The Buffalo Bills are still holding out hope that star running back LeSean McCoy can play against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and Friday proved just that.
McCoy, for the first time since having to leave practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury, got back on the field Friday. He was unable to participate on Thursday, and the Bills gave no updates as to how the injury was progressing.
Following the practice, head coach Rex Ryan told reporters that they were holding out hope for McCoy to play on Sunday, and after labeling him officially as "questionable" for the game, they then said it would be a game-time decision.
McCoy also spoke with reporters after practice and said they were going to see how it felt on Sunday, but that he didn't take many reps during Friday's practice -- perhaps casting a little doubt on his potential availability.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 21, 2016
ESPN's Josina Anderson reported on Thursday afternoon that McCoy would not be able to play on Sunday in Miami, and said he could even miss additional weeks -- but that was more based on the healing process of the hamstring. On the contrary, The Associated Press reported that McCoy is considered to be a "game-time decision" for the Bills.
The Bills take on the Dolphins in Miami on Sunday.
Joe B's Take
As the practice week came to a close, the Bills likely didn't want to head into the weekend without star running back LeSean McCoy at least testing out his injured hamstring. While on the field, McCoy wasn't moving around like he normally does, and was walking and running on the hamstring a bit gingerly.
My stance on injuries like this one is pretty standard, and it's not changing for this situation:
If McCoy is in any sort of pain, especially dealing with a hamstring injury, the Bills should not play him against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Are they losing one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL by sitting him? Oh, yes, they are -- but the long-term lens is needed with a situation such as this one.
We know how much his preseason hamstring injury derailed the first half of his 2015 season because they likely didn't give it the full time it needed to heal, and the Bills in 2016 have often pointed to the fact that McCoy wasn't fully healthy at times last year.
Although it is an important game, and one that would guarantee the Bills a winning record through the halfway point of the season, it's also an extremely winnable matchup even without McCoy in the lineup.
Would it make things easier for them down in Miami with McCoy? Of course it would, but they're up against the second-worst run defense in the entire league, and Mike Gillislee should be able to have some success against them during the game.
He's certainly not McCoy, but Gillislee is a talented enough player, and has shown enough through the last year-and-a-half to believe that he'll be able to not let the ship completely fall off course. The Bills have one of the best-performing offensive lines in the league, and have dominated the line of scrimmage over the last three weeks.
Not having McCoy hurts, but if it's in his best interest to rest it and get back in time for the all-important New England game, that -- at least to me -- seems worth it in the long run of the season.
It's a pretty basic strategy: Short-term losses for long-term gains. And in this case, the short-term loss is to not have McCoy against the Dolphins, while the long-term gain would be to get his hamstring back to full health potentially in time for New England, and to not risk either a setback, or a potentially more serious injury by rushing things.
Now, if he's deemed fine and the hamstring no longer gives him any problems, then by all means... put him in the lineup. If there is any slight hesitation, though, shut him down for the weekend.
He's too important for the rest of their season to play with fire.
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