The Buffalo Bills finished up the final practice of the week on Friday as they get closer to what will likely be a must-win game. On Sunday, the Bills will have their first home game in almost a month, as they take on the Houston Texans.
Some notes from the final two days of practice at One Bills Drive:
1) Henderson “really doubtful”, Mills to start
- If there was ever a week for the Bills to be without the entire right side of their starting offensive line, this is not the one. The Bills will be up against the league’s leader in sacks, J.J. Watt, and will have to do so with Kraig Urbik at right guard, and now Jordan Mills, at right tackle. Normal starter Seantrel Henderson missed all three days of practice this week with a non-specified illness, and was later declared “really doubtful” by the Bills on Friday. Mills started the year on the Detroit Lions practice squad, and moved his way past Cyrus Kouandjio to become the go-to replacement tackle if they need him. Mills started 29 games for Aaron Kromer in Chicago, but hasn’t started a game since December 28, 2014. With how well Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito have played, expect to see plenty of Watt against the Urbik-Mills combination.
2) Why has Kouandjio fallen down depth chart?
- It’s been a bit of a strange fall for 2014 second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio. He lost the right tackle job outright to Seantrel Henderson in training camp, but was the first backup to both tackle spots for many weeks. He even filled in for Henderson after he suffered a concussion against Cincinnati in Week Six, and then started against Jacksonville in Week Seven. In both games, Kouandjio did fairly well considering it was the first real action of his career. Since the bye, however, he has been inactive. Kouandjio had an ominous knee injury that declared him out just one day ahead of the Week Nine tilt with Miami. He spent the next two weeks on the injury report, and inactive. Then in Week 12, Kouandjio wasn’t on the injury report, but was still inactive, signifying Mills had passed him. So why has this happened? Offensive coordinator Greg Roman told reporters that Kouandjio has a nagging nick (but careful not to use the word ‘injury’), so they’re more comfortable with Mills as the main backup. Roman also added that he would be confident if Kouandjio had to step in and play this week. Either way, it’s a very bizarre twist to a former second-round picks career, and certainly raises question if his knee condition that dropped his draft status in 2014 has become an issue for the former Alabama player.
3) Mario Williams will play, still not happy with the defense
- He may not be 100-percent, but the Buffalo Bills will take whatever they can get from defensive end Mario Williams. A foot injury kept Williams out of the lineup last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but it won’t continue into a two-week absence. The Bills lost Alex Carrington and Kyle Williams for the year, so they are incredibly thin at defensive line. They made the move to add defensive end Lavar Edwards and defensive tackle T.J. Barnes just for depth purposes. Even though Williams hasn’t been nearly as effective in getting to the passer this year as he has been in the last two, his presence is worth a lot in a must-win game. However, he's not exactly enthralled with the defensive scheme since players first voiced their concerns earlier in the season:
After Bills players voiced concerns about their roles on defense earlier this year, Mario Williams says "We’re still doing the same thing."
— Mark Ludwiczak (@MarkLud12) December 4, 2015
Mario Williams on if he can put up double digit sacks: "I'm not worried about that. I'll bring it. When I'm on the edge you'll see that."
— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) December 4, 2015
Williams has three sacks on the season, which puts him on pace to tie his lowest total of his career -- 4.5 sacks, in his rookie year in Houston in 2006. With the way the defensive end is talking, it seems he's increasingly frustrated with the scheme, which makes it hard to wonder how the Bills would keep him on the roster for the 2016 season considering his role in the defense, his cap number for 2016 ($19.9 million), and how much they would save if they were to release him ($12.9 million).
4) No one-on-one J.J. Watt blocks on the horizon
- When he addressed the media on Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman mentioned J.J. Watt in the same sentence Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White, which just goes to show how much respect the Bills have for the Texans defensive end. With that written, don’t expect Watt to get many one-on-one opportunities against the Bills offensive linemen. Especially because the Bills are shorthanded on the right side of the line, they’ll likely use double, and sometimes even triple team efforts to stop Watt. If he’s in a one-on-one matchup, it’s likely a mistake by someone.
5) Karlos Williams out, Gillislee promoted
- The good news for rookie running back Karlos Williams is that he was out of the sling that he’d been in for most of the week. The bad news, he will not be able to play against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Williams will miss his fourth game of the season, this time with a shoulder injury. Without him, the Bills only have LeSean McCoy and Boobie Dixon as running backs on the active roster, which means the team will make a move to bring on a third running back, and that player has been identified. Practice squad runner Mike Gillislee will get the call-up to the active roster, with the Bills having to cut a player to make room for him. Considering Dixon is more a special teams player than a running back at this point of his career, Gillislee may even get a handful of carries on Sunday against the Texans.
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