps, and based on his usage at practice this week, it would probably be fair to expect around the same, or perhaps a little more time on the field against Oakland. Watkins still isn’t 100-percent, though, so don’t go expecting him to stay on the field in any and all situations. However, the bigger question is the status of his injured foot. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn says Watkins is still dealing with a broken bone in the foot, and while Watkins wouldn’t confirm that, he didn’t rule out the idea that a second surgery on the injury could be possible at some point. It’s a situation that bears watching over the next month or two, but for now, Watkins will be in the lineup on Sunday.
2) Kevon Seymour to get some time for Darby
- The Bills will have a weakness for the Raiders to pick on, and that’s at left cornerback. Ronald Darby missed all three days of practice this week due to a concussion, and was officially ruled out against Oakland — which creates a mismatch for their opponents. Statistically, the Raiders have one of the best passing attacks in the league, and number two wide receiver Michael Crabtree will be doing most of his work against the left cornerback in the lineup. Who will it be? Rookie Kevon Seymour will likely get his first extended time as an outside cornerback in place of Darby, after practicing in the spot at times during the week. Veteran Corey White will also likely see some time at left cornerback, as he did against Jacksonville — even though he has struggled in the games that he’s had to play an extended amount for the Bills. Seymour is the more intriguing option because he’s relatively unknown at that spot, and really, Crabtree won’t have a lot of tape on him in that spot to study from. I’m interested to see what the rookie has after an impressive summer, and I’m willing to bet the Bills are, too. With Stephon Gilmore’s status as an impending unrestricted free agent in March looking all the more likely, Seymour can go a long way this weekend in convincing the coaching staff and front office that he can step into the starting role opposite Ronald Darby in 2017.
3) What’s going on at offensive tackle?
- The Bills have been fairly careful with starting left tackle Cordy Glenn this week due to a back injury. They kept him out of practice on Wednesday, they listed him as ‘limited’ on Thursday — even though he didn’t do much, and he once again practiced on Friday. The Bills have done a similar practice regimen with him before this season, but his maneuverability against the Oakland pass rush will be watched closely. If the back prevents him from moving as he normally does when fully healthy, perhaps the Bills might look to Cyrus Kouandjio to step in at some point. Glenn has played through quite a bit in his career, so I’d expect him to be out in the starting lineup on Sunday. At right tackle, if Glenn can make it all the way through the game, Jordan Mills might be on a short leash. He struggled once again last week as a full-time starter, and Rex Ryan didn’t rule out the idea of Kouandjio getting some run on the right side — much like they did with Seantrel Henderson. The right tackle position has been a huge weakness for weeks on end now, and much of that is because of Mills.
4) Dez Lewis continues trouble with drops
- Rex Ryan delivered one of his best lines of the year when talking about the recently promoted wide receiver Dez Lewis:
“He’s got to poop or get off the pot.” - Rex Ryan
Lewis played incredibly well in the spring, lost his edge in the summer, and lost his hold on a roster spot because of it. Lewis has spent the entire season on the practice squad until this week, and Rex Ryan’s comments were a clear message to the wideout: Show the coaching staff something and take advantage of the opportunity, or we’ll find someone else who will. How was Lewis responded? The same way he did in the summer, unfortunately for him. Drops plagued him all through the week, even in the short amount of time the media was allowed to view the practices — and that was without any defenders on him. It’s clearly something that he’s been dealing with, and Lewis hasn’t responded well just yet. The trouble is, the Bills might need him if the current trends continue…
5) WRs feeling the pain once again
- With the addition of Walt Powell to Injured Reserve, the Bills are once again down in numbers at wide receiver. Sammy Watkins will likely be available but clearly isn’t 100-percent, which only means the Bills will have to rely on the depth at the position to get them through. Both Robert Woods (knee) and Percy Harvin (migraines) were once again ruled out by the Bills, and Marquise Goodwin injured his wrist on Thursday — but is expected to play. So the Bills have Watkins (sometimes), Goodwin (maybe sometimes), Justin Hunter, Brandon Tate, and Dez Lewis. Something — or someone, perhaps Captain Obvious — tells me LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee will be the focal point of the Bills’ offensive attack to a large degree on Sunday.